Evan Weiss is no stranger to the recording studio. A member of several bands and a producer in his own right, Weiss is in and out of studios almost as often as he is on tour.
Yet, the Chicago-based singer and guitarist was left unsatisfied by the experiences he had making his first two albums as Into It. Over It. So when it came time to record the project's third album, Weiss was looking for a new approach.
"I wanted to go with someone who was not normal for bands that I get compared to," Weiss explains, referring to groups who, like Into It. Over It., have been lumped into the recent emo revival. "The style of music that I write, earlier on with Into It. Over It., felt more like wearing my influences on my sleeve. These days I'm more confident in my own sound."
After making inquiries with several other producers, Weiss was referred to John Vanderslice, best known for working with indie rock artists like the Mountain Goats and Spoon, not to mention his own solo work.
Proper from 2011, recorded in a hurried ten days, is a rough and tumble affair that Weiss calls "at times a bit juvenile." In contrast, 2013's Intersections took a more clinical approach. Vanderslice offered Weiss a middle road. "His approach is more about feel and chaos and the emotions a record can put someone through as opposed to production or something sounding perfect."
Fittingly, Standards (out March 11 on Triple Crown) acts as a bridge between those two previous efforts. "The whole idea was just to write whatever we felt like without thinking too hard about what we had to do. That made it fun overall instead of trying to be too smart about what we were doing."
The album was written mostly in a Vermont cabin, where Weiss and drummer Josh Sparks spent last January writing in relative isolation. "It was exactly what we needed," says Weiss, noting that drums are the only standard rock band instrument he can't play. "Every record I've ever done, I've written with a drummer," he says. "I like working on a song rhythmically before I work on them with guitar or bass. If you have a really good rhythmic base layer you can come up with pretty much anything else you want on top of that."
Sparks' contributions are readily apparent, particularly on songs like "Adult Contempt" and "Anesthetic," where the pair pushed themselves in terms of tempo, both fast and slow. They arrived at Vanderslice's San Francisco studio last summer with the skeletons of songs in hand, purposely leaving room for the producer's contributions and general bouts of spontaneous inspiration to help shape the more nuanced record.
Since finishing the album last July, Weiss and his band — Sparks, guitar player Josh Parks and bass player Rodrigo Palma — have been busy. After opening for the Get Up Kids in the fall, they took a month off at the beginning of the year during which Weiss produced You Blew It!'s forthcoming third album. Pet Symmetry, his collaboration with Dowsing's Erik Czaja and Marcus Nuccio, are set to demo a new album before Into It. Over It. head out on tour in support of Standards. They hope to record it in June. (Weiss says that Their/They're/There, his band with Matthew Frank and Owen's Mike Kinsella, are currently on hiatus).
Standards will certainly only heighten Weiss's workaholic tendencies. Blending the raw emotions of his earlier work with the delicate instrumentation of Intersections, it's the perfect distillation of Weiss's prodigious creative output. "The most creative and awesome material comes from when a band that sounds like they shouldn't fit with a producer, and a producer that doesn't necessarily sound like they should fit with the band, do something together," he says. "You're getting the coolest aspect of one and the coolest aspects of the two coming together."
Check out Into It. Over It.'s upcoming tour dates, including April shows in Toronto and Montreal, here. Have a listen to "No EQ" below.