Housekeeper rocks the garage


Ethan Uslabar

Mikey Koziczkowski on strings and vocals.

Ethan Uslabar, Editor, Arts&Entertainment

At Jambalaya Arts, 413 N. Main St. in Oshkosh, orange lights cast a dim shadow over the worn wood floors. At the back of the long room, two guys settle in as their set begins. They’re introduced as “Housekeeper” before the floor begins to quake with the unhinged power of electric guitar and drums.

Mikey Koziczkowski and Alex Gajewski, two Oshkosh residents, comprise the two-piece garage-rock band Housekeeper.

Housekeeper is the latest band formed by the duo. Previously, Koziczkowski and Gajewski had played in a group by the name “Vespa Woman” with Oshkosh resident Tanner Kuehl. After Kuehl left the group, Koziczkowski and Gajewski formed their first two-piece band under the moniker “Latent Crime.” “Latent Crime” then dissolved when Koziczkowski moved to Portland, Oregon. After he returned to Oshkosh, the two regrouped in 2018.

“We were kind of like ‘Let’s do music again,’” Gajewski said, “but we should probably be called something else.”

And thus Housekeeper was born. The band has been playing music for upward of seven years, with Koziczkowski on strings and Gajewski on the “smackers,” or drums. The two-piece band is a one-off in the local music scene.

“It can be super limiting,” Koziczkowski said of the band’s ability to achieve certain sounds. “But now that we have our footing a bit more, we’re able to focus on just sounding big, like we have a third person.”

When the duo first formed, they primarily experimented with their sound as a two-piece band.

“It was a lot of ‘What works? What doesn’t work?’ Yeah, a lot of ‘What doesn’t work?'” Gajewski said of Housekeeper’s early days. “Once we kind of got that all out, we really kind of came into our own.”

Although the two-man band has its limitations, Koziczkowski and Gajewski noted that certain issues that plague other bands don’t have much of an effect on them.

“It helps that we’re roommates,” Gajewski said. “The communication lines are so direct, we can just be like, ‘Hey man, you want to go jam?’ instead of having to coordinate between a bunch of other people.”

“We’ve toyed around with getting another person on board, but it’s very nice to just have it be us,” Koziczkowski said. “There’s a lot less butting heads.”

The pair’s music is very fast, dense and rife with emotion. Uncommon time signatures, heavy, crooning strings and a sound unlike any other local band gives Koziczkowski and Gajewski’s music a distinct flair. Their recordings have the rough, lo-fi sound of an intimate jam session.

“It’s a solid raw-home recording, which I think works for the kind of stuff that we play,” Koziczkowski said. “Not every music genre can just grab four mics, record in a crappy basement and hope it sounds cool.”

Taking inspiration from bands like Tool, Blink-182, A Perfect Circle and Angels and Airwaves, Gajewski strives for excellence in his performance.

“I want to be on that level of absolute control over my instrument and know exactly what I’m going to do and exactly when to do it,” Gajewski said.

Koziczkowski takes influence from a generally wider variety of music.

“Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of cowboy music, like Townes Van Zandt,” Koziczkowski said. “Recently someone showed me Daniel Romano and the new Pixies album came out, so I’ve been listening to that a bit.”

Despite their two very different tastes in music, Koziczkowski and Gajewski strive for the same thing when they create music.

“Obviously you need a bit of professionalism in your music, but there’s something very admirable about authenticity,” Koziczkowski said. “A little extra dirt can sound better actually. Life isn’t perfect, and your music doesn’t always have to come out crystal-clean perfect either.”