After she was born in 1988, Natalie Mering – who records under the Flannery O’Connor-inspired name Weyes Blood (after the book “Wise Blood”) — was content to believe that her father Sumner was a mild-mannered born again Christian. Only gradually did it dawn on her that dad had lived a wild previous existence as a late-‘70s, Laurel Canyon blues-rocker, fronting an Elektra-signed group called Sumner. “Once I found out about his checkered past, he gave me some really good advice,” she says. “He said, ‘The entertainment world can be a dark place, so don’t fully trust your manager, or your producer, either.’”
What musical wisdom did your dad impart?
He taught me how to play bar chords. I think the first chord I learned was E minor, because that’s super-easy to play. Then he taught me how to play chords on the piano. But for the most part, I was more self taught and driven, because he wanted to do solos and scales and things, and I didn’t really have the patience for that. I was more interested in making weird chords and doing my own thing. So he never directly taught me, but he certainly showed me some fundamentals.
What did you experience first-hand?
Well, my dad wanted me to benefit from the lessons he’d learned the hard way, but I learned some similar lessons myself, about how you shouldn’t trust anybody. And that there are people who just want to get paid, even though they have no idea what your music’s all about. That’s why as a musician, especially on my latest record, “Front Row Seat to Earth,” I kind of keep it small and DIY. And I have a new EP out with Ariel Pink, too, called “Mering Rosenberg,” for our two last names. One side is “Tears on Fire,” the other is “Morning After.”
The “Front Row” cover shot is you lounging on the Salton Sea, a metaphor for humanity’s approaching extinction, right?
Yes. And the Salton Sea was the beginning of this album’s process. It’s a completely desolate wasteland, full of mass extinction, brought on by humankind. So what do I think is coming? It’s interesting, because I actually took the time to watch Steve Bannon’s documentary, “Generation Zero,” just because he’s such a hated person and I just had to know where he was coming from. I remember when I was growing up, people used to say, “God is dead,” and I thought, “How horrible, how dark!” But I never thought that there would come a day when we would say, “Science is dead.” But I’m rooting for the elasticity of the planet, hoping it can sustain a certain amount of life. Even if it’s just us, the rats, the cockroaches and the pigeons.
IF YOU GO
Where: Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 21
Tickets: $13 to $15
Contact: (415) 826-7005, www.ticketfly.com