mewithoutYou interview

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By Drew Ailes. Published on 1/14/2007.

mewithoutYou INTERVIEW

Starting off, I wanted to ask you about the couple of live acoustic sets you guys did recently. How did go over and how did the idea actually come up?

It came up through the need to figure out how to perform without all our gear. Our last bus broke down in Spokane, Washington, with most of our equipment still in it. We had no way of playing a normal set with all our electric guitars, amps, effects pedals, and accordion and all of that. So we had to figure what we could do different, so we just borrowed some acoustic guitars and practiced a set with a hand drum. We had a regular electric bass but everything else was acoustic.

How long did it take you to prepare for everything? I mean, did you have to do anything drastically differently?

No, no. I mean, the other guys I guess did probably adjust what they'd normally do to fit better on acoustic guitar. Definitely Ricky, our drummer, he had to change what he does because he was playing on just a hand drum instead of a whole kit.

I think I saw an in-store that you did in New Jersey and it was just a clip of "O, Porcupine" and it was definitely interesting.

Yeah, we just had one practice where we wrote down which songs we thought we wanted to do before the first in-store. So we had a practice and then we played four in-store with acoustic. It was alright. It wasn't totally great. Right around the same time, Greg's grandfather got sick so he stayed home for the last couple of them. So we had to play those not only without a bass and our electric guitars and stuff, but also without Greg's vocals which help out a lot because he's a good singer.

Speaking on the new record, I've noticed there's a lot of songs that use a wide variety of instruments like the harp and accordion which differs from the earlier work of the band. What provided the motivation to incorporate more than the usual guitar, bass, drums, etc, into the songs?

Well, you know, those instruments are out there. We're not doing anything too creative, it's just different instruments. You get to a point where you do this one set of songs or songs from this or that record long enough and you think, "boy, why would we take it for granted that these are the instruments?" You figure we're just kind of following the patterns of every other band that's our age. Our demographic is like...we have two electric guitars, a bass guitar, a rock drum-kit, and singing sometimes and shouting other times. It's five guys in their mid-twenties, all white. It's like, it's very, very, common. Not that plugging in an accordion really throws everything on it's head, but...

It's different.

yeah, it's something that like, well, for me...I guess I should give you a simpler answer. Or I guess more direct. I like music...with...accordions.

Have you always played accordion?

No. I just started playing with this band and even that was just a very little bit. Really, I only started playing and writing stuff with this record.

I picked up an accordion from a garage sale a long time ago and parts of it were out of tune and it was messed up, but it was this really beautiful old Italian accordion. I tried playing it for about three months and ultimately gave up, so my hat goes off to you for doing what you can do with that.

Yeah, mine's old and Italian as well. 1930.

Where did you get it?

From an online auction.

Now has anyone vocalized any disappointment or hesitation to embracing the fact that mewithoutYou has kind of become a little more mellow over the years?

I guess the people who wouldn't like us anymore probably wouldn't come to our shows or wouldn't want to come talk to us anymore. You know, you get a lot of people that come up and say, "you guys have gotten better," or, "this is my favorite record that you've done," but it makes sense that the people who don't like what we're doing now wouldn't come tell us that. So no, very few people. One person said they liked our previous record the best out of anything we've done, but that was the day after they heard the new one. Sometimes it takes a while for stuff to grow on people. To me, it's no question that I like our newer stuff the best. It's not even a question. No question at all.

Have you been browsing reviews at all? Have you seen any responses from the media at all?

I have not been, except that sometimes our manager will send me in an email if there's a more prominent magazine or media source with a review and I'll read that. One of the guys in the band got a copy of a couple of magazines that you find on the shelf here or there at a store and someone in the band will buy it. And I'll read that, but I never did an online search. At least not in the four or five years, you know? Like, "mewithoutYou reviews," or something like that. But I mean, I know some of the other guys have because they've read stuff that I haven't and told me about it. I want to, it's just awfully self-indulgent and I'm trying to steer clear of that. We made it for the reasons that we made it for and it doesn't so much matter if reviewers like it.

Because it's what you made and what you wanted to do.

Right.

What would you say is your favorite song on the new record?

The last song on there, it's called, "In a Sweater Poorly Knit". No, well, that's my favorite as far as playing it live. My favorite recording on the record is the first song, "Messes of Men".

