The Sweater Band
Members: Tony Spera, vocals and rhythm guitar; Brady Fantasie, lead guitar and vocals; Ben Garner, bass and vocals; Ken Newcomer, drums and vocals
Who we talked to: Newcomer
Why did you decide to make a Weezer tribute group? I was in another cover band playing at local bars . . . (that) broke up. That band did, like, four cover songs from Weezer. I've always been a big Weezer fan, so that's where I got the idea to do a Weezer tribute band.
Do you remember the first time you heard a Weezer song? I guess the first time I heard them was when they were getting mainstream radio airplay with "Buddy Holly" and "Say It Ain't So," back in the good MTV days . . . in the early '90s. I've always been a fan ever since. I'm . . . fond of their recent album. They have three albums . . . that they call "Weezer." They go by the different colors on the albums. The most recent one is their "Red Album."
Who else did you recruit to be in the band with you? I put out a bulletin through Craigslist . . . to see if anyone else would be interested in it. A guy named Tony Spera . . . was originally from the Wilkes-Barre area and recently moved to Lancaster. He was the first one to respond, so he became my rhythm guitar player. He's real excited to make the (trip) back and forth so we can practice. The other two guys in the band . . . were in a band that I was in eight or nine years ago. We did a Weezer song back then. I knew those guys were big fans. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to approach them and see if they were into it.
How did you decide on the name? After our first practice . . . we were sitting around at a pizza place up here in Red Lion just talking. I think a lot of tribute bands usually relate their name to a song track or an album name. We had a couple ideas and our one guitarist Brady, he just blurted out, "How about The Sweater Band?" (It relates to) the song "Undone," which is also called "The Sweater Song." We're going to go with it and probably dress the part, too.
Are you guys going to wear the Rivers Cuomo glasses, too? Well, of course, yes. I don't know about all of us, but at least some of us will have our thick, black-framed glasses. You've got to look like Buddy Holly.
When you're a tribute band, is it challenging to make the songs really sound like Weezer? We have that kind of pressure where you've got to be as close as possible. We don't know if we should be, you know, close to their recordings . . . or their live act. We're going to try to find a happy medium. I think another challenge with a tribute band is that we're not going to be able to play only here in York. We're going to need to branch out a little bit hopefully into the Maryland music scene, Philadelphia and Western Pennsylvania music scene.
Have you ever seen Weezer live? Unfortunately, no. I just read . . . that they have another North American tour in the works for this summer, so, believe me, I'll find a way to get there. With today's technology, though, you're lucky enough to go on YouTube . . . and see a lot of live footage.
Have you done any research into what bands influenced Weezer's sound? I know they were largely influence by Nirvana (and) Radiohead, and they do a couple of their covers (during) live shows. I think we plan on doing the same. We were going to kind of shoot for what we've seen that they've done on recent tours. If you're going to hit a Radiohead song, I guess ("Creep") would be it. As for Nirvana, I know in Weezer's recent tours . . . one (song) that I know stood out was "Silver."
Have you noticed anything cool that Weezer does on stage? Of course, I've got my eye on the drummer. I know that on (a few) songs that the drummer . . . grabs the guitar and plays and sings. We're going to try to pull that off, too. The biggest challenge there is that I've never played guitar in my life. I have our singer teaching me the basics.
Are there any other Weezer tribute bands? I have come across a few. Probably the biggest one of the bands in the Atlanta . . . area called El Scorcho. What's really cool about Weezer is (that) they recognize tribute bands (on their Web site.)
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
See The Sweater Band's debut show at 9 p.m. May 2 at the Red Rose Lounge and Restaurant, 5370 Lincoln Highway in Hellam.