Friday, April 27, 2012

Interview With mewithoutYou

On May 15, 2012 mewithoutYou will release their fifth full-length LP "Ten Stories." We at Muzik Dizcovery were fortunate enough to conduct an interview with guitarist Michael Weiss, asking questions pertaining to the new album's sound, lyrical direction, favorite albums of 2011, memorable moments, and much more can be read below.

How does the music on Ten Stories compare to your previous albums?

The music has more of a stripped down, two electric guitars bass and drums sound than the last one. Heavier and louder but we still are the same band that gave you the last albums.  I tried to step up the guitar riffs a little more as a center piece of the sound. I think Rickie’s drums are a little more his style on this record than the last one. That’s the secret weapon.

You’ve had songs from different albums relate to each other in the past. A song title like “February 1878” obviously hearkens back to one of your more famous songs, “January 1979”. What's the relationship between these two songs?

Actually, very little actual relationship between the two songs other than they are similar sounding dates in time. "Jan. 1979" is a reference to Aaron’s birthday which is an actual event. Feb. 1878 is a song about a fictional circus train which is intentionally de-railed in the icy conditions of the Pacific Northwest by an elephant.

Is the album title, “Ten Stories,” or the track, “Nine Stories” by chance a reference to J.D. Salinger’s “Nine Stories”?

Not that I know of. The title of “Nine Stories” refers to the height of a tall building and the title “Ten Stories” refers to the amount of different stories are being told on the album. I think “Nine Stories” is track eight on the album called “Ten Stories” which has eleven tracks on it. I’m no good at math.

I’m given to understand that you’ve worked with producer Daniel Smith in the past. What was working with him like this time around? Also, what instruments were used for the creation of this album?

Working with Daniel was very enjoyable. I recommend anyone check out his body of work and see why we respect him immensely for his artistic style.  He and Aaron are somewhat kindred spirits because they are both song writers, so it was nice for him to have that added comfort.

It was rumoured that Ten Stories revolves around the theme of a train crash filled with circus animals in 19th century Montana. Can you explain the story and how it unfolds?

Basically, the first track gets the story set up that story line and continues to follow the different characters involved as they figure out what to do in the aftermath.  I’m not going to get into all of the details of each story, but they are all very well thought out and well written.  I couldn’t be happier with the concept of this album. It gives Aaron a chance to take some of the focus off of the persona that he has created for himself as a songwriter.

Ten Stories seems to be somewhat of a re-exploration of the sounds explored on albums like Catch For Us the Foxes. What inspired this shift from the fanciful whimsy of “It’s All Crazy! It’s All False!”?

For me, it was a matter of getting back to a big reason I play in a band. I love creating ideas for songs out of a guitar part. When you listen to bands like Fugazi or the Smiths, you hear songs that exist because of the guitar riff. I wanted to get some more of that going on this new one and made my intentions clear from the start. Everyone seemed to be okay with it, so away we went. As a result, you get songs like "Feb 1878", "Foxes Dream", "All Circles", "Grist For The Malady Mill" and "Elephant".

How would you guys say you’ve matured as a band since your inception?

Sure, I mean it’s been quite a long time since the inception of the band.  We have gone from our twenties to our thirties. We’ve sort of been moving cyclically in a sense, but each time we revisit older ideas, we take our newer experiences with us.  I guess a lot of bands work like that.

What are your most memorable moments as a band?

Just being with everyone and sharing the whole experience of doing a band, getting to travel to Europe, Winning a Woodie Award was fun, Touring with Brand New and playing for 4000 people, recording with Brad Wood was a big moment for us. Stuff like that will stay with me forever. 

What song(s) do you think best represent the band, and what are some of your favourites from the new album?

Silencer, Torches Together, Jan. 1979, Sweater Poorly Knit, Carousels, Beetle King, Feb. 1878, Bears Vision, Cardiff Giant, East Enders Wives.

I ask a lot of bands this, but, having played larger and smaller venues, do you find that the smaller shows are more crowd-oriented and fun?

Not always more fun, but definitely more intimate feeling.  It all depends on the give and take you can cultivate from the audience.  Technically, with every big crowd, there is little crowd within it right in front of the stage.  It’s all how you want to look at it I suppose.

Have you any idea where you guys would like to go from Ten Stories?

I’d like to just finish up some of the ideas that didn’t have time to develop into songs. Maybe do a couple little digital download song packages. I dunno, we’ll probably focus on what’s immediately in front of us and that’s touring on this current record.

How have your influences changed over the years and which artists would you cite as your greatest inspirations?

Fugazi, Smashing Pumpkins, Suede, The Smiths, Nirvana, and Blur are the bands that made me love the guitar as a kid. As time has gone on, bands like the Blood Brothers and At the Drive In have inspired the heavier sounds. Also, artists like Sufjan Stevens or for me, Vampire Weekend inspire the use of different instruments. I know that before we made It’s All Crazy.. Aaron had been getting into Golgo Bordello and Beruit as Rickie started digging Animal Collective big time.  I guess our influences have changed as we’ve all discovered more and more great music.

Just for fun, what are you all digging right now, and what are some of your favourite albums of 2011?

Digging right now:

Cold War Kids, Jimi Hendrix, Cat Power, Mars Volta.

Albums of 2011: Cold War Kids - Mine Is Yours, Bon Iver, St. Vincent - Strange Mercy, Feist - Metals.

On behalf of Muzik Dizcovery, I'd like to thank Michael Weiss for taking the time to answer these questions and we wish the band well with all of their future endeavors! Don't forget to buy Ten Stories, which you can pre-order right here. Stay tuned for a review of the record, coming up next week!

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