A band of hard rockers from Philadelphia recently impressed Kerrang! magazine. Justin Style spoke to MEWITHOUTYOU.
Philadelphia's Mewithoutyou recently came to the attention of Kerrang! magazine and, on their summer visit to the UK with Norma Jean, "converted the masses to their face-pounding brand of rock'n'roll poetry."
Often labelled as a post hardcore band, they are more of a hybrid of hard-edged indie/punk. Although they claim The Smiths, Stone Roses and Jimi Hendrix as musical influences, Mewithoutyou's style is distinctively harder, but their rhythm and melody at times can be recognised. Their hardcore followers will no doubt also appreciate contemporary bands such as Frodus, Fugazi and At The Drive In.
The band (Aaron Weiss, lead vocals; Michael Weiss, guitar; Christopher Kleinberg, guitar; Daniel Pishock, bass guitar and Ricky Mazzotta, drums) rose from the ashes of The Operation who recorded an album for Takehold Records. Aaron was seeking more artistic input after being stuck behind the drums in The Operation. He explains, "We did it initially to spite a friend who started this very band with us under a different name and then left. We were all mad at him so we were like, 'We're gonna do it bigger than we ever did with him, and make it successful.' So it was a very stupid beginning." Although the band's debut Tooth & Nail album '[A--> B] Life' may not be destined for huge sales, those who do take to it will rightfully feel that they have stumbled upon something very original.
Unlike many vapid hardcore lyrics, Aaron delivers something more poetic and profound. Aaron writes and lives his life like an open book, keeping a very intimate diary on the band's website. The lyrics are often inspired by real life events. "I don't know how to make things up and there's not much else to write about". Although most of the songs were inspired by Aaron's relationship with his ex, all the songs in some way point to God as the source of relief, especially in the song "The Cure For The Pain Is In The Pain". Aaron explores both internal and external tensions, while comparing imperfect human love with God's perfect love. From the opening screams of "Let Us Die" to the final quietly spoken words, "Jesus, have mercy on us," the band take a winding journey through the many changes and transformations we go through in life. Some would argue that '[A--> B] Life' is a record that the Christian market isn't ready for. There's no CCM image-posing here. Aaron spits out each word like it might just be his last, and his confessional lyrics range from struggles with lust to boldly confronting God in a body of work that at times is embarrassingly honest. The album has amazing song dynamics; with interlocking guitars and sudden moodshifts that impact the listener like a shot of adrenaline. Amazingly, given the expressive nature of this album, it never becomes a parody of itself. Each of these songs feels convincingly, painfully convicted.
One problem with so much so-called "punk rock" these days is that they try so hard to be rebellious and "punk," but it feels like nothing more than a fashion contest. On '[A-->B] Life', the rebellion is real. Not because they're busy shoving themselves in people's faces, but because of the music's (sometimes) frightening honesty and power. "Rebellion is a double edged sword. It's an attractive notion, but it's important to ask, what is to be rebelled against? It seems more and more that kids are ending up disillusioned with the Church and with Christianity as a whole and rebel against God because of it. I believe wholeheartedly in rebellion, but that it should be a turning from the world and from sin. These days, that's the only true rebellion!"
After speaking to Aaron and Mike it was clear that both have strong Christian faith. "I want God to be the focus of my entire life, whether it be reading a book, or going to sleep, talking to my parents, playing in a band, performing or writing words. The Kingdom of God is on my mind and it should be, I think, the centre focus of everything I do." And although Aaron also believes God is using the band, he doesn't like to see it as a ministry these days, after reading the parable of the two sons. "We could say that we are going to do this for God, when in reality all of this is selfish ambition. It's better to say we are just a band, and pray in our hearts that God will be glorified."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.