An interview with Allison Weiss

AE: What is your biggest inspiration right now?

Lately I’ve pretty much regressed back to my youth. I’ve been revisiting what I liked when I first started playing music, and listening to all the bands I should have heard back then. It started last September when I was feeling really angsty and attended Pinkerton Night at a local bar. I f—ing loved it. After going my whole life being very anti-Weezer but hearing so many friends talk about how great that record is, everything finally clicked. I listened to it non-stop for like a month. After that I got back into everything I loved as a kid — MxPx, New Found Glory, Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, Brand New — and everything I’d heard of but neglected to check out — Sleater-Kinney, Juliana Hatfield, Le Tigre and Be Your Own Pet.

I’ve also just become obsessed with the riot grrrl movement, both musically and politically. I’d probably give anything to have heard Bikini Kill when I was in middle school, but I’m pretty young and never had a cool older sister or babysitter or anything like that. Since I came out last year I’ve been scrambling to catch up and learn as much as I can about feminism and queer theory. I’m extremely inspired by everyone who has fought and is still fighting for the right to just exist equally.

AE: Where do you want to be in five years? 10 years?

You know, I think I want to be doing exactly what I’m doing, just on a larger scale. Right now I can make records and go out on the road and somehow still pay my bills, but in five years I’d like to see that hard work really pay off. I’d like to see a level of success that offers more security. In 10 years — or much sooner — I’d like to be doing well enough that I can spend some money on allergy shots and get myself a feline friend. I’m extremely allergic to cats and every girl I ever like happens to own one, so I have to get over this affliction.

AE: Besides music, what gets you going? If you had to have a regular job, what would you choose to do?

I actually have a degree in graphic design, so I guess that’s what I should say, but aside from music, I think promotion is my one true love. When I really believe in something I want everyone else to love it, too. If I wasn’t a musician, I’d want to be a manager or a publicist. I’d want to be the person who gets people excited about my new favorite thing.

In high school and college I was really into self-promo. I made stickers and put them all over town, barraged the campus with flyers, chalked up the streets, and did whatever it took to get people to my shows. I’d introduce myself to people in the cafeteria and they’d be like, “Oh you’re that girl with the stickers.” People have also told me I’m very good at the Internet. I used to fund my last record and was invited to speak on a panel at SXSW about that. The topic was crowdfunding, and how to build a supportive online following. I think I could help other bands learn how use the Internet in a more honest, fun, and effective way. If I had to have a totally non-musical regular job, I’d want to be a screen printer or work in a bike shop.

AE: Do you have a girlfriend now? What do you do when you are on the road, how do you stay connected?

At this very moment I am single. The times I was touring and did have a girlfriend, I relied heavily on technology to keep in touch. I think being a touring musician can make any normal relationship feel very long-distance, and it’s tough to handle but it can be done. Luckily there are cell phones and computers and it seems like everyone is video chatting these days.

For me the hardest thing is when I develop a crush on someone right before I leave town. That said, it can be really fun to have a pen pal on the road. I’m great at text messaging and I love to send postcards and collect gas station souvenirs to bring home, so if a girl is game for all those things then I know I’ve got something to look forward to when I get back.

AE: What is your favorite website and why?

I’m really into social networking so I have to go with I’ve been an active user since late 2007 and I’m pretty addicted. Tumblr is where I blog and document my life’s adventures. Of course, I follow a lot of friends and acquaintances, but I also interact among the community by following people I don’t know personally, many of whom are just fans with interesting blogs. I think of it as a source of inspiration and a place to see art, discover music, and stay up to date on the trends of the Internet. Since I’ve been so involved in the community for so long, I’ve had the opportunity to meet the guys who started the company, and I love what they’re doing. They’ve also been very good to me and and many of them are avid supporters of my music. It’s cool and awesome to have them on my side.

AE: What is your advice to young women who are wanting to follow their dreams of being musicians?

Most of my advice for young women would be the same advice I’d give anyone. Practice; practice a lot. Practice playing, writing, performing. Be willing to suck for a while. Be willing to learn from your mistakes. Make sure your dreams are based in a desire to create music. I fear that a lot of young people have a goal of being “famous,” and if this is what you want, I encourage you to reevaluate what motivates you. I think the people who gain lasting success are the ones doing what they love and doing it well. If you don’t absolutely love something, don’t do it.

For the girls specifically, please don’t let any guy ever tell you that you can’t play as well as him. That guy can go f–k himself. It’s not our fault that we get barbies and kitchen sets while our brothers get guitars and drums. Lastly, please try your hardest to treat other girls with love and respect because ladies gotta stick together! And if you’ve always wanted to make music, now is the time. It’s never too late to start.

AE: Where were you when same-sex marriage became legal in New York? How did you celebrate? Or did you?

June 24, 2011 was the first night of NYC Pride and I had plans to celebrate in the city just as soon as I finished playing bass with my roommate’s band, Field Mouse. The New York senate was making their decision during our set, but as soon as I got off stage my friends grabbed me and told me the news. I literally dropped to my knees and howled. I proposed to my friend for fun and hugged every person I saw. There was an explosion of joy in this Brooklyn bar, and we all immediately piled into a cab and headed to Stonewall in Greenwich Village. I should mention that this was my first Pride experience anywhere ever. It felt like the whole world was celebrating, everyone was laughing and yelling and dancing. All the bars were packed so we ate pizza in the street and made friends with everyone we met.

It’s hard to explain the incredible sense of community I experienced that night, but I’m sure most people reading this will know what I’m talking about. I’m definitely happy that same sex marriage is legal in my state, but also I know that it’s only one issue and the fight is not even close to being over. Hopefully this will lead to an even bigger movement toward true equality for everyone.

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