Day two of The New Direction Fest saw bands loading in and playing through Fargo’s three-inch snowfall to a crowd of eager fans. Sitting at No. 3 on the bill, Minneapolis alternative/emo rock band Weathered took the time to sit down for a chat.
Upon meeting Weathered members Justin Hieb, Christian Rasmussen and Alec Panchyshyn, it was apparent that a trend of engaging with genuine passionate musicians was emerging.
If you would have told me a year ago I would spend an entire weekend meeting and interviewing great regional bands, let alone talk about the movie “New In Town” or laugh about Joe Walsh with them, I would not have thought it possible. That is the great thing about life though — it constantly surprises you. To be fair, any interview including a man with a handlebar mustache is destined to entertain.
Taking their name from a The Hotelier track, the band came together through a series of acquaintances. Guitarist and lead vocalist Justin Hieb explained, “Well the other member Jon, who isn’t here right now, and I were going to school in New Ulm, Minnesota, so that is how we met in college. He ended up transferring schools and that’s where he met Alec at Mankato State. We kind of found you (Christian) through your sister and Craigslist, too.” Drummer Alec Panchyshyn added, “It just all kind of came together really nicely.”
Go to Grandpa’s House in Moorhead 7 p.m. April 3 to see them do their thing along with Stars Hollow and Formerly Bodies.
Laura Ellen Brandjord (LEB): So I hear you guys are going on tour with Stars Hollow soon?
Justin Hieb (JH): It’s Stars Hollow’s release tour for their EP they have coming out. They actually had the tour already booked, and we played their town a few months back. They were just like, “Hey, you should hop on this run with us.”
Alec Panchyshyn (AP): Yeah, we play Grandpa’s House in Moorhead which will be super fun. We are good friends with Antonio, the guy that lives there. I think we are just staying pretty close to the Midwest like we are going through Iowa, South Dakota, I don’t think we are going very far east.
LEB: Coming up as a band in such a saturated music scene as the Twin Cities has, do you find it easier or more difficult to make a place for yourselves and become successful as a band?
AP: I guess, to me personally, it comes down to the kind of genre and type of venue you are playing. We did a lot of house shows when we were starting out. I think the kind of people that would show up to house shows, I just think we are preferred by a different crowd.
Christian Rasmussen (CR): Minneapolis is kind of weird because there is so much music, but they all have their own pockets. I think anywhere it’s hard for bands to breakout, but I mean Remo (Drive) did it. You just have to keep at it and play good shows.
JH: I think it definitely has its pros and cons. It’s nice to be in a city that has so much going on so you can kind of cultivate yourself. But it can be hard sometimes to break out of your niche. You just have to go and play to everybody. That’s what Remo did. They stopped playing the same basement and went everywhere else.
AP: You know, I think all the extra not really music but production side of things has so many artists I think is a big help. I mean, artists that get involved that aren’t necessarily in “the scene” but are still part of it still. I think its also really great for networking.
JH: The reason we started having bigger and bigger goals for ourselves as a band was we saw these other bands doing these cool things and we thought we really aren’t that much different from them. It’s not really competitive.
AP: It is like positive reinforcement from your peers. Everybody supports each other.
JH: Not everyone has a band they can look up to like that in their scene but we do, and a lot of them are playing this weekend.
LEB: Now, I just have three “fun” questions for you guys. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with your guys’ music as a band. They’re just interesting to hear your answers. The first one is what musician you would bring back or one band you would prevent from ever breaking up if you could?
CR: I would break up every band, honestly. I’m glad when they break up; “Good, about time.” I would actually bring back Tom Petty.
JH: I haven’t thought about this answer long, but I would say Balance and Composure. Even if they didn’t make any new records, I just want them to still be playing shows.
LEB: Favorite venue or event you have played at so far?
CR: I’d say The Ox outside of Sioux City is a fun place to stay. Like they even separated the meat from the sauce for the spaghetti.
AP: Take Hold Fest is always really fun. We played in Florida this past December and met some really kind people that put us up in a really nice place and offered us a bunch of food. We played some pretty decent shows and got to explore Fort Lauderdale.
JH: I think Take Hold Fest was definitely one of the best things we have been a part of. Canada was cool.
LEB: What is your dream gear?
JH: I feel I really like what I have right now; it’s just to improve it. The amp I play with definitely needs to be taken in, and I need to drop a lot of money on it just to fix the little things. Otherwise, I love everything I have.
AP: I need a new drum set really bad but I have no idea what my dream kit would be. Cheap and quality if that’s a thing. I mean there’s definitely sounds that I like and I try to make note of where they come out of brand wise. I feel like the coolest thing about gear is knowing you can make it sound good regardless of what it is.