Sam Stauff of Wess Meets West talks about New Record

With their feature in Paste Magazine and CD release show sponsored by Manic Productions, it's hard to be in Connecticut and miss hearing about Wess Meets West these days. Their new record, When The Structures Fail Us, debuted  just 2 weeks ago and the band is eager to take the stage with the new material Wednesday night at BAR in New Haven.

Sam at his studio, Port City Recording

I was lucky enough to catch Wess Meets West's Sam Stauff at his studio, Port City Recording, to talk about the progress of the band over the years and learn about the new record.

Wess Meets West's Record Release show is coming up THIS Wednesday at BAR in New Haven with Ports of Spain and Breakthrough Frequencies. Show starts at 9:00 pm and is free so you've got no excuse to sit this one out. For more information on the show, check out the event page HERE

How has Wess Meets West evolved in and out of the studio for this new record?
Sam: The biggest change has been that half of the band is new. Andy Porta and Nick Robinson weren’t around for the last record. Now it’s much more of a community between the four of us, Andy, Nick, Erick Alfisi and I. The last record was primarily my work with help from Erick and Jesse Vengrove.  This new record is 100% equal between the four of us. We are at the point where everyone pulls their weight equally. Everyone has their roles and everyone is a song writer.

Aside from songwriting how does everyone else contribute?
S: Nick does all the artwork and visuals. He’s an amazing artist. Erick handles most of the business and Andy helps with recording/mixing and business. I do a lot of the recording, mixing and mastering; I try not to do any business.
This is a bit of business.
S: This is the fun part of it. They book the shows and handle getting the record out on time. If it were up to me, the record wouldn’t be out for another two months. They are the realists and I’m a big jerk about everything. [laughing]
A big jerk?
S: I’m just hard to please. I need to think it’s perfect for me to be happy with the music and you need to give up your ego when you are working with other people. For instance– there’s this piano part that I wrote for one of the songs on the new record and I had it really loud in the mix. No one else wanted it that loud so I had to turn it down. It ends up being better in the long run, when you make compromises.
What else makes this album different from the last?
S: There are a lot more vocals. We all sing.
Singing or yelling and chanting?
S: Both; there is actual singing on this album. That’s the part that we are most nervous about. I’m inspired by lyrics that mean something to me but I was never brave enough to sing before. We’ve had some kind of vocal part on every release but this one is a little more forward. We’ve become more comfortable with our own voices. The record is still very much instrumental, but there is definitely more singing than people would expect. There are parts of this album that are straight poppy. It goes from poppy to heavy to electronic to very ambient.
Do you have any shows or plans of touring in support of the record?
S: Yes, we have several shows lined up. March 19th is the Connecticut CD Release at BAR, New Haven, with Ports of Spain and Breakthrough Frequencies. Then March 23rd we play Manhattanville College with And The Traveler, True Apothecary, and We Are Not Our Bodies. April we are doing a cd release in New York, and then we have plans for a Northeast tour for July. We do want to go to Europe within the next few years. We haven’t done any promotion there, well, nothing on purpose, but we’ve had some reviews that came out in Russia and Germany. Our friends Deadhorse did a tour in Europe so that inspired me to think we could as well. Caspian just toured there too, so maybe post rock bands can make it happen over there.
Aside from that, what’s next for Wess Meets West?
S: We’ve been getting involved in some commercial work. When I say “commercial work” it sounds bad but we’ve been doing some scores for short films and things like that. We’ve already been in a few films and that is something we want to do a lot more of. It’s just not easy for us to write short music. We also will continue writing new music and be more active putting ourselves out there. It’s important for us to have as much visual stuff as possible and we’ve been thinking a lot about how we want to present ourselves. We’ve been really quiet for the past year but that will all change with the new record. We wanted to start fresh. We even talked about changing the name but it felt wrong so we all nixed that idea.

What names did you consider?
S: We had no names. We had nothing.
Maybe that’s why you nixed it.
S: No, as much as we are trying to rebrand ourselves and make it different, I am proud of what we did in the past with those old records and EPs and most importantly those people. This record is not supposed to be replacing Chevaliers; it’s an addition to it. I think the older EP’s pre-Chevaliers will start to disappear on purpose.  I think it’s a mistake to have too much material out there, especially when you have no intentions of ever playing songs live from those EP’s. However it is fun to look back and see the growth of a musical project. It’s like an old yearbook, you’re not going to throw it out, but you really don’t want to see it every day.