I read in an older interview that you were dissatisfied with some of your singing on Catch for Us the Foxes. I'm not trying to say that your singing was ever poor because I've always been a fan of your vocals, but you do a lot more general...I'm hesitant to say "normal", but there's more actual singing on there. Have you done anything to improve your voice and do you feel like your voice has improved?

Oh yeah. I took voice lessons. So I actually learned how to sing, which I never knew you could do. I thought singing was just, you're born with it or you're not. And I think to some extent that's true - the voice you have is the voice you have, but you can take lessons to learn how to use it better. That's what I did. I took five lessons right when we started recording. The guys were laying down their music and I was taking these voice lessons.

Was that encouraged by anyone or was that totally a self-effort?

Um...

[Chris Kleinberg (guitar) walks by and speaks]

Chris: If it's good, I did it. Chris Kleinberg.

[Chris Kleinberg walks away]

Duly noted, sir.

No, I think it was suggested. The guys had been suggesting it to me for a while and I was always pretty reluctant because I thought, "well, I do what I do and I don't want somebody telling me to start singing in a conventional way," so I was pretty hesitant. I probably got defensive and maybe took it personally, you know? "What, you don't think I'm doing a good job? You want me to take lessons?" But I realized that just because I learned how to sing it doesn't mean I can't still, you know, speak or holler or incorporate other vocal deliveries than typical pop singing. I'm not trying to sound like I'm trying to be a pop star or anything, but it's nice to just expand your options.

What was the reason to record a sequel to "Nice and Blue" and how did the recent video shoot for that go?

[As Aaron answers the question he's attempting to work on a toilet located on their bus which was once a bus for a high school sports team many years ago]

Well, the reason...um, the reason probably because that song has kind of a tempo...oh man, I need a light in here for sure.

[Aaron trips over Mike, his brother and guitarist, who is also asleep]

Sorry, Mike. You want me to not work in here? Because I'm going to be doing like, grinding and stuff. Okay. Well, maybe I shouldn't do this right now. I need to hook up this grinding wheel to the drill and lower it into the toilet. We already took the septic tank out, but the toilet is like...this is not anything, I just want to cut this metal tube thing shorter.

So what are you actually grinding down with the grinding wheel?

What is that you said galvanized steel? Yeah, galvanized steel. It's pretty thin, but it's strong, so I don't even know if it's going to cut through it. This isn't actually a blade...

It's just spinning sandpaper, right?

Yeah. It says "grinding and deepering metal alloys and stainless steel." I think it'll be good, but I don't know if I want to be doing that during an interview because it's...not dangerous, but it's semi...but I'm just going to wait to do this because my brother is sleeping back there. But "Nice and Blue," it was a continuation. The song had a similar tempo and kind of same vibe to "Nice and Blue" and the music was written and to "January 1979," so it was like, sort of a thread we had. This is our "this" kind of song, like a prototypical upbeat kind of rocker. You know, sometimes it's...well you know, I'm giving you the runaround. To be honest, the hardest thing for me to do - the hardest thing for me to write is the first line of a song. It's just hard. It's hard for me to know how to start saying something or how to come up with something that grabs you at the very beginning. I've had times where I've written the entire song but I can't get the first line. This was kind of one of them where I had written most of the lyrics but I didn't have a first line, and I looked back on that first line of "Nice and Blue" and thought, "you know, that's a good first line." Then I took it and then used some of the lyrics elsewhere from "Nice and Blue" for the ending and stuff like that. So it was really that I just didn't have anymore lyrics. [laughs]

Yeah, because on my way over I was listening to the CD and listening to that song and I said, "you know, a lot of these lyrics are the same but he changes some things around. I wonder if there's any sort of symbolism behind that?"

Yeah, well, I took some of what I was talking about with that song, the first time around, and updated it. Some of the lyrics are slightly different. If you look at the changes that have been made, they kind of reflect where it's gone to.

That's kind of what I was thinking. As you get older and experience different things, you have a different mindset. Maybe looking back on some of your old material you think, "hey, this is how things are going now," and kind of revamping it. That was just my thought.

Yeah, yeah. That's pretty much it. But also I just didn't have the words. It was coming down to the end and there were just a couple of things that weren't finished. It's hard for me. I don't write very fast.

Is that typically how your writing ends up? You just fill in the middle or do you have a skeleton or framework that you work around or does it just all come out?

