Monday, December 21, 2009

Proper Noun of the Week #24: Ryan Weitzel of Exit Stencil Recordings and Mystery of Two

You know how when you move somewhere new and as you meet and get to know new people, the same names keep coming up? That's how it was for me before I ever met Ryan Weitzel (which, I confess, hasn't happened all that many times). When talking about indie rock and Cleveland, his band (Mystery of Two) and recording studio (Exit Stencil) would come up. When talking about art and Cleveland, his former gallery (Miller Weitzel) would come up. When talking about cool institutions in Cleveland, Parish Hall (another venue he had a strong hand in) would always be mentioned. When I finally did meet Weitzel, one day at a show at the Beachland, I felt like I'd known him for years.

That's one of the cool things about doing this blog, too. It makes it possible for me to not only meet interesting new folks, but do these interviews with them and do my tiny little part to draw attention to things that longtime Clevelanders should have known about for years (and, admittedly already do, often enough). Today, Weitzel is the guy I'm able to subject to my Clevo-centric survey and I couldn't be more pleased about it.

1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?

I was born in Kentucky but my family moved back to Northeast Ohio, specifically Westlake, when I was 2. So I've been around since then save for a few years in Athens, Ohio and a few months out west. I started hanging out in Cleveland proper when I was about 16, and moved here in 2003.

2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?

Wow, thats a tough one, I have so many, this will be more of a montage I guess ... cue montage music ...

When I was really young I saw my first concert at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium, that was the Beach Boys playing after an Indians game. My dad would take me there quite often as well so I have fond memories of the stadium as a youth; the size of the place and all the people was exhilarating.

During my late teens, it would have to be the Euclid Tavern and the various shows I saw there.

More recently, it's tied to the different buildings, organizations, and bands I've been a part of. Moving into the Miller Weitzel Gallery, then Parish Hall, and now the Exit Stencil Studio space on Waterloo. Having one of the original meetings with Brandon and Paul about the label is a highlight. Then there's the band memories, all of the record release shows, getting to play with some of the guys there were in Ubu, the Mystery of Two release shows, making a video on a boat and getting stuck!

The list just goes on and on... Sometimes I get caught up in being down on things but taking a moment to reflect on all the great people, places, and events I've been a part of in Cleveland makes me feel very lucky and grateful for the opportunities that I've been presented with here.

3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work and/or art?

Yes, most definitely. Cleveland is a great place but it also provides a wellspring of frustrations and obstacles to overcome, so those experiences and strivings all get stirred into the mix. It's probably most blatant in songs like Strange Town. For the last record I did a lot of driving back and forth between Collinwood and the near west side during the winter, so that area by the Power Plant where all the Sea Gulls hang out became a focal point of inspiration and contemplation. It's a strange scenario to see everyday. Cleveland is full of things like that. I think it helps contribute to that unusual tendency toward the absurd that seems to find its way into some people and art from the area.

4) If it was your birthday and you decided to have a Cleveland-centric blow-out bash, how would you celebrate? That is, what would you do, where would you do it, etc.?

Well, it is my birthday! Not today, but I turn 30 on Dec 31st. It's official. I'm old. And in the spirit of being old I think I've had my share of Cleveland Centric events through the years, er, wait ... what I meant to say is that Mystery of Two would play on Dec 23rd with Bears, Unsparing Sea, Terminal Lovers, The Modern Electric, and All Dinosaurs at the Beachland and then I'd have a month long residency at Arts Collinwood with Mystery of Two and friends Filmstrip, Buried Wires, Freedom, and Founding Fathers. The Arts Collinwood residency is every Saturday in February and also features our individual visual work.

5) Say you had a friend coming in for 24 hours and had never been to Cleveland before. What would you make sure they saw and did?

I've played tour guide for years. The rotation usually involves the Exit Stencil Studio and Waterloo area, Great Lakes, the Lake, and the West Side Market.

6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?

More affordable healthy food that's available late, and people.

7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commissioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?

I get one? One thing!?! OK, fine. Can we time the traffic lights?
To meet Ryan and hear his band, Mystery of Two, play, check out the December Cleveland Bachelor Show of the Month at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern on WEDNESDAY. The get-down gets down at 9, with action in both rooms costing only $7 ... TOTAL! See you there!

No comments: