“Tripped out the devil spoke to me/Through my high fingertips/Which were in the ground/The same beneath you now/Which means I’m alive/Which means I’m not dead.” are lyrics from “Trippin’ The Life Fantastic” which is one of Weatherbox‘s fan favorites. The almost six minute long, thrashing depiction of religious views and drugged induced visions can mildly represent what Weatherbox is all about. The spectacular imagery in the majority of all the songs and under the table insights about religion and life in general defines the lyrics that is created in the mind of Brian Warren. Weatherbox was on tour with Prawn and Enemies and I got to talk to Brian before the show.
So you were just at SXSW, right?
Wrong. First question wrong. It was announced that we were going to be there. And we should have been there. But we basically only had one show that came through. And the rest didn’t come through. So we would have been stuck for five days in Austin as an unofficial band. It’s kind of a hellscape once you’ve been there once or twice. We just couldn’t afford it to have five off days so close to the beginning of the tour. It was too bad.
This is your third day of tour, how has it been going so far?
It’s been pretty good. We put a lot of effort into making this tour happen because Enemies are our good friends and have been for years and years. But we’ve never even fucking met each other until the beginning of this tour. We had just been mutual fans. And Prawn have been good friends for a long time as well. We toured with them back in 2010. It all came together nicely.
Weatherbox has had a bunch of different lineups throughout its existence. What would Weatherbox’s dream lineup be?
I think I have to say the band that I have right now or else I’m a huge dick.
If you could choose any musicians from all of history?
Probably Brian Warren on guitar. Brian Warren on Bass. A drum machine. And Daniel Johnston on lead piano. No, wait, let me think about that. Sam Zurick from Make Believe on guitar for sure. But then Sam Zurick is a great bass player too. So Sam Zurick on guitar and bass because they can be alive or dead but they can also be clones. And then our old drummer Marc (Deriso), probably as the drummer because he is the best drummer in the world.
When did he go on tour with you?
He’s only been on one tour ever but he recorded on all the full-lengths.
I just remember the first time I saw you guys was with The Front Bottoms. And the drummer that you had then had gone through at least ten pairs of drumsticks.
Oh that’s Griff. He’s also really good. Griff is actually, probably, a better drummer than Marc. But Marc’s been my homie since day one. And some of the shit that he’s written for Weatherbox, and he played in another band called Japandi which is one of my favorite bands… He’s one of the most creative people on the goddamn planet. But he’s a fucking monk. He’s a Buddhist and he works at a monastery. He went to Tibet for a year and shaved his eyebrows and his head and didn’t speak for a year. So basically he’s got a lot of other shit that went on and he can’t be in a rock band.
The lyrics for most Weatherbox songs are usually full of tons of impressive imagery. Where does all of the imagery throughout your lyrics come from?
I don’t know. I read a lot. I have some weird brain conditions that make me psychotic sometimes and I like to write about that.
What do you read?
I read a lot of stuff
What are some of your favorites?
Right. It’s not that I’m influenced as an author, it’s just that I read a lot. Like I take in an immense amount of information. So a lot of it’s like Wikipedia articles and stupid stuff like that. But some of my favorite authors are Thomas Pynchon. The Crying of Lot 49 is a huge part of the Weatherbox cosmology. Along with Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, have you seen our record cover?
For which record?
The Cosmic Drama. It’s a direct rip-off of that book. The color schemes are from that cover. Who else? I feel dumb for not having a better answer. Let me look at my book stash. (Brian looks through his phone for recent books) Who can I name drop? Phillip K. Dick, he’s huge. China Miéville, I like a lot.
On Flies In All Directions you got to do a song with Andy Hull. How was that collaboration like?
Well, I’ve just been friends with him for a long time. We talked about doing a project once that never really happened. We had this part for that song where I wanted him to sing it. We actually did some of the vocals at Manchester’s studio in Atlanta, or Alpharetta, actually. But yeah, we’ve just been friends and it kind of just happened.
Do you think that collaborations in general influence artists in a different direction?
Definitely. I mean, there’s a lot of both in Weatherbox, things that I write exclusively and things that are collaborative. It’s always better to have someone to bounce your ideas off of. Especially when it’s someone like Marc, our drummer, who’s just naturally good at synthesizing. It’s all about synthesis.
Which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is your favorite?
I don’t know. Probably because he’s a dick. I liked him when I was a kid. I’d probably have a different answer if I watched it now. My friends used to call me Bebop. Wait no, Shredder’s my favorite. No wait, the brain is my favorite. Krang. Yeah he’s my favorite.
What was your childhood background like? Or how was religion involved in your early life and how did that influence your music?
(Laughs) Well I was, unfortunately, raised Catholic until I was in 2nd grade. So I have the architecture of a idiot in my brain. And basically I’m an atheist but I’m also totally psychotic sometimes and when I go psychotic all that shit comes back. And basically I’m the Antichrist.
I saw you on your last headlining tour before it got cancelled when you were at the Marquis.
Oh yeah. That tour was fucking insane.
What has your struggle with drugs been like and what advice would you give to people if you have any?
Well I just have a very strange brain chemistry that reacts very poorly to LSD, specifically. For some reason, I don’t know I’ve done every drug, but for some reason LSD just totally kicks something off in my brain. So I, basically, had a complete schizophrenic breakdown and it took me, like, six months to get out of it. And we had to cancel a tour. I thought I had a nuclear bomb inside of myself. I thought there was a comet that was about to hit the Earth.
Is that what “Kickflips” is about?
Yep. Yep. I actually took LSD twice. Which was very, very stupid of me. Because the first time I took it the same thing happened. But yeah, I was nineteen. It was when Weatherbox had just finished writing American Art. And that was another six months of thinking very scary things.
You use unique tunings for your songs. What advantages does a different tuning give you over using standard tuning.
There’s some advantages. There’s a lot of disadvantages. We use DADF#AE. There’s a band called Ghosts and Vodka that I really like, they use that tuning. So just from trying to figure out their songs, we started using it.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Hmmm. I would say… Synthesis. Follow that synthesis.
What do you mean by that?
It’s about taking two different things and twisting them up together to make them sound good. I have weird theories on creativity where I don’t really believe in it. And I kind of feel like everything is just a… There’s this guy Harold Bloom that talks about the anxiety of influence. And it’s kind of like every author or poet is basically starting from a point of janking somebody else and trying to build on whatever their starting point is. So there’s a couple versions of it, like you’re either refuting someone or you’re building on someone, but it always comes back to you interfacing with something else.
Do you have anything that you want to tell your fans?
Every time this happens and I don’t have anything to say to anybody. What should I say? What do people usually say? Hey we’re on tour, come to our shows. Thanks for checking us out. Yeah, thanks.