- Weinland's magic bus.
"I really love acoustic music and adding every layer took a lot of thought for me," Shearer said. "For example, I was sure we weren't gonna have drums and then we ended up adding them. The band wanted to fill out the sound. I was the only one dragging my feet."
Weinland, who will be playing McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend on Wednesday, April 30, started out as a solo acoustic project for Shearer, who at the time, was going by the stage name John Weinland.
As the band grew, the name shrunk.
"There's this thing going on around here (Portland area) where we're scooping up all the kids that were in orchestra and putting them in bands to make the sound more unique," he said. "It brings new tempos, changes, moods or whatever to give it a new and interesting sound."
And having invited comparisons to Neil Young, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake, amongst others, Weinland clearly has a high bar to reach. However, Shearer likes to point out that the band and many of the guest musicians have some success of their own.
Describing the sound as "Northwest Acoustic Chamber Pop Folk" - clearly a genre unto itself- Weinland includes Aaron "Rantz" Pomerantz (dobro, mandolin, bells, pedal steel, accordion, lap steel and others), Rory Brown (bass), Ian Lyles (drums, banjo) and Paul Christensen (piano, keyboards) along with, of course, Shearer.
The album features guest spots from Adam Setlzer (M.Ward, Norfolk and Western) and Rachel Blumberg (M.Ward, Bright Eyes, The Decemberists, Norfolk and Western) which, Shearer said, helps to show where the band is coming from.
Shearer grew up in Montana, moving to Portland in 1997 for college, which he described as a way to get himself to where he wanted to be.
After graduating with a degree in psychology, Shearer spent six years working for ChristieCare, a Portland non-profit that provides treatment for emotionally disturbed children. Many of the songs on the new album, La Lamentor, reflect his last year at this job. Thus the music is lush, but also dark and haunting. In this way, those comparisons to Elliott Smith aren't completely out of bounds.
But Shearer says not to worry; the live show doesn't reflect the somberness of the music.
"We play severe music and care about everything that we're doing and playing and it's music that's about our lives and our relationships. But we're not having a bad time, we're having a great time," he said. "People have said that their favorite part about coming to our shows is that everybody is having fun and it's silly and then we take people on a trip to enjoy that song."
Having now devoted himself to his music full time, Shearer and Weinland are embarking on their longest tour to date - a three-week sojourn across much of the West Coast. After a week at home the band will head out east for their first tour on that coast.
To keep them going, the band will be drinking their very own brand of coffee. A Portland roaster combined his love of Weinland and their shared love of Maker's Mark into a new roast called "Weinmark." The coffee was misted as it cooled with Maker's Mark and the band will be drinking, and, in an interesting bit of merchandising, selling it on their tour.
"It's just so hard to sell a CD nowadays with iTunes," Shearer said. "We're trying out all kinds of different merch right now."
This tour is in support of that CD - their first release with Badman Records. Shearer said it shows a lot of growth from their first self-released album.
"It's a lot more mature. We've done a bit of traveling and we know more musicians that are doing amazing things and that can inspire and teach us," Shearer said. "We're closer to 30 now than we were and we're doing different things and thinking about things differently."
7pm Wednesday, April 30. McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 N.W. Bond St., 382-5174. Free.