If there's a common thread spanning Evan Weiss' career it's his innate ability to take chances and push the limits of what people perceive Into It. Over It. to be and that forward trajectory continues with his fourth full-length Intersections. The album is the culmination of the long trail of LPs, EPs, cassettes and splits with acclaimed artists like Daniel Johnston and Koji that serve as sonic mile-markers spanning the seemingly endless highway of Weiss' musical journey.
Fans undoubtedly realize that Weiss has always been an incredibly ambitious artist as evidenced by 2007's 52 Weeks project which saw him writing, recording and releasing a new song every week or his Twelve Towns series which saw him teaming up with six different artists to release six separate split 7-inches that each highlighted a different city a few years back. Oh and when Over It. aren't on the road Weiss also plays bass with Polyvinyl Recording artists Their/They're/There (featuring American Football and Owen's Mike Kinsella) as well as the pop-punk act Pet Symmetry who are currently signed to Asian Man Records.
Weiss began working on Intersections with drummer Nick Wakim after Weiss returned from Into It. Over It.'s first U.S. band tour last year and from the start they laid down a series of ground rules to ensure that the album would showcase another new side of one of the underground's most celebrated songwriters. "With this record we wanted to try new things and make something that didn't sound like any other Into It. Over It. album because for us it's fun to try something new each time," Weiss explains from his home in the Windy City.
In order to accomplish this, Weiss decided he would write the entire album without using a guitar pick while Wakim‚ who laid down his tracks in between 12-hour shifts as an Emergency Medical Technician, strategically eliminated certain cymbals and drums in order to enhance his creativity. The result is an album that's expansive as Weiss' musical vision and has no limits when it comes to the direction of the songs. A lot of this album is uncharted territory and I think you can hear the nervous excitement on this recording," he continues.
That excitement was captured at the legendary Soma Electronic Music Studios in Chicago by producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine) who helped bring things out of Weiss that he hadn't surfaced in the past. "Brian's idea of texture and sound is unlike anyone I've ever worked with before," Weiss explains. "Brian just has a different way of looking at things than I do and I think that's what drew both of us into doing the project; he seemed like the person to help me step outside my comfort zone. Admittedly it didn't hurt that Weiss also had free reign of the studio's impressive array of gear and the instrumentation on Intersections acted as another conduit that allowed Weiss to express himself in new ways.
That spirit of embracing the unknown instead of running from it is evident on every note of Intersections from sweetly syncopated groove of "Obsessive Compulsive Distraction" to the idiosyncratic beauty of "Spinning Thread." While Weiss' sound is rooted in the type of brutally honest underground rock pioneered by acts like Saves The Day and Texas Is The Reason (both of whom have handpicked Into It. Over It. to open for them on the road), Weiss still manages to keep Intersections from sounding like a throwback‚ and if anything the music becomes more relevant with each subsequent listen in large part because these songs weren't carefully calculated.
"There were a lot of happy accidents on this album," Weiss explains, citing the fact that the crystal glasses that he used to record the introduction for "A Curse Word For Leaving" just happened to be in the same key as the guitar part. "On previous records we were making sure everything was perfect and on this one I wanted it to sound a little more raw and natural," he elaborates. "For a lot of Intersections we were tracking it as we wrote it and if there were mistakes sometimes we left them in to give the song character and to help it feel like a band playing in a room even though it was just me by myself. We just let the songs be themselves and exist in the moment and I think that really helped the end result."
One thing that's always resonated with Into It. Over It.'s fans is how honest the lyrics have been and that's no different on Intersections. "All of our records are almost hyper-personal to a fault and I've been trying to keep it that way since the beginning," Weiss explains. While the concept of the album started out centering around different intersections in Chicago, as the writing progressed the concept itself became another happy accident as it shifted toward intersections in Weiss' life, making each song a glimpse into where things were in the past and how that impacts today. "It kind of just fell into place, it wasn't the plan but it worked out," he adds.
Simply put, Intersections is Into It. Over It. is the most unfiltered glimpse into his musical psyche. "It's not fun to do the same thing, what's fun is to evolve and try stuff you haven't done before," he summarizes when asked about the indefinable nature of his music as well as Intersections as a whole. "The goal is to transcend boundaries and I'd get bored doing the same thing over and over. Right now I feel like the square peg in the round hole and it's awesome. I wouldn't have it any other way."