When you hear the name Maura Weaver, you probably think of her band Mixtapes. Or her band Ogikubo Station. That or maybe Homeless Gospel Choir. Or perhaps you think of Direct Hit! Or maybe even her famous cameo on Masked Intruder’s “Heart-Shaped Guitar.” Actually, with all of the projects that Weaver has been a part of, it’s hard for even her to pin down how many different projects she’s participated in. But after a long history of playing in a lot of different bands, Weaver finally decided to release her first solo album, I Was Due for a Heartbreak, out September 15 from Don Giovanni Records.
As busy as Weaver always is, she took the time to sit down with us to talk about fulfilling her lifelong dream of finally putting out her own solo record.
So after all these years, you’ve been in so many bands from Mixtapes, Ogikubo Station, Direct Hit, Homeless Gospel Choir. Do you have a running tally of how many bands you’ve been in at this point?
I’ve actually never tried to count how many I’ve been in. But that would be interesting. I don’t even know because what counts? You know? There’s certain little projects or things I’ve done with people, but I’m like, Does that count? But a lot. Probably six plus or something.
After all those what made you decide right now to put out a solo album?
A lot of factors. I’ve wanted to do it for a really long time but I didn’t have confidence in my songwriting, if I’m being completely honest. I was really nitpicky and perfectionistic about it and it was just easier to be in bands with people because you just automatically have that validation from someone else. After Mixtapes, I went through a period where I was really depressed and I just wasn’t writing that much, even though I wanted to do a solo thing. So (during) COVID, I couldn’t do band stuff. And I just was like, If not now then when, because this is the perfect time. I was so busy with band stuff. I think in 2019 I played like 100 shows with different bands. I didn’t have time to write music, really. And it’s not that I wasn’t writing in the past, but I just wasn’t finishing things. And during COVID I think I just was like, I’m going to do it. I’m just going to do it. And then I also went through a breakup and I was enjoying songwriting a lot. It wasn’t (something I was enjoying) at first, (it was) just a thing I was trying to make myself do. (And eventually I) was just like, oh, this is actually making me feel better.
You talk about the pandemic finally giving you time to focus on the solo album, but it wasn’t even the only project that came out of the pandemic for you because you also had The Mimes. Is it always better for you to have more than one thing going at one time?
I think probably. Yeah, The Mimes is a big part of me finding confidence to follow through with writing and opening my mind more with songwriting because, playing with Meghan Schroer and John Hoffman, who are in The Mimes with me, we were just doing that project just for fun. There was no reasoning other than just we were bored and we wanted to hang out with each other. And so we were getting really high and just jamming, basically. But of course, I think when you are playing with other people, and it’s just jamming, and there’s not (any) expectation, that can open different creative pathways, which I think that did that for me because I was using them as a bouncing board for the solo stuff, too. And, they played on a lot of the songs, and John engineered and produced the record, too. So it was very much my solo record, but The Mimes were a big part of it, too.
Why is the title the album I Was Due For a Heartbreak? Obviously, it was one of the song titles, but why did that stand out as a title for the album?
There are a lot of upbeat songs on the record, but I think that (the title) match(ed) the mood of the record, or what I wanted the record to portray, because, when I was writing it, I honestly was in a really despondent place. And I hate harping on the breakup thing, but I do feel like it’s a breakup record. The day that I went through the breakup, I told John and Megan, “I was due for a heartbreak, I guess.” Just because–I’m getting really personal now–but, in a lot of my relationships, I was the one who ended it. And this was one of the first times that somebody really, truly broke my heart. I was like, karmically, I needed this. And I do think it urged me to go a little deeper with my lyric writing just because (during) COVID I (had) so much time to think. I live alone. And I was really trying to lyrically and emotionally dig deep. I just wanted that to come across in the mood of the record. And I think that I just think it’s a catchy title, too.
Is this your favorite album you put out?
Yes. I think most people say that when it’s their new record. But every record that I have been a part of in my life as a musician has a specific meaning to me regarding that point in my life, and usually, at least, was my favorite thing that I put out (at that time). But I love looking back on all of that because, with a lot of Mixtape stuff too, I might not make that now because, if I’m being completely honest–I love pop punk, I always will, and I think it’s really fun to make–but I listen to all kinds of music, so I don’t know if I would do a record that sounds like that now. But those are some of my favorite records I’ve done because they have a lot of meaning to me about that point in my life. But at the moment, this is my favorite one, yeah.
