The first thing that stands out about Murfreesboro’s Feable Weiner is their sense of style. The local pop-punk quartet have wicked T-shirt designsone a knockoff of a hot-pink Florida resort, and one a cross between a bowling alley logo and the old Sun Records emblemand their first official LP, Dear Hot Chick, folds out like a Trapper Keeper notebook. Singer-guitarist Atom Weiner says that the band members design their merchandise themselves. “Who would know better what a Feable Weiner design would look like than a Feable Weiner?” he observes.
The second thing that stands out about Feable Weiner is their wit. Musically, the band play the kind of melodic, energetic guitar-pop popular among modern alterna-teens and young collegiates, and a lot of the bands they run with have the personal touch and rabid fan base associated with the “emo” movement. (When asked what their feelings are about emo, the band shrug off the question, saying only, “We play fun music.”) But FW drew attention early on for their punny self-released single “Attorneying Me On,” and their current set list sports a tribute to actress Claire Forlani and more wordplay-heavy tracks like “Moron, Less Off,” “Handjabs” and “San Deem Us Ready.”
The video for “San Deem Us Ready” features the band rocking out in tuxedos at a gym populated by buxom women in tight clothing. It’s a goofy clip, but a killer song, full of tongue-twisting lyrics, cooing harmonies and jackhammer rhythms in constant flux. It would be neither surprising nor unjust to see the video in heavy MTV rotation soon.
If that happens, thanks will be due in part to Feable Weiner’s label, Doghouse Records, the onetime home of bands like The All-American Rejects and The Get Up Kids. The group’s version of their signing story goes as follows: “We had gotten wind that Dirk, renowned industry mogul and the owner of Doghouse Records, had family in Murfreesboro. We knew that he was scheduled to fly in on his private company jet. While the jet sat unmanned for the hours Dirk was in town, we snuck our mini amps and hot stix for drums onto the jet to prepare for the three-hour set that would inevitably change our lives forever. He was so impressed that he signed us on the spot and flew us all to Jamaica for a three-day signing party extravaganza.”
The true story is both more mundane and more encouraging: It’s all about Feable Weiner grinding it out on the road without grinding down what makes them unique. The band’s Web site lists an upcoming tour with cities in place but no venues listedthey count on their booking agent to scrounge up a place to play by the time they arrive. Prior to the acquisition of a booking agent, Feable Weiner booked tours themselves, staying on the road for nine months of the year in an unheated van, scraping ice off the inside of their windshield.
Two solid years of touring, networking and self-promotion have garnered the band an avid following, and over that time, they’ve tightened up to an amazing degree, so much so that their cute little pop songs have grown into full-on amusement-park rides, with sudden turns and distractingly bright colors. Atom’s boyish face sits atop a lanky man’s body, and that dichotomy of adolescence and maturity pulls at his bandmates as well, from guitarist Josh Weiner’s floppy stage moves to the scissor-sharpness of bassist Benji Weiner and drummer Jeff Weiner.
The question is whether an act as polished as Feable Weinerequally inspired by Ben Folds Five (“one of the best bands and songwriters of our time,” they say) and Rocket From the Crypt (“full-on, brash, balls-deep rock ’n’ roll without any excuses”)can make it with a name they chose when they were impetuous teenage punks. Atom answers: “It’s a name, like a shoe. It fits, in that as members of a band called Feable Weiner, we really can’t expect to take ourselves too seriously.”