Ely Brothers
mewithoutYou will be performing July 23 at Neumos

A lot went into writing your favorite song, but how much do you really know


Tell Me About That Song: Aaron Weiss, Vocalist of Experimental-Indie Band mewithoutYou

Ely Brothers
mewithoutYou will be performing July 23 at Neumos

A lot went into writing your favorite song, but how much do you really know about it? This week Aaron Weiss, vocalist of Philadelphia experimental-indie four-piece mewithoutYou, delves into "East Enders Wives," from the band's recently released fifth studio album. Centered around a rabbit and a fortune teller, the song follows the mystical story created in the band's 2009 release, It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright.

Song: "East Enders Wives"

Album: Ten Stories

Release Date: May 15, 2012

When was it written: Bits and pieces, from 2008 to 2011

Where was it written: In and around Philadelphia. The music was written mostly in my brother Mike's basement, our band's practice space, where we wrote most of the songs; the lyrics mostly came together in my mom's house.

Favorite line in the song: Probably the last line of the song: "All our dads die." There are other lines that I think are more creative or imaginative, but that one is definitely the most direct - something refreshing to me about being entirely without cleverness or guile. It's seldom I can reach such a state, but the extent to which I do, it's like putting down a heavy weight.

Which part was the hardest to come up with: The first line. This is fairly typical of me, to have a hard time settling on an opening lyric. The words to a lot of our songs are written more or less in reverse. I start out with a clear idea of how it ends, or even the last line, word for word. Then the question becomes how to arrive at that point.

If you could go back and change anything, what would it be: The song's awfully short, so I sometimes wish there was a little more to it. That second/final chorus could stand to be a bit longer, but I guess it's better to be a bit too short than a bit too long.

Also, on the recording, I doubled the lead vocal at two different octaves. The higher one is prominent on the album version, with the lower acting as a kind of background texture. On the demo version we did, the opposite was the case: the lower octave was in the forefront, with the higher playing the role of a creepy, atmospheric embellishment. That version was a bit more jarring to me, droning and haunting in a Joy Division kind of way. I miss the way it sounded. But that being said, I'm definitely satisfied with how the album version turned out.

Odd fact about song: Our drummer Rickie came up with the main guitar line while we were writing our previous record, about 4 years ago, describing it, if I remember rightly, as "tent music." It reminded me a bit of a band called Psalters we've played with a lot over the years (who are some of my favorite musicians). I loved the mood and movement of it, but somehow it fell by the wayside. When we were writing our new record, I asked Rickie, "Say, what ever happened to that 'tent music' guitar line you wrote?" and back it came.

What was your inspiration for writing the song: Lyrically, it was a return to the old theme of romantic disaster, this time between a rabbit and a fortune teller. It's part of a larger narrative which includes all the songs we recorded last year, and is the first of two songs specifically focusing on the rabbit's journey home after escaping from the circus. Some of the occult imagery works well with the overall circus theme, and provides its own built-in kind of mystique (e.g., salt-fires, tea-leaves, tarot cards).

Having a fortune telling character also lends itself to pretty overt foreshadowing, which is a convention I'd never used in a song before. Part of the inspiration was seeing a lot of relationships go sour, and wondering why exactly that happens as much as it does. I think we're usually looking for someone who will make us happy, something new and exciting - and when that newness runs out, when s/he no longer makes me feel good, it's time to leave. For whatever reason, this makes me sad. There's a call and response vocal part that I think was inspired, at least in part, by the Beatles song "She Leaving Home," especially since both correspond to a young lady fleeing a situation in which she's not satisfied.

When was your favorite time performing it live: Last night (July 17) at the Grenada Theater in Lawrence, KS was my favorite that I can remember. This is probably because it's the most recent and so clearest in my mind, and my memory is so bad I can hardly remember any other performance of it. Also, I was losing my voice, and since it's a relatively mellow song, it provided something like a break for me.

What is the meaning behind the song: Well, the story moves along pretty quickly. The two characters in the song, the rabbit and the fortune teller, meet and fall for each other - by the end of the first chorus, their relationship has already grown cold and stagnant, and by the second verse the fortune teller has left. I was interested in how the collapse of any relationship - or anything, really - could look completely different from the various perspectives of those involved. There's a line I like, where the fortune teller accuses the rabbit: "You still see who I once was."

This is important to me, since it speaks to our tendency to allow our concepts of one another to solidify and fossilize; then, rather than interacting with who's actually in front of us, we interact with those concepts and memories. This is a mistake I've made so much, and it's done a lot of damage I think. Basically in doing this we stunt the potential for growth and spontaneity, and assert a kind of epistemological ownership over 'them.' Anyhow, in the last few lines, the fortune teller leaves a note which predicts the death of the rabbit's father, an event that kind of trumps everything else he's caught up in. This again is fairly typical of me, to think of this inevitable fact of death that's approaching us all and those we love, and how this impacts what we hold to be important and how we spend our lives.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

comments powered by Disqus