Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie talks about the band's evolution and the uplifting power of music

Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie backstage at Rock the Garden
Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie backstage at Rock the Garden (Nate Ryan | MPR)
Interview: Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie
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While passing through the Twin Cities as the band made their way back to Philadelphia following a recent West Coast tour, Low Cut Connie frontman Adam Weiner stopped in to speak to The Current's Mary Lucia. Weiner described how the members of Low Cut Connie are staying busy touring and recording — even if that means doing those things simultaneously. Weiner also talks about what helps him get motivated to give his all at every show, and what he loved about growing up in the 1980s.

Interview Transcript

Mary Lucia: In your life as a songwriter, artist, performer, human being, what's the biggest, most amazing difference between now and five years ago?

Adam Weiner: Now I show up places and there's people that have heard of us, know the songs, know the words and care. And for the many years prior, all I did was run around this country and this world and just beg and plead and prostrate myself in every fashion to try to get people on board. Now it feels good to have some people under the tent with me.

Can you even begin to pick out some of the highlights of the last year?

Well, I met Bruce Springsteen about three weeks ago —

Let's talk about that! Did you go to the show on Broadway?

Yeah, I got tickets to the Springsteen on Broadway, just as a fan, and then I got the invite backstage, and that was just immense.

Was it like waiting in line to see the Pope?

No. Because it was a small show; he plays to about a thousand people a night. And I highly recommend the show; it's a masterpiece. Max Weinberg happened to be there that night, so it we were just back there with Max and a few other people and Bruce and Patti. I put my hand out and said, "Yo, Bruce, I'm Adam from Low Cut Connie."

He said, "I know! You guys are fantastic!"

That was a pretty cool moment. Listen — I grew up in New Jersey in the '80s, so what else do you need to know?

That kind of endorsement … I have been reading about you guys and following your career. That's not the only major, monster musician who has said "Main, I'm all in to your band." Elton John?

Elton has been amazing, and he played our new song "Oh Suzanne" like four days ago and he called us "one of his favorite bands."

But I didn't get into it — into this crazy business — of chasing after Elton John and Bruce Springsteen. I was inspired by them. But I had this dream and the audacity to think maybe I could make some kind of mark, that people would love the music, and that together — the fans and the band — together we could create something special. And it's happening. It's happening, and we're busy! We go all over the country because it's happening right now. And Minneapolis-St. Paul, this is one of our favorite places to be, and we've got that November 1 show at First Ave, and I think it's going to be explosive.

Anybody who has seen Low Cut Connie perform, you don't hold anything back. You give everything you have. I've imagine there are nights you have a headache or are feeling depressed or not feeling terribly confident. How do you do that?

You have to switch your mentality from it being the thing that you have to do to the thing that you need to do. And so the show is my release, it is my healing. It's my way of connecting with people, it's my way of lifting other people up and letting myself be lifted as well. So no matter what's going on in my life, I look forward to it.

Tell me about your band.

We're about to be seven pieces. When we come back here in the fall, we'll be seven pieces.

What are you adding?

A percussionist and a vocalist, another vocalist. When I read that Springsteen book, I could relate to the idea that it's so hard to rein it in when the music wants to get bigger and bigger. So we were four people then five, then six, now we're seven. It's a wild crew; all the way from young guys from Philly in their 20s all the way to Sondra Williams who's 55 years old, she's a grandmother and she's been in the business for 35 years.

It's a weird, unlikely crew, [but] we all love each other very much and I think that shows when we get onstage.

And you guys have been making videos, which for some reason in my mind, I thought people don't do that anymore. But you have. You've consistently made videos for the last two records, and they've been great! And you just released a new one.

We just released "Oh Suzanne." I made that in about two hours on a camcorder.

Rock and roll is visual as well as audio. It's always been that way. The look. You've got to heighten all the senses. I can't say I'm Federico Fellini, but I've tried to cultivate some sort of visual identity for the band, and also show people a sort of diversity of our fans — our "Revolution Rock 'n' Roll" video is just a video where we shot our afterparty just to show people what our fans are all about and what a crazy crew comes out to see us. I just want people to feel like there's room for them in the tent, if you know what I mean.

When you were a kid, what MTV video made the biggest impression on you?

I remember watching the "Thriller" video when I was three. There was a birthday party, and I was just frozen. My parents said they couldn't get me to walk away from the TV because they thought it was too scary and that I was too young to see it, but I was transfixed.

