INTERVIEW: Allison Weiss | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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“I’m a sucker for an aching heart, gotta suffer for the sake of art, and I want you ’cause you make it hard, I want you ’cause you make it hard. It’s a pattern I’ve always found, I get messed up, I write it down. I like the hurt cause I like the sound.”

So opens the first track, The Sound, on Allison Weiss‘ latest record, New Love. It’s the perfect lyrical introduction to a beautifully open record that sums up Weiss’ approach to music. Bittersweet and heartbreakingly honest in the most uplifting way, Weiss writes endearingly emotional pop songs with pop punk sensibilities that have cemented her status as the darling of the DIY scene.

Born in Georgia, USA, Weiss found a connection to soul-baring indie rock from a young age. “The first band that really inspired me to start writing a ton of songs was Dashboard Confessional. It was the first music I had heard that was so emotional, and I really connected with it at that time. After that came Tegan & Sara, Rilo Kiley, Death Cab, Bright Eyes and a bunch of other bands that really shaped me as a songwriter. I became a songwriter because I had things to say and it was the only way I knew how to say them. I became a professional touring musician because I love performing and putting on an awesome show.”

Since the release of her first EP back in 2007, An Eight-Song Tribute To Feeling Bad & Feeling Better, Weiss seems to have worked nonstop; from raising money to release her debut LP …Was Right All Along via Kickstarter (she reached her funding goal in just one day and became something of a poster-child for Kickstarter campaigns), to touring relentlessly with the likes of The Get Up Kids’ Matt Pryor, The Front Bottoms and even Lou Reed (more about that later). This hard work has led to the release of New Love on SideOneDummy last year; a legendary indie label which has featured acts such as The Gaslight Anthem and Anti-Flag on its roster. “It feels like SideOneDummy has been waiting in the wings for the past few years! It’s like they were my best friend who I didn’t know I was in love with until I was single and they stood outside my window holding a boom box and playing my favourite song. It’s a match made in heaven. Having a label who truly understands your vision and energy the way they do mine, that’s every artist’s dream.”

I became a songwriter because I had things to say and it was the only way I knew how to say them

When it comes to touring, Weiss certainly has some memorable experiences. “All the DIY stuff I did before I got a manager and a label will always be some of my favourite memories; a lot of weird experiences in weird venues with my best friends. Once I played this shitty bar in Alabama with my two friends and they billed us as ‘three girls’ which was fucking hilarious. Nobody showed up to the show, there was a football game playing behind us, and somehow we got paid $300. We ran out of there before they could take it back!” Since moving to Los Angeles from New York recently and building a “nice little nest” with her fiancé, Weiss finds it harder to leave home, though she describes touring as “one of my favourite things in the world.” In Lou Reed, who she was invited to tour Europe with in 2012, Weiss found something of a mentor who shared a similar philosophy. “That was my first big production style tour, and I definitely had a lot to learn. The best part was when I sang backup in his band. He wanted me to let go and try different things, but I was really nervous. So he says, ‘Only do it if it’s fun. Only if it’s fun.’ I think about that all the time now. It’s the reason we all started playing music, but it’s so easy to forget that you should only be doing it if you’re having fun.”

Although New Love is just as lyrically sincere as her previous work, Weiss’ focus has shifted slightly. “I seem to have written quite a few songs about making tough decisions, or being indecisive in general. Since I’ve been in a happy relationship for the past four years, my priorities have shifted from romance to mental health, really. I was diagnosed with OCD a few years ago, which opened a whole new door of self discovery for me. On the surface, most of the songs on New Love are about relationships, because that’s the kind of pop song I love to write. That said, there are some deeper themes about what it means to be a human.” Though Weiss is still very much classed as part of the alt. DIY scene, her songs are essentially soaring pop songs with a universal quality that anyone can feel a connection to. Take Who We Are on New Love for example: a glistening, insanely catchy track with a life-affirming quality that makes you want to run down the street high-fiving everyone you pass.

It’s often an over-used slightly gooey sentiment, but Weiss truly is a pretty inspirational human being. After all, everyone wants to find someone they can relate to when exploring music. So if people could take away one message from her music, what would it be? “Listen to the last track on New Love (The Same). We all have our shit going on. Nobody’s is bigger or smaller than anyone else’s. The experience of being human is very universal.”

Allison Weiss plays The Cluny, Newcastle on Wednesday 17th February.

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