I usually just write a whole lot and then piece together what I think is good out of the bulk of it. It's not like I have a real set structure.

This is cool, this bus you have here.

Thank you, yeah, we had another bus. I told you it broke down. We got this one a few days ago.

It's different than any other tour bus I've been on. It's very stripped down. It's cool to not see leather seats and a little mini-fridge here...

Soon we'll have that stuff. When we got it a couple of days ago, it had 45 of these seats, so we stripped all those out the day we got it, which was like, the second day of our tour. Then we put these in, these couches, which are from our old bus. We built the bunks yesterday. So it's just coming together as we go.

Back to the album here, the songs "Yellow Spider", "Orange Spider", and "Brownish Spider", what are they about and why was the decision made to split them up and place them in that way?

It was written as one song based on seeing a brown spider and it was on a brown leaf. I just thought of the way that animals get by and the food is provided for them. Then the leaves fall off of the trees and then they come back the next year, and how everything works real well. So I write all the lyrics keeping that in mind - it was all one song - but then our friend, whose name is Mike Almquist, if you look in the credits he has an album credit that's like, "spider song sequencing by Mike Almquist." He was like, "you know, that would work well if you split it up into three songs," and it really made sense to all of us right away. Yeah, then we could put different instruments on each one and kind of have it be the same theme but a little bit different, and have it tie the whole record together in a way.

And on "O, Porcupine" who wrote the part for Jeremy of Sunny Day Real Estate. Was that all him or was that pre-determined?

I gave him the lyrics to the song and I said, "you can take mine and sing them or you can write your own." He was in the middle of finishing up his new solo record, so he said, "I'm all out of lyrics, myself, I think I'm just going to take something of yours." So he took the lyric that he thought stuck out the most to him. He changed it a little bit, but, for the most part he just took the lyric. As far as the melody, the rhythm, and the delivery...that was all him. We just gave him the lyrics and said, "do what you want," and thats what he did. We were all like...

"Wow...."

Yeah, just floored.

It's definitely...I don't know how it feels to have somebody say that it's one of the highlights of the album when it's the one part separate from the band, but really, it is amazing and it's really cool.

It's my favorite moment of ours ever having recorded. So yeah. And we're all in there too. It's not like, just Jeremy. I still take it as a compliment but I agree, Jeremy Enigk...incredible song, what can you say?

How does having Greg Jehanian on bass affect the dynamics of the band considering that now four of you were in your former band, The Operation, together?

Yeah, Greg's really laid back. Super fun guy to have around. Friendly. But at the same time he doesn't have the same work ethic that our old bass player did. Dan, I think, was a little harder to work with because he had stronger opinions, but that same intensity made him good to have around because he was very determined to have exactly the right sound, exactly the specific drum part to go along with his bassline - he was very intentional about everything he did.

So where he was strong opinioned he was also very meticulous.

Yeah, just very serious about music. Whereas Greg is very gifted. Music comes very naturally to him. From the time we first started playing in bands together, he was cranking out pop-punk songs and I was the drummer, and he was the singer. Right off the top of his head he can just come up with something good.

[Chris Kleinberg interrupts]

Chris: Are you talking about me again?

No, hah, I'm talking about Greg. But at the same time he doesn't know about different pedals or different amps, or doesn't really...know too much about getting just the right sound. But he writes good parts. That's the most important. I mean, well, and our friendship, I guess, is the most important thing. We spend so much time together not on stage. We have to all gel. But we all got along with Dan, too, so in that respect we're all friends.

As you know, there are a lot of people out there who come up to you and want to talk to you. People always seem to gravitate towards you. Not only you, but the rest of the band and the music that you guys make and your dedication to your faith. Do you ever feel that you're viewed incorrectly from people who may look up to you for some sort of answers or guidance?

Yeah. Well, there's a verse that says, "all good and perfect gifts come from above," so when people say if something our band has done to inspire them or something, I have personally said to encourage them, I always think, if there's anything good in all of this, it comes from God, so why don't you just thank God? Why don't you praise God? You can do that in your room by yourself, you don't need to come tell me, "oh, God has done this through you," or even crazier, "you have done this, you have helped me to find this sort of thing in my faith." I just say, "look, I don't know you. You don't know me. You don't know the rotten things I do. You don't know the rotten things in my heart." And they say, "oh yeah, I know but still." I just try to encourage people to thank God for anything good and realize that there are things that I'm saying that are untrue, and that are misguiding, and that are misleading to people. That's my contribution to all this.

