INTERVIEW WITH AIDAN CROSS OF WEIMAR:
Rock At Night caught up with Aidan Cross; lyricist, main vocalist and rhythm guitarist in Manchester UK’s alternative rock band Weimar as they release their debut recordings:
RAN: Where does the name Weimar come from?
AC: The name Weimar (pronounced ‘Vye-marr’) comes from the city of that name in Germany in which the Weimar Republic was founded after World War One. The Weimar Republic lasted through the 1920s and although it was a very politically unstable time, artistic movements in the west of Germany flourished during the decade, with Expressionist cinema, theatre movements like the Bauhaus and Dada, while burlesque and cabaret had a heyday and the era became renowned for its decadence and rebellious art movements. We named ourselves after this era because our outlook is similar to that of the artists who made the Weimar era what it was – the need for freedom of expression and rebellion in the face of political and cultural oppression. Given the current political climate and talk in the UK press of an impending ‘Weimar Britain’ we seem to have arrived at just the right time.
RAN: Tell me a little bit about Weimar – who are you all and when did you start out?
AC: Weimar is me (Aidan Cross) on vocals and rhythm guitar, Johann Kloos on lead guitar, John Armstrong on bass and backing vocals, and Anthony ‘Eddy’ Edwards on drums. We first played live late in 2016, playing on the Manchester circuit and we gradually built ourselves up from there. All of us have been in (and still play in) other bands, so Weimar is very much a meeting of seasoned creative minds with a shared outlook.
RAN: How would you describe your music?
AC: I couldn’t really come up with a single category to fit our music into as we are pretty eclectic and encompass a wide variety of styles and influences. I would say that at heart we’re probably an Art Rock band, with elements of Post-Punk, Alt Folk, Prog Rock, Torch Songs, Chanson, Dark Circus and sometimes a touch of Funk and Jazz in our sound. We’re pretty experimental so we work with a lot of different styles and often surprise ourselves! Although we have an experimental approach we’ve had several people describe our songs as ‘pop songs’ recently, and that’s great if it’s the case – entertainment is our ultimate goal at the end of the day and if we’re producing something out of this all that’s widely accessible, then we seem to be meeting that goal.
RAN: Who would you say were your main influences?
AC: We don’t aim to sound like or emulate any other band in particular, but we bring a lot of different influences to the table. I am very influenced by classic rock bands such as The Velvet Underground and The Doors as well as 80s Post-Punk like the Bunnymen, The Bolshoi and The Sound, while Johann is influenced by a wide mixture of artists from Scott Walker to Sparks, John by the No Wave and New York art rock movements of the late 70s and artists on the ECM jazz label, while Eddy comes from a firm Punk background. When we bring all our influences into the mix we somehow seem to gel this all together into something new.
RAN: How do you go about the song making process, and typically how do your songs take shape?
AC: What usually happens is that I write the bare bones of the song on my guitar at home, with lyrics, structure etc., and I bring this ‘skeleton’ to the rest of the band when we rehearse and we build on it from there, each adding our own ideas and trying different approaches until we find what works best. Johann, John and Eddy all add their own touches to the songs that I wouldn’t necessarily have envisioned when writing them, but it always works really well and it’s great to see the songs taking shape the way they do. It’s a very democratic process and it’s great fun to be part of! We are also experimenting with different approaches to song crafting at the moment – for instance one of our newer pieces, “Nights in Spanish Harlem” came about spontaneously from a studio jam, and we’re hoping to try some other approaches, such as maybe one of the others writing the music first and us building on it from there instead of starting every time from my ideas, to bring additional variety in.
RAN: Where do you draw your inspiration from lyrically?
AC: The lyrics all come from the seedy underbelly of life, society and human nature. It’s the grit behind the glamour I’m interested in, the darkness behind the glitter. I often sing from personal experience and I’m frequently inspired by the stories of others, as well as taking cues from film, literature and history. I sing about pretty dark subject matter but often in an upbeat or uplifting way. On a deeper level I think a good way to exorcise our personal demons is to sing and dance around them, to immerse ourselves in the moment however tough it is; this helps clear our minds and become stronger in ourselves. If our music inspires others in that way then that’s a very big part of our mission.
RAN: You’ve just released your debut single, the double A-side “John Doe/Curse the Songs”. What are your plans for Weimar’s next moves?
AC: We’re going back into the studio this month to start work on our album. We’re hoping to release another single first, probably “Marvel to the State” (a duet with Manchester-based singer Rose Niland) and then spend most of the spring and summer recording the album. In the meantime we plan to play more gigs throughout the year and reach more audiences outside of Manchester by playing further afield.
RAN: Who is John Doe?
AC: Think of a person you met who you never got to know particularly well, but who fascinated you… and made a phenomenal impact on your life without necessarily knowing about it, leaving you wrapped in the mystery of who this person actually was. That is John Doe. I think nearly all of us have our own John Doe somewhere…
RAN: Which songs are you cursing and why?
AC: Well, we’re not cursing any… it’s more the idea that when an artist betrays their former liberal, free-thinking values and sells out to the establishment or swings to the right, it puts a kind of ‘curse’ on their past work, in that people no longer associate it with the sentiments they once did and no longer blast it out with pride. It raises the question of the difficulty a lot of people face with separating the art from the artist.
RAN: How can people get hold of the new double A side single?
AC: The digital release is being handled by independent label German Shepherd Records here in Manchester (they are good guys!) and is pretty much everywhere you would expect to find it on the internet, there is also a physical CD which is available by post from our website https://weimarbanduk.com on the band’s own label ‘Marlene’s Hat Records’. The sleeve art was drawn by Eddy, as well as being an excellent drummer he is an accomplished artist; we like to have a DIY self contained approach to everything when ever possible.