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

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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.”

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Folkadelphia Session: Owen (performing songs from his forthcoming release)

IMG_20130321_152727_999 There really is no time like the present. Owen, the longstanding solo project of Chicago music veteran Mike Kinsella, is gearing up to release his brand new album L’Ami du Peuple this summer. Owen has always dazzled listeners with his patented acoustic music complexities- a manipulated form of playing drawn from the spastic noodling of his former band (and seminal scenesters) Cap’n Jazz or the math rock repetitions of another past project American Football. For a number of releases, the Owen project felt as if it was the logical step for this style of music to be performed in a solo capacity. However, with the last few albums (personally, I would say starting from At Home With Owen), Owen’s output has felt richer, the songwriting has been more penetrating, the pieces, as well as the whole, seem more thought out and cohesive. In a way, the writing has caught up to the playing. I have no doubt that L’ami du Peuple, when it is released, will be the strongest Owen album yet, especially based on the record’s initial pre-release offerings – from the album with “Bad Blood” and from three of the four songs in our session “Love is Not Enough,” “I Got High,” and “Who Cares?” The present finds Kinsella at the high of his creative powers (and busy too, as he also drums in a new grammar conscious band Their/They’re/There).

True to the project (or perhaps because it is expensive to schlep around a backing band), Kinsella often performs and tours solo. It is in this lonesome configuration though that Owen’s saturnine lyricism and guitarwork feel most effective and intimate. It is captivating to behold in a tiny chapel, an concert hall, or here, in this Folkadelphia Session, which we recorded on March 21st, 2013 at the XPN Performance Studio.