Andrew Weiss and Friends Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Andrew Weiss and Friends Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Lamitschka:  Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?

Andrew Weiss: I would describe my music as "power pop-icana." It is my own spin on the early 1970s Laurel Canyon folk rock sound mixed with the sound of late 1970s power pop. I have always loved those two styles of music, and the idea since the beginning of Andrew Weiss and Friends has been to have those sounds live together. My mantra has always been the songs have to come first. From there, it becomes about how to capture the songs in a recording so that the meaning translates to the listener. I have a really great circle of musicians who play on my records along with me, and we actually recorded this new album live to analog tape. Recording that way is a really honest way of making music, and that has always been really important to me. I want it to be clear that when you listen to my songs, you're hearing something real and pure. The songs and the recordings are coming from a genuine place that I hope the listener can feel.
Lamitschka:  Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your album?

Andrew Weiss: On our first album The Honeymoon Suite, I wrote all of the songs. A couple of those songs had been around as early as 2 years before then waiting to be finished, but most of them were written during the exciting time of the new project starting to form. On the new album, I wrote 11 of the 12 songs on the album myself. "The Morning After" was a co-write between myself and Amir Mortezai. I met Amir while we were in college together, and during that time we wrote a few songs. One night, we were driving back after seeing a concert, and he put on this song he had been working on. It was a 9 minute instrumental piece that he didn't quite know where to take it from there. I loved it the minute it started, and when he asked if I had any ideas, I told him I would love to work on it. Over the next few days, I re-shaped the song, cut the piece down from 9 minutes to 4 minutes, wrote lyrics, and added to the melody. We were both really happy with it, and I considered it one of the best lyrics I had ever written. However, the song sat there for 3 years until I remembered it while we were recording the new album. I really wanted to bring it back, so we recorded it, I wrote a string arrangement for it, and it's one of my favorite songs on the album.

Lamitschka:  Who inspires you musically and how deep do your musical roots run?

Andrew Weiss: I always listened to so much music from a really young age. A lot of times growing up, staying home and listening to records was more appealing to me than going out with friends. My musical roots come from the music my family played when I was growing up. My parents played ELO, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and Def Leppard around the house, and my uncle changed my life when he introduced me to the Abbey Road album when I was two years old. Taste changes over the years, but I am lucky that the music I always loved seems to be timeless, and I still don't get tired of listening. Over the past few years, some of the bands/artists that have inspired my songwriting are Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Buffalo Springfield, Cheap Trick, The Byrds, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan.

Lamitschka:  What inspired you to become a songwriter?

Andrew Weiss:  It was actually a specific song that inspired me to become a songwriter, and that song was "Purple Haze" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. My uncle plays guitar, and when I was seven years old, he would come over to the house a few times each week to play music. We would mostly play Beatles songs, but he would also show me songs that he wrote when he was a kid. After a few weeks, I realized that maybe I should try to write a song so I can have something to show my uncle too, but I didn't quite know how to do that yet. There was a Def Leppard documentary on TV at the time (another band that was an influence on me), and in that documentary, there was a scene where they were playing "Purple Haze." I had never heard the song before and thought it was incredible. I called my uncle up the next day, and I sang "Purple Haze" to him, presenting it as a song that I had written. Of course, he knew the song and knew that I didn't write it. He explained to me that writing a song involved coming up with something that didn't already exist. It became obvious to me then that this was something I really wanted to try, and within days, I started writing my own songs. 

Lamitschka:  What is the difference between your last CD and your current one?

Andrew Weiss: I'd say the main difference is the pacing of the songs collectively. The songs on our first album are mainly acoustic based. Sometimes on the record, there isn't even an electric guitar on the track, and when there is, it's only one. The album was purposely crafted this way, because I was going for a certain sound, which I think we achieved. In fact, it's one of my favorite albums I've ever been a part of, for that reason: I wouldn't change anything about it. I stand by every note on that album, which is something I can say because it has been out for a year and a half already. However, when we started playing the songs live, I missed having some rock n roll songs in there that we could boost the shows with. So when I was writing songs for the new album, I tried to keep that in the back of my mind.  

Lamitschka:  How did you choose the title for the CD?  Is there a story behind the name?

Andrew Weiss: The new album is called The Golden Age of Love & Chemistry because I believe that is true for the time we live in. Not long before this album, I got engaged to my high school sweetheart, and that became the theme to some of the songs written during that period. Also, during the writing of this album, I began to notice all of these news headlines about the advances being made in science, used for good and bad. The juxtaposition of that with the theme of love was really interesting to me, and once I realized that the album included songs with both of those themes, I thought it would work as an album title. Of course the words "love" and "chemistry" are also related to each other when you're talking about two people who have chemistry with each other, and as a result, they fall in love. So it can be seen in that way as well.
Lamitschka:  What is your favorite song among all the songs you have recorded and what's the story behind it?

Andrew Weiss: It's always really hard to pick a favorite song, as most songwriters will tell you, but there is something really special to me about the song "We've Got Good On Our Side" from our new album. I had been writing a song a day during that time, and my fiance had asked me to write a song about the current state of the world. It was a task easier said than done because sometimes those kinds of songs come off as being insincere. But I am really proud to say that friends who have heard "We’ve Got Good On Our Side" have been positively uplifted, and it seems to be the one that people come talk to me about after shows. I wrote that song about the disconnect that humans seem to have these days. The art of conversation is sadly not what it used to be because of technology, and this song is a kind of prayer that one day we can realize the importance of real human relationships. It was one of those songs where after writing it, I felt that it became bigger than me. It's message is important, and I hope when people hear it they feel the longing for connection. 
Lamitschka:  What's your favorite song by another artist that you wish you could have recorded?

Andrew Weiss:   I could answer this question many different ways, but today I wish I could have recorded "Nowhere Man" by The Beatles. Putting aside that the song is beautifully written, the song is also beautifully recorded. I stand by the idea that before a song can be recorded, it should be able to resonate with someone by just playing it with an acoustic guitar or piano. Once that happens, you have a nice base to produce the rest of the song. In the case of "Nowhere Man" the production is very simple. Drums, acoustic guitar, bass, and an electric guitar that pokes in and out. On top of that, those lush harmonies that carry the song are so important. In my mind, there is no other song like it, and nor could there be. When I produce records of my own songs, I sometimes have in mind a reference track of a sound, or a feel, to better articulate what I would like to hear. There have been many times when I have referenced the Rubber Soul album for the way that the sounds on that album really allow the songs to breathe and speak for themselves without interruption. 

Lamitschka:  What will your next single be?

Andrew Weiss: At the time of this interview, our next single is going to be released on February 28th, and it is called "Everybody Loves a Comeback." The song was written about redemption, and it questions the idea that people who mess up deserve a second chance. 

Lamitschka:  What drives you?

Andrew Weiss: Not to sound too corny, but the magic of songwriting is what drives me. To enter a room with nothing but a guitar or piano, and to come out with a song is an excitement that never wares off for me. And then to perform that song for somebody and for the song to move that person emotionally is priceless.

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