It only took a quick listen for us to be drawn to the new album from Low Weather. That’s just how Michael Trieb likes it. If you’re meant to hear it, then you’ll hear it. He has no concerns for any audience other than that.
While the industry has a significant layer of noise that most artists concentrate and strategize about breaking through, Trieb is content to make the music and release it and let the chips fall where they may. Given the affecting atmosphere created on Low Weather’s moody tracks, the music should have no problem finding a home. The only issue is that first introduction, which is why we’re quite happy to highlight Trieb’s music.
Stereo Subversion: I’d love to hear about the songs on Fear. How far back do they go? Did you write around a central theme?
Michael Trieb: I think it’s easy for me to write songs not necessarily when I’m in a good mood, but a lot of them were written the months after I graduated. I was still living in my parents’ basement and I was separated from my friends, so I told them I wanted to move out, etc. All the songs were written over the past three years. I wrote “I Was You” a couple summers ago, and I had writer’s block at the time and that was all I could come up with.
It’s not a concept album. It’s called Fear, but that was kind of a central theme I noticed after all the songs had been recorded. A lot of them deal with being anxious and fearful about the future in particular. When am I going to make money? Where am I going to live? Am I going to get married some day? Stuff like that, dealing with that restlessness. So it was a really mixed bag of songs, especially track three transitioning into track four. That’s pretty intentional because those songs are so different from each other; I wanted to have a jarring transition there. But it’s a mixed bag that represents what I’ve been into the past few years.
SSv: You mentioned that mood or the emotions or those themes, but are those tones typically true of what you like to listen to yourself?
Michael: I think I’m drawn to darker songs, definitely. I think the reason why songs dealing with darker subjects or more melancholy tones appeal to me is because those kinds of emotions are a bit more potent than joy or happiness. I think happiness is, for me, an emotion that is better spent on people and experiences rather than a notebook and my guitar. Sadness is just something I can process through song and then happiness is something I spend sharing with other people through hanging out or talking.
SSv: Who are some artists who embody that for you?
Michael: Death Cab for Cutie, for sure. I got into them when I was in junior high and they’ve always been a big influence lyrically and musically. Elliott Smith, definitely is up there, as far as melancholy lyrics go.
SSv: I saw your Kickstarter campaign to finish up the album. That whole process of culling the songs together, finish up the recording and putting it out there and trying to get yourself noticed amidst all the noise. How hard is that for you?
Michael: I think I’ve become comfortable with resorting to just being super nonchalant about my music in the way that I present it to people. I’ve become content with not trying to make it at all. I’m perfectly fine with being that hidden gem that someone keeps to themselves and treasures. I get a kick out of how nonchalant I am with my music. I mean the goal is for my music to speak louder than the way it’s represented. I’m not concerned about making it big-time or anything.
My producer and I, we didn’t think once about how it would be received, whether people would like it or dislike it. I think once you start putting so many filters on your music and try catering to people like that, it just cheapens the art work. It becomes less honest.
So I think this album is completely something I would make. Some people will alter their sound to try to fit into radio play and all that, but I think my goal is to have as much integrity as possible and try not to follow any kind of formula at all. So that’s what was fun about this one. I’m excited to see what people think about it because I did not think about it all during the process. I don’t think it’s a selfish album, it’s just more honest and fearless, pun intended.
SSv: What is it that keeps you not afraid of this—being so nonchalant, for example—and yet being afraid about other things to the point where you can create an album full of that kind of content?
Michael: I think the best encouragement for the future is your own past. If you think you’re going through something now, look where you were before. You’ve gotten through it and gotten past it, you’ve dealt with it before. It’s like that phrase “This too shall pass.” You hear it a million times and it’s easy to forget what it means, but then when you sit and ponder on it, it’s like, “That is so true! It is spot-on.”
I think just chilling and not letting stuff get to you is sort of the answer for being fearful about things. You’re not dying, you know? For me specifically, like college woes or what I was going to do to make money, there is nothing unique about that situation. You are not special in your problems. Everybody deals with that, but everybody somehow survives. [Laughs] I mean, be responsible and deal with your stuff, but don’t make a bigger deal out of it than it is.
SSv: It’s one thing to be nonchalant about it, but the pendulum can swing in the extreme opposite direction with you being fearful. What does nonchalant look like for you?
Michael: I think if it’s meant to be enjoyed then it will be. However it plays out is however it’s supposed to happen. If people really want to find it and listen to it, then they will. I’m not not promoting it at all, it’s just I don’t want to talk it up so much that people are underwhelmed by it. I want to let people know it’s out there and let them form their own opinions.
I released one song last fall, but I’ve been pretty intentional about not pushing any new singles or anything, just because for one thing, I’m not signed, so there aren’t any labels trying to get three singles out of this album, and two, singles are weird for me because, in a way, it’s me deciding for people what should be their favorite songs. Typically a band will release a single, but I’ll end up liking the other songs much more and wonder “Why did they pick that song?” It’s another way for me to let the album be loose and free and just let people receive it however they want to.
SSv: Speaking of a song that grabbed me, what’s the story behind “Underneath?”
Michael: That was written in my parents’ basement, and that’s just about the fear of growing up and moving on after college, paying bills and being responsible. Are we going to be trapped or limited by any of this? Is there any way we can make it past that? So it just has those open-ended questions.