RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW MANCHESTER BAND WEIMAR
So let’s start with some general questions about Weimar. What made you decide to start the band?
All of us had been in other bands previously and Weimar was largely a ‘supergroup’ project, of musicians from different bands coming together to combine our styles and influences. The original incarnation of Weimar evolved from an experimental trio called The Bus Pass that I played in with Johann Kloos (our original guitarist) and Brian Benson (drummer in The Sandells). As The Bus Pass, we played experimental instrumental jams, and it was when Johann and I sat down and began developing our jams into more concrete songs, that the genesis of Weimar came into being.
Introduce us all to the members and your musical history?
Our current line-up is:
Aidan Cross (me) – vocals, lyrics, rhythm guitar. I started out fronting the post-punk band The Bacillus in the late 00s and early 10s, then played guitar in Black Light Mutants for a while before starting Weimar. I’ve also collaborated with other artists including The Junta (I did the vocals on a track on his 2018 album Network and have worked on a track with him for his upcoming album), Conrad McQueen from The Last of The Fallen Angels, as well as Ian Moss, and Class Actions.
John Armstrong – bass, backing vocals. John has a long history in Manchester music – his band The Speed Of Sound has been going for over 30 years and are currently riding high following the release of their latest album, Space Museum, which has been extremely well-received worldwide.
Anthony ‘Eddy’ Edwards – drums. Eddy played drums in the punk band The Deceased in the 80s and is also an acclaimed painter, he’s recently had his work exhibited at HOME in Manchester, while he also plays regularly with a Buzzcocks tribute band.
Stephen Sarsen – lead guitar, backing vocals. Stephen was frontman with the post-punk/indie rock band Frank Is Dead for the best part of a decade during the 00s, and was also in The Bacillus with me, as our bassist. He’s also a very prolific singer-songwriter in his own right and has played with several other bands, including Taylor & the Mason and Playground.
And while he’s not in Weimar anymore I should also mention Johann Kloos, our original guitarist, as his contributions to our upcoming album are substantial. Johann is a prolific solo artist who also releases music via German Shepherd Records, and his musical history goes back to the 80s with bands such as Erick, while he is currently a member of The Sandells. Johann left Weimar in 2019 but he contributed largely to the album, and his presence will be very much felt on it.
What was behind the choice of the name Weimar?
We named ourselves after the Weimar Republic, which was established in Germany following World War I and ruled over the country until the global economic crash of 1929. With a progressive government during a very unstable and unpredictable era, art, cabaret, music and film all flourished during the Weimar era and Weimar Germany became known for its decadence and the experimental art that came out of that time… we chose the name because we felt our outlook matched that of the artists and performers of the Weimar era, the focus on freedom of expression in the wake of political uncertainty, and this reflects in a lot of our songs… so the name just seemed perfect for us.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received with regards to music?
Do your own thing, don’t try to emulate anyone else musically, be true to yourself and find your own sound.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Absolutely not. We’re all pretty rational and healthily skeptical.
Who is inspiring you at the minute on the Manchester grassroots scene?
Our German Shepherd Records labelmates The Junta, Adventures of Salvador and Dominic Carlton Jones, also Rose Niland, Little Sparrow, Bauer, and I’ve personally been very inspired by the various projects of Joshua Ben Joseph, particularly Hipster Brothel NQ.
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
I think the single launch for our debut single, “John Doe/Curse the Songs” at The Eagle in February 2019 was a particularly big highlight. Great venue and a fantastic audience, it was a special night and really felt like all our hard work had paid off well.
Which one of the band is the most unpredictable and why?
I think we’re all pretty unpredictable in our own way, which is what keeps Weimar exciting for us… we surprise one another musically by always bringing in something new and unexpected.
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
I think for me it’s always Curse the Songs. We really play off one another’s energy when doing that song in the live environment, and it always seems to get a great response from the audience. It’s a song where you have to get the timing exactly right, and somehow we always seem to manage this perfect synchronicity between our performances, it’s as though the song is driving us rather than vice versa.
And Transatlantic Confusion is great fun of course. It’s one of the oldest songs in our repertoire as it was originally done by my former band The Bacillus, but one of the reasons Weimar kept it in our set was because it’s just too much fun not to do live, it ends the set on a high and has lots of scope for improvisation. So we did a studio version and put it on the B-side of our new single, as a treat for our fans.
We were very happy with both and are very grateful to Travis Ward and everyone else at RGM for your support. Travis made some very encouraging comments in both reviews and has really done his bit to propel us forward.
So, now onto your new releases. You’ve just released your new single, “The Girls Of LA”, what can you tell us about it?
