Updated: Jul 18, 2018
Believe it or not, Deb Tablan and Steve Tannen wrote songs together the first night they met after a few glasses of wine and a failed navigation attempt. Little did they know, this was just the beginning for the indie band, The Weepies.
Tannen describes the dating scene of that time the “anti-tinder." “You know when
Photo via Facebook you’re comfortable with someone. Once your pheromones are given, you’re totally fine. We stayed in touch and started touring together a little bit and writing together some more. We were both dating other people, and that made it easier to musically be friends.” Until.....
That friendship blossomed into a relationship, which turned into a marriage, three kids, a mortgage, a minivan, and seven records. This April, the duo is kicking off their 10th anniversary tour for the 2008 record, Hideaway.
“I was like, ‘How are we going on a nostalgia tour already? That’s so crazy,’” said Tannen. “But, I will just take it as the blessing that it is. Not everyone gets to do this. It’s great that it meant something to peoples’ lives, and they’d like to say hello again.”
Apparently their music means something to A LOT of people -- The Weepies have sold over a million records. Although the pair are veterans to the music industry, preparing for the tour is still daunting and tedious. “We were just arguing and ringing our hands about the tour coming up, and
Photo via Facebook that’s because we are nervous,” he said. “We are simply always trying to create the best moment we can, and you never feel like you’re going to get it done.”
Tannen told us that on this tour, they're bringing their original drummer and their best friend/bassist. Usually, it's just the two of them on stage. Once you add a crew, bus, and a light show into the equation, there’s definitely more pressure.
“There’s 22 cities and all of the shows are big,” he said. “We basically do everything ourselves anyway. Then the last two tours, it was just me and Deb in the minivan with the kids. To be honest, for me, it’s more fun in the minivan. I like people, but I don’t need to flirt and drink. I want to chill with the kids and go back to the Holiday Inn pool.”
Next, he discussed the unavoidable cycle that musicians face: write, record, tour, repeat. However, with having three children, the couple home schools, throwing in another challenge into the mix.
The pair did break the cycle with their record, Hideaway that was released in 2008, featuring hits like “Can’t Go Back Now” and “Wish I Could Forget.” So, according to Tannen, it would make sense for trouble to arise during the highly anticipated tour (that's coming 10 years late -- it's okay we don't judge here). “We were sort of in a struggle mode,” he reflected. “And for 12 years, we weren’t. Not that there weren’t huge struggles, I mean Deb had cancer and premature babies—so yeah, of course we struggle but Photo via Facebook
as far as getting up and playing and writing, we had sort of figured out a groove, and that groove has been harder lately…Robert Fripp, who is a great guitarist, talked about persisting and failure, and persisting and success. He’s right. You have to keep going no matter what you’re doing and then you get somewhere.”
The Weepies haven’t released music since their 2015 album, Sirens. The pair has been writing and recording but are more focused on the tour ahead. Tannen discussed that at this point in his life, finding subject matter is more challenging. “Getting up and writing is different than when I was 23 because there’s so many well-worn paths at this point in my writing that I’m not interested in. There’s a lot of baggage, and I want to get rid of that and get to the good stuff, and that’s hard to do.”
Nothing that’s worth it is easy, right? Tannen recalled a show where not everything went as planned. “We did a show at Town Hall in New York City, sort of a legendary venue that I grew up going to and I was probably the most nervous for that of any show over the last ten years,” he said. “We went out there,
Photo via Facebook and we tried something new with that show, and it didn’t work for part of the it. After the show, all my old buddies from New York were there, and they’ve been coming to see me for 15 years. The best comment I got was, ‘You know, Steve? There’s always the element that you’re going to fall of the high-wire at your shows and die, and I appreciate that.’ I was like okay, that’s totally true. At least, it’s not boring."
We're not sure how one of their shows could be boring anyway. There’s something about the feel-good music that just puts you in a great mood. “Gotta Have You” is a jam, even if you listen to it when you’re feeling sad and lonely (yes, that's us). We ~may~ have mentioned our lonesomeness in the interview. We agreed that we should make an app for Weepies fans to meet. He came up with the headline: “The Weepies shows are great to meet other people who are socially awkward.”
Maybe what keeps The Weepies going is that they don’t return to the hustle and bustle of a city at the end of the tour. Before having kids, Tannen mentioned that he and Talan would live out of their car or rent a place month to month. Now, they call Iowa City home, and his only complaint is that there are no direct flights out of Iowa.
“It helps us in terms of having a stable life, which I think most artists do not. So, we will see if that helps creatively. I don’t really know. We’ve been here five years, but it feels good to have a home.”