Even the most unpredictable people can be predictable in their decisions. Toronto art rock group Weaves, however, are so out there both as musicians and as people that it’s hard to guess what their songs will sound like. Case and point: Their sophomore LP Wide Open sounds miles apart from their debut LP Weaves.
On the last record, Weaves deconstructed songs so as to make them finicky, wild, and sparking at the seams. On this year’s record, they chase after straightforward pop. It’s an unexpected change from a quartet that prides itself on being inventive. Yet despite the streamlined sound, vocalist Jasmyn Burke, guitarist Morgan Waters, bassist Zach Bines, and drummer Spencer Cole still let their individualistic flair shine through. Now, it’s about the songs and storytelling behind a pop song. That cohesive pocket of music shows Burke she’s capable not just of churning out songs but pushing her boundaries too, as are the others (Bines now sings backup vocals, among other new live change-ups).
“With the last album, everyone talked about how weird we are. So we asked ourselves what the weirdest thing to do would be, and that’s to make a straightforward pop album,” says Burke. “I felt more comfortable after the first album because we toured so long, singing every day, and playing every day makes the chemistry grow. We captured that on our second album.”
To dig deeper into the band’s hyperlayered personality, we interviewed Burke for a round of Wheel of Tunes, a series where we ask bands questions inspired by their song titles. As expected, her answers are just as spunky and fun as the band’s songs.
DIGBOSTON: Have you seen a movie or listened to an album over 53 times before?
ENGLE: Probably, I would say the movie I saw the most as a kid was either Grease—the first one, which I used to watch every weekend because it’s amazing—or Now and Then. Those two combined, I for sure watched at least 53 times. They’re amazing movies and classics in my childhood.
Now and Then in particular. I was obsessed with it. I owned it on VHS, and when I first moved into my apartment I didn’t have cable or internet. So I watched VHS movies. Now and Then was one I owned, so I watched it at least another 10 times while living in that apartment. Rosie O’Donnell, Demi Moore, Thora Birch? Such a good cast! The story of four young girls, even though it’s based in the ’60s, in a classic growing-up tale was fun and feisty and had more sass than previous movies that depicted young girls had. They were worried about their boobs growing and had crushes on guys. Brendan Fraser was in it as a Vietnam War vet they met when driving to meet a psychic, who was Janeane Garofalo. It was very different from my life growing up in the ’90s, but it had the same sentiment and, I don’t know, I just loved it [laughs].
DIGBOSTON: When you were a preteen, what did you think the coolest thing you’d ever done was?
ENGLE: Oh man, I was not very cool [laughs]. I was very into clothing as a preteen. I would wear baggy clothes and used to try to bleach my hair and put marker colors in it to try to make it multicolored. At the time, I thought I was the coolest person, but I didn’t really have many friends at school. I was a weirdo, but I sure felt badass [laughs].
3) “Law and Panda”
DIGBOSTON: If you were given a baby panda, what would you do with it?
ENGLE: I’d probably put it in a little stroller and take it on a walk, like, “Look at my baby panda!” I’d basically sit in the backyard with the baby panda and tell my friends to hang out. The panda’s name would be very normal, like Jamie, so that way when people come to hang out they aren’t expecting it to be a panda.
DIGBOSTON: What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to walk away from?
ENGLE: I’ve been fortunate in that I haven’t had to walk away from anything horrific. Growing up, the older you get you realize certain situations should be left, whether it’s a person or friendship or the wrong group of people. Everyone goes through little stages where you have to make a decision for better or worse, and hopefully you pick the right direction. The older I get, the more I try to make positive decisions and surround myself with positive people. It’s a journey in that sense.
5) “La La”
DIGBOSTON: Name two songs that always get stuck in your head, even if you haven’t heard them recently.
ENGLE: Oooh. I based this song on the Strokes, so I would say “Last Nite” because it’s such a good song. I’m trying to think of another modern song. Oh you know what I love? “Younger Now,” by Miley Cyrus, always gets stuck in my head. Whenever I hear it, I’m walking around in a posi mood like… [sings].
6) “Wide Open”
DIGBOSTON: Are there any deserts, plains, or rocky national parks that you’d love to visit?
ENGLE: For some reason, I’d love to go to Mongolia. I saw a documentary on it and it looked like a beautiful place. Otherwise, I’d say the west coast of Canada. British Columbia is really beautiful. It’s nice to visit places in your own country, because sometimes you live there for so long that you forget to experience it. I did one road trip around Canada in a Greyhound bus, so maybe I should drive across it finally, especially the west coast.
DIGBOSTON: Did you swear at your parents growing up?
ENGLE: Oh no no, not at all. I would have gotten in trouble. I was very much a brownnoser, into school, didn’t swear. I was a perfectionist as a kid and needed to get the perfect marks. I just didn’t like swearing. I think I still don’t, because it’s not the best way to describe how you feel, but when we get into the van with the boys, then we turn into truckers.
8) “Scream (ft. Tanya Tagaq)”
DIGBOSTON: When was the last time you screamed as loudly as possible?
ENGLE: Probably screaming that song. We performed it last week, and it was really fun. We did a full-on rock out of that song. It went on for a little bit. In my day to day, I don’t scream much. I’m too sensitive to scream. If I try to get mad, I just cry like a loser, so I can’t scream [laughs].
DIGBOSTON: Do you have a car? If so, what does it look like?
ENGLE: I don’t have a personal car, but we have a van for the band. It’s a Pontiac Montana from 2005. Maybe I shouldn’t say that? Anyways, it’s a great van that we’ve had for two years now. It was our first big purchase, which was exciting.
DIGBOSTON: What’s the funniest story you remember from a time when you were all high?
ENGLE: I don’t like to smoke on the road, but one time Morgan had been given edibles. It was chocolate. He ate a little bit and said he wasn’t feeling it, but he had learned from previous edibles that you don’t think you’re high, but when you eat more then it intensifies that first bite. So he thought he was fine. We got to an Airbnb and he ate some more. We had that night off, so we ordered pizza and were about to watch E.T. All of a sudden he was so stoned. He kept screaming that he was going to puke and was laying on the couch. When E.T. has the flannel on at one point, Morgan kept saying how he looked like Neil Young and laughed forever. We were all dying because Morgan thought he was so funny, kept saying he was going to puke, and kept dying at the movie, but eventually he calmed down and ate some pizza. He was back, but not until the next day, really, because it exhausted him so much.
DIGBOSTON: What’s the most recent thing that brought you to tears?
ENGLE: My friend and I went on a roadtrip to Montreal a while ago. We were in a dorm room-style setup, two beds next to one another, and we couldn’t stop laughing. It was so hot and there was no AC, and for some reason it made us laugh so hard that we started crying. Those friend laughs are excellent. You die from laughing so hard, which is one of the best feelings.
But the other thing I can think of is when people come up to us after a show to say they like the music. You’ll see us at the merch table, Morgan and I, just crying like babies. Sometimes it gets emotional when you talk to people that are very affected by your music. It’s powerful. That’s probably when we get emotional, too.
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