I grew up in Western Massachusetts, but I didn't find a musical sanctuary until my junior year of high school when I wandered into The Teapot Gallery in Westfield, MA. For the first time in my life I was surrounded by a community of musicians and people who I felt innately connected to. It was then that I first saw Lexi Weege. Over the next few years, I would see her from a distance at various open mics around the valley, but we wouldn't really connect until years later. Lexi Weege is like a warm drink with an unexpected shot of something shocking but delicious in it. Her incomparable crooning voice and her widely spanning music captivates you and makes you feel at home, while her stage presence and personality have a way of giving you a vibrant jolt of life even in the darkest lit venue. All of this and her lyrics are deeply personal, but still dig into something true for her listeners. Lexi has continued to inspire me with her devotion to touring and working in this beautiful, magical (and oftentimes incredibly trying) field. Lexi Weege and The Wondertwins are gearing up to release their album, Do I Seem Weird Lately, this May. Before that, Lexi comes to Gateway City Arts on Wednesday, March 20th as part of our Community Gathering Wednesdays. She will perform from 6-8PM and the show is free and open to the public. She recently took some time to answer some questions and allow me to gush over my love her her.
Hello Lexi! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us prior to your performance here on Wednesday, March 20th. You already know you're one of my favorite musicians in the valley, but do you mind starting by telling us a bit about yourself for those who may be just getting to know you or your music?
Hi Caity! I wish we were doing this in person so I could hug you and congratulate you on your album being funded! I loved Dirty Words and was very moved by it.
Thank you! You recently had great success crowdfunding for your new album with your band Lexi Weege and The Wondertwins, how far along are you with the production of the album?
We are just about done mixing the album, which is a process I have taken a more hands-on approach with than I did the last album. I’ve always struggled with the subtleties of mixing before (fun fact: I’m pretty hard of hearing and have a hard time sitting still which makes mixing a bit of a stressor) but this time around I was just so passionate about the music and so proud of what we accomplished I was able to sit still and really listen to what we made. Goddammit, I am proud of us. We have one vocal track to redo and are mastering Friday. Then our baby will be born.
That's incredibly exciting! I admire how devoted you are to touring and sharing your music far and wide, how long have you been touring? How many states have you performed in?
I’ve been touring since I was about 19 I think? I’ve played in 33 states and plan to hit all 50 by my thirtieth birthday. I have 17 to go. I love the road. It’s when I feel my happiest. I’ve toured alone, with my band and with strange duo configurations as well. This year will be the first time I take my entire band across the country. I’ve taken W&W as far as St Paul, MN, but this year we are going all the way to New Mexico and back!
Do you have a favorite tour story you don't mind sharing with us?
Bathing naked in the hot springs in the New Mexican desert. Following our sulfer bath, Big Sal and I played at the base of a big mountain at a winery with a paneramic view of the entire Taos ski valley. It was breathtaking. We smelled disgusting.
Sleeping in a haunted bookstore with W&W, playing in said bookstore and meeting a man who carved deer antlers into various house hold items. I believe his name was Fritz. He crafted something for each of us in exchange for the new album and told us all about his wild life on the road. The owner of the bookstore sent us home with a stack of books. This was all in Viroqua, Wisconsin.
And I would have to say The first time I went on tour alone and came home in one piece was the greatest memory I have. I never thought I could do it. So many people tried to discourage me by saying that travel for a woman alone is too dangerous and that I should just stay in the valley and make a living here. I call bullshit. I met so many wonderful people, I tried new beers and ate delicious food. I played music that resonated with people and filled me up.
Can you talk a bit about your song "Do I Seem Weird Lately?", I know it is the song your album is named after and it is one of yours that I really love and identify with.
“Do I Seem Weird” was written by Tom and Aj (The Wondertwins) over the course of one evening and finished upon my arrival for breakfast one Saturday morning. I heard them finishing it in the living room and slapped a third harmony on that bad boy. Fuck, they are so brilliant. The song, to me, really captures how isolating experiencing depression, anxiety, grief and pain can be. Most of the songs on the album center around themes of isolation, loneliness and apathy.