Is that an intentional thing or is that just being human?

Oh, of course. Yeah, it's not intentional. I'm not trying to mislead anybody.

Hah, that could've been a stupid question.

No, but I guess it's not. I hope I'm not. To me, I think about my duty is to praise God. I see it kind of like...I don't know, it might sound stupid, but as an instrument of God. The best thing that a guitar can do when it's on stage is just keep quiet until it's played. If you set it down and it starts ringing, or buzzing, or crackling and making noise on it's own, then it's not being a good guitar. So I see it as my duty to just try and stay out of the way as much as I can and be an instrument where God can say something through me like a mouthpiece. I think that my duty is to lose my ego and my self and always try and say the truth. Which, obviously, the truth has been around a lot longer than any of my ideas, you know what I mean? I don't know if that makes any sense.

It does make sense and that was kind of the answer I was anticipating. On a similar line, having had a significant amount of contact with fans at shows...you say you don't feed into your ego, searching out your name on the internet, but there's a general mystery and stirring surrounding you and your personality. Even aspects about your private life. Is it ever tough to deal with so many different people's perceptions of you?

No. That's not that hard. The hard thing is reconciling where Jesus says, "the world will hate you on my account," and then to whatever extent people want to take...you know, I'm sure there are people that don't like me. A lot of people might even hate me because of what I say. Most of the people I talk to and most of the people that come talk to me are people that do like me, or are interested in me, so that's hard. As far as people...I just don't know much about what people are saying.

There isn't really that much, I didn't mean to worry you. One of the things I was referring to is that someone started a rumor that you were autistic or something like that.

Yeah.

That was the one that really stuck out. Then there was a flurry of people going back and forth, saying it was someone else, or saying that you had some other condition....I was just kind of taken back by the fact that people were discussing it. I searched around for it and I couldn't find any other information aside from rumors.

For me, yeah. It's almost just like, a curiosity. It's sort of funny. I laughed when I heard that. People have asked me, "so I heard you're autistic," and I'm like, "....no?" It's funny that people would say that without knowing. Obviously, it's not true where ever they got it from. It just goes to show that you can't believe everything you hear or read. When you read things about yourself that you know aren't true, it's just sort of like, "okay, this is just the way things go." But no, it's not hard. People can say whatever they want. I've never been terribly private about guarding my business or, "hey, don't talk about me." The way I see it, nobody is my judge except for God and nobody is going to convince God of anything any different than the truth. It's not even saying something bad about me, like, "he's a rapist or a murderer," or something like that. And even if people started to say that, again, our God knows the truth. It doesn't matter what people say.

I don't know if this is too personal of a question, but judging by your other answers, it's not. What were things like for you, growing up? What was your life like before you were put on the path that you're currently on?

Well, I guess my life growing up was really good. My parents really loved me and my brother a lot. I had friends around me. I was never real popular or confident or happy all throughout school. I felt like kind of a loser. I tried to do sports and I was never any good, so I was like, the manager of the basketball team. I didn't play on the basketball team, you know? Then I got kicked off the lacrosse team, and I'd go to the dances with my friends, like, a guy who I was friends with. I never really kissed any girls until pretty late in life, but even then, I was never happy. I never felt like I found my place until...well, I started doing this band and it was like, "okay, this is the path that I'm on now, for a while, so I'll be in this band," but even then, I didn't find any real contentment until about three years ago. I went to visit this community and saw people who loved each other and I realized that was all I ever needed. It wasn't to be popular, or to be accepted, or to be successful, or to get married...any of the things I tried to do and failed, in some respect. I realized all I've gotta do is love people and if I find my contentment in serving people, and giving, and loving - then it's not dependent on what people's response is. You know? You don't say, "she's gotta love me back or else I can't be happy," or, "she's gotta marry me," or, "we've gotta sell this many records or I can't be happy," or, "I've gotta have this kind of house or I can't be happy." It's more like, no, I've gotta love people. And I've gotta love God. And that's always possible.

I had read that you had visited two different communities like that. One in New York - was that right?

I was living at one in Philadelphia and that was just a few people. While I was there, I visited one in New York that was like, over 300 people.

That was the thing that you talk about three years ago - so that was the catalyst for the way you currently think?

