Into It Over It
Evan Thomas Weiss is more than just a singer-songwriter; he's a storyteller.
The 27-year-old driving force behind solo act Into It. Over It. has been penning his tales since 2007. With music that is wholly heartfelt and unabashedly unapologetic, Weiss has been making waves in both the indie and punk rock worlds since the release of his debut, "52 Weeks."
The collection of songs – which, as the name suggests, was written over the course of a year – began as a project without grand intentions. But as he discovered that people genuinely liked his music, he continued writing. His debut was followed up by a series of splits, featuring songs about towns, which would later be compiled onto "Twelve Towns," an album that came out earlier this year. There was also the split with Koji, featuring five songs about neighborhoods in Chicago, which is where Weiss is located. And finally, in September of this year, Weiss came out with "Proper," a 12-song release which, in some sense, he feels is his first proper album.
"I am so proud of that record, and with the amount of time we had to make it, which wasn't very much, I'm really pleased with how it came out," Weiss said. "And I think people are generally really stoked on it."
Disregarding his track record of writing songs that are thematically related, Weiss' approach this time around was to pay attention to how the songs fit together and fed into one another.
"We made a point to make a cohesive album, which we'd never done before when we were writing songs," Weiss said of the collaboration between himself and drummer Nick Wakim.
With the exception of Wakin's role, the rest of the album is entirely written and performed by Weiss. This, admittedly, can create some confusion on the road for fans who have only heard the recordings and assumed that Into It. Over It. was a full band.
While there is always the possibility of touring with a full backing band, the slight disparity between the recorded and the live versions is something that Weiss treasures when performing in front of crowds.
"I think it adds a different vibe to the songs and it allows them to become more personal for people," he said. "The songs are so personal that it's like I want to share that intimacy with people that would come see the show."
Earlier this month, Weiss played Berlin on his first European tour in two years, opening for The Swellers and Broadway Calls
"It's been nice to get my feet wet again, playing shows here…cause it's a completely different feel," he said of the experience. "[And] it's been rad playing for crowds that aren't necessarily mine…and being able to win a bunch of people over."
Although he has been friends with members of the bands for a long time, Weiss acknowledged that his music doesn't necessarily "fit" with that of theirs. Because of this, audience members who aren't there to see him specifically are often skeptical of him at first. The good thing though, is that he said he acquires new fans that way.
"To see someone get on stage with just an acoustic guitar…you get written off pretty quickly," he said of the experience. "It's definitely been a lot of me, like, having to like, show my worth."
Although Weiss might come across as a songwriting powerhouse, he shared that he isn't always initially confident about his songs, explaining that they don't tend to see the light of day until after they're already recorded and it's too late to take them back.
"I do run into periods of self-doubt," he said of the songwriting. "But really that struggle is just an internal struggle."
When it comes down to it, he said he is proud of each and every one of the songs he has come up with.
"I mean, there's 95 songs [and] I love them all, like, I really like every single song," he said. "You know, maybe there's things about them that I would have changed, had I recorded them again, but, like, as far as the music goes, or the message, or what I was talking about, they're all really important to me."
Looking back on the past four years, Weiss said his attitude toward his songs hasn't changed; the old ones are just as meaningful to him as the new ones. But he did admit that he himself has changed, both as a musician and a human being.
"I'm a little more focused and I'm more responsible and I think I'm just overall a better person than I was when I started, but I think that also just comes with age," he said with a laugh. "I would just say I'm more of a grown-up, like, in a good way, you know. Not in a boring way."
Make Do and Mend
Adamantly earnest and unwaveringly driven, New England's Make Do and Mend has spent the past four years gaining footholds and garnering attention in every corner of today's music landscape. Building off the steam of two previous E.P. releases, a widely acclaimed split 7" with Los Angeles' Touche Amore, and years of relentless touring, the four piece raised the bar for melodic post-hardcore with the 2010 release of their debut LP "End Measured Mile." The follow up to their well-received EPs We're All Just Living and Bodies Of Water, End Measured Mile finds Make Do And Mend building on their gruff brand of punk rock, blending passion and intensity with melody and sincerity. Heralded as one of the best punk records of the year, End Measured Mile has been racking in critical praise, with Alternative Press commenting, "Frontman James Carroll, bearing a gruff bark... guides the band through catchy, texturally dynamic romps," while the band's hometown paper the Hartford Courant says the album "is a collection of volatile songs stuffed full of serrated power chords, battering ram drums and leathery bellowing from singer James Carroll... The mood on End Measured Mile rarely feels less than life-or-death intense."A driving cohesive accomplishment from band that has earned a solid following through rigorous touring and an honest approach to their music and fans, End Measured Mile has only just begun to turn heads. Out of all of the fan fare,Punknews sums it up best: "Simply put,(End Measured Mile is) the most impressive debut full-length of the year."2011 will see MDAM continuing to tour full force, sharing a passionate and unyielding live show, honed in sweaty basements, and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that hard work and passion are far from dead in music today.
Displaying an in-depth understanding of Silent Majority, Turning Point and Quicksand, Hostage Calm's well- received 2008 debut, Lens, was a comprehensive lesson in what punk and hardcore should sound like. Jagged-yet- infectious melodies effortlessly merged with beefy power chords and politically charged battle cries while fiery anthems formed amidst uncommon song structures. With that creative momentum and the positive response from fans and critics alike, the band took a year to write and a year to record its Self-Titled follow-up for Boston's Run for Cover Records. It's safe to say that the quintet's knack for composing intelligent, passionate tunes is matched only by that of its musical ambition. While Hostage Calm continues to hint at those Dag Nasty arpeggios and the skipping Descendents-esque beats, these new songs are pushed in unclassifiable directions, cradled by lush layers of jangling acoustic guitars, quick tambourine hits and resonating piano accompaniments. Sonically, a good point of reference starts at The Smith's The Queen Is Dead, with its blending of styles into one cohesive and all encompassing indie / pop album. Hostage Calm never compromises its energy, but touches lightly on everything from doo wop ( "Rebel Fatigues" ) and new wave ( "Ballots / Stones" ) to Latin ( "Wither On The Vine" ) and power pop ( "War On A Feeling" ). Vocalist Chris Martin's suave melodies are chosen with the utmost care; they have a particularly relaxed quality that reveals a less excessive rendition of the 1980's. And while he's just about as political as ever, he doesn't hesitate to delve into more personal narratives, yet spares us of any cringe-worthy melodramatics. Don't be intimidated - "pop" isn't a four-letter word. In context with the substance-less drivel that excretes from the radio waves these days, it's sometimes easy to forget. But Hostage Calm executes an infectious effort with actual lyrical and musical purpose. Truly a singular effort, there's a bit of something for every notch in the music-fan spectrum. Still, Hostage Calm never completely strays from the scene responsible for its inception. If you like music - regardless of genre - you should be paying attention. - Michael French Hostage Calm's Self-Titled full-length was recorded and produced by Greg Thomas at Silver Bullet Studios (Ambitions, Shai Hulud, Life In Your Way) in Burlington, CT and was mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side. Run For Cover will be releasing the record on July 20th, 2010 on 12" vinyl ( 300 black, 200 clear / blue ), CD and digital formats. For more info go to www.beartrappr.com/hostage-calm