Aaron Gerber begins his band's first LP with “Spiders, Snakes”, a rainy song with a melody that has the power to hang idly over your head for days. A Weather just put Cove, their first full-length album out on Conner Oberst's Team Love label. Though the band has never toured outside of the West coast, this serendipitous signing started with a craigslist post and ended with the brother of Team Love's co-founder Nate Krenkel joining the band. One 7″ and an LP (released March 4), A Weather is readying a national tour.
Please listen to “Spider, Snakes”, a beautiful song:
This is what he said about the construction of his beautiful song:
I guess Spider Snakes is sort of the single. I was borrowing Zack's Yamaha that had one of those pitch bender things on it that goes oweee-oooo. I put my fingers on a minor chord and it went up a fourth and back down a fourth the opposite way. And I sang a bluesy melody really high over it, and I recorded it on my garage band. And it sounds really bad because I can't sing high at all. And every once in a while and I'd go back through the ideas I thought were good that I recorded and see waht stood up the test of a few months so I had that little recording and I built that song using those chords. Obviously not using that pitch -shifting 80s sound, transferred it to more piano style and had this idea for a really plodding drum part and originally I wanted Sara to sing it because it was so high. But it turned out well. The whole thing is basically sung in unison.
Below are some excerpts from a phone interview conducted a few weeks ago:
Did Conor Oberst play a role in signing A Weather to Team Love?
I think Nate runs things by him, but at least from what I've experienced, he's not as active in terms of organizing things. I think it was explained to me that Nate Krenkel and Conor trade off finding new bands. Nate will get a band and then Connor will get a band. That's how Aaron [Krinkle, find the spelling] explained it to me.
Did you talk to Connor at all in the process?
The only time we ever talked with Connor was back stage at the show we played with him in Portland. Nate pretty much runs everything from our perspective, along with the other people at Team Love. Connor's busy, he's got better things to do.
What's the deal?
I work right now. I work at a group home for people with mental illnesses. My official title is residential counselor. Aaron Krankle, who joined the band later, he's a psychiatrist.
I called it Cove because I'm a really big REM fan, I really love how a lot of their albums are one word that's really cool like Murmur or Reckoning so I wanted to name in that genre of very concise.
I moved [to Portland] from Maine in the fall of 2005 not really knowing what to expect but knowing there was more music going on in Portland, Oregon than there was in Maine, and just graduating from college and wanting to start something new. And not wanting to be the 30 year old guys who hang around with college kids and stay around the same area where they went to school. I feel it's important to strike out on your own. [In Portland,] there isn't this sense of 'these people are famous and these people are nobody' . It's this mixture of everybody doing music, everyone playing shows with each other, and not excluding someone because they're brand new. It's almost like everyone has an equal chance when they get here.
If you're really really bad I guess it's hard to get shows but… I honestly don't get out much. I go to shows rarely, just because I'm a homebody or something. In the winter especially, because it's raining and grey and it makes sense to stay inside. Especially being a biker. It's like 'Well, I could stay inside my warm house or get soaking wet by the time I get to the show…' But yeah, I think it's predominantly indie rock, at least the scene I'm in, and it's what's getting the most press at least in terms of local papers and perceived by other parts of the country. So there's other stuff going on too. There's metal and electronic stuff.
It started off as a solo project. Just me. I recorded the songs on my Pro Tools when I first came here and before that I'd been doing more electronic stuff in college. Sort of like ambient sound-scapy kind of stuff. And I'd just sort of wanted to get back to my roots as it were. Straight-up pop writing again. I'd just gone through this year-long thesis project that consisted of computer-based compositions at Hampshire College. I was using Pro Tools and Ableton Live, mostly. Nothing fancy. Stuff that would allow me to approach putting a song together not as sitting down with a guitar and banging out chords but as piecing things together from pre-existing recordings that I'd done. That project released on this European label that put it out last year and that was called Six Twilights. It was mostly a solo thing but there were a few people helping out. One actually was the girl I moved out here with who started out in A Weather but then moved back east…
In Portland, I started playing with Zoe Wright, who moved here with me. She was a friend from Hampshire. We were living in the same house and she started singing on some of the recordings and playing at some of the house shows we were doing and then I met this other singer Sara Winchester who started singing with us too. For a while it was really stripped down acoustic guitar, snare drum and three voices, and then we just started meeting people and adding people, from friends and friends of friends. When I say house shows, it was actually two houses shows before we started playing at real places. Literally just someone's house. I don't see [that scene] as much now. People I know have graduated to playing actual places but I'm sure people are still doing it. I'm out of that loop if there is a loop there.
What made you turn from your electronic work to doing A Weather?
Getting back to writing songs with a guitar and lyrics that were pre-determined before actually being performed, you know? A normal song. A lot of the time I'll come to the band with a song and chords, melody, form. People will build off of that. In some cases I do have ideas of a guitar part or how the two can interact in the song. There's not ever any ego/competition; people are pretty secure in coming up with their own stuff but also being able to hear my thoughts. And change for the betterment of the songs.