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mewithoutYou's Aaron Weiss on God, Dumpster diving and quitting the band

Fans of mewithoutYou will want to high-tail it to the State Theatre on Thursday to catch what could be the band's last concert in Tampa Bay.

No, the indie rockers don't have any immediate plans to disband. But if vocalist Aaron Weiss has his way, he won't be fronting the Philadelphia foursome much longer. After nine years and four albums, Weiss says he's become jaded by stardom. Between performing and recording, he and his bandmates — including his brother Michael Weiss on guitar — have been taking college classes. Weiss, 30, is in grad school at the University of Pennsylvania to become a teacher.

MewithoutYou devotees shouldn't be surprised by Weiss' quest for a more meaningful existence. He's a Christian and a freegan, which means he eats food he finds in Dumpsters behind grocery stores. The band's name and angst-riddled lyrics refer to how futile life is without God. Spiritual allusions pepper their discography.

For now, though, mewithoutYou is settling into a summerlong cross-country tour. Tbt* called Weiss as he rode through New Jersey with his bandmates.

You're in a successful band. Why Dumpster dive?

We're not that successful, you know. Maybe I could ask these guys. (to his bandmates) Why would a person go in a Dumpster when they have the money? (to tbt*) Mike's answer was, "Why would you go buy food when you can get it free in a Dumpster?" I hope I don't disappoint you, but I haven't been doing it very much recently. The problem with all the Dumpster diving and the way I was living for a long time was that it really separated me from everyone else. Everyone else would go to a restaurant, and I would be looking for food in a trash can with a real sense of, "Look at me. I'm doing this really wild thing. It's radical," in trying to live simply or not create waste. It really just became a big ego trip. It's weird how you can have an ego trip when you're crawling through a Dumpster.

You sound a bit pessimistic about this music thing. Is the band a stop for you, or do you want to make a go at this for the long term?

Just a stop.

Are you speaking for yourself, or for everyone in the band? Are you a temporary band?

Some of the other guys are much more committed as musicians. They're much more talented as musicians. Whereas for me, outside of this particular band, I'm not much of a musician.

So why are you in the band?

I don't know. We started eight or nine years ago. At the time it was very exciting. You get attention, and it's fun to be with your friends, to travel and people know you're talented. You feel good. You meet girls, that kind of thing.

What's changed?

Those sort of goals are selfish: "I want people to notice me, I want to meet young ladies." How long is that going to satisfy you? I haven't met any young ladies really through the band. And I can definitely see from experience that having people compliment you or want an autograph, that kind of thing has no value. God is the judge. So what people say about you, what does it matter?

What will you say to your fans when you call it quits? And will the band replace you?

I don't know. I don't have any plans to do that. People might not need to hear anything from me. I wouldn't know what to say to anyone. The best I can do is pray for my brothers and sisters who might be disappointed if we stop making music — or happy if we stop making music.

mewithoutYou's Aaron Weiss on God, Dumpster diving and quitting the band 06/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 4, 2009 12:40pm]
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