Interview: Cherry Hill native Evan Weiss makes waves with emo pioneers in Their / They’re / There

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Photo via Facebook.com/theirtheyrethere
Photo via Facebook.com/theirtheyrethere

It’s about 10 degrees in Chicago, but Evan Weiss is glad to be home.

The indie / emo / punk musician is back after a three-week full-band European tour with his solo project Into It. Over It., and coming off a year jam-packed with other tours, releases and other musical endeavors.

For now, it’s time to relax.

“When I’m home, I do some music stuff, but I don’t really have a job or anyone to answer to aside from doing music-related things,” Weiss says. “So I’ve just been hanging out since we got back. … I’ve been kind of relaxing and nesting for the last week.”

Weiss hasn’t always called Chicago home. He moved there five years ago from his hometown of Cherry Hill, and his home music scene of Philadelphia. His participation in past local projects includes The Progress, Damiera and Up Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start.

But it’s Chicago where Weiss was able to collaborate with fellow Windy City punks Mike Kinsella (Cap’n Jazz, American Football, Owls and his solo project Owen) and Matthew Frank (Loose Lips Sink Ships) to form punk supergroup There / They’re / Their. The band will stop by First Unitarian Church Friday as part of a short four-day run with Mansions and Birthmark.

With Frank’s intricate guitar parts, Kinsella’s post-punk drum beats and Weiss’ bass playing and distinctive vocals, news about T / T / T came out this past April when they put out a self-titled EP to coincide with Record Store Day. But the band had been formed more than a year prior in late 2011, instigated by Weiss’ desire to play with Frank.

“Matt and I had met through his old band. We hadn’t really been hanging out, but we’d see each other around at shows and I was very familiar with Matt’s guitar playing,” Weiss recalls. “I had this idea about doing a band that was his style of mad-house guitar playing, but kind of making it poppy. Not poppy, maybe catchy? Basically taking his crazy way of guitar and putting something memorable to it so it wasn’t just crazy guitar all of the time.”

Into It. Over It. then played the record release show for Owen’s Ghost Town, when frontman Kinsella told Weiss how much he missed playing drums in a band.

“I kind of mentioned starting a band with him, and how I’d had this idea to start a band with Matt. So I go to Matt and tell him, you know, ‘Hey I’d like to start a band with you. I think I have a drummer in mind,’” Weiss says. “It kind of came together pretty organically.”

After Kinsella’s initial shock at the first practice that Weiss would not be playing guitar (that’s what he’s known for playing with Into It. Over It.), the three musicians successfully ran through the few songs Weiss and Frank had written.

“He doesn’t write guitar the way I think about guitar, ” Weiss said of Frank. “His ideas are really out of the box and crazy for me … [but] I think that the way the vocals are written and the way the bass and drums are written, it kind of fools you into not thinking it’s as complicated as it is. That was the idea, to take something really crazy and make it sound really straightforward, even though it’s totally not. So, that to me is fun.”

The band continued to meet, motivated by the low-pressure stakes – something Weiss describes as refreshing compared to their other commitments.

“We just get together and we play, it’s really simple,” Weiss says. “It’s kind of what makes it awesome, because we’re all so busy doing other things. … I was on tour so much and Mike was on tour so much. Matt was finishing school or still finishing his junior year of school. It was something that we weren’t even sure was going to get further than our practice space.”

Against their initial expectations, T/T/T made it out into the world. Just last Tuesday, the band released its second EP, Analog Week, recorded with producer Ed Rose in his Kansas studio just a few months before his retirement at the end of this year. The mostly live recording process was easy and enjoyable for the band, Weiss says. They finished the three songs in just two days, and had fun playing together in a room as if they were at practice.

“I think it made the experience fun and care-free,” he says. “If you listen to it, you can hear how much fun we’re having. It’s just us kind of doing whatever the hell we want, which is what music should be anyway.”

For Weiss, any kind of music making is fun. And this is kind of funny when you think of how both of his bands are being brushed under this umbrella many are calling the “emo revival.” Weiss doesn’t consider it a negative that his music is categorized that way. If it’s trending, that means it’s reaching more people.

“The music isn’t supposed to be this secret thing, like people aren’t supposed to know about it,” he says. “The music is for everyone. So, if more people are talking about it, and more people are excited about it and covering it, that’s awesome.”

So does he think there is a revival? Weiss laughs and answers that he does not. “The only reason other people would think that is because they haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on the last few years.”

Weiss says a T / T / T live show is a laid-back experience, as playing live wasn’t originally a goal for the band. They’ve only played about 10 shows so far, but Weiss hopes to be able to deliver a “tight” set for the Philly audience tomorrow.

He’ll return to his hometown on February 22 to headline Union Transfer with Into It. Over It with fellow “revival” band The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and A Great Big Pile of Leaves. Weiss says it’s one of the shows he’s looking forward to most of the tour, as he’s wanted to headline the venue since his first time playing there.

“The next two tours are going to be awesome,” he says. “The Their / They’re / There tour is going to be awesome and the Into It. Over It. tour is kind of like my dream tour.  It’s going to be a crazy winter. It’ll be the only thing that will cancel out how bummed I’m going to be about the cold.”

Their / They’re / There will play First Unitarian Church at 7:00 p.m. Friday. Tickets can be found here. Into It. Over It. will headline Union Transfer at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 22 with tickets available here.