Allison Weiss Interview: “It’s A Dream Come True”

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allisone weiss interview

New Album New Love  Is Out Now Via SideOneDummy Records.

With the release of her new album New LoveAllison Weiss has shown a natural progression in her music, both in the sound and in the already high quality of songwriting and production. We speak to her about that new direction and the making of the album, life on the road, and the situation that nearly put her last UK tour in jeopardy.
O: You’re engaged now, congratulations! It does seem like you are in a good place but a lot of your older songs come from a place of heartbreak, how is it performing them now?

A: Oh man, I still feel everything that I’ve ever written. I mean, being in a happy successful, marriage-bound relationship has had no effect on the way I relate to break up songs, especially my own break up songs, they still mean so much to me. It’s such a universal emotion and I feel like everyone in the world, doesn’t matter where you are in your love life, you’ll always be affected by break-up songs. Just because you’re in a happy relationship doesn’t mean you hear the new Adele song and have no feelings on it, you know what I mean? My mom adores my super sad break up songs and she and my dad have been married for 30 years. Sometimes singing them does put me in that place and I get emo thinking about it, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s just part of the whole thing.

O: You work under your own name as Allison Weiss, but how important is collaboration in your work, both onstage and off?

A: When I play with a band, the boys basically play what’s on the record. My guitar player, Pete, has written a lot of the guitar parts on my last couple of records. As far as collaboration goes, that might apply more to the songwriting now. New Love was the first album that I had a co-writer on a couple of songs, and that was my dear friend Jenny Owen Youngs. I’d never co-written anything in the past, before with my songs, it was a very personal experience and I was protective and nervous about co-writing but I started doing more co-writing for commercial songwriting so then when it came time to write my new record, I considered writing with some friends.

O: You are also a designer, with your own design company Werewolf Girlfriend, and you’ve been designing for 13 years. How did that start?

A: Before I played music, I liked to make art as a kid, ever since I was very tiny. I went to school for graphic design, so I have a degree in that and I figure I might as well use it. I’m a very visual person, whereas I feel like a lot of musicians that I do work for are just about the music and have no idea how to represent their music visually and to me, that’s really fun to figure it out. I know the expression ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover,’ I feel like you should be able to judge it by the cover, from a graphic designer standpoint. I really like the challenge that comes with sometimes listening to somebody’s record and figuring out what’s going to visually represent this so when a person sees it at a record store or on a merch table, they know what kind of music it’s going to be.

O: Why did you choose not to go down the graphic designer path?

A: I was so close to going down the design route full time but then my second to last year in school, things kind of took off on the internet with my music career and that’s when I met Jenny and I started to go up to New York all the time and I got involved in that scene — it just looked like something I could do for real and when you have the opportunity to play music for a living and play shows, then that’s something that you don’t pass up unless you don’t have a passion for it. I’m the type of person where I value making things and creating things and doing what I’m passionate about over the security of a good job, I guess.

O: Last time you toured the UK it was with Rob Lynch and originally Front Porch Step. You posted on Facebook that you were going to drop off the tour in light of the allegations against Front Porch Step that came out — but you did go on to fulfill the tour when he did drop off. What were your thoughts and feelings at that time?

A: It was definitely a thing where I feel like it happened on a Thursday or Friday that the allegations came out and I was immediately like – I can’t be quiet about this. This is too big of a deal. It’s too uncomfortable and I don’t want to associate myself with this person because I am really against these allegations whether or not they’re true. It was a really tough decision but I knew I had to drop off the tour, and Rob felt exactly the same. The whole behind the scenes that nobody sees is that all of our managers and booking agents are freaking out. There were other bands, too, that had dates planned with Front Porch Step later in the year and things like that. Everybody wanted to wait until Monday, until after the weekend to make a decision and to post about it. As a favour to Front Porch Step’s manager – who I’m friends with – they didn’t do anything wrong. They just happened to sign a client who happened to make a big mistake.

I felt bad because I couldn’t wait til Monday. I didn’t want to let that weekend pass and have two more days pass with people thinking that I was okay with what was going on. So I posted it up and dropped off the tour. When Monday rolled around, FPS had dropped off of everything and so that’s when we realised that the shows themselves hadn’t been cancelled yet, the promoters contacted Rob and I, and said “Hey, if you guys still wanna do this tour, we’ll still have you.” Originally I thought that if Front Porch was gone, then the promoters might cancel the shows anyway because he was the headlining band. It was really, really cool that the promoters wanted to bring me and Rob over. It just sucks when you have a full tour planned out and it’s how you make a living and then one person on the bill fucks it up for everybody. That would’ve been me and Rob having to eat the cost of our plane tickets. So it was really awesome that the promoters put us on and we were able to do the tour with just the two of us, and I think we probably had more fun anyway.

O: So it’s been in the news recently about the band Viola Beach, who tragically passed away due to a van crash on tour. It reminded me of your own van crash at the end of 2014. Did that experience change your perspective on touring?

A: I think it’s just life in general. I mean, people die every day. My dad always says this thing whenever anyone is talking about the end of the world, “well the end of the world is every day for some people.” Everyday is somebody’s end of the world, which is so sad to think about but also it makes you stop and think how you need to be able to appreciate every day and being able to be in a band on tour. Yeah, I guess, you think about a band like Viola Beach and you’re like, “oh shit.” I am putting myself out on the road more than a normal person would maybe spend in a car, and I’m putting myself out there in these months when it’s icy and I’m driving on these dangerous roads.

I look back on the day we got in the van crash and I just think – why weren’t we going slower? It definitely has changed the way I look at the schedule when you’re travelling in snow and when you’re on tour, it’s just not worth it. It’s just not worth it to make the show. I had one person after that comment on my Facebook and say “if you really cared, you would have made it to the show anyway.” It was just like, fuck off. Fuck off. You know what I mean? You have no idea. We just rolled our van, sorry we had to cancel a show because we all almost died. Thank god we survived, the Viola Beach thing is tragic, it’s so, so, so tragic.

O: Anything last words for your UK fans?
A: Oh man, the UK fans in particular, thank you so much for continuing to come to these shows. I think the first time was 3 years ago now, it’s just gotten better and better every time. It’s cool to be able to see such an increase in popularity of every tour. When I come back, there’s gonna be people in the room and people liking it and I can’t believe it.

It’s a dream come true.

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