The Weisstronauts are a 5-piece instrumental rock combo from Boston, featuring 3 guitarists, just like the Outlaws, and utilizing the same bassist-and-drummer rhythm section configuration made famous by the Beatles and the John Coltrane Quartet. With influences ranging from spaghetti western & spy movie soundtracks to space rock, surf, twang and more, the Weisstronauts steadfastly refuse the sort of genre-pigeonholing one finds in artists like Motley Crue or John Phillip Sousa, preferring instead to follow their singular muse wherever it may take them, much like their heroes, the London Symphony Orchestra. For living proof, see the CD's "Featuring 'Jaunty'," "Featuring 'Spritely'," "Featuring 'Perky'," "Instro-tainment!," and 2009's EP "Weisstronauts in Memphis."
Yeah, but just who are the Weisstronauts?
Pete Weiss is "Mr. Clean" and plays mostly guitar, but dabbles on banjo, keyboards, and a little bass. A noted independent producer, he has worked with Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Charlie Chesterman, The Willard Grant Conspiracy, Two Dollar Pistols, Los Straitjackets, Seks Bomba, Baby Ray, and dozens more. Pete owns Verdant Studio in Athens, VT, and is a regular contributor to Tape Op magazine. Sings when necessary. Favors soft-shell tacos.
Kevin Quinn is "Quinner" and plays a mean four string bass and sings when necessary. He also sometimes provides eerie "non-singing" vocal interludes. Production coordinator at WZLX (currently Boston's only Classic Rock), Quinner is a living, breathing musical encyclopedia. Songwriting collaborations go back to the mid 80's when his old band The Dead Monkeys became pen pals with Weiss. Also plays with Mercy James and Sool (with Pete). Still psyched about the meatball sub.
Ken Lafler is "Kenny" and plays the hard guitar parts as well as keyboards. Sings (like a bird) when necessary. Member of the critically-acclaimed Baby Ray, Kenny joined the 'Nauts in the summer of 2000. The arthritis-inducing "Finger Boogie" is Kenny's favorite "chops"-oriented Weisstronauts song. Sharp cheese is his cup of tea.
George Hall is "Uncle Joe " and plays the other hard guitar parts. George joined the band in the summer of '04, to fill Aaron Tap's shoes. Uncle Joe has outstanding guitar skills, but his not-so-secret weapon is his skill with effects; the man can coax just about any sound you can think of out of his "axe." Co-fronted Seks Bomba and was a founding member of 80's indie-rockstars Dogzilla. Also plays in Kingsley Flood. Four words: pork medallions, sweet potatoes. 'Nuff said.
Nathan Logus is "Nate" and has been the Weisstronauts' "utility infielder" since June of 2001. Dig this, he filled in for Quinner, playing bass guitar, on four 'Nauts tours (so far), and has played drums on two more. AND, along with Jeff Norcross, has been splitting drum duty--his native instrument--for most Boston-area gigs. The Great Nate has played for Baby Ray, The Rudds, The Barnies, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Jules Verdone. Rumored to have a weakness for Corn Nuts.
Jeff Berlin is "Jazzbo" and keeps a rhythmic "beat" by striking things called "drums" and "cymbals." He owns many of these devices in varieties ranging from "incredibly fancy" to "strange." Jazzbo joined the Weisstronauts in mid 2004 and, with Pete, co-wrote a handful of songs the "Featuring Perky" CD. Also plays with Catie Curtis, Boris McCutcheon, and Bow Thayer. Guards his family's venison-marinade recipe with his life.
Jeff Norcross is "The Man" and is part of the Weisstronauts' wacky, rotating crew of drum specialists. He's also played bass on numerous 'Nauts gigs and at least one tour (that we can remember). He's got an impressive resume that includes percussive stints with Paula Kelley, The Speed of Things, Don Lennon, Sool, Betty Goo and many more. Currently also plays with the Downbeat 5. Has a strange obsession with guacamole.
Signals originating from within the Weisstronauts' undisclosed headquarters have traversed the length and breadth of North America, returned home in time for dinner and a short nap, and gone out again in search of a decent party.
Pete Weiss, guitar
Kevin Quinn, bass
Kenny Lafler, guitar
George Hall, guitar
Nathan Logus, or Jeff Berlin, or Jeff Norcross, drums
Adjunct members: Doug Yule, Rich Gilbert, Malcolm Travis, Peter Linnane, Emily Jackson, Aaron Tap, Jim Gerdeman, Pete Sutton.
