I interviewed musical mastermind Alex Weber of Exist /Wait/Svengahli/bassist luthier/man of many trades and bands. I’ve been too involved in work this year and this month is gonna be slow, so I’ll be able to put in more work on the site starting with this interview. I knew he was a great artist of many talents, but also recently saw he is making his own basses. He also plays standup bass and isn’t just another guy who plays JUST electric bass. I also found out that he wrote all the Svengahli music and had people execute the parts. I mean….what CAN’T he do? Musicians like this I highly appreciate and makes it easier to promote such well rounded talents. I hope our followers enjoy this interview as much as I was excited to get the opportunity!
Alex Weber 2020 Interview
TMR: Knowing you have a few other great bands how do you know what new music suits what band? Exist and Wait aren’t that similar, as is your newer project Svengahli. Everything you’re involved in doesn’t sound alike at all!
It’s kind of just an intuitive thing that gets decided situation to situation. I actually don’t write a lot for those other projects so most of the time it’s an easy decision. I haven’t written anything for WAIT yet since it’s mostly Charlie’s project and Max does most of the writing for Exist so the main thing that has driven my decision making is if what I’m writing leans more in the death metal direction or not. Parts of the two tunes that are on this EP could potentially be used for Exist and WAIT but a lot of the new music that I’ve been working on is much heavier, darker and more death metal than what would fit with those two bands. Because of this, and because there are parts of these tunes that are pretty death metal, I decided to use this music to showcase and present Svengahli as a new project rather than delay things until I finish the full length. Plus I liked these tunes enough that I didn’t want them to just stay on the shelf forever so creating this EP just felt like the right move.
TMR: What influenced the album title and lyrics for “Nightmares Of Our Own Design”?
The title for the album actually came to me when I was on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck to pick me up after my car died haha. Maybe it was an analogy for how much I hate having to pay for car repairs…. But seriously… all of the lyrics on this EP were mostly derived from current events in the real world that I find to be the darkest or most “evil.” To each their own, but I never really gravitated towards any of the gore or sci-fi thats in a lot of the lyrical content of death metal because it never felt that terrifying, unnerving or depressing to me. It’s an aesthetic that I can totally appreciate, like watching Hellraiser or Star Wars, but it never felt like something I wanted to create myself.
TMR: How challenging is it to basically do everything? You wrote every part, including the lyrics as well. Explain to our followers how strenuous and tough it is to tackle so much work on your own!?
Hahah it honestly wasn’t something I ever thought about and it didn’t feel anymore difficult than composing for any other project. Sure, the work load was a LOT bigger than if I was just presenting some riffs to one of my bands but the only thing that felt more difficult about the process was just the amount of time it took to do everything. Just like any other creative venture, if you feel inspired by what you’re working on the workload doesn’t feel as burdensome as it would if you resented what you were doing. Obviously there are frustrating moments along the way, and I can’t tell you how many times I beat my head against a wall because I couldn’t figure something out hahah.. but if you’ve got the drive and desire to create something you’ll find the energy somehow.
TMR: Do you prefer to work by yourself or do you see bringing anyone else into the fold? Random comment: your bass playing on Wormhole’s latest release made that album what it is. Fantastic playing.
I really appreciate that man! That music was a fun challenge for me since I had never really worked on or recorded music like that before. The Wormhole guys pretty much gave me complete creative free rein on writing my parts which made the whole process really inspiring. It was really well written music to begin with so it was pretty easy to hear things I could do with it.
As for collaborations, I’m absolutely into working with other people! I love hearing other’s perspectives and ideas even if it’s with melodies and riffs that I’ve already written. Hearing those different perspectives could cause me to view things in completely new ways and can create layers to the music that I would’ve never thought of otherwise. At the moment I already have a bunch of tunes started for the full length and because of the current situation, I’ll probably just finish the first record myself and then see how the Universe unfolds afterwards. There are people I have in mind already that I’d like to work with, or at least would be the first people that I’d ask, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet.
TMR: Does Svengahli have a live lineup coming or are you keeping this studio based?
As for right now there is no set line up but once we get closer to recording the full length we’ll see if that changes. Given the difficulties of breaking a band and given all of the other projects and gigs I have, I plan to mostly keep this a studio band at least for the near future. I would love to take this music on the road though!
TMR: What are you interested in and involved in outside of music?
Anybody who follows me on social media probably knows that I also build my own basses. I had always been interested and active in repairing and working on my basses but about 6 years ago that started to turn into a desire to build my own. Since then I’ve built around 8 basses and have been recently getting a handful of commissions to build them for other people. Not sure if I want to turn it into something bigger but we’ll see what the future holds!
There are a few other interests that I’m not really able to give as much time to as I used to or would like to anymore like skateboarding or playing hockey, partially because of gigs but also partially because I don’t want to really hurt myself either. I’ll still go skateboarding every once in a while but most of the time way schedule is SO packed that it gets pushed pretty far down on the priority list. Plus I’d feel reeeeeal dumb if I broke my arm right before I had to go on a tour… I’m also SUPER into playing pool and would like to join a league at some point but again, time is ALWAYS the issue. Maybe when I win the lottery I’ll be able to buy a house that I can put a pool table in hahah.
TMR: Explain to our followers at TMR the struggles of a smaller band. Also, what do you enjoy most in regards to being a “small band in the industry?
The biggest problems are always getting your music out to a larger audience and not getting paid enough to be able to create or sustain an active touring/playing schedule. Even though many labels can’t really financially support many bands (especially small ones) anymore they do have access to distributing your music out to interested audiences all over the world. This can be a huge help to getting outside of your local bubble and can help cut through the over-saturation of the internet because it’s being presented by a validated source. However, it’s absolutely not the only way.
Because the money just isn’t there for smaller bands a lot of times, that can mean you might have to turn down tour opportunities because its just not financially worth it to go on a month long tour with a guarantee of $100 or $150 a night. Without any type of support, paying for things like van rentals, merch, hotels, food etc.. on top of losing money from not being at your normal job can just make it sort of out of the question for a lot of bands.
One thing that can be cool about being a smaller band is that the connection with your fans can feel more personal and intimate because you usually have more direct interactions with them. You can get to know some of them on a more personal level which might not happen as much for larger bands. This can still happen with larger bands, but it’s also really inspiring to see positive reactions from people when they discover you. I know how stoked I personally get when I find a new or lesser known band that hits me on a deep level so seeing that reaction in other people is great.
TMR: Who are your favorite bassists past and present?
Most of my favorite bassists are actually bassists outside of the metal world and with a lot of them I’m just as influenced by their compositional voice as their playing. Over the last decade some of the bassists I’ve been the most influenced by are… Drew Gress, Michael Formanek, Larry Grenadier, Evan Brewer, Colin Marston, Steve Di Giorgio, Scott LaFaro, Ray Brown, Charles Mingus, Matthew Garrison, Dominique di Piazza, Gary Willis, Jaco Pastorius, Esperanza Spalding, Victor Wooten, Alex Webster, Sean Malone, Thomas Morgan
You can stream “Nightmares Of Our Own Design” right here!