While Evan Weiss was working on Standards, the recently released album from his project Into It. Over It., he underwent one of the most difficult hardships a lifelong lover of ‘80s punk, Guided by Voices and Jade Tree Records can go through. He turned 30.
“These have been the first few years I’ve actually started to notice people around me aging. Parents, family members, longtime friends… it’s been a tough pill to swallow,” he says. “It’s also been difficult realizing that the social behavior I hated in my teens and twenties can still linger well into adulthood. That’s gotten much harder for me to process year after year.”
Aging can be a bitch, but maturity looks good on Weiss. Standards hits the sweet spot between bratty energy and hard-won perspective. There are sugary hooks and open-hearted yearning aplenty, but there’s also an exploratory spirit, as Weiss pushes himself past easy self-pity or staid formulas.
On “Open Casket,” the album’s exquisitely lush acoustic opener, Weiss spins an empathic eulogy for friends stuck in his hometown of Cherry Hill, NJ: “Hungover and divorced, they torch their twenties like it’s kerosene.” On the distortion-soaked punk rave-ups “No EQ” and “Vis Major,” he rails against the indignity of growing older but never quite feeling like a grownup. (“My aching brain doesn’t focus quite the same / As 30 minutes fade into 20 years, how could I change?”) Weiss never stays in one mode for too long, constantly experimenting with new ways to convey his anxiety, building up walls of shivering atmosphere only to pivot back to screeching feedback bombs. On “Adult Contempt,” secret-weapon drummer Joshua David Sparks even throws in some drum 'n’ bass beats into the mix. Weiss credits part of the newfound focus to producer John Vanderslice. “He knew exactly what we were going for, while also being able to teach Josh and me so much about sound, effects and chaos.”
From Cherry Hill, Weiss moved to Chicago to play in as many bands as humanly possible, including Their / They’re / There, Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start and the Funeral Bird. Apparently feeling like he needed another outlet, in 2008 Weiss started Into It. Over It as a solo project with a revolving lineup, writing, recording and posting a new song online once a week, later collecting the results as 52 Weeks in 2009. An official debut album, Proper, followed in 2011.
For his efforts, Into It. Over It. were labeled as part of the emo revival, a group of acts that were supposedly trying to bring back the glory days of the maligned genre (think Sunny Day Real Estate, not Fall Out Boy) before everything fell apart. Weiss doesn’t see it that way. “I absolutely feel like it’s a way for journalists to group together a bunch of bands who came from a similar place with similar ethics for the sake of making it easier on themselves,” he says. “Our work ethic hasn’t changed. Just some of the clickbait.”
Not really emo, too direct and passionate for indie rock, Weiss calls Into It. Over It. “a pirate ship,” a little bit too fluid for easy labels to stick. “The project, for better or worse, works in its own realm and does its own thing,” he says. “That can be a positive and a negative, but ultimately, it is the most satisfying thing to be able to operate within my own perameters. That helps me sleep at night.”