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TheCelebrityCafe.com's Jeffrey Coleman had a chat with Four Year Strong's Joe Weiss about music, hockey, beards and goodnight kisses.
Me: So I’m here with Joe Weiss, bassist for the punk/emo/beardcore band Four Year Strong. Very excited. How’re we doing?
Joe: Good, yeah.
Me: So… this has gotta’ve been an amazing week for you, no? I mean, besides having the band’s fourth studio album, In Some Way, Shape or Form, debut this past Tuesday [November 8th], you’ve also gotta be happy with the way your hockey team the Boston Bruins have been performing lately?
Joe: Yeah, well. They weren’t doing so hot earlier.
Me: But now they seem to have got it straight.
Joe: Yeah. I hope [goaltender Tukka] Rask can get a grip and start performing a little better.
Me: I heard your favorite player was Marc Recchi before (which I like because I’m a huge Philly fan, but now you like Brad Marchand…
Joe: Yeah, I’m gonna go with Brad Marchand because his performance last season was awesome. I don’t think we would have won the Cup without him.
Me: Now this year, he’s with Tyler Seguin. They’re on the same line. [Seguin is #1 on the team right now in scoring.]
Joe: I’m just glad we’ve got some young kids who can actually produce. It’s insane to me how young that kid is.
Me: It’s like - god! - better get going on things, if there are superstars out there who aren’t yet even 20.
Joe: Yeah, no shit. I think he’s only just turned 19.
Me: Hockey tends to be more of a Canadian thing - Was there a Canadian connection there for you growing up? Or did you just like the Boston Bruins because it’s a hockey city?
Joe: We all grew up in Massachusetts. We all had plenty of hockey games to go to. We’ve always had an AHL team from Wooster, where we’re from as well. We had the Ice Caps [the St. Louis Blues’ farm team). Now we’re a San Jose farm team. I preferred before when it was the Ice Caps but it’s still nice to have hockey in town.
Me: San Jose’s doing pretty well this year.
Joe: Yeah, which is why I can’t be caught wearing a Sharks’ jersey around.
Me: So, how’d you first get into hockey? Did your parents take you? Or did you go with friends more?
Joe: With friends definitely. When I was younger, I had friends who were super-super into hockey. We always used to play street hockey and stuff. My parents - We live like 5 minutes from where the AHL teams play, so we’d go to literally like every single game. That was always awesome.
Me: That is a good life. I’m jealous.
Joe: Yeah, it’s not bad. … So where are you from?
Me: I’m from Philadelphia. So, yeah. I’m a fan of the Flyers [Philly’s hockey team].
Joe: We were … playing in the Electric Factory for the Boston-Philly series this last
season [in the second round of the NHL playoffs]. But aw, man. Let me tell ya, Philly is not a fun place to walk out on stage wearing a bunch of Boston jerseys … I don’t think I’ve ever been booed more in my entire life than playing at the Electric Factory that night.
Me: Philadelphia – we love our hockey. (and all our sports teams.)
Joe: I love Philly. It’s all in good fun.
Me: So the other big news this week, you’ve got your new album: In Some Way, Shape, or Form. I love the cover art – the hockey sticks prominent up there on top –
Joe: Yeah, the top one is Marc Recchi’s stick.
Me: Is it? Excellent! That’s gotta’ve been your contribution to the design.
Me: Do you have a favorite song from the album? I’ve really liked “Stuck in the Middle.”
Joe: Yeah, that’s definitely the most fun to play. but, uh, Maybe the first (“The Infected”) and the last one [“Only the Meek Get Pinched. The Bold Survive”]. They’re some of my favorites. The last one is like 70s rock, Queen-ish. And the first one is heavy rock.
Me: Was that some sort of tribute to Queen? I know you guys ’ve done a lot of covers.
Joe: We all listen to all sorts of stuff. I’m a huge CCR [Creedence Clearwater Revival] fan. The record is kinda all over the place. Like that one [“Only the Meek”] compared to the first one are clearly very different.
