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Interview: Weedeater

Interview: Weedeater

Wednesday 6th July, 2016 12:46PM

It's less than a week until formidable Cape Fear outfit Weedeater hit these shores with their Liverpool pals Conan for two doom-laden shows. For their part, Weedeater are coming on the heels of unleashing their fifth studio album Goliathan, which is their first offering since 2011's Jason... The Dragon and was recorded with none other than Steve Albini at his world class Electric Audio studios in Chicago.

In anticipation of their upcoming visit, UTR contributor Fluffy got on the blower with Weedeater's cheese-and-cough-syrup loving frontman Dixie Dave for a chat about the album, their potential collab with Bushwick Bill, classic country music, American politics and more...

UTR: So, the first question is a bit basic, but humour me for a bit. So Weedeater, mowing lawns or special brownies?

DD: Uuuuuuuum, I like brownies. Just about anything that you can cook it into. Or we can just smoke it, either one. We really got the name when years ago, my dog ate my weed.

Really?! Did he survive?

That’s right.

How much did he eat!?

Uhh, about a quarter bag.

Was he having a good time?

Yeah for sure, he just took a nap for a long time.

As tends to happen, haha. So how much weed would you say you’ve eaten throughout the course of your life?

Awwww shit. I’m sure that‘ve probably eaten over a pound of weed. But once again, we’d prefer probably just to smoke it. But, at the same time, there is always good times for edibles; plane flights, long drives etc. The intake of the actual burning of it would be a lot greater than the eating of it. But we’ll take it any which way we can get it.

Harking back to the classic cough syrup and cheese buzz we only have Robitussin Green here in New Zealand, which is, in my opinion, a bit shit - but cheese-wise we have some nice Kikorangi Blue which is pretty golden, I’d thoroughly recommend it.

Oh yeah, that sounds great. Pairing any of those cheeses with the green is gonna be a bit rough but I’m sure we can figure it out.

So, obviously there’s an immense southern influence in you guys’ music. It comes out a lot in the acoustic stuff but I feel it’s also there in the electric stuff, what with your heavy use of the blues scale. I’ve even seen you guys being described as “Outlaw Rock”. What do you think of artists like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash? Do you feel like you’re kind of a logical, distorted evolution of them?

Oh yes. I grew up on traditional blues and traditional country, as well as outlaw country. I do believe that, and they’re trying to turn it around a bit now, but most new country in my opinion is shit. But I grew up with my father listening to Willie Waylon and Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard and all that, and it’s definitely ingrained in what we do. There’s definitely a feeling of it in the back of the metal that we do. It’s, I think, definitely influenced by traditional country and traditional blues. I think if you listen to it, you can definitely hear that.

What’re some of your favourite country artists? Especially modern ones?

Oh man, that’s a good question. Anything, ANYTHING Waylon Jennings and honky tonky era, anything Merle Haggard, anything Willie Nelson. Pretty much all Johnny Cash, maybe save a few of the covers. But all of that stuff is extremely important to us.

I hear Willie Nelson likes to smoke some pretty gnarly blunts.

That’s what they say. They say that Willie is one of the only people ever to smoke weed on the roof of the White House. Which is a pretty good accomplishment if you ask me.

I recall seeing a video where Bushwick Bill of Geto Boys was collaborating with you guys. Do you enjoy hip hop?

Yes. Bill is a friend of ours. He showed up a couple of years ago at South by Southwest and said he was a fan of Weedeater’s music which blew me away a bit, but I don’t see why. I guess I like all kinds of music myself and I'm a big fan of Geto Boys and Bushwick Bill. Anyway, he asked if he could come up on stage with us and we did it and it was well received so we did it again this year at South by Southwest for two nights and it was once again well received. So we’re speaking about maybe collaborating with Bill and doing a 7-inch with a couple of songs with him. We’ll see how that turns out. We’re gonna go down to Austin and try and do that as soon as we can.

Awesome! Would that be sort of a split or all collaborative work?

No, no. It would be Bill with Weedeater. We might call it Busheater or Weedwhacker or something.

So any drums machines or just purely you guys’ tunes and his vocaling?

Nah we’ll keep the boogy on the drums just as Weedeater normally does and Bill can just do his thing, stream of consciousness rap over the top of it or do whatever he feels like doing. I trust him completely. I think it’ll be a lot of fun and maybe it’ll be something people will enjoy and get on. I know I will. We pretty much do whatever we want anyway so we might as well do something like that.

F*ck yeah! So, speaking of your drummer, I noticed in a lot of videos he seems to set up sort of sideways. Is there a special reason for that?

He likes to set up sideways because of the stage plot. It seems to work better for us. With our old drummer, he set up in the front, just like Travis does. The reason for that is we like to get our cabinets close to the drummer. Even on huge stages we play, we zip it up and play in a tiny little plot and that just comes from years of us having shitty monitors and not being able to hear each other. You got this drummer 40 feet behind you up on a drum riser. He doesn’t know what’s going on, you can’t tell what’s going on and the whole thing sucks in my opinion. So we’ve always had the drummer on the floor, in between me and Shepherd. We’re a three piece band, it’s cave metal, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we just want to be able to hear each other and see each other. That’s why we set up the way that we do and it works for us.

