mewithoutYou Band Interview: Beyond Religious Limitations

It’s not uncommon for bands who have undergone massive sonic shifts from album to album to find themselves shunned by their formerly loyal fanbase. MewithoutYou, though, has somehow managed to strike a fine combination that has ensured the steadfastness of their fanbase through the years. An openly Christian band that frequently tackles religious themes, mewithoutYou has also accomplished the rare feat of creating music that transcends religious and social boundaries.

mewithoutYou Band Interview - Beyond Religious Limitations

On their latest album, It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright!, mewithoutYou have departed from their post-hardcore roots, transofrming themselves into an indie folk outfit exploding with diverse instrumentation. Lyrically, the album contains slightly controversial messages and the frequent use of Arabic — both of which render It’s All Crazy! simultaneously inviting and mysterious.

The Weiss brothers — vocalist Aaron Weiss and guitarist Mike Weiss — were raised in a Sufi Islamic household with a mother who had converted from Christianity and a father who had converted from Judaism. As a result, they were well-versed in multiple religions from an early age, and the influence has played a part in their lives as well as their music. The band members are indubitably Christian and believe that Jesus Christ leads the path to God; nontheless, this disc heavily explores the idea that perhaps all of the world’s religions hold significance — that perhaps all can lead to one coming face-to-face with an ultimate truth or higher power.

“We don’t really try to claim that we are the ambassadors of that truth ourselves, or that the Bible, or the Koran, or Bawa Muhaiyaddeen are. These truths just exist,” expresses Mike Weiss, “and everybody sort of has a way to know them, to experience them, to live them.”

The name of the disc comes from a parable in Muhaiyaddeen’s book, The Golden Words of a Sufi Sheikh, and many of his teachings are continually referenced throughout It’s All Crazy!. The Arabic track, “Allah, Allah, Allah,” pays homage to Bawa’s musings on seeing God in everything, including in blades of grass.

“Bawa is not considered to be a Christian by most Christian people, but he was a wise person who loved God and believed in God more than anything else. He devoted his life to trying to bring people to experience that,” explains Weiss, on why the band was inspired by Muhaiyaddeen’s teachings.

 

“Right now is sort of a period, especially in Aaron’s life, where he’s sort of revisiting [religion] and holding himself up to those teachings that there’s no one religion that’s going to be the only way to God,” reveals Weiss. “If you really want to just try to follow a path to God, I don’t believe you need anything beyond [Jesus Christ], but it’s just the idea that you’re fixed on the only way and that everybody else is just completely misguided… that is a sort of obtuse attitude that can hurt your own spirit.”
– Mike Weiss, of mewithoutYou

 

Muhaiyaddeen’s God may or may not have technically been the same God that mewithoutYou believes in, but in the band’s eyes, Muhaiyaddeen’s praises are no less worthy. The idea that the power of God can be seen in every blade of grass is universal, regardless of which God one believes in. What mewithoutYou are trying to get across with It’s All Crazy! is that religions are more similar than one might initially believe, and they’re taking to religion with an open-minded approach.

“Right now is sort of a period, especially in Aaron’s life, where he’s sort of revisiting [religion] and holding himself up to those teachings that there’s no one religion that’s going to be the only way to God,” reveals Weiss. “If you really want to just try to follow a path to God, I don’t believe you need anything beyond [Jesus Christ], but it’s just the idea that you’re fixed on the only way and that everybody else is just completely misguided… that is a sort of obtuse attitude that can hurt your own spirit.”

Listen to “Allah, Allah, Allah”

In fact, one might be thrown off guard when a Christian band repeats the words, “Allah, Allah, Allah,” but mewithoutYou simply doesn’t believe that saying the word “Allah” takes away from their devotion to Jesus Christ. And it shouldn’t be reason for their fans to be alarmed, either.

“I always imagine that if we’re someone worth listening to, and [fans] see that one of the songs is written in Arabic and says “Allah” three times — that they’re listening to that song and reading the lyrics of that song from the perspective that the band that they’re listening to believes in [Christianity] and is very Christian-centered,” Weiss says.

After all, the lyrical content of this disc is not meant to be controversial. It simply reflects where the band members, especially lyricist Aaron Weiss, are at during this point in their lives. Mike Weiss stands firm in his opinion that those who criticize the band for their lyrical content on It’s All Crazy! need to stop and think critically, first and foremost, about themselves.

 

“Whenever you point a finger at somebody else, saying [he] is not a true Christian because [he] has a song called ‘Allah, Allah, Allah,’ on [his] record, you have three fingers pointing back at you. If you want to bring Christianity and Jesus into it, I dont think Jesus would ever put somebody on the chopping block for writing a song like that, honestly… [The record is] meant to do nothing but glorify our Creator.”
– Mike Weiss, of mewithoutYou

 

“Whenever you point a finger at somebody else, saying [he] is not a true Christian because [he] has a song called ‘Allah, Allah, Allah,’ on [his] record, you have three fingers pointing back at you. If you want to bring Christianity and Jesus into it, I don’t think Jesus would ever put somebody on the chopping block for writing a song like that, honestly,” Weiss states. “[The record is] meant to do nothing but glorify our Creator.”

Even with their faith in Christianity, though, mewithoutYou is really just a rock band when it comes down to it.

“I don’t think we’re up there putting on a ministry. We’re not up there trying to come to your city to have church,” says Weiss. “We’re trying to be a band and are expressing ourselves as artists. That’s what every band does.”

MewithoutYou’s new direction surprisingly doesn’t seem to be affecting their concert turnout or the opinions of their fans whatsoever. Their first tour since the release of It’s All Crazy! has had the band playing to sold-out, high-energy shows throughout the country, and these performances are quite different from the band’s previous ones. Their new shows are full of merrymaking, and in some ways, do actually feel like a rock concert rendition of spiritual worship. An eerie hint of finality looms over the all-inclusive, joyous mentality that comes with the disc, and it almost feels like the band is giving one last party to the masses before flying off into higher places. It’s a feeling that has caused the internet to stir with rumors about the band’s imminent break-up, but Mike Weiss says the band has no definitive plans to move in that direction.

What fans should take note of is the idea that a band as passionate as mewithoutYou is likely to thrive on in some form, no matter what. After all, when you’re able to find beauty in blades of grass, it’s easy to be inspired.

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Vivian Hua is the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE magazine, as well as a master of globetrotting for free and evading traditional 9-to-5 work schedules. She enjoys observing human idiosyncrasies perhaps more than anything and is a magnet for homeless people (a joy) and bug bites of all types (absolutely terrible). Marshmallows – while not really food – are one of her favorite foods, especially if they are freezered, stale, or fire-toasted. She doesn’t want to space travel, really, which is an unpopular view these days. Her design work, astrological chart, and other crap can be seen at www.inallthings-patterns.net.

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