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“Not Built For 9 to 5′s”: Hard Work, DIY and the Steady Rise of Into It. Over It.

On his song “No Good Before Noon,” Evan Weiss proclaims that he isn’t “built for 9 to 5’s.” He tried living in the working world earlier in his 20’s, holding normal jobs while playing music on the side. In order to fend off an impending sense of creative complacency in 2007, he started writing songs on his own under the moniker Into It. Over It., crafting melodic post-hardcore gems inspired by the late 90’s New Jersey emo scene grew up with before relocating to Chicago. After going on a European tour along with now disbanded twinkly punk act Grown Ups in 2009, however, he returned home only to find his employer went out of business. Faced with the option to either find a new job or go back on tour, he chose to hit the road and stay there as long as possible.

With this all-or-nothing approach to his craft, the 27-year-old Weiss has now established himself as one of the hardest working individuals in the punk community, touring relentlessly and handling all the guitar, bass and lead vocal duties on his records himself. This is made more impressive considering his total recorded output over the past four years totals up to over 80 songs, spread out across a number of LP’s, EP’s and splits with Koji and Everyone Everywhere. The creative process for his breakthrough project 52 Weeks saw Weiss recording a song a week for an entire year and posting them online, catching the attention of No Sleep Records who later released the complete package as a double CD set. Since then the buzz surrounding Into It. Over It. has grown considerably, due not only to the novel nature of the album but also because of the sheer quality of the songs Weiss produced in that time. Now out in support of his first actual studio full-length, Proper, he’s currently kicking off a year packed with high profile tours and shows little sign of slowing down.

When confronted with the choice to either pursue music or look for more ordinary work, it’s equally possible Weiss could have opted to stick with the daily grind. In this alternate reality, nothing in the above paragraph would have ever happened. This thought isn’t lost on him, and he has no apparent regrets about giving up material comforts in favor of musical fulfillment.

“That was probably the best decision I ever made,” said Weiss over the phone while driving to a show in Iowa. “If I had gotten another job, or if I had came home from Europe and still had a job, I don’t know if I’d be in the same place now.” He later continued, “You have to give up everything to discover that you can do it. You can’t decide to start touring full time and decide you have reservations about ‘Oh, maybe I want to keep my stuff.’ No, it’s more like you have to be willing to sell everything you own.”

In contrast to 52 Weeks, the creation of Proper came about much more quickly, but not without presenting new challenges of its own. While Weiss has had plenty of experience recording studio albums with his previous bands (The Progress and Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start) and has been obscenely prolific as Into It. Over It., the record marked the first time he had ever attempted to write a cohesive LP on a deadline more or less on his own. Written over the course of two single month-long periods between tours and recorded over a 15 day stretch of ten hour days at Black Lodge Studios with producer Ed Rose (Touche Amore, Coalesce), the intensity of operating with such a condensed creative process took a mental and physical toll on Weiss.

“I was completely out of my mind for like, a month before and for the two weeks we were there,” said Weiss, laughing. “When we got home I felt like I’d given birth and I just kind of laid on my couch for two days straight and didn’t do anything. I was completely burned out and not making sense and slurring my speech.”

Those grueling efforts paid off dividends however, with Proper being met with critical acclaim and finding its way onto a number of critics year-end lists. Like previous Into It. Over It. releases, it bears a strong resemblance to influential acts like The Get Up Kids and Piebald, combining Midwestern earnestness, layered riffage and hook-ridden melodies. Written and recorded with drummer Nick Wakim (who also plays guitar in CSTVT and drums with Weiss in their side project Stay Ahead Of The Weather), the aim was to make a record that sounded like a band jamming in a room despite essentially being a solo act. To this end, they can each count Proper as a success; the production sounds remarkably organic, and Weiss cites the tones Rose was able to help him capture as a particular point of pride on the record.

As of this writing, Weiss is currently on the road promoting Proper on the “Where’s The Band?” tour, a package which features prominent frontmen Ace Enders (The Early November), Anthony Raneri (Bayside), Chris Conley (Saves The Day), Dustin Kensrue (Thrice) and Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids) playing solo acoustic sets. Into It. Over It.’s place on such a bill is both fitting (in that Weiss typically plays live as a one-man acoustic act) and ironic (since he technically never had a band to begin with), but that’s aside the point. His inclusion as a relatively new face alongside established frontmen from some of the most influential acts in his genre of the past decade speaks to his caliber as a songwriter, as well as to the notion that his music wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the Vagrant Records roster circa ten years ago. While Weiss was humbled to have been asked to join such company, the context of the package should also find him at home in his element; he’s used to playing on his own while sharing bills with more raucous punk bands.

“I’m really stoked to be a part of it,” said Weiss. “I’m really stoked to meet the people that I haven’t met and share a van with them for a month, or three weeks. The shows will be really fun, and what’s cool also is the people coming to the shows will know what they’re getting into. It’s not going to be like, me walking up on stage with an acoustic guitar and people being like, ‘What?’ They know they’re coming to an acoustic show, and they know they’re going to see five people play and it’s going to be a similar vibe all night.”

While this provides a setting where Into It. Over It. sticks out like less of a sore thumb, it’s not hard to imagine that some sense of intimidation may still set in, if not from crowds but by virtue of being on such an illustrious bill. Weiss has found his own way of standing his ground in similar situations before though, as he explained while recalling a conversation he had with an audience member after opening for Chicago legend Mike Kinsella.

“I played a 35 minute set, and [this kid] comes up to me afterward and says, ‘Listen man, I was counting during your set.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, counting what?’ And he said, ‘You said f*** 48 times during your set,” said Weiss. “I was really pumped on that kid. I was like, ‘That rules! That rules, thank you so much for doing that. Now I have a gauge to know what my swearing is like when I play.” It’s worth noting Weiss said this with a kind of laugh that immediately defused any sense that he may secretly be an angry or otherwise foulmouthed person, neither of which appears true. When under pressure however we all find ways to deal, and when on stage and outnumbered, for Weiss that includes “swearing and telling stories about how I’m a derelict.”

From here, the future for Into It. Over It. looks bright. Following the Where’s The Band? outing, Weiss will be joining up with The Wonder Years, Polar Bear Club, Transit, The Story So Far and A Loss For Words on the Glamour Kills tour, another package featuring no small amount of acclaimed peers. It has been a long journey to get to this point since losing his day job, and one that has probably involved more work than any other career ever would. After all his touring commitments booked thus far wrap up in the summer, however, Weiss thinks it might be time to give himself a rest.

“I don’t want Into It. Over It. to become that thing where I dread doing it,” said Weiss. “I want it to stay fun.”

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