Weisstronauts in Memphis (EP), 2009 Sool Records
Instro-tainment!, 2008 Sool/Dren Records
Featuring Perky, 2005 Stereorrific Recordings
Featuring Spritely, 2003 Stereorrific Recordings
Featuring Jaunty, 2001 Stereorrific Recordings
I'm Dreaming of a Weisstronauts Christmas, 2000 Stereorrific Recordings
[+ Show ]
If there’s such a thing as a forward-thinking surf band, Boston’s The Weisstronauts are it. Avoiding...If there’s such a thing as a forward-thinking surf band, Boston’s The Weisstronauts are it. Avoiding the purism that makes so many instrumental retro-fetishists seem redundant, The Weisstronauts combine vintage surf and Nashville chicken-pickin’ with cartoon zaniness and spaghetti Western intrigue. They often recall NRBQ’s offbeat musical humor as much as Link Wray’s reverb-drenched Tarantino fodder. Joining the band on bass for this tour is Doug Yule, who took over bass and keyboard duties in some band called the Velvet Underground after John Cale was fired. —JACK SILVERMAN
The Weisstronauts Featuring 'Perky'
[+ Show ]
Band namesake Pete Weiss can write songs -- and feel them -- just about anywhere. That shouldn't com...Band namesake Pete Weiss can write songs -- and feel them -- just about anywhere. That shouldn't come as a surprise, since he spends his waking life surrounded by music. When he's not playing with the surf-twang, all-instrumental combo Weisstronauts, or those wacky experimentalists Sool, the founder of Zippah Studio in Brookline engineers and produces bands of all stripes at his new home recording complex in Vermont.
Then there are the odder moments of inspiration. ``Food can play a role with me," says Weiss. ``I wrote the main part of `The Golden Egg' (from the Weisstronauts' new CD, `Featuring ``Perky" ') after having a really good meal at a cafe in Vermont called The Golden Egg. I was very full, low energy. The blood was heading from my brain to my stomach and I started feeling this particular chord pattern, with a lazy, loping rhythm."
Make no mistake, though. The Weisstronauts' brand of would-be soundtrack music is anything but lazy. Each of the 'Nauts four albums features an array of some of the best local musicians around, stretching out and feeding off of each other's sense of adventure. There's also a bit of humor involved, as you might guess from each album's cover theme of a man-size monkey in a Shriner's cap (the gent's name is ``Jaunty") taking in the prestigious sights of Saugus: Miniature golf courses. Diners. Strip clubs. That tongue-in-cheek approach extends to the music.
"I've never really found myself seeking out a lot of depressing music," Weiss says. "Serious music, yes. Funny music, yes. And yes, even novelty music sometimes. But if I want to feel saddened and morose, all I need to do is pick up a newspaper."
-- Jonathan Perry, May 26, 2006
Featuring 'Perky' features fun
[+ Show ]
Do you dig instrumentals like those weird middle-eights of early Pink Floyd ("Berlining")? Stax/ Vo...Do you dig instrumentals like those weird middle-eights of early Pink Floyd ("Berlining")? Stax/ Volt horn sections ("Fibonacci")? The twisted confections of the Bonzo Dog Band ("Thrifty")? Do you like any rock 'n' roll that's also fun? Well, step right up -- fun is the way rock 'n' roll began and the way it will likely end (especially if the Weisstronauts have any say in the matter). I'm not easily impressed, but this collection is breathtaking in its range and audacity; the Weisstronauts are a jabbering dynamo of musical tricks, yet this is more than carnival frivolity -- these guys can play --just see what they do (sob) to "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself." Frat rock? See "Jade Cow 2005." Goofy "heavy" garage punk? See "Pete's Bucket." Or groove to the slow burn of "The Golden Egg," a tossed-off psychedelic masterpiece. Back in the days of vaudeville, Hub performers were known as "The Coast Defenders" because they seldom strayed far from their home turf, or had to. Nowadays, for sheer variety, it might very well come down to a death-match between The Incredible Casuals and The Weisstronauts. Fortunately for us, we don't have to make that choice.
-- Francis DiMenno, Noise Magazine
Spotlight on The Weisstronauts
[+ Show ]
Listening to a Weisstronauts record is a full-on sensory experience. From cover to traycard and fr... Listening to a Weisstronauts record is a full-on sensory experience. From cover to traycard and from start to finish, the experience is a solid zinger every time. A journey with Pete Weiss and company is a trip through Technicolor landscapes where uniformed apes march in step below shiny spaceships pointed jauntily skywards. Primary ignition commences once the "PLAY" button is pressed. At that, the Weisstronauts roar off into the wild blue yonder, no doubt laughing maniacally as they throw switches and twist knobs - anything to change the sound up a bit. Sound and music in the Weisstronauts' world always exist on a slightly canted angle.