Me: Some people have been saying with this latest album, you guys have kinda gone mainstream rock or something and taken leave somewhat from what you guys used to do so well: making pop-punk music. Any opinions on that?
Joe: I guess. I mean, just a week ago, it’d been 10 years from our very first show. When that happened, two of us were 14 [years old] and two of us were 16. So, as you can imagine, as an individual, you change a little bit over ten years. We just didn’t want to put out the same record again and again and again. Obviously, some people are going to wish we did. But then we gotta be happy playing still. We were kinda at a different place in life, so it was nice to switch it up.
Me: Definitely. You gotta keep changing as you change in life. But, uh, there’s that song “Fairweather Fan” from the album. When I heard that, I thought more of hockey and sports, but I guess it has several meanings …?
Joe: Definitely. That song’s kinda about what we were just talking about. Sorta supporting all the fans who’ve stuck with us. And at the same time, like a lot of people were just into it because their friends were into it. Whatever. Same with sports, especially this year in Boston. I mean, I never knew there were so many hockey fans until we won the Stanley Cup.
Me: [chuckling] Yeah, it is always interesting to see who sticks with people when they’re down and when they’re up. Now shifting gears a bit: celeb look-alikes? Dan with his beard – has anyone ever said he resembles Joaquin Phoenix (the emperor in Gladiator) when he was playing a bearded hip-hop artist in the mockumentary I’m Still Here?
Joe: The ones that I’ve heard about him [Dan] - I hear Leonidas from the movie 300. And for some reason, everyone always tells me I look like Alan Rogers … yeah, I dunno. I’ve been told that like five times already by kids on tour. I dunno: I have hair and eyes…
Me: I can see the resemblance.
Joe: I don’t know what it is. But clearly, I’m far more handsome.
Me: So I’ve also heard rumor Alan gives Dan a kiss every night on tour before going to sleep.
Joe: [laughter] Not every night. Once in a great while. He tucks us all in.
Me: Now, as for your beards – It’s Movember / No-Shave November: it’s like your national holiday! Are you guys growing anything out especially long – to raise attention for any particular charity or men’s health issue?
Joe: I think it comes more down to laziness… I don’t think anyone’s shaved with a razor since ’03 or ’04.
Me: That saves a lot of time in the morning. You can make more music.
Me: Okay, so I’m curious: As a bass-player, (sometimes) playing in the background – I know the bass line often holds the music together, but it’s not as obvious as the melody or the vocals. What’s that like for you? How’s that play out in the band?
Joe: It’s cool. Myself and the drummer, we’re the rhythm section. Most of us are actually really into, like, R&B stuff. So I’m happy to hold down the track with the rhythm and shit. I’m not one for the spotlight, so it’s fine for me.
Me: Were you playing bass guitar before you joined in with Four Year Strong?
Joe: Well, I was playing guitar when I was like ten. But then everyone was playing guitar so I switched. We’d always jam. We all lived like a couple blocks from each other, growing up. Our drummer was a guitar player growing up, but there was no drummer, so he started playing drums. And so, yeah.
Me: Cool! So then were these guys the ones you’d go to the games with?
Joe: Aw, no. Well, Jake’s more of a basketball guy. There were some other guys whom I’d play hockey with. Actually, one of them’s still my roommate. I used to go to the hockey games with him. And he used to work for us, as part of our road crew.
Me: Nice. So jumping ahead a bit, I heard you’ve a hobby you’ve taken up: Wood-working?
Joe: O, yeah! It’s what I do when I’m home. I do high-end carpentry and stuff. The last thing I think I did was kitchen cabinets for someone. And when I get home, I’m doing a master bathroom and another kitchen for someone else.
Me: You’re a busy man!
Joe: O, it’s good. It’s a nice change-up from doing this. Honestly, I find it relaxing. And I work with another one of my buddies, whom I go to the games with.
Me: Well, uh, thanks for joining me today and talking and stuff. Also, I hear you guys have a concert end of December in Lancaster somewhere…
Joe: Yep, right after Christmas [December 27th at the Chameleon Club].
Me: Maybe I’ll see you guys there!