An Interview: JON WEISS: Far Outta the Nest
By Nancy Neon / FFanzeen, 2022
Intro © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2022
Images from the Internet, unless indicated
When I think of Jon Weiss, two things immediately come to mind: one is the ‘80s garage revival pop band The Vipers, and the other is as a coordinator/originator of the Cavestomp! series, where both newer garage bands meet with the classics (for example, I remember seeing one that featured both The Lyres and ? and the Mysterians. Jon was the host that night, but Peter Zaremba of The Fleshtones has filled in as well. It was quite a show. When the Vipers’ album, Outta the Nest was initially released, I had interviewed the band (I’ll link it here once it is digitally published). But not being mired in just the past, Jon has been associated with two other projects of late, named Stereo Dinner and the band Little Triggers, both in front and behind the scenes. In June of this year, Nancy Neon, a queen of garage in her own right, interviewed Jon for us. – RBF, 2022.
Nancy Neon: Did Teen Sounds in Italy approach you about reissuing The Vipers'
Outta the Nest (album)?
Jon Weiss: Nope, Teen Sounds approached Vipers' co founding member, Paul Martin, who's always led the charge to reissue Outta the Nest!
NANCY: What was the process? Was it remixed or remastered?
JON: Paul oversaw the re-issue from start to finish. This included its remastering, updated liner notes, 4 bonus tracks., revised artwork/additional pictures, and a poster insert, While staying true to the original recording, Paul seamlessly enhanced the listening and viewing experience of the LP without scrubbing away or glossing over its original charm. It really should satisfy and offer something new to die hard fans who have the original pressing while engaging younger fans of garage who have never heard the band before.
NANCY: How did it feel listening to it again?
JON: Life in a rock‘n’roll band is life itself. It's filled with ups and downs, good times, and bad. Except the drugs are better...that's a joke (they're not better). The recordings you make are audio snapshots. They capture and document life without judgment. I feel the same way listening to this record as I do looking at a photo album from 1985, or anytime. That aside, what makes me very happy when listening to it is knowing that there are more than a hand full of people who sincerely love this record! And that's very meaningful and satisfying to me.
NANCY: What is your proudest moment of all your Cavestomp! productions?
JON: Absolutely and without hesitation, brokering the first reunion in 40 plus years for 3 of the original 5 Sonics, ? and the Mysterians, The Monks, The Pretty Things, Creation, New Colony Six, and a few others come close, but nothing comes close to hearing Larry Parypa [The Sonics] play the opening chords to "He's Waiting," with 1,000 other fiends that first time. It took me literally 20 years of gentle persuasion to get them to agree to play and it...was worth the wait. I recorded 3 performances on a 16-track of the live set they did, and between the three, there are stellar versions of each song available. It'll never be available, but nevertheless it is documented,
NANCY: Never say never! If you had one last Cavestomp! blowout, who would
be on the bill?
JON: Ronnie Wood and the surviving members of The Birds [The Birds from England and Little Triggers-are my dream bill! – NN], Sam the Sham, Duane Eddy, and assorted snot-nosed upstarts they influenced.
NANCY: How did Stereo Dinner come together?
JON: Stereo Dinner is the ultimate fan/artist engagement where super fans and a favorite artist sit down over a truly memorable multi-course meal and wine, pairing as designed by the artist and the chef team preparing it. It's an opportunity to really get to know the artist when the artist isn't performing, It came together as a solution for what was the historically uninteresting and easily forgotten meet and greets where the artists shakes your hand, takes a photo with you, and autographs some piece of merchandise, Yawn! Next. Can you think of a better way to waste your money than that? Very unsatisfying for all involved unless you are a professional autograph collector looking to flip signed memorabilia for profit.
NANCY: What can we expect from Stereo
in the next year or so?JON: Not much for now, COVID has taken away the desire to sit down and have an intimate dinner with up to 30 people you don't really know. Hopefully that thinking will relax a little and we will get back to it.
NANCY: I hope so. Dinner with Bootsy Collins certainly sounded delicious
and delightful! How did you discover Little Triggers? What niche do you think
they fill in today's music scene?
JON: Ah! Little Triggers... I first learned about Tom Hamilton (guitar/vox), leader of LT, in the mid-2000's, when he was in a teen garage band, The 45's. They were good, but when Tom stepped up to sing lead on a song he had written called "It Ain't Over," they were honestly great! The band broke up and I kept an eye out for what Tom would be doing next, and that was Little Triggers!
NANCY: My first reaction was how do they differentiate themselves from bands
playing in a similar style, and my friend and “Kandy Says” (podcast) cohost, Ian Wagner summed it up in three
words: "Inspiration over imitation." And when I heard a 5-year-old tape
of them segueing The Small Faces’ "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" into Solomon
Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody," I got it! Tom may be a one man Led
Zep, but he is so much more. On this chestnut he burns on harmonica, and it is easy
to see his song craft is inspired by Steve Marriott as much as it is Robert
JON: Tom's truly a ferociously talented singer, songwriter, guitarist, and performer, all in one. He's a one-stop. He is a garage punk hybrid of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page [I prefer Tom's voice to Plant because his British soul man style is more in the Steve Marriott mode to these ears! – NN] with skills to match, who understands composition as taught by a permanent deep dive into Lennon & McCartney. When you listen to Tom's songs, you may see he is more influenced by The Sonics and The Small Faces than Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. Tom is young, smart, and has great taste in music, and a comprehensive understanding of rock'n'roll history and very importantly lives to kick out the jams, motherfucker! He's an aggressive player to put it mildly. I think he is able to capture the primal power of raw and primitive rock’n’roll, but has the technical skills and song writing talents to create something uniquely his own that's varied, memorable, relevant, and exciting! Artists who can "do it all" usually cannot make it add up to something better than the sum of its part. Tom can. He's a missing lir[nk to the past of great rock'n'roll, and its future.