Yeah. I mean, and some of the things, it was kind of ideas that were coming together in me for a while. Different friends of mine in the church group that I belonged to, I'd hear these ideas and it didn't all fit together until three years ago. You hear these different concepts and these people saying...the different approach and the different perspective on faith...it all came together, super-clear, three years ago.

If you had the opportunity to completely dispel one myth or clear up one misconception, what would it be? It doesn't have to be related to you or the band or anything like that.

Well, I guess there's certain...since I believe in God and I see a lot of our generation saying, "there is no God," I want people to believe in God. I'd say that the misconception that because we're learning more, scientifically, and there's all this discovery and technological progression, and philosophically there's all these relatively new ideas in the past few hundred years with people saying, "God is dead," and everything...I'd say all this is changing, but really, the eternal truth is no different. I don't claim to know that eternal truth, but I do believe firmly in the existence of God and the reality of a loving and caring and merciful creator. I claim to that with all my heart. I want people to know that not only is God merciful, but God has created us to be merciful to each other. So on one hand I want to just dispell that kind of misconception about God being tied up with the religious forms that surround God or the political parties that use the name of God, and to separate all that and say that, "no, God is truth. God is light, God is love."

[Voice from the background: Critter is outside with a whole bunch of stuff.]

Critter? Yeah! Send him in! Oh, food? Oh, Crittervision. This guy is incredible. Crittervision.com. If you're reading this, go to Crittervision.com, it's my friend's website. He changed his name to Crittervision.com and now he brings us food.

Legally?

I don't know, you can ask him. But he brings us food, and first aid, and the vitamins and things he finds in the dumpsters. This is the second show in a row where he's bringing it to us.

Voice from the background: He's got an enormous whole case - a giant case of bread. Maybe like, twenty loaves in there. There's probably 20,000 cases of this stuff that's just sitting in the Food Lion trash.

He's the man. So what was the last...oh yeah. Yeah. You know what? Let me give you sort of a clearer answer; one that I can speak with some authority on. That's not a myth that I can dispell - that God doesn't exist. I put my faith in something. I don't really know. I have no way to prove that God exists. So maybe something that I can speak with a little more experience and authority about is the myth that if you're in a band and you get signed to a label, or get on tours, or put out records, or record with a cool producer, or tour with other cool musicians....that that will make you content. I see a lot of people that are like, "I started a band and I'm hoping to get signed, what's your advice? Help my band. Can you take us on tour? I know it must be so awesome to be where you're at." And it's like, no, it's not. I'm grateful for everything I've been given, but there's no peace that comes with..."oh, now we've sold this many records." We haven't been hugely successful, so maybe if we were in front of a football stadium full of people....I can't definitively say that then I wouldn't content. But if you look at like, anybody who has been successful with music...huge rock stars have killed themselves.

Yeah, think of all the problems that plague these people. You're almost inviting it into your life and trying to seek that out.

Right. So that's a myth that I'd like to dispell. That it's actually cool or that it's going to make you happy to do this.

I also read in a recent interview where one thing you said in particular kind of stuck with me. You said, "my luxuries and entertainment are more important than me than other people's lives," which is something that I've been thinking about a lot. I'm not an activist in any form, I eat meat and I do all sorts of things wrong, but I always kind of have it in the back of my head that while I'm out buying something I don't need, really, that money could go to somebody who really needs it. It doesn't necessarily cause me to consciously change anything, but it makes me think. You talked pretty extensively about that concept, and I'm wondering if that's something that still goes through your head regularly and if it's something that's really pushed you to live your life and to change the way you do things?

Yeah, definitely. Something I talk about with Chris, our guitar player, a lot, is how much we should be feeling guilty about things like that when you look at the facts. Like, alright, I do spend more on my own luxuries or entertainment...

...than someone makes in a month.

Yeah, or that it would take to feed this many people. So the question is, how long do you go feeling guilty about that before you either change and start to give the money away instead of spending it on yourself, or else, accept the fact that, "alright, I'm a selfish person and I'm not capable of loving people overseas that I'll never see in a third world country, so I'm just going to be grateful for the things I have and I'm going to go out to eat unnecessarily, or go spend money on this or that, but I'm going to enjoy it and be grateful for it." That's another response you could have to it. Or like, giving begrudgingly, like, giving the money away but secretly wishing you weren't.

