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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week - Levi Weaver
Monday, March 10, 2008

After a childhood of listening to country crooners Levi Weaver was introduced to something a little different early in his teenage years, the music of Weezer. This started a whirlwind of musical discovery for him. Since then Weaver’s traveled the world, heard a lot of artists, and experienced the highs and lows of personal triumph and tragedy. A few months ago he put all of it together on an album of what can be loosely described as electro-acoustic folk, uniquely titled you are never close to home, you are never far from home. When I first heard the album I was blown away and this week I caught up with Weaver to find out more about his very interesting history, his vast musical repertoire, and what body-slamming has to do with great music.

Adam Bernard: Start me off with a little bit of personal history. Who is Levi Weaver? Where are you from and how did you get into music?
Levi Weaver: I've been pretty lucky, I've had a thoroughly adventurous life. My dad was a professional cowboy / ordained missionary (to rodeo cowboys), so I grew up traveling a lot. About the time I got into 8th grade he got too old to really compete, so he started working with horse racetracks and we kids went to public school. My youngest brother passed away in a car accident when I was 17 and that was a pretty sobering reality to face as a senior in high school. When I graduated I got as far away from high school as possible and I couldn't have been happier. I went to college for a couple of years then decided that traveling the world was a way better idea. Nineteen countries later I came home for a couple of years, started a band and tried to settle in. Then my girlfriend moved to France and subsequently broke my heart, the band broke up and I moved to England for a couple of years. I didn't play any music for almost a year and then, almost as a necessity to get some catharsis, I started tinkering around with the acoustic guitar and a loop pedal. I eventually wrote and recorded an EP and then got really lucky and landed an opening gig for Imogen Heap in Birmingham. She liked it, invited me on tour, and a career was born. I forfeited my visa when I lost my job for going on tour, so now here I am in Nashville, of all places.

Adam Bernard: You weren’t kidding, you have led a thoroughly adventurous life. You also play a boatload of instruments, including the accordion. Have you always had a proclivity for easily learning a new instrument?
Levi Weaver: I poked around playing really awful blues and “La Cucaracha” on the piano until I was about 11 and then started playing drums, which was all I played until all of a sudden at 19 I decided "okay, nobody listens to what the drummer has to say, that’s it, I need to learn to play guitar." I still don't feel like I'm any sort of musical genius, I just kind of hear a sound in my head that I want and I just learn enough to make that sound. Sometimes it's an existing instrument, and other times, as in the case of the Radiohead cover, it's a pop can top, or a coffee cup and spoon, or slapping myself on the stomach. The accordion is kind of the same way. I bought an old broken one and had to rebuild it, so not all of the little reed-thingys are in the right place and I can only play specific chords, because the other ones... ah, that's kind of an excuse. I need to re-rebuild it and do it right.

Adam Bernard: Your songwriting is much more interesting than the typical "I'm in love. I have a love lost" songs that we all hear on the radio. How did you develop this songwriting ability? Do you have a background in poetry?
Levi Weaver: I used to say that I would have been a poet if I thought anyone would listen, but no, I wouldn't say that I necessarily have a background in it, I've just always been a sucker for creativity on every level, and that goes for the lyrics, as well. If I can tell what the next line of a song is going to be before I've even heard it then I just kind of wonder "well, dude, I already know it's coming, so what's the point?" This is where my beef with country music gets kind of vicious. I appreciate/demand good writing, on every level, so if I feel like I'm not being competitive with other writers I respect, if it doesn't make me feel the same kind of emotion as say Ben Folds' more serious stuff, or early Counting Crows, or Damien Rice, if I don't feel like I'm at least aiming for that, then the song gets scrapped.

Adam Bernard: Was writing you are never close to home, you are never far from home a soul-bearing experience for you?
Levi Weaver: It was. I guess if you're going for the type of emotion I was talking about on the end of the last question... it's hard to fake that. I know, I've tried. So yeah, a lot of these songs were really personal when I wrote them. “Which Drink?” was about the girl that moved to France and eventually ended up cheating on me. “Of Bridges Burned” was addressing the idea of "I'm supposed to be over this, but I'm not, no matter what I tell people." And "You Are Home," I think that's almost the thesis statement of the CD. Every single song has a story behind it, whether it's direct or allegorical. I'm probably not as good at hiding stuff as I'd like to think. If people just read lyrics and they'll know where I was when the song was written.

Adam Bernard: What, if anything could you compare the experience of writing the album to?
Levi Weaver: If I had to compare it to something… maybe it's like painting a portrait of a criminal and hoping nobody realizes it's your face.

Adam Bernard: What do you hope listeners feel when they put it on?
Levi Weaver: I just hope they do feel. Sometimes I'll hear a song and I can't put into words what it makes me feel, but I'm definitely impacted. The best way I can think of to describe it is like the soul just got picked up and body-slammed, but onto a bed. Maybe it didn't necessarily hurt, but you definitely had no control and it was scary. And depending on who did it, and under what circumstances, well… then you start to figure out what emotions that body-slam pumped into you. If it was your significant other, then you're all fired up and excited. If it was a stranger, you're completely terrified, and so on. Whether it's melancholy or romance or whatever, or all of the above at the same time, I want to have that effect on listeners.

Related Links

Website: leviweaver.com
MySpace: myspace.com/leviweaver
CDBaby: cdbaby.com/leviweaver3


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:49 AM  
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