It Takes a Village to Make an Album: An Interview with The Weepies

Photo by The Weepies

I first heard the heart-wrenching harmonies of The Weepies when I was in middle school and a friend of mine played their song “World Spins Madly On”. I was immediately struck by how the real-life couple’s voices complimented each other over the simple chord progression and slow cello. Made up of Steve Tannen and Deb Talan, The Weepies began making music together in 2001, releasing their first album, “Happiness” in 2004. Now, the couple have five studio albums, three kids, and are headed out on tour next month.

Steve Tannen took some time to talk with The Siskiyou about their upcoming tour and what the duo have been up to since their last album, “Sirens”, was released in 2015. With no plans to release a new album in the near future, Tannen is feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing. “I’m really happy to have a career and I’m pretty excited to always work when I can,” shared Tannen.  One song on their latest record that stuck out to me in particular was their cover of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly.” Tannen explained that it was an unplanned cover as the creation of “Sirens” was more unique than their past works.

The other half of The Weepies, and Tannen’s wife, Deb Talan, had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing treatment and was unable to travel to record new songs. “We recorded in Iowa where she was getting treatment,” explained Tannen. “I called up every hero that I knew or could get in touch with, to help us put together a record. Everyone was so phenomenal [and] we had this [remote] super group together of amazing musicians.” Tannen would send recordings of himself and Deb to these musicians who would then record their parts and send the pieces back. “I just kept sending them songs and they kept knocking it out of the park. Eventually, I ran out of songs and we just kept playing in order to get them new music and that’s how that cover happened.”

“Sirens” became a group effort, and “it made us feel really loved,” Tannen said. “It was definitely the most painful [album] to make. We didn’t know if Deb was going to be ok or not.” Throughout all of this however, the couple were overwhelmed with the kindness of their friends and fellow artists who took the time to work on this album with them. Tannen shared that the biggest lesson he learned from this experience was that, “People are really generous, you just have to ask for help…I’m still bad at it. I don’t know what it is about [humans] that make us think that we should do it all alone, but that’s definitely part of my character…I think the record’s really good and a lot of that has to do with us not being available to micro-manage it.”

This record proves it takes a village to raise a child, and you can hear the amount of love and care these artists put into it. Although The Weepies will not be accompanied by any of these musicians, the duo will be designing an intimate and nostalgic tour. With over 150 songs in their catalogue, The Weepies will be creating a night of reflection as they take the audience through their past works. The duo will be performing at the SOU Music Recital Hall on Saturday, March 28th.

Click here to purchase tickets.
Tickets: $32 Reserved/ $15 Student
(student tickets must be purchased at the OCA Box Office with appropriate ID)

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