I feel like that's a completely false thing. I wouldn't feel right if I was giving money away and I had the slightest hesitation about it, I would still feel wrong about it. I might feel better about it a month later, but I would feel like I did it for some sort of impure reasoning just to make myself feel better. I don't know if that makes sense.

No, no, absolutely. And it's like, for us, the conclusion where ultimately we know that God, sort of what I was saying earlier, that God is the giver of good gifts. So we have to, in a sense, not to say that we'll be giving all our money away, but we'll just be an instrument of God who is generous and who loves all people equally. So we have to say I think that our only hope for all of this is to pray to God for the grace to do that joyfully. That we would give out of love and not out of some sense of burden or guilt, you know what I mean? But yeah, I think to whatever extent it happens we won't even be super aware of it, like, "oh now I'm giving all my money away - I'm so good." It'd just be a natural thing and you just see money for what it is. It's just pieces of paper. "Ah, I don't need this." In fact, it's a burden to have extra money and all these possessions. Then you're scared at night and you luck up your doors. Or you've got a house you've got to pay a mortgage on, and all these cars you've gotta pay the bills, and you're worried out and you're stressed. If we could ever really depend on God's provision, like the birds in the air and the lillies in the field, if we could ever reach that point, I think we would be free.

It'd be nice to know that everything you have is already with you.

I can imagine, but it'd also be scary and make you worry, like, "what about tomorrow?"

Yeah, there's a certain insecurity about the whole thing. I've also run into a few places in interviews that hints that you might have some sort of inner conflict with success, in one instance calling it "spiritually hurtful". Do you believe that you'll be able to continue to function as your ideal self even if the band just takes off and you are playing in football fields full of people?

Well, I don't know. I have my doubts, you know? Whether that would work. I guess we like to pray that God would give us the amount of success that is best.

[Someone gets on the bus talking to Aaron]

Who is it? Somebody who's trying to get in? I told them that if somebody else would play guitar for "Spider," "Goats," or "House," or something like that, then I would sing a couple of songs. Mike's asleep but if Chris, you want to do it, I can wake up Mike a little later. I told them I would do it. Okay, thank you. Um, but yeah, so we just pray for the amount of success that we can handle without losing our focus, which may or may not have already happened. It's hard to see the forest from the trees, you know? I can't tell if we're in a better or worse spiritual state than when we started the band. It seems like a really dangerous thing. Not just with music, but anything you do. If you put all your heart into this thing and all your energy into this concept, this construct...this band...it's just so much selfish ambition. I just feel like the whole world revolves around me. People want to interview me, people want to take my picture or something like that. Meanwhile, 99.999% of the world doesn't even know you exist. As soon as you die, you're going to be completely forgotten about, but somehow you get this sense that there's some importance to what you're doing. That you're a big shot, you know? That's how I feel, sometimes. I'd rather not have anymore success than that.

In regards to the Bible, how far does your dedication and faith extend to? Are there things in the Bible that you reject or personally don't agree with, or are there things you take literally verses figuratively?

Yeah. Yeah. I'm trying to understand the Bible, and um, but I definitely don't put it on the same pedestal that I used to. You know, where I'd say, "this is the word of God that I'm holding in my hand and this is infallible and perfect, and there's no contradictions and is scientifically accurate," and all the rest. I look at it now as, these are writings from the Jewish prophets about the coming of the messiah. They're poems and songs, and there's little biographical accounts of Jesus Christ and his life, and there's letters of advice and encouragement, and discouragement, the rebuking from Paul to specific churches, and other people like James and Peter are writing, and some visions from John. This is all collected into a book. It doesn't say the same thing all the time. It doesn't all line up. There's certain things...you read where it says, alright, there's Gospel saying that Judas hung himself. There's Gospel saying he threw himself off a cliff. You try and reconcile that like, "oh, he hung himself and then the branch broke and he fell off a cliff." There's so many examples of that where I'd rather...I reached a point where I felt like I was enslaved to defending every word or every story or every concept in there. And I looked around like, "man, nobody takes all this literally." Like, Paul says women should keep silent in church. I don't know a single church where they say women can't ask questions or talk in church. You could say, "oh, that was for that culture or that time," so you get to a different point where you're like, "these are the things that I think are essential." When Jesus said to love your enemies, that's not just for that time, that applies to everybody. And I don't know how I make those decisions. There's just some things that I pray to God to guide me in the right way and to guide me to the truth in the best way. To me, it seems like it would be hurtful or oppressive to tell a women that she couldn't talk in a church meeting. When I see that put into practice, I see women talk in church meetings that I attend, and it's cool. It's smooth. It doesn't seem to cause any trouble. But, when I hold on to anger or bitterness, or I gossip about people, or I indulge in sexual thoughts, or any of these other things that are forbidden by the Bible, I see the trouble that comes from that. So I think the verse that says, "taste and see that the Lord is good," there's like, this experiencial aspect where I don't believe the things that Jesus said because it's written in the Bible, but put them into practice and you see the freedom that comes from not worrying about tomorrow or from forgiving everybody or for caring at people. For praying to God. The things that Jesus said to do bring life. There's certain things where, you look at things from the Old Testament where war was prescribed, like, "go and wipe out this village and kill everybody." And Jesus has since then, taught us a better way.

