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Interview with WEATHER UNDERGROUND

27 giugno 2007

Discography: ILLUMINATION [EP] (autoprodotto – 2006), WHEN I WAS A SOLDIER [EP] (autoprodotto – 2007)

I Weather Underground piacciono a noi conigli. Ci piacciono proprio un casino ma c’e’ da chiarire prima una cosa importante. Questa intervista non l’ho scritta io. L’ ha messa giu’ nero su bianco la mia ragazza che, essendo dello Yorkshire, ha una conoscenza grammaticale leggermente (!) superiore per non dire lontana anni luce dalla spesso macchiettistica italo avventuriera reinterpretazione di alcune frasi in inglese del sottoscritto.
Ringrazio dunque Polly e i Weather sperando che in futuro Indieforbunnies possa farsi ancora di piu’ portavoce di band come questa fatte da ragazzi con i piedi ben piantati per terra in cerca di un etichetta decente che valorizzi appieno il buon rock che scorre nelle loro vene.

What was the first music you remember getting into? Any particular
favourites at the moment?

Diego : First music: the Beatles. As of recent Cold War Kids, Delta Spirit, The Beatles — and I saw this band last night amazing, they were called White Rabbits– shit name great band!
Ryan: The first music that I remember affecting me was “You Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes. I was five years old and it made me feel warm all over. I was driving in my Aunt Mary’s big ‘old Chevy. That was my first introduction to James Jamerson. Sgt. Pepper came soon after. I’m listening to: The Good, The Bad and the Queen, Funkadelic (Maggot Brain), CCR, George Mustaki, Vetiver, Electric Prunes, Stephen Stills, George Harrison (living in a material world), Cold War Kids
Sho: I grew up almost the same as Harley (as cousins we shared a lot of music). Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Beach Boys, Os Mutantes, Los Panchos, Franz Liszt and Jan and Dean. Oh yeah and a lot of Soul music of course.
Harley: I grew up listening to Bossanova, Mariachi, Gospel, and Marimba music from my grandfather and family’s record collection. But the first music that I remember getting into that made me want to play music was stuff like The Smiths, U2, Public Enemy, The Clash, and later chuck Berry and the Ramones–my much older cousins’ music collection had a big influence on me. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Tom Waits, Sam Cooke, Nina Simone, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Good the Bad and the Queen, The National (‘Boxer’ is great, though I LOVE ‘Alligator’), Leonard Cohen, Blonde Redhead, Cat Power (Greatest), Nick Cave, the Clash, and Son House (listen to ‘john the revelator’– fantastic)

Do you have a rider, and if so, what’s on it?
Diego: trail mix and whiskey
Ryan: We have no rider. I can think of so many things that I can’t think of a thing.

What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of touring?
Ryan: Being on an open road delivering your songs with your best friends.
Entertaining your selves and in the process, everyone else. My least favorite is going to a small town that doesn’t take kindly to eccentric artists and visitors and feeling like a sitting duck..
SHO: My favorite thing is going to new towns, new scenery, and new people.
My least favorite would be the lack of hot food and not having my ‘domain’.
Diego: I love playing in front of different people in different cities. I like traveling. So there’s no shitty part for me.
Harley: I’ve lived in a lot places growing up. From Los Angeles to NYC. I lived in Guatemala and spent a summer in Brazil. So to me traveling with your best friends, telling your stories & poems, and expressing your art to different people in different towns is a blessing. It’s hard here in the
States because bands are not really taken care of (generally) but we’d love to do it for the rest of our lives really. I think everyone in this band has a bit of a nomadic quality to them. Even the worst parts we’ll turn into songs — so no real down side really…

Ok, quickfire round:
Ryan: Brunettes
Sho: Brunettes
Diego: doesn’t matter
Harley: Strawberry Blonde with the attitude of a brunette (tongue in cheek) — my friends know why

Favourite guilty-pleasure music?
Ryan: Elton John, he had a great backing band early on.
Sho: LL Cool J (I need love) though I don’t feel guilty listening to it.
Harley: I was raised catholic as a child, so I always feel VERY guilty: Too Short, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, I listen to Sinead O’Connor (‘Nothing Compares To You’) a lot but don’t feel too guilty about it….
Diego: tears for fears “head over heels” ha-ha.

