Weather Maps: I had to get some things off my chest
|Photo by Luca Venter|
It's always the quiet ones who surprise you. Jimmy Stofer is best known for his work in Van Stee, Rose Hill Drive, the Fray, Ryan Bingham, Scars On 45, Cary Brothers, and Flobots, but the musician is stepping out from behind the bass for his project Weather Maps. On his new album, Painted Stripes, Jimmy is essentially a one-man band who siphons all of his influences from his other works to blend into his version of synthy indie-rock -- a genre that is constantly being redefined. Painted Stripes is an amalgamation of words and notes that connect less tangible things: feelings and emotions that often are fleeting.
Gimme Noise caught up with Stofer before his album release at Icehouse on Saturday night to see how his other projects led to Weather Maps and what it's like for him to take a lead role in a band.
Gimme Noise: You have quite an impressive resume as a bassist. Why do you think you wanted to take on a more of a lead role in Weather Maps?
Jimmy Stofer: I've always considered myself a bassist and a songwriter. I like writing melodies, and a lot of times that's the first thing that comes out of me when I sit down to play. I guess Weather Maps is an avenue for me to express those ideas.
Do prefer a lead role, or do you feel more comfortable in a support role?
Definitely more comfortable as a bassist, but I've also been doing that since I was 12. I didn't really start singing and playing out as a frontman until I was 25. Hopefully over time I can get those equal.
What do you think you learned with all your other bands you were in that helped you in Weather Maps?
I learned a lot from the bands I've played with, and it's definitely helped me in my own band. I learned a lot about what to do, and just as important what not to do. Overall, just try to be upfront and honest with myself and my bandmates, both musically and on the business side.
"Breathe" is a standout track for me when listening to the album. Can you tell me the story behind that song?
That melody was in my head for a long time. It stuck with me for months, and when it came down to write the lyrics, it felt like I had some things to get off my chest. The song has to do with my anxiety, that I have pretty bad from time to time. The chorus is almost like a mantra I tell myself to calm down.
Do you have any standout tracks on this album that you enjoy more than others?
"Deja Vu" is one of my favorites. It was one of the first songs I wrote on bass (I usually write on guitar), and also the first one I did singing in my low register. It just felt right, and was a good template for a lot of the other songs on the record I wrote after it.
How do you feel you've evolved since your first album?
I feel like I've come a long way since the first album. I recorded both on my own, and with the first one I barely even knew what I was doing. I was learning Pro Tools as I tracked it. With this new album, I felt a lot more comfortable with engineering and producing it. Not to mention as a songwriter, I felt more comfortable in my own skin on this one. It just felt right to sing and play what came out naturally, and just run with it. For a lot of the songs, I kept most of the demos in the final recordings. I also sing about two octaves lower, which feels way more comfortable. Ha ha.
What can we expect to see at the show at Icehouse?
Laughs, cries, hoop dreams.
Weather Maps will release Painted Stripes at Icehouse on Saturday, August 16, with Van Stee.
21+, $8 adv, $10 door, 10 p.m.
Purchase tickets here.
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