The '80s was a fantastic time to grow up as a music listener, because you had, I think sort of the peak of the industry in a way, and also — and something I think about a lot — the genres of music were less segregated. So what is Prince? Is it rock, is it funk, is it pop, is it soul? Yeah, all of those. What is Madonna? It's dance music, it's pop music. I didn't grow up with this idea of, "Well, I like rock and roll, but you like country, but you like funk." I didn't have that. It was just what was on. It was a great time to grow up.

I can definitely say growing up then, too, what left a huge impression on me was album covers. I can remember literally getting behind a band based solely on seeing the cover. The Diamond Dogs, David Bowie —

David Bowie, I was going to say, his influence on fashion and art is as profound as the music. And so what we do, people ask me, they say, "How do you describe your music?" All I say is, "Rock and roll, and whatever that means to you."

I feel like our music has a lot of influences. They don't all land in the same lane, but we bring them all into the studio with us and all onto the stage with us.

Like, we're covering this dance track from the early '80s by the band Lime from Quebec, this French-Canadian dance, early techno kind of band. Maybe there was a time in my life where I might have thought, "If you're playing rock and roll, you're not covering that kind of music." But no; I like it, it feels good, I'm going to play it.

Your evolution as a band is so completely — as far as the Twin Cities — you've sort of done it right. Wasn't your first time here at the Entry?

Actually, we did a birthday party thing at the Turf Club, but we weren't' really the headliner. But our real proper first show was at the Entry and we sold out, and then we did the Turf Club and we sold out. We're taking a big lob in going up to First Avenue on November 1.

It's going to be amazing. And stepping onto that stage — there's something that's pretty insane. Is there another club that you can think of that has that magic when you walk up the steps?

The Apollo, of course, and we'll get to play there at some time, I hope. But there's not a lot of clubs in America that survive, you know? It's hard to keep a thing going, and I think it speaks to the power of First Avenue and its mystique that it has not only survived, but it seems people coming from around the world just to take a look.

When you look out into the audience and see people that are singing along with songs that are relatively new. Were you that guy in the audience singing back to whomever you were seeing when you were 22?

Yeah, for certain artists that I love, for sure. I had a zillion cassettes, then I had a zillion CDs, then I got a zillion records, and now I got a zillion of everything.

I remember when I was 18 years old, I moved to NYC, and I cut my night-school class to go see Tom Waits at the Beacon Theater. I scalped a ticket; this was his comeback Mule Variations tour; he hadn't played in a very long time. I went by myself, and I was in line, and while I'm in line, Elvis Costello walked by, and Lou Reed walked by. And there I was, I was 18, I had just moved to New York. I even remember what it smelled like. It was one of those full-sensory experiences, and I said, "Damn, this is what I want to do."

Now here you are … Now that the record Dirty Pictures: Part 2 is out now, everybody's always thinking well what's the next record? Are you writing? But you've been on the road — how many days this year?

One hundred twenty shows this year, and we're traveling over 200. But we have already made the better part of a new album. That's going to take a while, but we record on the road now. So we did sessions in Memphis in February, then we were in Denver, then we did a studio in California, and then we did a studio in Louisville, Kentucky, and we're going to be there again in a few weeks. I just keep running the band into a studio for a couple days and seeing what happens.

And you guys will be back here in the Mainroom — naturally you ascended to that place. And of course, we have to mention you played Rock the Garden a few weeks ago, which was amazing.

I would put that in my top 10 favorite Low Cut Connie shows ever, because you have to understand: It will never wear off on me to walk out onstage and see 8,000 people ready for action — like saying, "What do you got?" Because a show is a collaboration between the performer and the crowd. And I walked out there on that stage that morning and I said, "This is going to be special." And it was also 900 thousand degrees. Actually, it was freezing, and then right before we went onstage, it went from 60 to 90, and all of a sudden, people started taking their jackets off and letting their hair down and I said, "This is perfect."

If you could have any song played every time you enter a room, which would it be?

Marvin Gaye, "Got To Give It Up."

The 11-minute version?

Yeah. You can't not feel cool [with that song].

That is so boss! That is a great answer.

Audio edited and transcribed by Luke Taylor.

External Link

Low Cut Connie - official site

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2 Photos

  • Mary Lucia with Low Cut Connie's Adam Weiner
    Mary Lucia with Low Cut Connie's Adam Weiner (Luke Taylor | MPR)
  • Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie at Rock the Garden 2018.
    Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie at Rock the Garden 2018. (Nate Ryan/MPR)

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