You've been pretty transparent about your own experiences with mental health, do you feel that your art interacts with these experiences?
Absolutely. My art is how I communicate. Singing and writing in particular. I think I’m still trying to fight the stigma of mental illness not so much in society but the blame and shame we inflict on ourselves. The shit we say to ourselves is darkner and nastier than anything someone else could come up with. This project has been so instrumental in my healing. To create with other people who feel like me has been so wonderful. I owe a lot to those boys.
Tell me about your band! It seems that you all are one big family, how has this current configuration influenced your music?
Cramming five people in a suburu and driving across the country really does bring you closer together! Ha! But yeah, we are very very close. I think the greatest thing about collaborating with five people is that the songs take on a genre less form influenced a little by everyone! Tom has the strangest and most abstract music taste of anyone I have ever met and music theory knowledge that rivals any college graduate. (None of us went to music school, a fact us working class folk are very very proud of!) He gives our music the perfect amount of weird. He’s a huge Zappa fan and I hope people can pick out the influence in the new album! Aj grabs his influence mostly from underground sixties rock and of all things ragtime! He puts an amazing honky think piano part on “Anxious Ass”, which I think is a major highlight of the album! Erek is the peacemaker, the old soul and the little brother. He does one hell of a purdy shuffle. He is our funk and soul back bone. I’m all over the place and this question always throws me for a loop, but I grab most of my influence from Etta, Billie and Elvis. Our newest family member (That has a Manson-esque ring to it, doesn’t it?) Nick Ferrara appeared out of nowhere is filled in what was missing I think. He used to play with the twins in their last project, Humble Patients. He is a student of the blues through and through and loves Johnny cash so much that he named his dog, our band mascot we like to say, Cash. He’s a great pit bull who loves to sit on our feet during practice. I will send pictures! Nick will be joining me this Wednesday at GCA. We’ve never played as a duo before so we are excited to have fun with the set and do a stripped down version of our tunes!
How is this new album going to differ from past releases?
The biggest change is that there are many different writing configurations that occurred in the creation of this album. There are songs Aj wrote, songs Tom wrote, songs I wrote, some Aj and I wrote together and some Tom and Aj brought to the table co-written together.
You've been working in music for a long time now, can you speak a bit to your experiences as a woman working in music in Western Massachusetts (and beyond)? Do you think there are any particular challenges or advantages that musicians in general have in this region?
The constant stream of gross dudes telling me to “Put some clothes on” and asking the my band mates “which one of you gets to fuck THAT?” EW. Both happen often. I love my body the way it is and I will do with it what I please so fuck off. It’s gross. Ugh, I’m still pissed. As a musician in the valley the thing that drives me up the wall is that so many bars and clubs expect bands to play for free. Pay your bands, people. We got bills too!
Is there one artist (musician or not) that you feel has been a huge icon for you in your work?
I love any singer who isn’t afraid to play with melody and truly craft with the notes they chose. Harry Nilsson really plays his voice like a fucking horn. It’s perfection.
What's next for you? For Lexi Weege and The Wondertwins?
Once the album comes out, we have a pretty demanding tour schedule! I’m hoping to knock out some more states we haven’t been too! Im 25 now and have five more years to knock out the last 17! Im enjoying writing with my band and I’m hoping this year to do more collaborative writing. We are already plotting for the next album!
For myself, I have been training to climb the Guadalupe Mountains! The boys and I are hitting them on the way home from Marfa on this tour and I am determined to get the top! I’m trying to get in the best shape of my life! I’m also planning a few solo trips this summer in between touring with the boys and The Franklin County Sweethearts. Rosie and I are also going to start work on a Franklin County Sweethearts album this fall as well!
Thank you so much Lexi, we are thrilled you will be performing at Gateway City Arts on March 20th for our Community Gathering Wednesdays!
If you love hearing Lexi perform as a duo next week, don't miss Lexi Weege and The Wondertwins release their album "Do I Seem Weird Lately" at New City Brewery on May 10th. You can currently purchase their existing albums on bandcamp using a "Pay what you can" model!
Learn more about Lexi Weege here.