An Interview with Engine Summer


Listening to Engine Summer’s latest album, Trophy Kids, can be equated to cracking open a piñata – though instead of a myriad of colorful candies bursting out of a paper mache structure, Trophy Kids unleashes a welcome variety of groove, edge, dynamics, tone, and color. All of these elements are not only strung together in an impressive degree of  cohesion, but are as refreshing to the ear as a drink after a long day is to the mind.

With Trophy Kids, Engine Summer has curated a masterful infusion of psychedelia with a selection of other sonic stylings and essences – something that is certainly not an easy feat, but the trio excels at nonetheless.

Each track contains the commonality of being wonderfully and richly textured, and yet simultaneously upholds its own sense of distinction and uniqueness. Within each track, each musical element undeniably pops in its own right, and blends with the others at play all while maintaining a shining degree of vibrance.To state it simply, Engine Summer just gets it. While there is certainly no formula in place that can make or constitute a musical work as successful or not, Engine Summer has certainly seemed to crack the code on nailing one down. This, of course, all comes down to the simple fact that their work is memorable. Musical interpretation is inherently subjective, but in this case, it is more than worth going out on a limb to brand this as a truth.

AMPLIFY. was fortunate enough to ask the band (comprised of Ryan Ohm, Jeremy Marsan, and Ben Kostecki) a few questions, and what resulted was what is perhaps the funniest interview answers in this publication’s history. Read on, friends.


AMPLIFY:  What’s the origin story of Engine Summer?

Ryan: High school friends are forever friends.

Jeremy: We grew up together in different bands and eventually re-linked and it just felt so right.

Bert: And DRUGS

AMPLIFY: Let’s say a movie is being made about Engine Summer. Which actors would you pick to portray the band onscreen, and why?

Engine Summer: Tommy Wiseau for Bert, Kermit the Frog for Ryan, and Shelley Duvall for Jeremy.

AMPLIFY:  Which aspect(s) of the creative process do you find to be the most personally rewarding?

Ryan: Late nights and regretful mornings, like any good ‘in it for the money and drugs’ rock n roll band!

Jeremy: The only thing better than playing a high energy set in a packed dive bar with your best buds would have to be watching the pennies roll in from Spotify. We’re close to a quarter.

Bert: Warm beer.

AMPLIFY: Something I love about “Trophy Kids” is how sonically multifaceted it is. Was this a creative focal point when bringing the album to fruition?

Ryan: Thanks! Yeah, we went in knowing we wanted to add layer upon layer and really challenge ourselves in that aspect. Live we like to typically explore how far a three piece can go, but on the album we wanted all the experimentation and additional percussion and instruments as possible – assuming it never felt forced. Think we found the perfect balance in our minds.

Jeremy: The 3 of us bond over everything from Viet Cong to Marvin Gaye to Twisted Sister, so it’s kinda natural to get loose like that. We weren’t consciously trying to mix genres, but rather trying to play rock music in 2017 that feels interesting to us.

Bert: (coughing)

AMPLIFY: In your opinion, what’s the most unique aspect of Chicago’s creative community?

Bert: The fact that the community is really just a continuation of people’s children, and their children, and even their children. We hope that our children and even their children. Hell! Even their children’s children will continue the great legacy of nepotism.

AMPLIFY:  What’s something people would be surprised to know about Engine Summer?

Bert: We are bitcoin rich (coughs again, spills champagne)

AMPLIFY:  If you had to describe “Trophy Kids” in one word, what would it be?

Bert: space-aged-groove-punk

Ryan: Engagement

Jeremy: Wisconsin

AMPLIFY:  Wild card questions! Use this one to mention quite literally anything you’d like.

Jeremy/Ryan: Buy our record and we’ll take you out to breakfast (Fred’s Place in Elmhurst)

Bert: The biscuits and gravy is really good. (walks to bathroom)

AMPLIFY:  Which aspect of Engine Summer’s work are you most proud of?

Bert: (shouting from other room) The drugs

Jeremy: Our cousins and coworkers are buying up the record. If that doesn’t tell you we’re on the upswing, I don’t know what else does!

AMPLIFY: Lastly, what’s coming up next for Engine Summer?

Bert: If you know of any new drugs, that’s it!

Ryan: And maybe an interview with Barbara Walters.

Jeremy: I gotta go return some video tapes…


Ready for some tunes? Click here, here, and here to listen to Engine Summer’s music on Bandcamp, Spotify, and YouTube respectively. To keep up with the band, click here to visit their website, here to visit their Facebook page, and here to check out their Instagram.

Image credit: Martin Kaleta

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