So what do I think when I look at those old things? I think, "well, maybe that was necessary at that time. I don't know. I wasn't there. But I'm glad Jesus told me this because that feels right." That works when you live that out. That makes the world paradise, whereas if you go and kill people in the village where they live, that doesn't feel like paradise to me. That seems wrong. I don't know, I don't want to pick and choose based on convenience, like, "I don't feel like giving my stuff away so I'm going to ignore where Jesus says to sell your possessions." It's more like, what's the best? What's going to bring about the most goodness and beauty in the world? That's how I think is the way I want to look at it, and not on the one hand, ignoring what's inconvenient or that I can't understand. Or to just accept it all and say, "no, I have to believe this literally, every word of it." Nobody believes that Jesus was a lamb with white and curly wool. But he's called the lamb of God. So you have to say that some of this is symbolic, it's just how much of it is and how much do we need to accept. I don't know. I heard somebody say that we should read the Bible the way we eat fish. Carefully. Pick out the meat and throw the bones and just try to be careful with it.

Last question, probably a little simpler than the other ones, but what are your personal plans for 2007? What do you hope to accomplish before the year ends?

I just got done telling you not to worry about tomorrow and here you are asking me about...

Hey, it's on the paper, I have to ask it.

Yeah. Yeah. I'd be violating everything I said...yeah, I try not to plan about that. But I guess we've got some talk about going on a tour in 2007, so that's the one area where with this band, we have to schedule tours ahead of time so people know they can come and show up. Because if we just went anywhere on any given day, it might be a little harder to drum up a show. So we're planning on doing a European tour and probably headlining an American tour. Personally though, I want to continue and try to get over all my sexual hang-ups and desires, and craziness. Not just sexual, but romantic, and my weird hope that if I find somebody to marry then that's going to make me happy. Because I realized it's not true. So I want to find my contentment in God and to stop caring about whether I ever kiss another girl for the rest of my life, you know?

Is there anything else you care to add?

No.

Thank you for taking the time to sit here and do this with me.

Thank you. I'm not sure I even caught your name.

Drew.

Drew, I'm sorry, I'm Aaron.



