Glimpses of the South Florida Scene: Weird Wives

Glimpses of the South Florida Scene is a weekly column devoted to the

artists thriving within Broward and Palm Beach counties featuring

interviews with the folks making it happen. This week, Weird Wives.

Weird Wives is not a Jesus Lizard cover band, contrary to the reader comments over here.  Nor are they [just] three-fifths of Surfer Blood or a pig-fuck band (more about this later); just listen to the last, melodically lovely 30 seconds of "Head Bugs." It is best to describe them as a defiantly noisy, pre-Surfer Blood set that began as a group of friends who simultaneously outgrew and became influenced by the music they'd already been making together for years. They are skuzzy and strong and emblematic of a seemingly first-burgeoning scene in Palm Beach County -- it's actually been brewing for a long while, and Weird Wives are the greatest parts of said concoction. Gracious frontman Nick Klein and I corresponded via a series of emails to compose this interview. You can read more about them and their upcoming releases on their blog.

Upcoming Events

New Times: I know you guys are working on a full-length and

more info about that will be available closer to the release date. As

you know, a lot of us are waiting for it -- is any information available

yet as to the release date? And, more generally, how is recording that

album going? Will it include anything from the seven-inch or be all new

material?

Nick Klein: We are sending little things back and forth via the

internet: lyrics, rough sketches of songs, and patterns or anything.

It's a weird way to work, so we can't exactly say when. Hopefully we

can keep putting out smaller sorts of projects more frequently. We are

going to record a song for this compilation around September 3, which

I am not sure I can give too much info about yet. It features some

really dreamy/cool people on it. We have some other smaller releases in

the works, so that works fine for now, I think.

Yeah, all of that sounds like it will hold everyone over for now. Because you were initially (I know Allison Grabenhorst is now part of

the band) one of the only people in Weird Wives who are not in Surfer

Blood, Weird Wives -- at least amongst us nerdy, blogger types -- is

sometimes referred to as your band. I'm curious to know what else you

were working on before Weird Wives, or if you're doing anything else --

solo stuff or working with other people -- and how any of that factors

into what you're doing now with Weird Wives.

Wow, that's a crazy question! I think Weird Wives is all of us. I

certainly don't take a huge role in writing a large portion of musical

content, usually just the least tasteful parts of it all. Those guys

are 100 percent of what makes Surfer Blood what they are as well, I think. A

lot of us spent time from when we were 14 and 15 playing

music together up until now. I think a certain thread amongst some

Florida bands can be woven from those friendships that started there. I

played in a really fun hardcore band with my best friends once, [and] I

did some mopey solo acoustic instrumental music for a bit; I mainly

only ran a few shows out of my parents' dance studio for a few years

that just the right amount of people came to. I do play some music with

my friend Gavin Perry right now. He's a pretty dope artist with a show

at Fredric Snitzer coming up in September.

I saw on the Weird Wives blog in your reviews/descriptions of some

bands all the history there that you're a part of. It must be good to

see that southern Florida bands are getting so much attention, no? It

seems like that's started happening in the past year alone. Do you

feel excited about this? Skeptical? Neutral? On a related note,

what are the hardest and easiest and worst and best parts about being

a local band here? I think it's a relevant question in general because

the place itself seems to be going through a transition and a

particularly relevant question for you since you've been making music

here for so many years.

Yeah, I feel really fortunate to have been around a bunch of creative

people in West Palm. I don't even think the attention is really a

permanent thing; it probably can't be. The output of some bands in the

area is really incredible. It's really cool to see the general

open-mindedness to new ideas. The good qualities of being here right

now? I don't think there are that many. That's probably why a lot of

the music is getting so good. Also, I don't think we or I had much

significant history or anything happening. It was just something that

kind of naturally is and has been happening that has really become

something beautiful.

I like that because there aren't so many good qualities about being

here, the music is improving. I agree with you. Can you say more about

that?

