With their new single “Private Lives” and a forthcoming LP, the Philly outfit explores subculture and sabotage with precision.
During one of the most bizarre times the world has ever seen, it is imperative to have the best of the best on your side to entertain you and give you the means to escape whatever chaos has been consuming you. Low Cut Connie is the best of the best. They are one of the last authentic and truly entertaining rock and roll bands of the 21st Century and they are bringing their music into people’s homes now more than ever before. Front man Adam Weiner is an energetic, creative powerhouse that is everything you could ever want out of a songwriter, musician, and performer. He’s equally wild and eccentric as he is raw and down-to-earth both on-stage and off. His knowledge of music and culture is unparalleled, creating a sound and persona that is not only riveting, but deserving of every inkling of praise possible. If you don’t believe me, believe Bruce Springsteen, Howard Stern, Elton John, and Barack Obama, some of Low Cut Connie’s most beloved and notable fans. If you can get even just one of those people to be a fan of yours, you’re clearly doing something right, and Adam Weiner has been doing just that for the past decade.
Let’s first talk a bit about your Instagram and Facebook livestream series “Live from the South of Philly,” which I adore so much. What drove you to use the Internet at this time as a platform for performing?
So, actually just this week, we’re changing the title of the series to “Tough Cookies.” That was because of the fans who are watching, I would call them my tough cookies. You guys truly are all tough cookies and people really responded to that. And just in the spirit of this collaborative element of these shows where it’s a back and forth between me and everybody that’s watching and commenting, I just wanted to name the show and this series after them. Really, to your original question, like everybody in this industry, I sat around on the couch the first few days fairly depressed about the state of affairs. Low Cut Connie was supposed to do over a hundred shows this year, but obviously we’re not going to be able to. I’ve been doing over a hundred shows a year for years now, so all of a sudden I just felt completely useless. Like I couldn’t contribute in any way. I didn’t know where I fit in, in the efforts to get through the crisis. Anybody that knows me knows I hate sitting on the sidelines, so after a few days, somebody from my team said, ‘You know, you could do a live stream show,’ which I’d never done before. Then I got a couple of messages from fans saying, ‘We’d really love you to do something and make us feel better.’ And so I thought I would try it for one week. I didn’t know if more than a few people would tune in, because to be honest with you, Debra, I had never watched a live stream myself for more than like a minute. They never really [kept] my attention, you know what I mean?
Absolutely. They used to be such a boredom-killing novelty, but they’re becoming so much more immersive and important now to our day to day life.
Right, so I was at first doubtful about the format and I’m also just used to having a seven piece band and lights and sound and costumes. The full throttle rock and roll live show is what I’ve been, you know? That’s my job, but here I was, in my underwear in my house, and when we did the first broadcast, I couldn’t see anybody that’s watching and I didn’t know how many people were watching. I didn’t know if they’re commenting. I didn’t know if anybody was enjoying it. I just said to myself, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna do what I feel.’ The way I’m doing the shows, I’m using the back camera, so I’m not seeing myself or the fans or comments. So when the hour was done, I said, ‘Did anybody tune in and did anybody like it?’ And when we looked on Facebook, we had hit like 30,000 views and we had like a couple thousand comments and all of a sudden it was like, ‘Well, maybe I should really do this for a week or two.’ Then the second episode—that’s when The Washington Post photographed me for their article—we hit like 150,000 views, and a few days later when I was considering whether to keep it going or not, I got these messages from some people that were watching and a couple of them were physicians and nurses in these hospitals that are treating COVID-19 patients. One of them sent me a video of them with other nurses in their full gear watching the live stream, and they pinned it to the wall so that all the doctors and nurses as they would walk by, could just see it like a TV, you know? They could walk by and boogie for a moment. They wanted me to know they were watching and that is when I officially said, ‘I have to do this. I have to keep this going. If there’s anything I can do to contribute, I need to do it.’ So I’ve done 11 now and I’m not going to stop anytime soon. I feel like people are really responding to it, but most importantly it’s serving some sort of function for people to have a kind of release for an hour.
Not to mention that you have your shows scheduled. So it’s giving routine to a new way of life and it’s something that they can specifically look forward to. I know that I have been enjoying them every week and looking at it like I’m tuning into some special at the end of the day.
Thank you. I feel like now I’m hosting a TV show. That’s how I look at it. [But] even more than a TV show, though, I think we’re right on the cutting edge of a new, really big change in media and entertainment. If you go back in American history to the Great Depression when the stock market crashed in 1929, live entertainment was the primary form of entertainment in America. Records were expensive. New films were kind of boutique, new, and not yet all over the country. Radio was also kind of boutique at first. Live entertainment was really the thing. Then all of a sudden overnight it was dead and that was terrible. But the good news was that radio exploded during that time and suddenly there was this connective media in everybody’s homes where they were getting the news, like Roosevelt during his fireside chat, and regional radio shows—country music, blues, jazz, comedy shows, detective shows, all this kind of stuff. I feel like we’re in this weird little beta moment with live streaming where I feel like it’s the beginning of a new type of entertainment—and it’s global! I can perform and reach people in Bali and Malaysia and Croatia and Japan, places I would potentially never get to. And I feel like I’m very tiny in my little panties in my bedroom, but I’m trying to figure out a way to make it big and compelling so that we, myself and artists altogether, have a future in our industry for how to perform.
Life has already changed so drastically and we could either completely evolve ahead of this or one day revert back to how it was, but I don’t see that happening right away, if at all.