“The Girls Of LA” is a very atypical Weimar song, it’s a three-minute pure pop song and is a genuinely happy and optimistic tune, in stark contrast to our usual brooding and cynical style! It’s very stylistically different in that it contains touches of 90s college rock, combined with 70s proto-punk influence. It’s a refreshing change from the norm for Weimar, and a burst of bright optimism in the dark times we’re living in.
Talk me through the thought process of the single?
The tune of “The Girls Of LA” actually came to me in a dream – far from the first time that’s happened, previous singles “Curse the Songs” and “Undesirable Master” came to me that way too. It sounded very different from our usual style but was such an obvious single that I knew immediately on waking that I had to write it, and hummed the tune into my phone’s voice recorder while I was still half asleep (which I do every time I dream a tune I know I’ll have to write, to make sure I don’t forget it when I’m fully awake). The lyric ‘the girls of LA’ was part of the dream, and it seemed a bit atypical for Weimar, a bit kitschy, so I had to find a way to make it meaningful. I’d read an article about the bottle-service girls who work the bars and clubs of LA and how they use the tips from punters to fund their bigger career goals, in Hollywood, in the fashion industry, or in business – I met a few ladies who did this work on my last visit to LA as well – so I made the song about them. So it’s an anthem for female empowerment, reckless pursuit of career goals and believing in your dreams, achieving highly against the odds – and as such it’s a kind of positive reflection on the American Dream, the road to stardom and success. As in, carve your own road, build your own ‘American Dream’, let your individuality blossom.
What was the recording process like?
I’m extremely picky in the studio and a bit of a perfectionist, and I was very precise about how I wanted this to sound, so I was very focused on getting it completely right, down to the last detail. Our producers Adam and Chris at Vibratone Sound Studio will tell you how picky I can be! – but I always defer to their judgement at the end of the day as they know best what will work and what won’t, they go the extra mile to get the best performance out of all of us, and I’ll always find something wrong with what I’m singing or playing even when it sounds fine to Adam and Chris, so I trust them and the other band members in the end.
I believe you have an album coming out as well. Tell me more about that?
Yes, our debut album “Dancing On A Volcano” will be released on June 24th. It features 12 brand new, previously unreleased tracks (so “The Girls Of LA” and our previous singles will not feature on the album – partly because it’s very different stylistically, and also because we like to keep singles and albums separate, to give the fans the full value). There are guest appearances from other artists on there – Finola, she’s a solo artist who mostly releases country-tinged music, but she’s a talented multi-instrumentalist so she’s contributed sax to the album… there’s some trumpet from Bob Dinn, who’s played in the past with Paul Heaton of Beautiful South, Housemartins fame… Loop-Aznavour from Adventures of Salvador is on there as well, as is Susan O’Shea from Factory Acts. We sequenced the album with the idea in mind to take the listener on a journey, and it’s a journey through lots of varied soundscapes – there’s some cabaret on there, some torch songs, some psychedelia, prog rock, blues, jazz, world music… it’s an album that’ll hopefully surprise the listener at every turn, it’s a surreal excursion into Weimar’s world.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the single and album?
The importance of not rushing things… it can be frustrating how long the process of writing and recording seems to take, because as artists we want our work to be right out there for everyone to listen to, so others can hear it and we can crack on with writing new stuff… but any musical project takes time and it’s always worth putting in all the time and effort possible to create the best work you can, and reach your full potential. The pandemic delayed the completion of the album, which was frustrating at first but it actually proved to be a blessing in disguise, because it forced us to slow down, take a closer look at what we were doing, iron out creases and make important tweaks here and there to create the best product we could. So I think the album you’ll hear (and the single) is actually much better thanks to the pandemic and the extra time taken working on the music.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
I’m actually completely happy with the album. Which for someone as picky and perfectionistic as me is definitely saying something! I just hope some other people will get some enjoyment out of it too.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
We will be pushing the album out there as much as possible and releasing several videos to accompany it, we want to give it a special launch… Due to the pandemic situation we’ve made the difficult decision not to play live for the time being, until circumstances are safer. We realize the live music scene is back in action again, but at the end of the day, the government underplays risks and undervalues lives, we’ve no idea what’s round the corner with new variants emerging constantly and scientists warning of dangers ahead… and we don’t want to take the risk of anyone getting sick or worse as a result of us taking the risk of playing live. So live shows are off the cards for the time being, but we have a lot of surprises in store to accompany the album’s release and are going to make the most of it as a kind of multimedia project, or Gesamkunstwerk. Then later in the year, we’ll hopefully return to the studio and start laying the groundwork for the second album – we already have more than half a second album’s worth of material, so hopefully we’ll set that process into motion before the end of 2022.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Stay safe, be awesome to one another, take no BS, follow your dreams.
Thanks for speaking to us today folks, all the best and keep in touch.