60’s or 70’s?
Harley: 70’s for its ethos and attitude / 60’s for the music and longitude
Ryan: 60’s. But like Joe Boyd said: “the 60’s last from ‘56 to ‘72″…that’s how I like to look at it.
Sho: 60’s
Diego: 60’s

Who’s the filthiest member of the band? NB: To be interpreted in whichever you see fit…
Harley: Filthy is a colloquial term with us, though more often than not it is used to describe Diego—but I’ll be diplomatic and say we all are.
Ryan: We are all filthy in our own special ways.
Sho: Hmm…hands down ‘the trailer hawk’ (nickname for Diego)
Diego: Me, I sleep with everyone! Ha-ha just kidding! I’d say Sho—guy’s got a gas problem, ha-ha..

Ok, let’s get serious now. Can we ask what or who influenced the EP?
Ryan: The ep was influenced heavily by the time we spent together writing those songs. I think we were all listening to very different things at the time and going through different things…but how we put it all together was more important in the sound of the ep.
Harley: This EP is officially our first. We had a bunch of great songs and were (and still are) becoming increasingly more inspired and prolific and we just decided to hole ourselves up and record these tunes in a quick but delicate way. We used a lot of VERY old guitars and amps and recorded and mixed on tape. We are a very nostalgic band. The title “ When I was a
Soldier” came from an old poem I wrote about a friend of mine who used to sell drugs to touring bands that would pass through town. The whole EP is based on a small fraction of all these things we see here in Los Angeles that rarely gets conveyed. We’re going to start recording our next EP next month.
Diego: Life. Everything. Can’t pinpoint it. It just comes out of us.

And more specifically, how you came to be inspired to write the first
track?

Ryan: Lyrically, only Harley could answer that. Musically, a sense of seizing the immediate moment inspired it, in my opinion.
Diego: The music in the first track was inspired by Buddy Rich–kind of reminiscent of his drum solos. We wrote around that. Harley’s words and vocal melody rounded it off
Sho: About my Uncle Danny (Harley’s Step Dad). R.I.P.
Harley: ‘HowManyOperations’ was originally a poem I wrote in August (last summer) when my Step dad was dying of cancer. I finished it after he passed away with a lot of anger and sadness in me. Originally I thought about turning it into a song of sadness and contemplation; some sort of soft ballad. But that’s done far too often and can sometimes be manipulative, so when Diego came up with the ‘Buddy Rich’ intro and we all wrote around that, I thought it to be more appropriate—mainly because it was more urgent and expressed my frustrations more freely. The acronym for How Many Operations is H.M.O. which here in the U.S. is short for health insurance (health maintenance organization). My Step dad worked for over 30 years at his company– the insurance he got was shit and the hospital care was horrible and bureaucratic. The song is written in first person about a man who would like to die without much pain and some dignity–and also about a frustration at our health care system in the U.S. The original poem was much longer and described the horrific VIP process practiced at some hospitals that a family friend relayed to me (treating those with money and status with special
treatment). Anyhow in short it’s about Daniel Hammontree –a great man who became a working class hero. The rest of the EP has this essence in a sense.
I think (or feel) there is a certain sadness (and ultimately hope) in every song on this EP.

Finally, what do you hope to achieve as a band? What would be the dream?
Sho: As a band playing in front of as many people as possible who love the music. Even if it’s in front of 20 people who dig our music, it would be more satisfying than playing in front of 5000 people who don’t really like you, but watch you because your the next big thing. I want people to hear what is in our heads.
Ryan: For our music/art to inspire hope and love in people…and for our live show to see all edges of the globe. The rest will take care of itself
Diego: To keep making great music– keep creating.
Harley: I suppose what every aspiring, self-respecting band wants: the ability to create without the sacrifice of integrity. We want to do this as long as we possibly can. Together.

Link:
Weather Underground Official Site
Weather Underground MySpace
“ILLUMINATION [EP]” review on INDIE FOR BUNNIES
“WHEN I WAS A SOLDIER [EP]” review on INDIE FOR BUNNIES

Mp3:
How Many Operations (from the EP “When I Was A Soldier”)
Nickel And Dime (from the EP “When I Was A Soldier”)
A Leap Into The Void (from the EP “Illumination”)
Illumination (from the EP “Illumination”)

 

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