Drew Weaver is something of a neo-traditionalist. It’s always been apparent in the music he’s written and performed through the years, both on his own and in the company of others. Now staking out a promising solo career, he’s shifted his stance once again, going back to the roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll via a variety of classic genres – Rockabilly, Tex Mex and Cinematic soundscapes that would make Ennio Morricone proud. The sound of other seminal figures surface along the way – Roger Miller, Waylon Jennings, Carl Perkins and those that helped bridge the divide from the ‘50s to the ‘60s and beyond.
Ask Weaver and he’ll freely offer up his own list of early influences: “Chuck Berry, Surf Music, Hank Thompson, Don Gibson, Marty Robbins and especially guitarists like Hank Garland and Chet Atkins,” he recalls. “Grady Martin\’s Spanish guitar really got to me. And as a kid, I loved songs that told a story. I was listening to these guys by the time I was seven or eight. Everybody\’s dad seemed to own the Marty Robbins Gunfighter album. I also collected used Mexican and Hawaiian records. I have over 3000 vinyl albums!”
Not surprisingly, Weaver has always been an astute sort of individual. A native of Los Angeles, he studied classical guitar at the Guitar Shoppe in Laguna Beach California as a teenager, learning the instrument under the tutelage of Kirk Sand, whose custom made guitars were a favorite of such preeminent players as Jose Feliciano, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. By age 19, he was already embarked upon a series of fruitful apprenticeships, honing his skills in his own band, The El Caminos, and backing up in outfits like The Tidetones and The Swizzle Sticks.
For some, soaking up the life of a beach bum and itinerant musician would be more than enough incentive to maintain the status quo, but Weaver had higher aspirations in mind. Opting to change locales, he moved to France to pursue a degree in French literature and eventually ended up staying nine years, first as a student and then as a bartender in Paris’ rue St. Denis, a seedy neighborhood that epitomizes the mystique and allure the City of Lights has always been known for. Inspired by his surroundings, Weaver immersed himself in the local music scene as a founding member of the seminal Surf Rock band The Surf Piranhas (an outfit which many consider as the precursor to Southern Culture on The Skids and They Might Be Giants). After being discovered by the distinguished Mexican talent scout, Batista Gonzales, Weaver was signed to Gonzales’ Party Dish International record label. He surrounded himself with the cream of Europe’s musical talent, forming Drew Weaver and the VibraBeams and subsequently recorded two highly collectable albums: Mystic Rites in 1987 and This Side of the Law in 1990.
After touring venues throughout much of Europe, Weaver returned to the United States in 1991 and in 1997, he released Unfaithful Kind, a compilation of his best work from the mid ‘80s up until that point. Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, he hooked up with engineer/producer Michael Kramer and formed a new band, The Alvarados. The band recorded several critically acclaimed albums – Between Nightmares, El Mirage and Why Where When — gaining critical acclaim while putting Weaver’s individual stamp on classic Americana in the process.
After touring extensively in the early ‘2000’s, The Alvarados eventually folded and Weaver opted to go solo. The change in direction provided a new opportunity to redefine his signature sound. “I still believe atmosphere is everything and that good songs need to be well served by good recordings that have ‘mood,” Weaver explains. “A great song might be perceived as merely good if the recording is only halfway there… Those classic sounds — classical guitar, vibrato, reverb are likely permanent fixtures in pop music — as permanent as chicken, beef, or garlic are fixtures in the great restaurants of the world.”
Indeed, Weaver takes a very specific view on what it takes to provide a connection to his listeners, a seamless approach that fuses technique with feeling. “I like guitar parts to relate to the melody,” Weaver remarks. “Use heavy strings, so you have to fight if you insist on note-bending. Link the damn solo to the melody. Catchy is not a bad thing. If you\’ve got a hook, hook \’em.
Which brings us to Weaver’s latest effort, Late Night Drinking, Late Night Girls. A festive, rootsy seven song EP recorded for South Florida’s Y&T label (The Mavericks, Mary Karlzen). Produced by Jansen Press (Surf Piranhas, Mary Karlzen) and recorded in Nashville, the EP includes performances by The Mavericks’ Paul Deakin, Robert Reynolds, longtime Mavs’ Keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden as well as My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel.
“Reuniting and recording with Jansen in Nashville was an awesome experience – he brought in some of the best talent I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with and it shows on this set of new tracks.” Explains Weaver.
From the EP’s opening track “My Baby” throughout the record, Weaver hits on all cylinders offering the listener with uncanny lyrical detail, a rootsy road-hewn troubadour’s view on life’s trials with a unique and timeless perspective.
Yes indeed. Drew Weaver is somewhat the neo-traditionalist and with current rise of what seems traditional (Amy Winehouse, James Hunter), is new again – this EP promises to be a welcomed set which delivers to a new audience a savory sonic experience.