When you’ve been in the music business for some time, have toured extensively in Canada and the U.S. and released seven albums, sometimes you need a little extra spark to keep you going.
For that extra spark, The Weber Brothers band opted to create an arena-style show suitable for smaller venues.
The Weber Brothers – Ryan and Sam Weber (guitars, vocals), Shai Peer (keys) and Emmett Van Etten (drums) play the Canmore Hotel, Nov. 3.
As well, said Sam Weber from Saskatoon on Sunday (Oct. 23), when your eighth release is dubbed Baddest Band In The Land, you need to take things up a notch.
“I think this album is far and away the best we’ve done,” he said. “We recorded it last year over two days while we were on tour and stopped in Winnipeg. By recording mid-tour, the band’s sound was real tight and it’s a raw sounding album.
“In the past, we consistently heard that our albums didn’t capture the vibe of our live show. But with this album, the unit sounds like a band that’s played a couple of thousand gigs together and has been to hell and back a few times.”
The Weber Brothers haven’t blasted through the valley for a couple of years, so for those not in the know, you need to know that the brothers are Baltimore, Md. natives who fell under the spell of Canadian icon Ronny Hawkins.
Between 1999 and 2000, the brothers played in various hometown bands, with Sam playing in bars at age 15. In 2001, Ryan sent a demo tape to Hawkins, who then invited them to his Ontario home to audition for his band, The Hawks.
Further touring ended when Hawkins called the brothers back. They packed up their stuff, headed for Ontario and endured Hawkins’ 90 Day Boot Camp; during which they did farm work during the day and, guided by Hawkins, played music in their free time while working as roadies, drivers and merch handlers.
In 2002, the brothers relocated to Peterborough, Ont., still their Canadian base, and often played five nights a week in the area, including with Hawkins. At 18 and 21, the brothers shared a stage at a Hawkins tribute show with their heroes; Levon Helm, Garth Hudson (The Band) and others like Jeff Healey, Tom Cochrane, Kris Kristofferson and David Wilcox.
In 2003, the Webers released their debut 149 Lake Street and haven’t looked back.
“We’ve been doing this for a quite a while now,” said Sam Weber. “We’ve been in Europe a couple of times, crossed Canada dozens of times. When the four of us play together, we play real good, and it’s taken a long time and a lot of hard work to achieve what we have.
“I’m coming to realize that now. In years past, if someone said we sounded great, I’d shrug it off, kind of self-deprecating, but I think we’re sounding really strong right now. Like guys who play guitar every day, all the time.”
Along with Peterborough, the brothers split their time with a home base in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
When the band hits Canmore, it’ll be in the middle of their fourth tour this year.
Musically, The Weber Brothers crank out good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll and with this tour in support of Baddest Band In The Land, have ramped things up by adding video and sound support.
Songwriting is a collaborative effort with the Webers. “We usually come up with ideas separately, then work them out together; it’s always been that way. It comes from doing things the Ronnie Hawkins way, working through songs together. And we’ve been together every day for 28 years now.
“It’s hard work and it takes everything I’ve got. I won’t speak for anyone else, but it pushes me to the brink. I’m immersed in the music all the time.
“For myself, I write songs from life experience. In the end, that’s all I’ve got. I’ve never been good at projecting myself in the everyday world, so the songs are my thoughts and what’s going on in my life.”
Baddest Band In The Land was released Oct. 20. “It’s hot off the press,” said Weber, “and I think we have the most ambitious show we’ve done to go with it. This show has more production, with sound and video, and it’s more of an arena show.
“With the claim we’re making (Baddest Band) we didn’t want to do the same old schtick, so we decided to bring the stadium to smaller venues. It’s a rock show, it’s high energy and we play as hard as we can.
“We’re trying to take things to the next level. You have to challenge and push yourself. It’s not easy listening, there’s a lot going on with our show. There’s a few thousand hours of planning in it and I think it comes across as the kind of music that can only come from all the experiences we’ve had together.”