By Zach Schepis
Photo from Weed.
Begrudgingly or not, we are all denizens of the digital age. Go online and buy your 0.99 cent mp3, listen to sound clips on a band’s website, or torrent files if you’re of the technologically savvy sort. At the heart of this abacus, however, there is an entirely different and organic renaissance underway. I’m talking about the revival of the album, about artists who are seeking to revitalize the tried and true form. They breathe life into musical tradition by making albums that offer a cohesive experience – starting with the first song and ending with the last. One such band vindicating this sort of musical institution are four-piece Vancouver rockers Weed (yes, you heard that right), who released their September LP Deserve both digitally and on vinyl. Taking influence from noise-rockers like Dinosaur Jr., the band has a penchant for sonic abrasiveness that manages to fuse beautiful and haunting melodies into its inferno of sound. First and foremost these guys care about making a record, something you can throw on the turntable, light up a big one (if you’re into that sort of thing) and lose yourself to. It’s refreshing, and damn it’s good. BTR sits down with Will Anderson, the straight-shooting guitar player, to reflect on their newest release and plans for the future.
Tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind the making of Deserve.
We were, in our minds, overdue for a full-length record. The four of us had been on about six tours and always had these 7″ records with us, which we’re proud of, but there’s something inherently heavier about a big piece of wax, a 12″. So we hit the studio and did the thing in one four-day session down in Redmond, Washington.
What are your backgrounds as musicians?
I’ll try to answer for everyone to the best of my ability. I (vox/guitar) started playing bass after football practice in middle school, then messed around with some crappy pop punk bands in Wisconsin until I graduated and moved to Vancouver, where I first met Kevin. Kevin (guitar) played in a comedy-rock band in high school [in California] called Sexual Congress. He is a very natural guitar player. Bobby (drums) has been playing music in some capacity forever. Most people that I have met are not as good at music as Bobby is. Kind of a genius? We met while playing bass and drums in an early White Poppy incarnation called My Friend Wallis. He has played in one million bands, but currently focuses on an electronic project under the pseudonym Bobby Draino. Hugo (bass) to my knowledge played guitar in some hardcore bands in his hometown of Red Deer, Alberta. He doesn’t like to talk about it much… also he has a really great solo project called You.
Why the band name Weed? I was surprised to find out it hadn’t already been taken.
It’s easy to remember. We’re not the first band to use the name.
What are some of your biggest nonmusical creative influences?
Heartbreak, driving/touring, dissolving friendships, and generally just people treating each other poorly.
We’ve featured a lot of Tune Up artists so far from the Vancouver music scene – White Poppy, Tough Age, and Jay Arner. What’s your relationship like with these talented individuals, and how does it feel to be a part of that community?
As I mentioned early, Bobby and I played in Crystal’s band before it was White Poppy. She’s a wonderful person and I wish I saw more of her. Jarrett [of Tough Age] is a funny guy and we work at competing comic book stores. Jay almost mastered the Weed record and I really like him. I chat with other musicians in Vancouver regularly and I feel like there’s a good vibe between lots of bands, a lot of the scenes seem to interact and intersect, which I really appreciate. Whenever I witness drama within some other cities, it’s weird because there’s like apparently geographic tension between scenes WITHIN the same city and it makes no sense to me. Northside bands don’t play with southside bands or whatever. That doesn’t happen in Vancouver, or at least not to my knowledge. It’s cool.
Album art for Deserve.
What is the songwriting process like for Weed?
Kevin or I write a guitar riff, and build songs and melodies and parts around that. I write all the lyrics.
A lot of people draw comparisons between your sound and bands like Dinosaur Jr. Are you guys fans, or are these comparisons unsound? (No pun intended).
Mega Dino fans, unashamed to say so. One of the first times the four of us hung out together ever, was at a Dino show, the one where they played Bug in its entirety. It’s a memory I cherish to this day.
The vocals on Deserve were some of the most memorable moments for me. How do you go about creating them in the studio?
Can’t remember, sorry (laughs).
It must have felt pretty amazing to find out one of your favorite record stores, the NYC-based Other Music, was recommending listeners to check out your new album.
Other Music was the first record store I ever saw when I was on some field trip in high school. I never thought I’d see my band’s LP there. It was really cool. Ian, who co-runs our label Couple Skate, recently moved there and took a picture of the little write-up sticker. Made me tear up a bit…
Any big plans for 2014?
We’re writing a new record and going on tour. Should rock!
Or check them out at this live date, if you can make it to Paris:
February 21 – L’Espace B – Paris, France