Q&A: Weatherbox's Brian Warren On If He is Hard to Work With and Whether He's Pretentious For Claiming Kurt Vonnegut As A Musical Influence

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Although Brian Warren got his band's name from a song by Mission of Burma, the surging punk-metal of Weatherbox has little in common with those legendary noise rockers from Boston.

Hailing from San Diego, Weatherbox is basically Warren and whatever collection of side players he chooses to work with. And, due to various legal and personnel hassles, only two full-lengths have been released over the band's five-year history. Speaking from the tour van while making his way across Alabama, Warren took some time to discuss a variety of issues affecting his band, which will play City Tavern this evening.

Does naming your band after a Mission of Burma song give you instant indie street cred?
Not really. People don't really know. I guess if people know the reference, then we get the credit. I was a big fan of Mission of Burma in high school, but picking the name was a pretty random thing. They are not one of my favorite bands, but I like them.

You've spoken before about the influences on your music of writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon. Will some people find that pretentious?
The quote that is out there is pretty pretentious. I don't know what I was thinking when I said it. I didn't mean that those writers influenced me more than certain musicians. That's just not true. Sometimes in interviews, I just kick something out of my head that's not really accurate. Yes, it is kind of pretentious.

What was the confusion that resulted in your newest CD Cosmic Drama being delayed?
There were a lot of different things that happened, but basically the engineer, who was my good friend, we talked about him getting paid half at front and half when it was finished. Then the label really didn't come through in various ways. I also had a hard time getting the mixes from the engineer because he thought we were going to fuck him over. The record got screwed and I had to go back into the studio and do everything myself. It was a mess of a situation that ended OK.

In the past, you've worked with a lot of musicians. Who is in the touring band this time around?
I have a guy named Drew (Bent) who's done the last couple tours on drums and a new guitarist named Andrew Lucia. I think there have been 12 or 13 members. It is an ever-changing line up.

Is that because you are difficult to work with or do you just like working with new people?
Early on, a lot of the people were about to go to college. They thought they wanted to be in a band and then decided they didn't. I don't think I am particularly hard to work with. There was a big incident at first where everybody left. I just never got that used to working with anybody else.

Does that take a toll as far as touring and recording goes?
Not really. It's pretty easy to teach everyone all of the parts.

Where do you come up with song titles like "I Haven't Kissed a Guy in Light Years" and "This Space Intentionally Left Blank"?
I think a friend of mine told me that he hadn't kissed a guy in lights years. I thought it was funny, so I used it. On the other, we had a song that we left blank, but it always came up as "Uuntitled," so this time I wanted to do the same thing, so I actually gave it a title. The song titles always come after the thing is finished.

One critic said you guys were "knotty, post-stoner guitar-rock." Is that a good description?
Yes, that's cool. That stoner part is pretty funny. We get called "dude rock" sometimes and that's pretty bad. I even think "emo" is an all right thing to be called. I like really loud, aggressive music and that's what we play. Any description that points that direction is OK by me.

Weatherbox performs tonight at City Tavern.

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