Comments
Nick_   posted 1/14/2007 11:17:23 AM
first
magic_johnson_has_aids_   posted 1/14/2007 11:18:49 AM
first post!
Nick_   posted 1/14/2007 11:28:31 AM
Magic is clearly not first. What a loooooooooooser.
ese_bauber_   posted 1/14/2007 11:34:15 AM
strange dude.
anonymous   posted 1/14/2007 12:00:37 PM
whoa
AndrewChrz_   posted 1/14/2007 12:14:14 PM
I really really really don't like this band.
YouAreSceneAsFuck_   posted 1/14/2007 2:25:42 PM
You really, really are a gay.
Ben_   posted 1/14/2007 3:54:18 PM
amazing band...amazing dude...one fo the best live shows out there...go see em...then talk to aaron after the show..it will blow your mind...
Ryne_   posted 1/14/2007 5:51:51 PM
He had some thought-provoking answers.
RobertRedford_   posted 1/14/2007 5:52:39 PM
Great interview! A fantastic band!!
mask_   posted 1/14/2007 6:06:31 PM
christianity is an opressive disease spreading and killing the minds of millions pon millions. not a single christian should be regarded as logical, insightful, or philisophical..unless they view christianity as a philosophy and philosophy only. jesus as the son of god?..punk rock/ hardcore was never an intended forum for oppressive mindsets. think for yourselves..define your own logic.
sweetzombiejesus_   posted 1/14/2007 6:50:41 PM
I bet this guy uses tears for lube when he wanks.
booyah_   posted 1/14/2007 6:59:27 PM
what the f*ck? how does somebody read something so genuine and then talk about christianity destroying the world? what the f*ck is in this interview that gives you the impression that mewithoutyou is "oppresive"?
drew_   posted 1/14/2007 8:13:33 PM
yeah, i dont really think people can accuse people of holding the values of something they cant spell.
yeahdude_   posted 1/15/2007 8:45:09 AM
good band, good interview.
insideyou_   posted 1/15/2007 10:20:58 AM
he didn't even know dude's name. lol. jesus called and wants his religion back.
anonymous   posted 1/15/2007 4:57:40 PM
hardcore//metal//christ
samsisdead_   posted 1/16/2007 9:20:23 PM
There is a stark difference between the teachings of Christ and the attitudes and actions among those who claim to be “Christians.” Christ called people to “love one another” so that God’s love might be revealed through those actions. The crusades, on the other hand, used sanctioned violence to engage their own sinful ideologies and desires guised as endeavors of Christianity, as did many American schoolhouses to Native Americans in the 19th century, the Ku Klux Klan, etc. I would agree with
zeanz_   posted 1/17/2007 8:26:50 AM
his heart is in the right place -- i wish truly spiritual people would drop the "god" shit and come out and say what they really mean; that "god" is a metaphor for everything good in the world, and the "holy spirit" is an allusion to the passionate embrace of it. on his records he sounds like he's being tormented by his beliefs and decisions, like he desires something different... wise religions teach one to shed their desires, and thus shed their conflicts of spirit.
karmacorruption_   posted 1/17/2007 9:55:12 PM
this one of the most profounded interviews i ve ever read! so honest and fair
strongereveryday_   posted 1/18/2007 2:57:38 PM
I masturbated the entire time I was reading the interview.
bro_punch_   posted 1/18/2007 3:13:04 PM
zeanz, i watched another interview with aaron weiss where he talks about what you were saying about the good in the world. if i understood correctly, he actually agreed with most of what you said, that "God" is more of a naturally "good" force in the universe instead of this actual being that stares down on us from heaven. as for the kid who talked about oppressive attitudes and no place for them, i agree with what you said, but if you relaxed the anti-religious attitude a bit, you'd see there'
surfjam_   posted 1/21/2007 9:11:56 PM
i like mewithoutyou. i have friends who worship this guy but in all honesty hes kind of a douche
Alex_   posted 1/27/2007 5:34:36 AM
i have something to say about all this.

christians are not perfect. no one is. people screw up. but i will tell you something, i represent Christ with everything i have to offer. Christ is my life, and ill have it no other way.
people expect so much out of christians today and, im not saying you shouldn't, but we are still human.

ill be totally honest with you. ive masturbated before. ive been sexually involved with a girl before. i cuss when im angry. i get angry, far too often. i yell,
holly_   posted 3/2/2007 10:30:03 AM
religion is so personal. its a relationship not a democracy. I agree with every thing aaron says about the bible. all god said in the begining is love your neighbor and accept him as the one and only trught ( only god) i can do that.
josh_   posted 4/5/2007 10:58:54 AM
what makes his beliefs appear to be oppressive?
theworldsshortestgiant_   posted 4/8/2007 8:13:33 PM
I like the interview overall. I'm honestly not a huge fan of the music that I've heard from them, it's good, but not great (but my brother loves them, so whatever). The only thing I can't figure out is what he's talking about when he said one of the Gospels says Judas threw himself off a cliff. I've read 'em, and that ain't in there...
Duke_   posted 4/27/2007 12:37:09 AM
15 In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 "Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas who was guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry. 18 (Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all hi
-anon_   posted 1/11/2008 10:46:25 AM
I definitely dug this interview. The band is great (in my opinion).

I am a "christian" and I agree with alot of what Aaron says. I do not really call my self a christian however, because of what the word has come to mean in society today. I'd prefer to call myself a follower of Christ, because that cannot be mistaken as a bad thing, seeing as there is nothing wrong whatsoever with Christ. The Bible is pure, and perfect, and if you read it you can see that it is both logical and truthful. I ha