Dr. Record & Mr. Live
Preview: Weinland Plays Record-Release Shows This Weekend
With their new album, the Portland folk-rock mainstays successfully capture their livelier live sound. Hear it at Mississippi Studios Friday and Saturday.
Weinland has always had a split personality. The local folk-rock quintet, which has received attention from national press such as Paste and NPR’s All Songs Considered, is well-known for its annual New Year’s Eve performances as the Weinland NYE Supergroup, a band alter-ego that soundtracks the countdown to midnight with covers of the likes of Prince, Queen, and Heart. But even at shows it plays the other 364 days of the year, the band on stage is a far cry from the band on record.
“When we go play live…people are excited, and they’re amped up, and they want to have fun, and we want to have fun,” says Adam Shearer, Weinland’s frontman. “Instantly, all of the songs would be louder and faster, and they would change so much. Some of the songs we play that are off [our] earlier records, you have to actually know the songs to know they’re the same songs, because they sound so different.”
The disparity between the live and recorded versions of the band’s music confused not only fans, but booking agents. “Sometimes we wouldn’t be able to get on shows or tours because people would say the band was too mellow,” Shearer recalls. “I would always be like, ‘No, tell them that we’re fun!’”
With its new album, Los Processaur, Weinland tells them itself. The Kickstarter-funded, self-released record, which comes out November 6 (the band will play release shows this Friday and Saturday), represents the group’s attempt at capturing its livelier live sound—and a successful attempt it is. From opening track “Bones Cracking In,” where a terrifically gritty electric-guitar breakdown heralds the new Weinland’s arrival, to final song “The Eagle,” the first few moments of which are so rollicking the band can hardly settle into a rhythm, the band has never sounded so full and bold.
That’s the result of conscious choices Shearer and his bandmates made in the studio (with the help of prominent local producer Adam Selzer). “We went in and we made weird decisions like, if it feels like the song is being rushed…that’s a good thing,” he says. “In the past, we’ve tried to be a little bit more precious…This time, it was more like, let’s just get something that sounds fun, and that we’re going to have fun playing live, and that people are going to stomp their foot to.”
Harder-rocking though it may now be, Weinland hasn’t forsaken the traditional songwriting and thoughtful lyrics that have made it a Northwest mainstay. Folk, country, and blues remain strong influences on the new record, and gospel may be heard in the album’s multipart vocals and electric organ. Shearer, meanwhile, continues to pen lyrics true to his lived experiences, which, since Weinland put out its last disc in 2009, have included having a son and otherwise growing up considerably. “I’ve seen birth and I’ve been there for death,” he sings on the title track. “I’ve been at my worst and hoped for the best / Oh, I know what it means to be young.” Los Processaur’s title is a nod toward Shearer’s—and Weinland’s—ongoing process of maturation.
“Everything that you go through in life, and everything that you go through as a band, is such a big process, and you’re always in the process because it’s the kind where there really isn’t an end,” Shearer says. “We’re all at a turning point in life where you’re starting to have perspective.”
But the record’s name is also tongue-in-cheek—Weinland’s fun, remember? The title of one of the group’s earlier albums, La Lamentor, was also an evocative, made-up, vaguely foreign word, so the band’s running joke is that its final album will complete the trilogy and mark the culminating point of Weinland’s musical development. “It’ll be called DOS Fader, and it will just be a dance album,” Shearer laughs. “Like a trance Weinland record. I honestly get enough joy out of that idea that that may happen.”
Weinland will play record-release shows at Mississippi Studios Friday and Saturday. Anybody who buys a ticket in advance will receive a copy of the record. (The band also plans to give away 100 drink tickets each night based on as-yet-undetermined, but probably Halloween-costume-related, criteria.)
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