mewithoutYou: Let It Go

 
It's just common sense, when someone's throwing it away to eat that as long as it's still healthy, rather than going and buying something new. It's more just me being a cheapskate, knowing I can ride my bicycle and get around a lot cheaper than putting gas in a car and maintaining it... It's not an ideology that I would want to push on anybody... I'm happy that my brother has a cell phone so I can borrow it right now. And I'm obviously happy that many people have houses so I have so many places to sleep.

-Aaron Weiss

 
What's a 'Freegan'?

The press on their environmental leanings initially piqued this writer's interest in the band. Almost every article you read about mewithoutYou touches on, if not focuses on, the band's biodiesel bus and Aaron Weiss' lifestyle, which is often described as being "freegan." But these sorts of focuses can be somewhat misleading. Yes, the band tours in a veggie bus (now their second bus in five years), and yes Aaron does not own a home, cell phone, car or computer, and yes, he will eat discarded food. But none of these facts, however admirable or interesting, amount to an ethos the band wishes to espouse.

Aaron Weiss
"It's just common sense, when someone's throwing it away to eat that as long as it's still healthy, rather than going and buying something new," Aaron says of his embrace of simplicity. "It's more just me being a cheapskate, knowing I can ride my bicycle and get around a lot cheaper than putting gas in a car and maintaining it. It's a lot less to worry about. Or I can sometimes find free food or I can sometimes sleep on my friends' couches or at my parents' house rather than having my own house, or like right now, borrow my brother's cell phone to have a conversation. It's not an ideology that I would want to push on anybody or tell people, 'Hey, it's wrong for you to have money or wrong for you to spend your money or to have your own things.' I'm happy that my brother has a cell phone so I can borrow it right now. And I'm obviously happy that many people have houses so I have so many places to sleep. So, it's not something I'm trying to spread or convince other people of."

"[But] people hear that there is someone that is relatively well to do, someone who could afford their own food but chooses to eat out of a trashcan instead [and] that's a little weird," he continues. "A lot of the interviews that we've been doing recently, that's been one of the first questions, 'What's with you being freegan?' and that's a term I don't think I've ever used to describe myself. I do buy things. I buy food, and I do sometimes buy all kinds of things. You need underwear and socks and toothpaste, dish soap and all kinds of stuff [laughs]. So, I don't know what it's like to be a freegan because I'm not one."

"Ultimately we are trying to just get our music out there and make a living, and you can't blame anybody for wanting to do that," Michael says, putting their decision to have a biodiesel bus in a similar perspective. "I don't think there's anything wrong with that, and you do have so many people you are transporting around in that bus, so it's not like that big heavy guilt of just driving around that Hummer as your personal vehicle. So, even if we were to run diesel all the time, the guilt of that would sort of be offset, in that we are ten people in that bus traveling. It's not as horrible when you think about the per person effect. And there's also the fact that we are saving a lot of money; we aren't buying as much diesel."

Aaron Weiss
"I don't know, it's really just a way," ponders Michael, pausing before continuing. "We aren't trying to make a huge statement you know? I don't want to. It's more of just a personal thing for us, but we get asked a lot of questions about it. It's gotten to the point where we had a manager that really wanted to work this angle of our story, that as a band that we have this bus, everyone will hear about it and it will be a media kind of thing. It's not really what we want to be known for. It's kind of funny but I guess at the end of the day that's what people know you for. They chose to write about you and the reasons to want to check you out. If they aren't the reasons that you wish they were then you just have to sort of accept it, but we didn't start a band so we could tour in a veggie bus; we started a band to make music. The veggie bus is a part of getting us to the show to do what we love to do. [It's] definitely kind of a character of its own, 'cause it's an old beat up bus. We made a shirt with all the people that have been involved with us, the main friends along the way, and yeah, the bus is on that shirt, but just as a part of that, just the fact it's been our home. We're not trying to promote any kind of awareness by having it; that's taken care of itself."

The bus is just a part of the mewithoutYou extended family, and if there's a specific value at mewithoutYou's core, on the most basic level, it would seem to be family – both literally, and in a philosophical sense. When it comes to the Brothers Weiss, "That relationship we've had has always been a big part of the band," Michael explains. "He's been my right-hand man and I've been his, basically since high school," Michael says of he and Aaron's relationship. "We've always had the same friends and we went to the same college together and then I joined his band. And every step of the way he's been my best friend. We've been to the point of no return where like it seemed like we would never talk to each other again, all the way back to him being the only person that I could trust with my deepest feelings. He's been everything to me in-between those two points, which is as much as this guy has experienced thus far, the whole spectrum."

Continue reading for more on mewithoutYou...


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