STATE COLLEGE - The Melodic Plague will play in Toast Smoking Bar and Lounge inside of the Autoport Hotel, 1405 S. Atherton St., at 9 p.m. Friday. The Sun-Gazette recently connected with the group's energetic frontman and visionary, Kael Weis.
APRIL LINE: What's Toast Smoking Lounge?
KAEL WEIS: The Toast Smoking Lounge is a super cool spot in the back of the Autoport Hotel. One of the few places in town where you can drink and smoke and even eat. I had a minuscule role in decorating the Toast Bar. My recently deceased project, "Full Roaming Vapor," was the first band to ever play in that part of the Autoport as well, and my crew and I regularly regulate showcase specials there. I've personally found the Toast Smoking Lounge has been a rare, great supporter of local original music in this town. Please don't get me wrong, we play more than our share of covers as well (you really have to this day and age in this town), but we do them our own way. A "I don't care what the CD sounds like, this is how we play it" kind of thing.
The Melodic Plague will perform at 9 p.m. Friday at the Toast Smoking Bar and Lounge inside of the Autoport Hotel, 1405 S. Atherton St.
AL: Has anybody compared you to Perry Ferrell?
KW: I have often been compared to Perry Ferell, Frank Black (the Pixies), Jack White (White Stripes) and occasionally Jack Black (Tenacious D). I once humored the notion of going by Jack Grey, But my brother informed me that that guy already exits in Happy Valley. With so very many wonderful words in which to use in titling one's self, I needn't takes someone else's identity; I already have more than I can reasonably manage: "Everywhere Danger!," "The Melodic Plague," "Full Roaming Vapor," "Kael Janson Weis" and "The Mighty Handful."
The Melodic Plague is mostly a recording project that I started with my two friends Damien Page and Jon Spearly. We started it almost five years ago and after way too much time passed, we decided to go back and finish these tracks. First "The Melodic Plague and the Emergence of Noise," our debut album, and the half-finished follow-up, "The Melodic Plague and the Infernal Mess Machine." The three of us are all quite proud of our work on these albums and we feel it would be a shame not to release them after some priming and polishing.
There is music available in iTunes under my "Everywhere Danger!" guise.
AL: How do you categorize your music?
KW: I've always liked the genre of indie rock because it is so unlimited. You can make a country song, a disco song, a rock song and electric dance song and still be well within your genre. Plus, I grew up listening mostly to indie rock.
My first love was The Monkeys and The Beach Boys. Then my older brother Kristian introduced me to REM, which I became obsessed over, and then Tiny Tune Adventures introduced me to They Might Be Giants, who lit up my world with their creative melodies and dark sense of humor. I was so proud I knew cool music other people hadn't ever heard of, it became an obsession to collect unknown hits. Pavement made me want to pick up a guitar when I was a teenager because they were so catchy and weird. Built to Spill's album "Perfect From Now On" changed the way I thought about music by emphasizing the dynamics, clever word play and dubious guitar tones and mutes.
AL: What's with Quadraphonic Productions, your record label listed on Reverb Nation?
KW: I decided to start a "collective" of musicians and artist of all sorts to rattle the cages of the local art and music scene. It's definitely a work in progress, but we are all very excited about it.
AL: I couldn't find a listing of names on the lineup? Who else is in the band - what do they do?
KW: I am (and will go on being, at least for the time being) Kael Janson Weis - vox, guitar, lyricist, songwriter, art, promotions, online, recording, management, pictures, video, editing, etc.
Jason Britten - vox, guitar, drums, lyricist, songwriter, art, promotions, online, recording, management, pictures.
Mark "Mr. Holiday" Holland - vox, bass, drums, guitar, etc.
Damien Scott Page - guitar, drums, songwriter.
Adam Bugaj - keyboards/moogs, sound effects, guitars and slide guitar, songwriting.
Brian Adams - violin and keys.
Jon Spearly - vox, guitar, drums, keys, songwriter, art, production, recording and editing.
Not all of these guys are always performing at every show, but mostly this is currently my crew. I find it's important to have a talented staff on board. I like smart, creative people to bounce ideas off of.
AL: Are you all from State College originally?
KW: I am Happy Valley-born-and-raised. Brain Adams is a student going here from somewhere else, but I know a bunch of these guys from high school, so we are mostly made up of "townies."
AL: I like that you sound nothing like most of the influences you've listed. Is it intentional?
KW: I treat music "like a window and not a door" to quote Pavement. I learn a little bit from everything I like and it all gels together into what is essentially my "sound," I guess. Music is limitless, I needn't dance in someone else's shadow. One of the most important things about being an artist of any kind is having a unique voice. You want people to want you, not whatever band you might be trying to emulate. I am lucky enough to have found my sound after many years of struggling.
For more information about the band, visit www.myspace.com/ themelodicplague.