- Courtesy of Amber Patrick
- Low Cut Connie's Adam Weiner
Adam Weiner is one of the most charismatic bandleaders you'll encounter. Fronting the Philadelphia rock-and-roll outfit Low Cut Connie, he riles up the crowd with cheeky banter, fevered piano work and cartoonish stage antics. He climbs onto his bench, hunches over to bang out his notes, drops to the floor, continues playing, then leaps to his feet and stands tall with one leg planted atop his instrument. A true showman, he exhibits a transcendent, almost possessed quality. You rarely see his level of commitment anymore.
Similarly, the band itself is largely an outlier in the contemporary rock landscape. Many current critically acclaimed indie-rock acts lean toward the dour, introspective and self-serious. But Weiner and co. built their following on a reputation of exuberance, theatrical energy, raw sexuality and, above all, fun. Even when they approach heavier emotions — as heard on their new album, Dirty Pictures (Part 2) — it's grand and uplifting as opposed to meek and downtrodden.
Seven Days caught up with Weiner by phone.
SEVEN DAYS: Surely you're aware that kids these days don't seem as interested in rock and roll as previous generations did at the same age.
ADAM WEINER: I think you're, in a very polite way, trying to say rock and roll ain't so cool anymore.
SD: I think it's cool, but the kids don't.
AW: First of all, I think it's a good thing for an art form that gets stale and corporate to go through a period when it's not commercially viable, and [for] the creative energy to take over. I think that rock and roll got too big: once rock and roll is on Broadway, like School of Rock, [and] kids are being forced to take lessons in how to play Metallica. If your parents are into Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and Metallica, maybe you get into Taylor Swift and Coldplay.
I do feel that when we do colleges and play for young people, they're seeing something they haven't seen before, and they really freak out. And I love that. I enjoy going out there and doing something pure and trying to excite people in a way that they haven't been excited before.
SD: I think fun is something missing from a lot of contemporary, critically acclaimed indie-rock music. That's certainly not true with Low Cut Connie. Where do you prioritize fun with your music?
AW: My business is fun, so I think about it a lot. I think a lot of music today has a sort of groupthink mentality. I've been doing a lot of music festivals over the last few years, and any time I see some of the electronic or modern pop music — some of which is very good — the crowd is very uniform. [It] participates in this group recitation thing: They all jump up and down at the same time, they all say the same words at the same time, they pump their fists at the same time.
I think the essence of fun is a loosening up and everybody getting into their individual sense of expression. There is no uniform group mentality to our shows. It's totally wild and unpredictable and nobody knows what anybody's gonna do. And anything goes. I think that it's a fairly conservative time in our culture right now — politically and artistically. I really enjoy getting onstage and getting people's hair messed up and their minds blown and a couple buttons on their shirts get undone and they sweat and they cry and they laugh. Things happen. Mistakes are made. And that's, to me, what fun is.
SD: How do you walk the line between being sex-positive and, for lack of a better word, lecherous?
AW: You have to really believe in what you're saying when you say you're sex-positive — meaning you have to approach everybody with an open heart. I have had the good fortune of meeting all kinds of people, with all different sexual and gender identities. I got ingrained in my head very early that diversity and love and openhearted feeling between people was a very good thing. Despite being married to a woman, I've never thought of myself as a straight man. And so, when I get onstage, I don't think of [Low Cut Connie] as any sort of specific gender or sexual identity.
Unfortunately, in rock and roll, there's a lot of, as you said, lecherous and ultra-macho and misogynist tropes that are very well documented and repeated over and over. But, to the flip side, there's also another trend, which is to take sex entirely out of rock and roll and make it this very cerebral thing, which I see with quite a lot of modern indie rock. I think that it's really a shame to lose sexuality as a topic and place of expression. I think that we lose ourselves and we lose our identity when we do that. And it puts unnecessary restrictions on our expression.
SD: From what I've heard, your onstage persona is sort of a character. Is that true? Do people mistake that character for the real you?
AW: I don't know that it is a character. I believe every single word I say onstage. I don't put anything on. It is a heightened version of myself. But I'm a very introverted person, so I sort of do my life in half. One half is very private and shy and reading books most of the time. And the other half is Low Cut Connie. It's the time when all the channels are opened up.
SD: Low Cut Connie is often described as a "cult band." What does that word mean to you? And do you think there's a danger in adopting it, since many fans of cult bands are purists and don't always embrace change?
AW: I think we are a cult band. I certainly didn't set out to be one, but we are. It's been DIY pretty much the whole way through, which means I get to do the work that I want to do without having to worry about our streams or sales or metrics dipping. We don't pay much attention to that stuff.
I think [we have] a purer relationship between artist and audience, and I really enjoy it. Our fans let us try things, and they know that I'm always going to be doing something new and different. I've actually been really encouraged by how much our die-hard fans get excited when we grow.
SD: I'm fortunate to interview so many interesting, cutting-edge artists such as yourself. But I can't help wondering who you might be dying to interview.
AW: Oh, my God. Absolute top of my list would be Tina Turner. She's one of my all-time heroes and inspirations. She almost never sits down to interviews. Over the years, the interviews that she was asked to do were not respectful of her work and brilliance. They were focused on tabloid things. I would just love to sit down and do a very comprehensive interview with her, and let her speak about her life and work without those impediments.