Recently Gucci Mane got out of prison, I don’t know if you’ve heard much about him.

About who now?

Gucci Mane, he’s some trap fellow.

I do not.

That’s cool, that was a segue into another question. Have you ever served any time yourself, if you don’t mind me asking?

Oh, I’ve been convicted of several ridiculous charges that were just stupid and should have never even been a problem. Still I’ve been thrown in jail for this and that, what have you, driving under the influence and y’know, getting in a fight. For the most part, I try to keep my nose clean so that I can do what I want to do which is travel around playing music. There’s a bit of, y’know, questions here and there from the Australian government. They don’t like to let people in if they have convictions for certain things, I guess. So we had to write detailed letters about any charges that we had. It’s all inconsequential charges and so hopefully there won't be a problem with our visas and we will be there shortly, barring any problems with the government.

I imagine it might be a bit of an awkward conversation with border officials to say that you play stoner metal.

Yep, we get that. One time we were in Canada and they had already researched us because of our visas. We roll in to try and get into the country and they pull out a High Times magazine that pictures us in it with weed all in our mouths and they’re like “what’s this all about?”. We were like “Oh, those pictures were taken in Holland and we don’t mean to cause any trouble, we just wanna come into your country, play some shows, y’know everyone have a good time and we’ll get right outta your hair”. It seemed to work for us. Canada, they’re sticklers about that kind of stuff so I don’t foresee any problems with us getting into Australia because they let us into Canada and it feels like a similar deal. They’re just particular about who they let into their country, especially if they’re from the United States, the land where everybody just can’t stop shooting each other. I understand it. Hopefully everything’ll work out fine and our visas will go through and we’ll see you in a month or so.

Your music is also reasonably influenced by punk rock. How was it working with Steve Albini? He seems to be one of the more productive punks around.

Yep, he’s an absolute natural at what he does and he has a world-class facility there in Chicago. We enjoyed everyone that we’ve ever worked with; Steve and Billy Anderson, they’re just great at what they do. They’re probably two of the world’s best, just great to work with, with both production and engineering. It’s been a blessing for us to be able to work with two of the best. I think it shows on the records and we’ve been extremely lucky as far as that goes. Both of those guys are just excellent in what they do.

So how did you meet up with them?

Steve, I believe, three records ago we approached EA, Electrical Audio, which is Steve’s studio in Chicago and asked if he’d be interested in producing a record for us. He said sure, he would love to and that’s how we initially met up with him and we got on really well and since then we’ve had a good relationship but once again, before that we were working with Billy and he’s awesome as well. We’ve just been extremely lucky in people that we’ve worked with in the studio. They’ve always been top notch, so we’re blessed as far as that goes.

I imagine politics is something you think about a reasonable amount. Do you think you’d likely leave the States if Trump were to get in the upcoming US presidential elections?

I would definitely consider it. I’d hate to leave where I live, I’ve lived here my entire life and I’m pretty much free and I love it very much. I love everything about where I live, but I don’t like the backwards-ass thinking process of the people who are putting people in power here in this country. It just seems to me to be completely ridiculous.

So tell us a little about your home, where is it that your reside?

I live at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina. So I’m about four miles from the river in a swampy area. Similar I guess to a Louisiana bayou. Then I live about a mile in the other direction from the ocean. So I’m a beach kid, I grew up here, right off of Russell Beach and that’s where I live now. I swim in the ocean every day that I possibly can and that’s pretty much how I grew up and I love it here. I’d hate to have to move but we’ll see what happens.

Is it quite a rural area? Do your family have livestock and that kind of thing?

Not far from where I live is extremely rural but where I live - a little town called Willmington, North Carolina - which is in the Cape Fear area, there’s about a quarter of a million people in this county. Especially this time of year, it’s packed. We’re a tourist town because there’s three or four beaches, well in our county there’s two beaches but surrounding us there’s six beaches right around the area. So this time of the year is just insane. There’s traffic up crazy and all the license plates are from out of state. It’s basically a tourist trap but if you’ve lived here as long as I have, you know the secrets as to where to go and not be bothered by all that mess. That’s what I try and do.

Nice! Just to finish up, what’s your favourite track off Goliathan?

My favourite track off Goliathan is probably….’Bow Down’.

Why is that?

I dunno, that’s one of the riffs that Shepherd wrote and for some reason I’m a little bit biased against the ones that I write; I don’t like ‘em as much. I guess it’s just because they’ve been in my head so long. I tend to prefer the ones that he writes and vice versa, he tends to prefer the ones that I write. We all chip in on all of it together but he wrote the initial riffs for ‘Bow Down’ and I just think it’s one of the heaviest riffs we’ve ever written and it’s my favourite on the record.

Weedeater are playing two New Zealand shows with Conan next week, head over here for the details and to buy tickets.

Click here to read our recent interview with Conan


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