By Lisa Ruefenacht
The Weak Men didn”t intentionally decorate their storage/practice space like the Norwegian tundra, but it feels like it. Spilt soda creates an icy glaze over parts of the floor, the single space heater pathetically warms a two-inch radius and a solitary light bulb attempts – desperately – to imitate an aurora borealis. As soon as the Weak Men begin playing, however, their ear-punishingly loud, heart-tugging music warms the barren space.
For more than a year now, the Weak Men have blazed a trail as Provo”s foremost post-rock band. Influenced by bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mono and Sigur R?s, the Weak Men have carefully devised and manipulated their sound to create an art unique and representative of themselves while maintaining traditional post-rock form.
“A year and a half ago we were a band, but we had crappy, indie alt-rock songs,” guitarist Tom Perry said. “We were trying to be something we didn”t really want to be. … Most people were indifferent. Then we started messing around more.”
The noisier and more exotic the Weak Men became, the greater amount of attention they received. Perry and guitarist/bassist James Loomis frequently manipulate their guitars with violin bows and screwdrivers. Keyboardist Justin Perry, intellectual captain of the band according to his brother Tom, alters his instrument”s effects to create soaring, pulsating melodies. Drummer Adam Mitton, quiet and coquettish, serves as the 160 beats-per-minute life giver, often pounding so hard he breaks his drumsticks and bass drum pedal. And newcomer Joe Lambson, violinist and the band comedian, intensifies their overall effect with vocal-like harmonies.
“We crystallized at this one show [last year],” Justin Perry said. “We played through this one song, the first post-rock thing we ever did.”
“[That show] made everything else obsolete,” Loomis said. “It sounded so much better than anything we”d ever done before; we knew we couldn”t be the same band after that.”
The band members” lengthy history contributes to their emotional and musical connection. Tom and Justin Perry are brothers, and Tom and Loomis have been best friends since the eighth grade. Lambson and Justin Perry have been friends since elementary school, and Tom Perry and Loomis met Mitton while serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan.
After their missions, Loomis and the Perry brothers aspired to be a token Japanese pop band famous only for being American.
“We had one song in Japanese, but we never got the demo sent off, and we started getting more obscure, so we gave up the Japanese dreams,” Tom Perry said.
The Weak Men solidified a year ago when Justin Perry returned from his mission and Mitton moved to Orem from Idaho. Although they started with the name Army of Skeletal Children, the Perrys thought the Weak Men described the band”s mentality more accurately.
“Everyone we know is mentally ill; we”re all mentally ill,” Tom Perry said. “It [the name] is more about emotional and mental weakness.”
The Weak Men”s future plans are undecided, as four of the band members prepare to graduate college and move elsewhere. The band is working on an album and plans to remain together through the summer.
“Our music,” Tom Perry said, “you know how it starts quiet and gets louder and humps, and gets soft again? Exactly like us.”
The Weak Men play at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, 2006, at Muse Music, located at 150 N. University Ave., with the Eden Express, Declaration and 31Knots. They also play at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006, at Provo High School with The Deers, The John Whites, nananoir and the Eden Express. For more information visit www.myspace.com/theweakmen.