Jealousy is an ugly shade to wear, so many apologies to Lee Weiss of Life After Liftoff for me making him sport it. He’d been running errands all day while I was on my third episode of Boy Meets World. No major hard feelings were on the table, but we had a good laugh before we got to the nitty gritty of our phone chat.
Lee fronts Life After Liftoff, a rock band out of Ohio who has earned high praise from the royalty of their scene. He was open and honest about his past as a target of bullying due to his love of skateboarding and punk style in his Midwest town, and more, including always being the youngest among his crew at Blink 182 shows, and a tour they were approached about but that isn’t confirmed…So that topic was hushed. Other than that we got a lot in despite the batteries in the tape recorder going out a few times.
Kendra: Bullying’s a big issue right now and you’re involved with Defeat The Label. How did that come about, working with them?
Lee Weiss: It’s kind of funny how all that worked out. I happened to actually watch Glee and I saw it mentioned on there and I am very much an activist when it comes to getting involved. I’ve always had a very strong connection with organizations like St. Jude and this band is so different than anything that I’ve been a part of, or anyone else in the band has been a part of. And because we have those concepts and themes within our music I knew from day one, I wanna partner up with organizations and be an activist and help and get the voice of these organizations. And we contacted Jamie over at Defeat the Label and like literally the next day we get a call and they were super into the idea. They hadn’t had a band approach them and it was kind of a perfect fit. It was almost like love at first sight.
Kendra: You were a victim of bullying, but was it just based on the music you liked and how you dressed?
Lee: I’m kind of a thin guy now, but growing up I was a heavier kid and I got a lot of flak for about being bigger and into skateboarding and punk rock. By no means was it just the music I was into or the clothing I wore. I also got it because of my religion. People would give me grief because I wasn’t just like them. For years there wasn’t a big Jewish population in Dayton and kids just either didn’t get it, or care to get it. And from a lot of different aspects, kids can be cruel.
Kendra: I started writing in middle school because that seems to be the age where you’re going through so many emotions for no reason. Anyway, was there a certain age or grade that you started writing in?
Lee: It was the summer between 4th and 5th grade and I heard “Dammit” from Blink off the Dude Ranch album. For some reason my mom and dad didn’t really censor my music too much. I remember I was pretty into Dr. Dre. I was listening to The Chronic 2001 album. Maybe if my mom knew what it meant then, then she would’ve been flipping out. But I remember I was so into Hip-Hop, but I heard “Dammit” and that changed my world. It was at that point, 5th grade on, I started skateboarding, and skateboarding and punk rock just kind of clicked together. I think it was at that point that I wanted to do it.
Kendra: Do you remember the first song that you wrote?
Lee: It was called “Crackwhore” and my mom and aunt thought it was just the funniest, catchiest thing in the world and it was garbage. And it was literally about a lady who was down on her luck and would’ve done anything to make it in the world.
Kendra: You’ve moved on from signing about crackwhores and you have a new album out, Brand New Life. So since movies are always fun to gab about, if you had to compare Brand New Life to a movie coming out, which would it be and why?
Lee: I’m trying to think of what’s coming out off the top of my head…Let’s go with, I’m going to give you a mix of old and new. I’m gonna go with Men In Black 3 just because I love Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. I’m gonna throw some National Treasure in there, and Star Wars. Mix all those up and you have Brand New Life.
Kendra: Why National Treasure? (I went on about how Nicolas Cage is a scary man)
Lee: You know what, everyone sits there and says Nicolas Cage can’t act, but I disagree and say that series is the only one in which he can act very well.
Kendra: I’ve noticed you’ve played the college scene recently and for me college has always been more about Hip-Hop and Indie Rock. How have you guys been faring in that scene?
Lee: The college circuit is definitely very much Indie or Hip-Hop, but it’s cool because there are still kids that love punk rock or pop rock, what we do. It’s different because we play like teen club we get to play all our songs and everyone’s into it. But when we play a college shows, we’ll throw covers in. It’s really fun to watch people get excited over music from their childhood.
Kendra: Now you have a lot of fans that people love like Jordan and Chad from New Found Glory, Hayley from Paramore and Tom from Blink. How did you get your music to these big names in music?
Lee: It’s funny you ask that. It’s all relative. I was in my other band called Maintain Composure when I was 15 and by the time I was in my freshman year of college we were opening up for bands like Boys Like Girls, Motion City Soundtrack, Angels and Airwaves, New Found. And when that ended, I had demos and I decided to go back to shows as a fan and kind of fell back in love with the scene because I was kind of disenchanted with the scene because of the way my old band broke up. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do music still. I was kind of shaken up, but I did.
I started to show each one of those people the music. And the first person out of all of them was Tom from Blink and Angels. I literally sat down with him and played the first track and he just said, “What can I do?” That’s where the idea kind of evolved and Tom did that testimonial, Chad and Jordan from New Found, Jack and Alex from All Time Low and Hayley. Anyways it kind of just kept going and eventually I had all those compiled that’s how it was.
And every time I see Tom, he’s always kind of checking in. And I talk to Jack every now and again when he’s back in town. That’s how that all kind of works out. I’m very lucky that those people care enough even a tiny bit to help my band, and apparently care enough about the music. I’m very blessed.
Kendra: Staying on Blink 182…Do you think there’s a bar they set that you and other bands are always trying to reach, or are you guys just trying to do your own thing.
Lee: Not just Blink, but I think Green Day and New Found, all bands like that totally set a bar and I think that as a band you have to take that as long-term goal to kind of do the things that all the bands that influenced the scene did. You always aspire to do those things, but as an artist you to be you and do things you’re way, and you have to embrace the qualities that you make you an individual. So I think the rationality of both. You embrace it and kind of let it guide you, but you have to do your own thing and do it to the best of your ability. If you walk that line and embrace both, it’s the best combination.
Kendra: Since you said you were a fan of Glee, I want you to make us a mixtape of the Top 5 pop punk songs you’d like to hear those kids on Glee cover, go!