Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Spotlight - The Weepies

This week’s Sunday Spotlight shines on a couple that have been in the spotlight for the last few years with the release of their major label debut album Say I Am You back in 2005. Since then Deb Talan and Steve Tannen (a.k.a. The Weepies) have toured incessantly, been featured on commercials and TV shows across the networks, married, and gave birth to Theo, perhaps the biggest cause for celebration. Oh yea, and somehow they managed to lay down fourteen tracks for their new album Hideaway.

In between changing diapers and reading bedtime stories, Deb and Steve took the time to tell me about Hideaway, the title track and the third track on the album. As always, text in red is theirs, and questions in black are mine.

The Weepies - Hideaway : Hideaway


We had been listening to a lot of old blues songs, where the guitar playing often plays the main melody along with the singer. A lot of acoustic guitar playing is simply chords, over which the melody is sung; we wanted to do that thing where the guitar plays the same notes as the singer sings, so they're both doing it at the same time. The lyrics came out of our experiences of needing some time to hide!

The recording was a real collaboration. We recorded the acoustic guitar and Deb's lead vocal first at home in our living room. Frank Lenz came up with a classic rhythm pattern that worked, and then we sent that whole track via email to bassist Whynot Jansveld in NYC (we were in LA). Whynot came up with a really fun bottom end, and sent it back to Meg Toohey in LA. Meg's electric guitar is the groovy "chunk-a-chunk" you hear that's WAY back off the beat, almost in the previous bar every time. Then we took all those pieces, added those 60's harmonies and some organ to fill it out. It was the last track to make it onto the record.

1.) With the overwhelming popularity and visibility of its songs in movies, TV, etc..., and the hectic schedule you ran supporting it, is there a tiny part of you that hopes this album doesn't break as big?

Nah. It beats waiting tables.

2.) Do you foresee an album of children’s music in the near future?

We certainly have some very silly new songs, but we're a little afraid of kids' albums, given the amount of terrible kids' music that's out there. If we did one, it would have to be something that *we* loved too - no talking down to the kids or oversimplification of the music. Interesting idea though.

3.) You mentioned that you’ve been listening to a lot of blues music lately. Any style in particular that you’re fans of – Delta Blues, Chicago, the 60’s electric revival? Any certain musicians you’ve been keen on?

Robert Johnson is Theo's favorite (and ours too). You can't beat those early Delta blues guys. We also love Son House and Charley Patton. But Theo likes Robert Johnson's voice best - that high keening quality can stop Theo in his tracks whatever he's doing.

Robert Johnson - They're Red Hot : The Complete Recordings [Box Set]

Son House - County Farm Blues : Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways


The album title probably stems from the fact that the couple hasn’t had a chance to breathe or relax since releasing their big league debut as The Weepies together. Deb says, “We were empty. We both felt dark after being in the bright lights for a year. We were looking to reconnect with what moved us about music in the first place. We needed to hide out and write.” As a whole, it still retains a wistful playfulness, but it’s a little toned down compared to the last album, dark almost when compared to what you might be used to from them. Still present though is the beautiful interplay between the two, which is the magic which makes the couple’s music so attractive to listeners I think. The album hit shelves on the 22nd, and is available digitally as well of course.

The Weepies - Hideaway : Hideaway

And here are some live tracks:

The Weepies - World Spins Madly On : Live from the World Cafe (from Say I Am You)

The Weepies - Gotta Have You : Live from the World Cafe (from Say I Am You)

The Weepies - Rocks & Water : Live from the World Cafe (from Deb Talan's album A Bird Flies Out)

The Weepies - Somebody Loved : Live from the World Cafe (from Happiness)

Visit their website, their label Nettwerk Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

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