In Support Of The Art is an interview feature which runs frequently. Each entry focuses on a different musician and his very own collection of vinyl records, along with what’s currently going on with their music. For this week’s entry, we spoke with Chris Baglivo and Evan Bernard, who make up The Weaks, an indie rock band hailing from Philadelphia. The Weaks just recently signed to Lame-O Records, where they have their new EP, “The World Is A Terrible Place & I Hate Myself and Want To Die,” up for pre-order.
You can currently pick up the one-sided 12″ individually, or in a series of bundle packages. Check out our talk with the guys below and look out for an exclusive song stream from the EP next week.
Both of you went to school for audio engineering and, understandably, have translated this passion into a full-band project. What would you say the advantages, both production-wise and in songwriting, are that come along with a traditional music-based education? After all, it doesn’t seem too common nowadays.
Chris Baglivo: Our education isn’t as traditional as you might think. The program we were in focused more on the business and the recording process, and music felt like an afterthought. While we did have theory courses, most of our knowledge comes from independent study and experience. That being said, we can quickly compose harmonies and think about guitar parts not just in terms of notes but also frequency ranges. It helps when placing things sonically, from an arranging perspective.
The record’s “super bundle” includes not only a T-shirt, but a bottle of homemade hot sauce, as well. Seeing as how music and cooking are quite diverse pursuits, how did the band come up with the culinary touch?
Evan Bernard: I’ve always loved cooking. My father went to culinary school. I tried to drop out of Drexel sophomore year and was looking into culinary schools until my dad gave me a stern talking to about how that life is not for me. He was right, I could never hang in that world. So it’s a hobby and necessity of ours now. We always loved to cook on tours as well, you save a lot of otherwise poorly spent money. But on the contrary, cooking and music are quite similar in my world. When I’m making a record I have different aural textures and tones I can use to create a soundscape, and flavor the song to my personal taste. I love hot sauce, and I am especially fond of the flavour of the ghost pepper. I wanted to create my own personal take on a ghost pepper sauce and the album name is fitting; it’s painfully hot to most.
Your EP is titled “The World is a Terrible Place & I Hate Myself and Want to Die.” I sense both a marriage of the old (a Nirvana reference) and the new (with an obvious nod to The World Is a Beautiful Place). How does this duality come to life within the tracks and were you afraid of scaring some off with such a bold title?
EB: I like to think the album is pretty diverse influentially, we’re definitely products of the ’90s as are a lot of our peers. There’s definitely a good amount of that influence showing through, for sure. I’ve been revisiting my high school CD binder lately and I’m realizing a lot of it will stick with me for life.
CB: While I did listen to a lot of Nirvana and Mud Honey when I was a kid, most of my ’90s love is still fairly recent. I think I listened to the Blue Album for the first time about three or four years ago and it opened me up to a whole new world of influences.
EB: I’m not really afraid of scaring anybody off with the title, and it’s generally a pretty tongue in cheek statement. Granted I am 26 now and I’ve noticed the overarching sadness that plagues just about everybody. There is a realness to it. We all feel the same way, whether it’s a quiet moment in our bedrooms or written loudly on a t-shirt hoping it will come across as ironic to everybody else, so nobody will know this is actually how we feel. Everyone has an image to keep up. Well, I guess this is growing up.
Emily (from Lame-O) has revealed The Weaks to be full of dedicated audiophiles. Tell us more about your record collections. When did you begin to collect records and did anyone in particular help you into the habit?
EB: I wouldn’t say I’m a collector, I mostly just try to buy records from bands I like. Things I’d wanna listen to while making breakfast or before going to bed. I’d say my dad was the biggest influence in me buying records because he had a decent amount of them and would from time to time pull one out he thought I’d really like. That’s how I heard London Calling for the first time, and even Sgt. Peppers. Actually, another huge help was when Chris & I were moving into our first house sophomore year of college and we found an ad on craigslist for free furniture, and essentially loaded up a van with the entirety of this lady’s recently deceased mother’s house. It included over 300 classical LPs, many of which have opened me up to wildly different musical streams than I’d have ever sought out.
CB: My parents hardly listened to music, so I didn’t branch out until I started taking free boxes of LPs from people’s garbage in high school. Once I listened to The Clones Of Doctor Funkenstein, I bought a bunch of P-Funk records, and branched out into Graham Central Station and other funk bands. Now that I think of it, I mostly have old funk albums. Even the Bowie album I most frequently spin is Young Americans. I guess I was drawn to that as a direct reaction to my dad only listening to John Cougar Mellencamp, so in a way he was an influence.
If someone flipped through your collection nowadays, what type of genres and artists would they come across?
EB: Everything, man. It’s all over the place. My most recent acquisitions have been Asobi Seksu’s Hush, Joan Of Arc’s Flowers, Sly & The Family Stone’s Fresh and The Seven Fields of Aphelion’s Periphery.
CB: As I mentioned, lots of funk. Some classic crooners, I love Bing Crosby. Most of Bowie’s discography, The Zombies, and my friends records. Most of the newer vinyl I have are from bands I see while touring or I’m friends with, e.g. Hopalong, Margy Pepper, etc. Not an overarching theme, just people’s bands that I have enjoyed live.
What are some of your prized possessions?
EB: A painting my little brother did called Amona Lisa. He did it in art class when he was 13. It’s awesome. I framed it and it’s the first thing you see when you walk into my room.
CB: I have a Gibson ES-369 that I was given by an acquaintance of my dad’s when I first started playing. I never met the guy, he just dropped it off to my dad at work one day and told a story about how his arthritis didn’t allow him to use it anymore. I remember opening the case and thinking, what? This isn’t a strat! Now it’s the most important thing I own. I hope you were asking about favorite records, because we clearly missed the mark, haha.
Are there any records you’re still on the lookout for? In other words, are there any “white whales” still out of reach?
EB: Always. They’ve recently reissued a ton of my “White Whales” like Your Favorite Weapon by Brand New and Slowdive’s discography. I’m actually going to go to Long in the Tooth today because Lame-O Eric told me he saw Codeine’s Barely Real EP in the window.
CB: I don’t know, personally. I just grab things I like as they cross my path. I like the experience of happening upon something.
Where do you prefer to do the majority of your record shopping? What are some of your favorite brick + mortar stores to visit?
EB: Beautiful World Syndicate is my favorite record store of all time. Hands down. You always find the best shit there. Last time I went I found Azure Ray’s Hold On Love for like eight bucks and Miles Davis’s Tribute to Jack Johnson for seven!
CB: Ditto on Beautiful World. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but they had this gnarly Bambi picture disc I had my eye on.
Where do you see your collecting habits going in the future?
EB: Hopefully Japan. My buddy Matt just went there on tour and found Rocketship’s A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness and an original pressing of Weezer’s Blue Album. I think those might be my “Whitest Whales.” My jealousy of him is infinite.
CB: Genre-wise more indie stuff. I have so many established artists in my collection, but I listen to more indie now because I’m surrounded by it.
Lame-O is surely a vinyl-first label, pressing each of their releases on wax before any other physical format. What can listeners — and collectors — expect from the upcoming Weaks pressing?
EB: This edition is 300 copies of our record on a one sided 12″ with a screen print of my brothers painting Amona Lisa on the reverse side. I’m also going to screen print both sides of the jacket myself. After this, we’re not going to be doing that again. It’s a lot of work but i love the aesthetic.
CB: We’re also doing a limited release cassette tape of oddities and B-sides with the first few orders. Old ideas and weird things Evan and I have recorded over the years. They’re finally going to see the light of day.
Interview questions by James Cassar