I think there’s no doubt that things have changed already. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. I just like to always look forward and I feel like my job is just to make art and if the technology is there for us to do something that is powerful and engaging, then that’s where I need to focus my energy. So I’m working to try and make my little goofy, low-fi shows powerful for people and not just a kind of sideline thing.
You were mentioning how you never really stuck around for a live stream before, let alone put on your own. Does a live streamed concert compare—if at all—to playing physically in front of a packed house?
I can’t even compare them, you know? I’ve come to enjoy this kind of performance, though. There’s nothing that can approximate walking out on stage in front of a thousand screaming people in a club and they know the words to your songs and everybody is just shoulder to shoulder and I could come out, mess up people’s hair, and it’s just this total orgiastic release. There’s nothing like live entertainment, so I guess what I feel like I’m doing is something completely different. I feel like I can do both things, too, so when it’s safe for us to perform again and tour, I do feel like I will probably continue to do streaming concerts.
Shifting gears a bit, you just dropped “Private Lives,” the title track for your forthcoming album, and it’s a rockin’ piano driven banger that paints quite the story of the eclectic, freaky, and personal behind-the-scenes action of people’s lives. How did that song come to be, and also, what does it mean to you?
In a way the song is kind of like a culmination of everything that I’ve been doing as the album has been coming along. Eight years ago I put out a song called “Boozophilia.” It’s one of our better known songs, and we haven’t had any “hits,” but we think it’s one of our better known non-hits. That’s the song that President Obama chose for his summer playlist and one we made a video back in 2012 at the beginning of the band. That was the beginning of kind of talking about all the people that I meet out there on the road in the song. And I feel like “Private Lives” is sort of an expansion of that, because I’m talking about the people that I meet and interact with and rub shoulders with and these subcultures and these places where I meet people where they’re centered around a subculture and whether it’s the dive bar or an after-hours club or an online chat room or some religious institution or God knows what, people find their clique and their subculture. I’m sort of fascinated by that. “Boozophilia” was in this kind of dive bar world and with “Private Lives” I zoomed out and wanted to call to attention that everyone around us, everybody we see, we know to some degree, but we don’t really know what goes on with them.
Right, everyone has a story.
Exactly, and that’s the dynamic between culture and subculture and our public and our private selves. It came together late in the process of making the album. I thought I was done with the album and then I made that song and thought I should definitely keep going with that idea. Then it turned out to be the title song.
The song, and it’s video, is phenomenal. Will the album, Private Lives, as an overarching piece of music, explore that deeper in a concept-album sort of way? Or is “Private Lives” the only one that delves into that topic?
The phrase “concept album” is a tough one, because people have different ideas of what that means. I don’t know if I would say that it’s a concept album, but there’s definitely a collective world to the record, kind of like 17 mini-movies with a similar theme. And you kind of just watch the movies roll back to back. I hope that in the end, after you’ve watched them all, you say, “Wow, I feel like I’ve gone into a new world.” I’m kind of obsessed with creating three dimensions in music. I’m not typically a two dimensional autotune pop listener. I guess there’s a time and a place for that, and a great song is a great song, but for me, I produced the album and I was trying to create this sound that was three dimensional.
I know that “Look What They Did” is on the album and that is such an anthemic, über-relevant protest song. Did you ever see yourself diving headfirst into such a powerful and political topic or is it just that the current state of our society and our political climate is too hard to ignore at this point?
That’s a good question. No, I never did. I don’t think of myself as what they used to call back in the day, a topical songwriter, like Woody Guthrie. He would read the news and write a song about what he saw in the headline. Lead Belly’s “Hero of Mine” is just one of those topical songs. He wrote another song called “Mr. Hitler” in the thirties when Hitler was coming to power, he wrote about racial injustice in the South in segregation, and he wrote an amazing song called “Borzois Blues” that was about the more subtle racism in the North, which wasn’t necessarily segregated like the South, but there was a more subtle racism. It’s a very powerful song, a funny song, but very heavy. I never thought of myself as doing something topical like that, but it just happened. I spent all my summers as a kid in Atlantic City and [Bruce Springsteen’s] Nebraska was completely life changing for me. It is still one of my favorite albums and I still go down to Atlantic City quite a lot—when we’re not quarantined, of course. I’ve seen it over so many decades and it became very apparent to me over the last couple of years that not only has not much changed, but that there was this sort of promise to the city that happened in the late seventies, early eighties when there was a referendum to allow these new casinos to be built in Atlantic City and allow developers like Trump to come in. The only way they were able to convince the people in Atlantic City—who were very skeptical—to vote to allow this was the promise that there’d be a large revenue stream from the casinos that would go to the city, to schools, to parks, to seniors, and to healthcare. Suddenly the conversation turned to, ‘Oh, this is the future. This is going to save the city.’ And it was all bullshit. The whole thing was bullshit. People like Trump and his buddies came in there and they created this sub-economy in Atlantic City on the boardwalk that actually put out most of the businesses in the city. Because the casinos are these self-contained economies. Why would you go to a dry cleaner five blocks away when there’s a dry cleaner in the casino, owned by the casino? None of the revenue ever went to the city. When things started to go south with gambling because of Las Vegas and all these other gambling places legalizing, Trump specifically did a preemptive bankruptcy and just got out of town, right? Trump Plaza’s casino where I filmed the video is empty. Not only is it empty, it is decrepit. Just last week, pieces of the casino were blowing off onto the boardwalk and now the city is talking about having to pay to tear it down. It’s just so instructive about the other side of the American dream and how these decisions affect people—the working people. I didn’t really write a political song. I wrote what ended up being a character study, and then I happened to realize that it was topical and central to this area, the place where I am from.
“Private Lives” is OUT NOW on all streaming platforms!