That leads me in something else I want to ask, which is that you’ve played in a ton of punk bands, and then you put out your first solo album and it’s a softer kind of vibe. Was there a reason for that? Or is that just out of necessity during the pandemic?
When I was a teenager I got really into punk when I was like 12 or 13, and I’ve always like been into it, but I’ve also gone through phases of listening to all kinds of stuff, and one of those is more folky indie stuff. When I first started writing songs, that’s what I was writing, when I was a teenager. It’s actually really weird, because some of those got studio recordings too, but they’re lost to time because they’re on MySpace music, which is non-existent anymore. But if I go back and think about the first songs that I ever made, they actually sound way more similar to what I’m doing now. Which is funny because, when I joined Mixtapes, they would joke with me that I was trying to do the Iron & Wine thing before that. And I’ve always been into indie stuff, too, and old country stuff. I grew up listening to a lot of that stuff. So, in a strange way, these are just different facets of my musical upbringing. And it’s been easy to be in punk bands, and I love playing in punk bands because, live, it’s so fun, and it’s very collaborative, and it’s the community I’ve been a part of for a long time. So it’s very easy and fun to just keep to playing punk shows, and I don’t want to stop doing that, obviously. It’s just nice to have a slight change of sonic direction and vibe at a show. And I’m excited to tour solo because it’s logistically way easier (right now), just me and a guitar, maybe an amp, driving my car. I’m doing the tour to Fest in the fall with Endless Mike & the Beagle club. And I’m just hopping in the van with them, which is going to be really nice, honestly.
I can understand why touring would be easier as a solo artist, but what about recording? What was different about that, as opposed to being with a band? Was there something that surprised you about that?
Yeah, I think the one thing that’s slightly challenging about the solo thing is that–I have people to bounce off of, it was a really collaborative record, even though it was a solo record, I have a lot of friends play on it–but it’s still different than playing in a band. I feel like, in a band, you are a unit, almost like a mini-family in a way, and you have a special language almost. In each band it’s different. And you bounce off of each other in a specific way. It’s really different in a solo project, especially in the studio, because I can say, Oh, I don’t like that, or I want it to sound more like this. And that is like a new experience for me, because I had never felt confident enough in the past to do that. So it was fun to do that. But it also did challenge me a little bit just to really actually think about What do I want this to sound like? It’s not just about everyone else around me; it’s about me.
This is my project and I still find myself apologizing sometimes and putting it on someone, trying to be like, Well, what do you think? And it’s just like, no, this whole thing was more about me trying to make space for myself. It was fun in the studio, though, because it was really a studio record. We have some live track songs with the band, but, for the most part, it was me and John messing around with different outboard analog gear and making weird noises. And I’ve gotten to do some of that stuff before, specifically with The Mimes, but that was the first time that I was truly in the studio with somebody and we were just experimenting and it wasn’t as contained by a band. We could just fuck around and do whatever.
This is a random question, but I’m just curious with one of your singles, you called it “Crush on You Pt. II.” Why is it part two, exactly?
Honestly, it was just because there’s a million songs called “Crush on You.” It’s the most stereotypical pop song theme and title. And so that was part of the fun of it. I was like, I’m writing a power pop song, but I want to fuzz it up and make it more interesting, et cetera, et cetera. But it’s just the most basic human theme and pop song theme. And I was like, I don’t want to just call it “Crush” or “Crush on you” because there’s a million songs (with that title). And it also it rhymes. So that’s the only reason why.
And for that one, the video for it was really fun to watch. Was it as much fun to make?
Oh, it was so fun to make! My friend makes chainmail and she let me borrow a lot of that. Shout out Rachel McNeil. And my friend Scott (Beseler) who filmed it, he owns this place in Northern Kentucky called The Lodge, and that’s where the recording studio that I did the record is; that’s where John Hoffman works. And it’s an amazing old building; it’s an old Masonic Lodge. And it’s really creepy and it’s huge. It’s converted into this recording studio with a huge live room, artists faces, there’s clowns everywhere.
They thought about turning it into a clown museum. I always buy them weird clown art for it. And so we made it there because it’s kind of medieval looking. And Scott has all these weird props like suits of armor, and I went and found all these props and it was just silly. Scott and I were logistically trying to figure out how to do things like cut someone’s head off, (laughs) because he’s done music videos, but I don’t think he had done that before. And I did a lot of the initial editing; I did the head chop off and stuff.
