Made up of four funny guys, The Undone Sweaters is the band that you’ve been waiting to hear. Actually, they’re not really they’re own band – they’re a Weezer tribute band. The number two Weezer tribute band in Brooklyn to be exact. They also have a web series. Made up of Jim Tews, Andrew Short, Reid Faylor, and Danny Tamberelli, The Undone Sweaters have performed throughout New York and, more recently, San Francisco Sketchfest.
Their web series -- written by Tews, Short and Faylor – is currently in the second season and features the introduction of their bassist played by Tamberelli. All four of these guys have a career in comedy with Tews appearing on television (Louie, Last Comic Standing) and festivals; Short performing at a multitude of big festivals (SXSW and Sketchfest); Faylor appearing in several short films and being a scientist; and Tamberelli from your childhood (All That, The Adventures of Pete and Pete) as well as games (GTA V) and podcasts (The Adventures of Danny & Mike). I recently had a chance to catch up the four of them before they went to San Francisco Sketchfest.
First and foremost, who is the number one Weezer tribute band and when will you overtake those sorry punks?
Jim: We heard they were somewhere in Brooklyn, and apparently they’re full-time musicians. We’ve never met, but when we do…
Reid: I don’t really think of ourselves as a Weezer tribute band, as much as a band that—purely by happenstance—only plays Weezer.
Andrew: As far as I’m concerned, Weezer is the only band on the planet, so I don’t officially recognize any other bands.
Danny: To quote the bible, “first is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the hairy chest” I think that sums it up. The real question is; who's the hairy Weezer tribute and do they shave to conceal their identity?
How did you all come to form the group?
Jim: I feel like the group formed us, really.
Andrew: The spirit of punk rock called us. Our fate was set before we were born.
Reid: Many hands work the loom, but only one cuts the thread.
Danny: A Brooklyn music venue forced them to have a bassist. The booking agent for said venue hired me for $75 and free bar tab that night. Then it was so powerful that I now I pay them to stay in the band.
Why turn a tribute band into a comedy web series?
Danny: Two words; craft services.
Jim: It just seemed like the next logical step, you know? Serialized comics become TV shows, Novels become movies, and tribute bands become web series.
Andrew: We want to share our journey with the rest of the world. It gives us a chance to develop our characters more so that our fans can get to know us better and, in turn, know Weezer better.
Reid: That and show off our young bods.
How has season two grown when compared to season one?
Andrew: I think we’ve overcome our fear of playing in public, so we can focus more on coming together as a band. Both music-wise and spiritually.
Jim: We’re afraid of different stuff now, and we’re figuring out what it really means to rock.
Reid: The two seasons have the same number of episodes—in that way, we really haven’t grown at all.
Danny: They started using SAG actors
The show moves at a very quick, methodical pace. Episodes are short, cuts are quick and the jokes fly fast. Is that a factor of tight writing and editing or do you guys give yourselves a chance to play around for a few takes on set?
Jim: We put a lot into the writing, and keeping it tight. Then our director and editor, Adam Wirtz, makes it even tighter. We definitely give ourselves room to improvise on set though.
Andrew: We go through rounds and rounds of revisions to make sure we don’t waste any time. Adam Wirtz is definitely a huge contributing factor to that. He’s our ghost writer. We play around with lots of takes on set. Some of our favorite scenes happened in the moment.
Danny: I'm trying to be faster in everything. Lunching. Getting from point A to point B, aka speeding. Sex. You name it, I'm trying to be faster at it. I tried to bring that work ethic to the band.
Reid: Weirdly, the jokes are some of the final pieces to get added to an episode. We care more about getting the story and pace tight in the script, so it’s not really about “oh, let’s get to this joke” as much as “so how quickly does the doll turn into a man?”
Season two is adding in a few characters in Dave Hill, Danny Tamberelli and Jared Logan that look to shake up the dynamic of the group. Was this meant as a test of sorts to give the group character arcs or just for the sake of some story?
Andrew: Everything we do is for the sake of the story. We typically write the episodes before having anyone in mind. Danny is an amazing musician and a super funny comedian. It just worked out that he agreed to play with us and it stuck. We’re happy to have him on board.
Jim: Yeah, we wanted to see what would happen when the band kind of left their safe space. And as the stories came together, we were able to bring in some really funny friends.
You’re all pretty well versed in terms of comedy. Does being in a tribute band take time away from getting in front of a mic?
Jim: I love playing music too much to cut it out of my schedule just so I can do a few more standup spots. And playing Weezer for a bar full of drunks is way better than trying to get them to laugh at your jokes.
Andrew: I’ve played music since I was seven, so I always prefer music over anything else. I don’t think of it as a give-and-take.
Danny: It's been hard, but there's only so many 90's nostalgia gigs a year. Music is my first love and I get to fingerblast my bass Blondie a lot. She's never satisfied.
Bands like Tenacious D have changed the way audiences can enjoy real music along with amazing jokes. Do you prefer to keep music and comedy separate (like performing a set then going into a comedy bit then back to music) or are they their own separate entities?
Reid: To me, I think they complement each other well. We riff and cajole between songs, and jump around and sneer and scream while we play, which isn’t funny per se, but it’s certainly funnier than standing in place. The comedy fills the cracks in the punk.
Jim: Most crowds are pretty responsive to both the comedy and the music. It’s just a matter of making sure the crowd knows we’re going to play well. It seems like once they realize that, they give us license to talk between songs and goof around.
Andrew: We think of the music first. We do bits between the songs but we don’t parody any Weezer during our live shows, actually. We’ve written some original songs about how hardcore it is to be punks, but we wouldn’t make fun of Weezer. We do play Steely Dan, though, so that’s fair game.
Danny: If Frank Zappa could do it, we can do it too! Seriously though, I think we work well all together because the spirit of Weezer lives in all of us and we all know what a sense of humor Rivers has developed over his career.
Is this your first time at Sketchfest? What’s it like to perform at such a large event compared to tinier places like a bar in New York?
Jim: It’s our first time at the fest as a band. We had a great turnout for our show. Turns out a lot of people like comedy and Weezer.
Andrew: This was our first time. It was one of the most fun shows we’ve ever done.
Reid: It made my tummy hurt beforehand, but afterwards I felt better.
Danny: I've been performing at SF Sketchfest the last 4 years, but this was my first rock show there. Having performed and toured with 98degrees in 1999, I'm used to the crowds but not the adoration that happens at a TUS show. That's short for, The Undone Sweaters.
Will there be other originals to join the likes of Dangerfuck?
Jim: We’ve got a lot more in us. So there’ll be more originals. The world needs us right now, for sure.
Andrew: Oh you just wait.
Reid: I am winking.
Danny: F to the Yeah!!
Final question: who goes harder when it comes to playing: Jim, Danny, Andrew or Reid?
Andrew: Definitely me.
Reid: I’m the hard boy.
Danny: I'd have to go with myself on that one.