Drew Clausen reflects on job loss, parenting and time spent with former drummer Andy Foster

“I’m struggling,” Drew Clausen sings on “Profit/Loss,” one of five songs on the new Weird Brother EP, Fail Fast. “How do we shake this thought process?/Profit and loss, loss and profit.”

Clausen, formerly of Mors Ontologica and Montauk Trash, wrote the song around the time a previous employer closed up shop, and the emotions that job loss brought to the surface are now being felt by a hefty percentage of the population during the current pandemic.

“When someone looks at their P&L sheets, at the end of the day, it's like, ‘Oh, profits are down. We've got to start laying people off,’” Clausen said. “A lot of people are learning that right now, with the rate of unemployment and furlough: What are you worth?”

“Profit/Loss” pairs with “Flawless,” in which Clausen admits to being a work in progress — “making mistakes for all to see.” “Whether it's body image or recovery or accepting who you are, nobody's perfect, nobody's flawless. ... If you told your son or daughter that it’s OK to laugh at yourself, a 10-year-old doesn't hear that message. They're just embarrassed. Well, the same thing goes for a 40-year-old,” he said. “All five songs, they're pretty brutally honest." 

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The EP — officially releasing on Friday, May 1, via Bandcamp, with Weird Brother’s proceeds for the day benefiting We Feed Cbus — is also a snapshot of drummer Andy Foster’s tenure in the local indie-rock act, alongside singer/guitarist Clausen, bassist Steve Barrish, keys player Johnny Riddle and percussionist Dennis Ingle. Foster (also of Room & Board) is no longer playing with Weird Brother, but his time in the band helped kickstart a sonic refresh, which is particularly apparent on the EP’s closing track, “True Love is a Drag.”

“When I played it initially, it was like a Ty Segall song, kind of psych-pop. But when we brought Andy and Dennis together, they changed the whole dynamic of it, because Dennis didn’t have to sit behind a kit. He could play trumpet. He could play electric kalimba. He could play rototoms,” said Clausen, who tapped Jonathan Hape (Room & Board) to record the track at a workshop owned by a bandmate’s relative near Buckeye Lake. “In this workshop, there's all these saws and anything else you'd have in a woodworking shop, and Dennis is picking up saw blades and playing them. So if you listen to the track, there's all these weird sounds that sound like wind chimes; it's actually Andy and Dennis bending saws and banging on them.”

The new songs also arrived around the same time that Clausen’s first daughter was born, and since becoming a parent, the musician has gained a new perspective on his own childhood and the vital role music has played in his life.

“Being a parent is definitely the best thing that can happen to anybody, and I fully get that now. Before kids I would always hear people say that and just think about my own childhood and be like, ‘I hated being a kid,’” he said. “I was just a shitty kid, and I think that was because I was frustrated. I was lucky that Nirvana happened at a perfect time for me. That's the whole reason I picked up a guitar. Up until then, I think I was just so rambunctious, and I couldn't channel that into anything. Music has been that crutch throughout my entire adult life that has always stuck with me. I've had to set it aside a couple of times through periods of change, but it has always come back bigger and better.”

And that job loss from 2018? Clausen has made peace with that, too. “It was the best thing that's ever happened to me,” he said. “Things that I've done that were totally mistakes at the time turned out to be blessings.”