Like a Magic Eye drawing, the sound eventually sorts itself as the ears become accustomed to following three guitars at once and the brain starts to adapt into thinking along that same canted angle. Pete Weiss sits at the helm of this weird ship, and the affable studio owner/engineer/producer/musician is more than happy to explain the mission plan to anyone interested, be it through exquisitely detailed liner notes or a simple knowing wink.
Weiss has a strong studio background - he was a part owner of Brookline's Zippah Studio before creating Verdant Studio, situated in southern Vermont. This sounds like any musician's dream come true - own a professional recording studio, have a lot of toys at your disposal, and record your own music until the cows come home. It's not exactly like that for Weiss. He doesn't have any cows and he needs to keep the studio running for paying clients, who keep him busy. While things could be worse, this challenges the Weisstronauts' recording creativity in terms of arrangements as well as sonic continuity. Furthermore, the past two records have taken two years of recording to complete. Business has been good.
"Owning a studio is kind of like owning an expensive sports car - and barely getting to drive it," he says. "Basically, we can only record when the studio is free," explains Weiss, and this is not often. The 'Nauts' latest album was recorded in such fashion; some band cancels a recording session, and Weiss runs to the phone to see who is ready to come play. "Everyone has day jobs and some of the guys have kids, so we just see who can make it," explains Weiss.
The Weisstronauts have a large roster of musicians listed as part of their ranks, but Weiss lists bassist Kevin Quinn and guitarist Ken Lafler as the two core members. Weiss is the centerpiece of the guitar section, and George Hall plays the third guitar, or as Weiss says, "He plays most of the hard parts." Each player has his own unique style and sound, giving each of the guitar parts recognizable character - the group never has to worry about being left wanting for "character," as each track on their new record, Featuring 'Perky', seeps personality with each passing sound.
"This is turning more into a collective than a band," notes Weiss, considering the thirteen-person roster. "Keep in mind we have three drummers," he says, and the live situation mimics the recording set-up: "When someone calls us for a gig, it's just a matter of finding out who is free." The membership of the group is constantly in flux, but it is a happy sort of flux, where someone always wants to play. Weiss does not actively seek new members, nor does he consider the books closed on prospective new members. "One of the good things about recording and producing all these bands is that you get to meet a lot of musicians," he grins.
-- by C.D. Di Guardia
File Next to Camper Van Beethoven: The Weisstronauts' Featuring 'Perky'
[+ Show ]
If you just took the "Surf Rock with hints of Middle Eastern chords" tracks from the back catalogue ...If you just took the "Surf Rock with hints of Middle Eastern chords" tracks from the back catalogue of Camper Van Beethoven, you'd have a pretty good idea of what the Weisstronauts are doing. Featuring 'Perky' lets loose 18 instrumental tracks that find Pete Weiss & Co. riding their guitars like surfboards down the pipe. "Thrifty" gives it a little lounge lizard smarm, while "Berlining" goes in a more cosimic, dark, Pere Ubu fashion. Then there's "Fibonacci," a funk cakewalk music just right for accompanying the three hula hoop spinning guy on the Gong Show. "Uncle Turtle/Johnny Drama" is the cowboy surf tune that most sounds like CVB's Telephone Free Landslide Victory.
What else? A turn of "Tequila" for "Jade Cow 2005." Another CVB-like tune on "Odysseus Goes to America" with train track drum rhythms from Jeff Berlin. Getting "Fajity" with it on the conga line. Gossip punk meets Irving Berlin on "Pete's Bucket." And an untitled 39 seconds of rockabilly vamp to close the album.
-- 2006 Benjamin C. Squires
Play Featuring 'Spritely' INTO THE GROUND
[+ Show ]
Many years ago...when things were very, very different than they are now...music was simpler. In mos...Many years ago...when things were very, very different than they are now...music was simpler. In most cases, music was made simply to make people feel good. Much of the music that was produced in the 1930's through the 1950's was very direct. The point of making music was not to shock nor to confuse nor to overwhelm...but to entertain the average listener by providing good toe-tapping music. To get this genuine old feeling of the past, we once had to pull out our old 45s and 78s (or our CD reissues)...but that was before we discovered The Weisstronauts. Led by Pete Weiss, this band plays straight from the heart...and their main intent is to satisfy simply and completely. And on Featuring "Spritely"...they do just that. This album features fifteen jaunty little numbers that will appeal to the young and old...fans of traditional rock...fans of alternative rock...fans of country...hell, just about ANYONE oughta enjoy the hell out of this disc...(!). Weiss is a killer guitarist with a true sense of style...and the rest of the band plays with such sincere energy that you can't help but be drawn into the magic. In addition to Weiss, The Weisstronauts consist of Kevin Quinn, Ken Lafler, Aaron Tap, and Emily Jackson. Fantastic and uplifting in every way possible. This is an album to be played INTO THE GROUND. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)
A cool sense of humor
[+ Show ]
CD News and Notes When it's played right, guitar-based instrumental rock and roll not only rocks ...CD News and Notes
When it's played right, guitar-based instrumental rock and roll not only rocks but it also has a great sense of humor as well. As the leader / guitarist of the Boston-based Weisstronauts, Pete Weiss is well aware of that. On the group's third CD, Featuring 'Spritely', Weiss and his merry band superbly combine a rockin' mid "60s Ventures / Shadows vibe while blending in massive guitar influences from fretboard giants such as Les Paul and Chet Atkins. Take a look at the CD booklet and you'll be amazed at all the vintage guitars Weiss and his band mates - including guitarists Ken Lafler and Aaron Tap - implement so proficiently. And yes, with song titles like "Dr. Sanchez (I Presume)," "Hot Dog City" and the superb "Spritley," the album also has a cool sense of humor.
'Featuring Spritely' chock full of musical laffs
[+ Show ]
The CD is chock full of musical laffs (check out "Tawdry") and folksy genre send-ups ("Spritely") bu...The CD is chock full of musical laffs (check out "Tawdry") and folksy genre send-ups ("Spritely") but it's more than just a joke. The coda to "Cha Cha Ho" is heavenly; the riff and sock-o-delic middle eight from "Cranky" deserve a prize, and "Space Jaunty" is wretched excess at its most likable and listenable. You'll dig this the most. It would make even Catullus gyrate like a toy boat caught out at sea in a wind grown wild with adult pain.
-- Francis DiMenno, The Noise
Boston's surf-rockin' Weisstronauts
[+ Show ]
Pete Weiss, leader of Boston's surf-rockin' Weisstronauts, operates the busy Verdant Studio near Bel...Pete Weiss, leader of Boston's surf-rockin' Weisstronauts, operates the busy Verdant Studio near Bellow Falls, where he recorded The Weisstronauts Featuring 'Perky'. This delightful disc, available at cdbaby.com, has an authentic mid-60s guitar sound with just enough psychedelia and later grooves to keep first-time listeners guessing.
-- Alan Lewis, posted May 26, 2006
And if you read Dutch...
[+ Show ]
Pete Weiss is een gretig muzikant, die tegelijkertijd twee totaal van elkaar verschillende 'heeft ui...Pete Weiss is een gretig muzikant, die tegelijkertijd twee totaal van elkaar verschillende 'heeft uitgebracht op zijn eigen Sooltime label. The Weisstronauts is een gelegenheidsband die instrumentale muziek maakt die is genspireerd op de instrumentale gitaarbands uit de jaren zestig, als The Ventures of The Shadows. Drie gitaren, bas en drums. Toch weet Weiss wat meer duisternis de muziek binnen te smokkelen, hoewel het toch ook weer overal vrolijke surfmuziek blijft. Erg leuk, en op sommige momenten licht verontrustend. (HM)
Translated by Babelfish as:
"Pete Weiss are gretig a muzikant, who several cd's totals at the same time two of each other on its own Sooltime label have brought out. The Weisstronauts are a occasion link which makes instrumental music that has been inspired on the instrumental jet ear link from the years sixty, as The ventures or The Shadows. Three jet ears, bass and drums. Nevertheless weet Weiss what more darkness music although to smuggle in, it remains nevertheless also everywhere lively surfmuziek. Very nice, and at some moments lifts alarming." (HM)
Original instrumentals, plus a few covers of tunes by Burt Bacharach, Donovan, The Monkees, Elvis, Bobbie Gentry, The Beatles, Pajama Slave Dancers, and others. We also throw in a vocal number from time to time. Color My World, anyone?
There are no upcoming dates at this time.