Interview: Weedeater

“I don’t think our founding fathers foresaw what we’ve become. Everybody has a gun…I don’t see an easy way to fix it,” – Dave ‘Dixie’ Collins, Weedeater.

Dave ‘Dixie’ Collins, vocalist and bassist of Weedeater, lives in North Carolina. This is a state where every man, woman and teen over the age of 18 legally exercises their right to keep and bear arms. “Everybody where I live has a gun,” Collins says.

What is ironic is despite what you might have hear about this band—their hard-partying ways and the notorious incident where Collins shot off his toe while cleaning one of his guns back in 2010—he stands firm that he is not a gun enthusiast.

In fact, far from it. He just doesn’t want to be the only guy in his neighbourhood who doesn’t have one.

While he also acknowledges how easy it is to get a gun in the United States, Collins says the ease of purchase isn’t the problem. It’s the societal issues behind gun-related crimes that are. The recent shooting incident in Orlando, where an American security guard killed 49 people and wounded 53 others outside of a gay nightclub, has only served to strengthen his resolve.

“I think incidents like this really reaffirm my opinion,” he says. “It’s a problem over here because the right to bear arms is important to Americans. I get it. It comes from the revolutionary war period time. I understand it.

“But I don’t think our founding fathers foresaw what we’ve become. Everybody has a gun. It’s a bit out of hand. I don’t see an easy way to fix it. People sticking to the law are the only ones that are honest about it. But you’re still going to have a shit-tonne of weapons flying all over the place in the hands of criminals. I don’t know if it’s ever possible to ever fix it. We’re struggling; that’s for sure.”

 
 

While Collins' foot is now fully recovered, along with the many other injuries that stunted Weedeater’s progress around that period, they are a band that feels consistently ‘on-edge’ because drama seems to follow them. “We’re a hard-partying band and like to have a good time,” he chuckles.

What does make him uneasy is just how smooth writing and recording their latest effort, Goliathan, was—even with the addition of new drummer, Travis Owen, changing-up their internal dynamic. “Travis has tried really hard to stay true to the original sound we’ve always had. The drum kit is still pulled up to the front; we’ve been like that from old days because we couldn’t hear anything from the monitors. So we like to take our gear as close to the drummer as we can. And, at the same, Travis has added a bit of himself—and I think he’s done a really good job of it. We’re really happy with the way things are and it’s worked out really well for us.

“It still feels the same because we always expect the drama. We’ve all had our fair share of injuries and hang-ups and problems and scars. Whether we’ve had to cancel a tour or recording session because of some sort of personal injury, that’s just always been part of this band. Hopefully we’re over it, but I imagine it’ll always been there.”

Collins even feels Weedeater has finally achieved their main goal on their latest effort, Goliathan—actually writing a ‘proper album’, not just a collection of songs. “I do think this album achieved this,” he says. “I hope that it did and I hope it shows. I can’t stand this assemblage of songs that doesn’t feel right from beginning-to-end. I want our albums to be listened through from start-to-finish. Not that you can’t listen to a track and really enjoy it. But I like the full idea; the way everything flows together. I think it’s very important and bands have lost that process—and it’s taken a while to finally get there with us.

“I don’t know if everybody feels the same way we do about this record. The songs flow together well and it tells a story; that’s the idea. I hope that comes across.”

Recorded live at Chicago’s Electrical Audio studio with Steve Albini, who worked on their last three releases, Collins says the band’s rapport with the iconic producer has grown over time—and they’ve been fortunate to meet someone who understands their “off-the-cuff” nature. “Working with Albini is not just about that he is ‘the man’ and he’s great at what he does, but they have living quarters on-site—which makes it easy for us to stay up late,” he explains. “Plus he’s great with live stuff and everything we’ve done with him has been done pretty much off-the-cuff.

“It’s not like we go into the studio with some big plan for a record. What we do is basically cave-metal. We’re not attempting to reinvent the wheel or make people think we’re a bunch of virtuosos. Our music is really easy to play and really hard to write; that’s the way I’d describe it the best. Our formula is pretty much the same. We throw a few things out and see what sounds good together and that’s about it.”

 
 

This is also Weedeater’s first release on French label, Season Of Mist. Departing from long-time mates Southern Lord was a surprise for many, but Collins says that doesn’t mean they won’t work together again in the future. “It was an amicable decision to leave Southern Lord,” he says. “There’s no hard feelings there or anything. We just wanted to do more of a one-off thing at the time—that’s not to say we won’t work with Season Of Mist again for our next record.

“It was just about allowing us to concentrate on one thing at a time. And, at that time, Southern Lord kinda had their plate full with a bunch of stuff and we were ready to do another record. It was a good fit for us at Season Of Mist and really good guys. We’re really happy with how it’s turned out.”

Now, for the first time, you can catch Weedeater playing Goliathan and selected tracks from their back catalogue live this month with fellow mates, Conan.

Catch them at any of these dates:

Wellington - San Fran - July 12

Auckland - Kings Arms - July 13

Brisbane - Crowbar - July 14

Sydney - Manning Bar - July 15

Melbourne - Max Watt's - July 16

Perth - Rosemount Hotel - July 17

Tickets from lifeisnoise.com, Oztix, the venues, and undertheradar.co.nz for Auckland and Wellington.