Portland-based A Weather released a new album called Everyday BalloonsÂ earlier this March. The latest record is a hushed-voiced gem, but I’ll leave my in-depth thoughts for an upcoming album review. Until then, satiate your A Weather appetite with the following interview. Frontman Aaron Gerber was kind enough to field my highly disjointed questions about the latest record, understated moments, and stuffed animals.
IndieMuse: How do you think the overall sound of Everyday Balloons builds on the sound of your previous record Cove?
Aaron Gerber: I’d say that Everyday Balloons pushes the dynamics a bit more than Cove does. The focus is more on the electric guitars whereas with Cove the acoustic played a more dominant role. There are more cacophonous elements to Everyday Balloons (our guitar player, Aaron Krenkel, uses the word “raucous” which I think is fitting). There is also maybe more playfulness with the arrangements andÂ overall more layering of overdubs. But paradoxicallyÂ I feel like Everyday Balloons also has a more direct live sound to it. We wanted to use as much of the natural room tone as we could when recording.
IM:Â A Weather lyrics take the time to appreciate the understated moments of day-to-day life, like in “Third of Life” when you say “Take a breath and brush it off / Brush your teeth and sort your socks.” I’m wondering if your lyrical attention to small but beautiful everyday moments explains the album’s title, Everyday Balloons i.e. admiring the little moments that often go by unnoticed but are kind of remarkable for all their quietness.
AG: It’s important for me to ground my writing in the concrete world. I’m trying to give the listeners those little moments you mention as means of gettingÂ their bearings, little recognizable elementsÂ one can grasp among the weirder or more abstract stuff. I don’t want to create a narrative or a confessional, but I doÂ like the sense that there is something real going on, even if you can’t be certain exactly what it is. For me the title Everyday Balloons has multiple meanings (the more I sit with it the more it continues to change), and the interpretation youÂ describe soÂ nicely can definitely be one of those meanings. I would never want to create one way of orienting the listener towards our music or my lyrics, or say that there is one over-arching theme to the record.
IM:Â What are some of your favourite everyday, understated moments?
Hmm. I take walks to the grocery store. I enjoy petting cats that I meet around my neighborhood. Sarah [female vocalist in A Weather] and I love going to Sauvie’s Island (a bit of farmland on the outskirts of Portland) during the fall. Cooking is a big hobby of mine.
Interview continued after the jump…
Interview continued after the jump…
IM: In terms of your music career, what are you most looking forward to this year?
There is a lot to look forward to for us. We begin a North American tour in April during which we’ll get to play a slew of cities that we’ve never been able to previously. There is some talk of getting to Europe in the fall, but nothing solid at the moment. Personally, I’m also looking forward to begin work on new songs. We’ve already started playing a couple that came together after Everyday Balloons was recorded. I find songwriting to be the most rewarding part of playing music and the part I miss the most when I’m not doing it.
IM: What are some favourite venues that you’ve played at? What made them so great?
AG: Locally there are so many nice venuesÂ in PortlandÂ that suit our music. My current top two would have to be The Woods (a newish place, recently converted from a funeral home) and The Artistery (the go-to all ages club for us). What makes playing these (or any) venues so nice is kindness of the people working there. Non-local favorite venues would include The Hi Dive in Denver, Bottom of the Hill in San Fransisco and The Sunset Tavern in Seattle. I’m sure that when return from our tour in May there will be a bunch more names to append to this list.
IM: Is there any reason why stuffed animals seem to follow you guys around so much? They’re in photos, your website bios, the “It’s Good to Know” video… I mean, I rather enjoy how prevalent these little stuffies are, I’m just curious as to how and why they became so prominent.
I think they make a nice counterpoint to what some might perceive as the “mournful” or “depressing” characteristics of our music. It’s good to have a fun side to the more serious stuff. Aside from this I have always just had stuffed animals around. My stuffed elephant Walter has been a trusted friend for many a year. (He was the inspiration for the Cove cover by the way). Also if you’re in the music industry you have to have some sort of a gimmick right?