I don't know. It's hard to try and romanticize it or figure out a way

to explain South Florida. The area isn't some total shit-kicker town,

but it's small. People don't tend to stick around because it's just not

a "cool" place to be. I think in that social situation, a lot of people

have room to create really good art and music. The area leaves a lot to

think about and reflect on. It's pretty freeing to put some real time

and energy into something and know that no matter what, only 20 or so

people who actually want to see the show will come, if that. The bars

and clubs in the area seem to be pretty out of touch with what is

coming out right now, and maybe that's a good thing.

I am curious about your songwriting process and how everyone contributes. How does it work?

The songwriting process is an odd one with everybody and the schedules

they hold. A lot of it these days is just sending stuff in the mail and

waiting to hear back. We are going to be in a room together this week,

so some new stuff will be kicked around.

I'm also wondering about how Weird Wives came to be. This seems

obvious in your case; I know you've been playing music with these kids

for awhile, but maybe you could elaborate more specifically on how you

guys started working on Weird Wives and how the whole thing -- the

sound, lineup -- developed.

Weird Wives played our first show June 12, 2008. I had played in a

hardcore band with Brian Black for a bit, and Thomas [Fekete] and

Marcos [Marchesani] were playing shows in another band with Brian at

the same time. After all of that, we just started playing one day, and

it mostly sucked really bad for a few months. We halted on playing for

a little bit. Then we wrote the four-song EP and recorded it with Ryan

Haft, which seemed to work and be a good enough recording. The "sound"

is always fluctuating. We are pretty sensitive guys, so when people

call us a "pig-fuck" or "thrash punk" band without really knowing what

that stuff is, we know maybe it's time to start heading in other

directions. When we started practicing, we played in huge spaces.

Bombast became a natural element of working that we couldn't avoid. Joe

Santarpia recorded the next two batches of recordings, and with those

songs, we started trying new stuff with vocals and writing more melodic

songs. Without Joe, we probably wouldn't still be a band or have any of

our music recorded. Our latest stuff was recorded by Ates Isildak [of

The Band in Heaven] and Roberto Pagano [of San Francisco's Dead Meat], and "Head Bugs"

is probably most representational of where our minds are as a band

right now.

Yeah, I have a hard time agreeing with the "thrash punk" label you

might get stamped with, especially after listening to your split with the Band in Heaven. Speaking of that tape, what's "Head Bugs" about?

(Cryptic answers welcome/acceptable.)

I understand people needing to do that stuff with labeling, especially

when it's some weird music website or blog that has to come up with

something to excite and shock people who know about Surfer Blood. I

just wish the core of what goes on at those kinds of places could

elevate its critical output beyond the trite hyping. I am sure once

somebody decided to listen to it, they could come up with their own

distinctive subgenre for it.

That song "Head Bugs" is about this time that all of us drained the

Dewars' pool out and built a huge canopy over it so we could all have a

special "spirizone" to meditate in before recording. It turned out that

we stayed in there for days and days, emulating those Native American

rituals where you sweat and get scratches all over your body before

getting named. We named each other in pairs. Marcos and Brian were

named "Icicle Horses," and we were chosen to be "Head Bugs." The whole

split with the Band in Heaven came about because Ates, the enigmatic

frontman, also doubles as a shamanic guiding light for us. He was present

during our pool/fort/spirizone encounter and counseled us through it

all. Lauren cleansed our scratches with honey oil. After we recorded

that song, we were intellectually drained and had trouble coming up

with a name for that song. Ates reached into his Mac CPU and pulled out

eight magic stones. Arranged properly, the stones spell out "Head Bugs."

And ya know, that's just what that song is all about.

What's going on regarding upcoming shows or a tour? I guess because

of Surfer Blood's own touring schedule, this could be difficult, but are

you planning to/hoping to/at least thinking about touring next year or

fitting in any other shows this year?

I couldn't really tell you much of anything about touring right now.

Both parties are pretty busy with other stuff like touring with other

bands and working out.

Weird Wives have a split tape out with the Band in Heaven on Worker Bee Records, which you should purchase for $3 here. They will soon release a seven-inch of Wet Blanket/Burger Bash on Ventriculoperitoneal Sound, recorded by Joe Santarpia, and "a tape chronicling our four-song EP" recorded by Ryan Haft. Later this month, you can get a recording of their live set at the final Klein Dance show for free via Spaghetti Suicide printed zine.


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