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John-Allison 'A.W.' Weiss' Debut Album Is a Prequel to Their Present

John-Allison 'A.W.' Weiss writes "sad songs for fun times."EXPAND
John-Allison 'A.W.' Weiss writes "sad songs for fun times."
John-Allison 'A.W.' Weiss

When John-Allison Weiss decided to self-fund their debut album a decade ago, Kickstarter was a novel idea that people weren’t sure could work.

The indie musician self-funded their debut album, ...Was Right All Along, in the first day and eventually tripled it. The New York Times called them a poster child for a new way to make it in the music industry. It was one of the first mainstream DIY efforts, and Weiss has been doing it by themselves for the 10 years since.

Weiss, who proclaims their songs are sad songs for fun times, blends pop-punk and emo as well as any big-time band out there. They’ve crisscrossed the country numerous, provided backup vocals for Lou Reed, co-wrote their song “Runaway” with Tegan Quin from Tegan and Sara. They spent most of their professional careers curating a careful brand. A couple of albums later, both on small indie labels, everything seemed to be figured out.

In 2018, they shifted from playing under their name to their initials and came out as nonbinary. After a relatively quiet period, Weiss is wrapping up a solo tour to mark the anniversary of ...Was Right All Along, which stops at The Trunk Space on Wednesday, October 23. They say this album feels like a different lifetime ago.

“[The album] is a prequel to everything that I am now,” says Weiss.

This tour is not only a commemoration of that album but more importantly, a celebration of who they are. Since starting to take testosterone, their voice dropped an octave. There was a bit of a learning curve to approaching the songs, which made them focus more on the lyrics.

“When I started relearning these songs for this tour, I started paying attention to my lyrics more, and it seems like they were hinting at my impending queerness and struggling to fit in," says Weiss. "It’s been interesting to find myself relating to the songs in new ways.”

The set features ...Was Right All Along played front to back, with some newer songs and some selections from their 2013 album, Say What You Mean, tagged on at the end for fans who have stuck with them since 2009.

“These last few shows have been so fun," Weiss says. "Folks seem to know all the words and sing along to every song. Doing this for 10 years, this profession can seem fruitless. Especially as a DIY musician. Having people sing all my words back to me is unreal.”

They have no plans on stopping anytime soon. Despite subsequent albums being released on labels, Weiss plans to continue their DIY approach to the business so they can be in control and stay close to their fans. Fans can also participate in their Patreon — known as the A.W. Feelings Club — to get inside access to their creative process and personal life.

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“I think doing crowdfunding is the way I’ll go," says Weiss. "I was on No Sleep Records and SideOneDummy at one point, but it just didn’t work out for me. The traditional label isn’t something I am going to pursue anymore. I am more interested in doing it myself. I’m trying to figure out my own thing. I’m calling my collective, which is silly because it’s just me and my other projects [like Charlie Mountain], Lower Key Music. I’m not sure if it is going to be a label or what.”

And for the first time, fans can stream the album at places like Spotify. Since rereleasing the anniversary edition of ...Was Right All Along, Weiss has reflected on exactly what they weren’t and were right about as a 22-year-old fresh out of college.

“I was right about the fact I was dating someone who didn’t give a shit and right about that I shouldn’t be in the type of relationships I was in,” they revealed ahead of their show at the Trunk Space on October 23. “In the end, I was right about being as queer as hell.”

John-Allison Weiss is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, October 23, at The Trunk Space. Tickets are $13-$15 via Eventbrite.

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