And then my friend Zack Moser finished and cleaned it up and made it look a lot better and did some other editing stuff that was really cool. But it was extremely fun to try and figure it all out. And we also went to this–I’m not going to say what it’s called–we went to this castle place in Ohio and it costs a lot to come there so we were sneaking around, which was also fun, because me and Scott, he’s like, Okay, no one’s looking. And I was in peasant clothes and all these people kept like looking at me like, What’s this lady doing in her peasant clothes? So it was very silly and silly and fun.
Both the videos that you made for the singles on this album were very lo-fi. Was that a stylistic choice or just a matter of necessity?
The first one (“Crush on You Pt. II”) not so much. Well, kind of. I think “Crush on You” has a lo-fi vibe, so I wanted it to match that to a degree. But this second one (“Sunshine”) was aesthetically a choice where I actually had bought a camcorder online just for fun. My friend, Andy Licardi, who did the video, does a lot of experimenting with super nice cameras with nice lenses but also super lo-fi, and mixing them together and softening the nice stuff with his own special tricks. But we wanted the “Sunshine” video to have somewhat of a surreal, weird, almost found camcorder vibe, and imagery that was odd, like people juggling fire behind me in a cemetery. So we wanted it to be pretty lo-fi and have that vibe.
The album is on Don Giovanni. It’s not technically the first time you’ve appeared on Don Giovanni, because you have you had something with Homeless Gospel Choir on there. But you’ve been on a lot of labels, so why was that the one you ended up with for your solo album? And what’s the experience been like?
It’s been great. I think I chose Don G just because I wanted to try something different. I love working with Mike (Park); I’ll always want to work with Mike, but I just wanted to branch out and try something new. And there’s a lot of bands on Don Giovanni that I really love, like Screaming Females and Laura Stevenson and Mikey Erg, all these people that I really respect. And I thought it would be a good fit (because) Don G is in the punk world, but Joe (Steinhardt, Don Giovanni co-founder,) has a lot of people on the roster that play all kinds of music. He has a lot of old-school country artists and a lot of indie and a big variation of stuff. It’s been great; I’m really excited about it. I’m playing the (Don Giovanni 20th anniversary) showcase October 6 and 7 in Philly, which is wild that Don G has been around for 20 years. It’s insane. But yeah, it’s been great, honestly.
Are any of your other projects still running currently? Or are you just focusing your energy on this solo project right now?
I think for now I’m focusing my energy on (the solo project). A lot of the other bands (are) kind of on the backburner for other specific reasons that I don’t want to get too much into detail (about). But Homeless Gospel Choir, I don’t know if Derek has said this publicly, but I’ll just say we’re not broken up–we’re not–(but) the drummer and guitar player were just like, We’re kind of done touring. And so we were just like, Let’s put this on the back burner, because we don’t know what this is going to look like in the future.
So all the shows we had booked as a full band, Derek is playing solo now. So it was something completely out of my control and unexpected, because I love touring with touring with all those people. And then The Mimes is on the back burner. And Direct Hit! is a band that I’m in, but I’m kind of the surprise member. I play with them when I can, but there was a point where I was in so many bands that it was really difficult to manage everything and I was like, Hey, I don’t know how much I can play with you guys. But luckily, they’re just chill about that. I can do it when I want to and it’s really fun when I do it. They’re some of my best friends; I love everyone in that band. But long story short, for now, I think it’s a blessing in disguise. I think I wouldn’t have had time to focus on (the solo project) if I had continued to do the other band stuff. And I would have been really overwhelmed, probably, trying to juggle everything because, right now, trying to manage a project just by myself has been slightly overwhelming for me, especially having ADHD. I keep forgetting things. I was like, Don’t forget this interview Maura! All this stuff. And it’s just a lot to focus on. So it’s good that I’m focusing on just this right now.
What’s the next thing for you?
So I have the tour in the fall with Endless Mike. And then, I actually have most of a new record written, so I want to start recording. I want to start fleshing that stuff out and making plans to record that soon because that process usually takes so long that it would end up coming out probably a year and a half, maybe two years from now. So yeah, I’m already trying to focus on writing new music. But next year, I definitely want to play a lot. I want to tour as much as possible with the solo stuff next year, and maybe do more full band performances. I have a full band performance for my record release September 22 in Cincinnati and we’ve been practicing. It’s so fun to play the songs with the full band, so I want to do more of that. It just depends on the logistics of that. So next year, I’d like to talk to some other artists and about doing some touring next year. So hopefully tours next year; hopefully, I’ll be recording a record.
Photo courtesy of Sydney Sebastian.