Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie plays rock and roll music.
“You’ve gotta put the ‘roll’ in there,” he specifies. “We don’t consider ourselves a rock band, we’re a rock and roll band. We’re going back to the art form closer to its inception. Genre terms are confusing and pointless in a lot of ways, but it’s important that if people say ‘rock’ they say ‘rock and roll’ when it comes to us.”
Why is it important? In Weiner’s opinion, there’s a big difference between the two. “Rock lost the boogie part of it; the dance part of it—that it had to have a beat you could move your body to.”
Both rock—and rock and roll—have “ferociousness, aggression, and volume,” he explains, but when rock lost the roll it lost the groove. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown; those guys you can dance to, so it’s rock and roll. He includes some of his favorite bands, the Rolling Stones and Revolution-era Prince, to that group.
The change, in his view, came when The Beatles stopped touring and became exclusively a recording band. They influenced the rest of music to such an extent that it shifted entirely away from short, danceable singles to cohesive LPs.
“It opened up people’s palate to so many different ideas, but it changed the culture,” he says. “So what we’re trying to do with Low Cut Connie is treading backward to the era just before that.”
That philosophy is clearly resonating with people. Former President Barack Obama included their song “Boozophilia” on his Spotify Summer Playlist in 2015, for example. Weiner says they weren’t told in advance; they found out when they woke up to “about 10,000 messages from friends and family.” They also played the VIP Party before a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Elton John regularly features them on his radio show, even interviewing Weiner on the air.
Despite all the attention and praise, Weiner seems grounded to the point of pessimistic about his prospects.
“I sort of know that Low Cut Connie isn’t going to get a top 10 hit on pop radio,” he explains. “It’s just not in the cards. Rock is no longer a big commercial force anymore. You’d think that would be very depressing for me but it’s actually liberating because there’s less pressure. We get to do our own thing and not worry about the trends.”
As for why it’s not a commercial force, Weiner has a theory on that.
“There was a time when jazz was the premiere commercial and artistic music,” he says. “It was the most viable and vibrant art form in popular music. Then it became extremely commercialized, very popular, a little watered down. Then it became a little schmaltzified. Then it was everywhere: It was on Broadway, it was in Vegas. Then there were jazz schools, then you could major in it in any college in America. The edge went away.
“What happens with music, it’s supposed to be, initially, an art form that’s new and that your parents hate. This was true for rock and roll; parents hated it. Fast-forward to the last 15 years, there’s many rock musicals on Broadway, there’s School of Rock. Parents grew up on it and push it on their kids. So the youth are going to go in a different direction. They’re going to listen to something that’s theirs. That’s the way of the world and that’s OK.”
Regardless of commercial appeal, though, there’s still a place for rock. And there’s still a place for rock and roll. So for those who still follow the old ways—who want short, raucous, danceable songs from a piano-driven rock and roll band—there will still be bands like Low Cut Connie.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.