Nick J. Townsend of WEAK13
WEAK13 were founded in 1999 from the shared consensus of…
making a real impact on the scene. Adrift from the predictable, songs-by-numbers approach of many Metal contemporaries: the Kidderminster-based three-man crew is a Grunge-Metal-cum-Industrial-Punk outfit caused fevered chatting and hugely impressive reviews. Hardly surprising when you hear the music and the ethos the band abides by. There is a truthfulness and reality to their music not hidden behind rhetoric and fakery: they are a trio that gives it to you straight; insure their music gets right into the bones. Their album They Live showcased what immense talents we have in our midst. With low-tuned guitars and unorthodox performances; intelligent lyrics and insatiable, brother-bound performances: these guys will be headlining major festivals in no time to come. Fascinated to learn more about the bands lead vocalist and guitarist Nick J. Townsend set-aside some time to chat further…
Hi. For those unfamiliar with your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Nick J. Townsend: To put it simply; WEAK13 are three men from the birthplace of Heavy Metal attempting to repair the damage in the music scene; remove the greedy talentless elitist artists; expose the blatant brainwashing and corruption displayed in modern mainstream media; prevent the dumbing down of the population encouraged by the entertainment industry and write the best Rock tunes. My name is Nick J. Townsend; I am the vocalist and guitarist; Wesley Smith plays bass and Neel Parmar is the drummer.
You chaps are based out of Kidderminster. The Black Country and West Midlands has always had a reputation for great Metal bands. What is the scene like these days up there?
The band began in a 13-letter town called Kidderminster; I was born there. Now WEAK13 is based in and around the home of Metal and the nerve centre of the creative county. In our opinion; the best original bands and songwriters are located here. The mainstream music industry, which is currently content with manufacturing and promoting watered-down versions of talented artists and real songs, is trying it’s hardest to pretend the area doesn’t even exist. The scene here is full of strong underground bands; the majority is self-governed and growing in popularity despite the wall imposed by the national and international music press that is heavily influenced by elitist control. Music journalists are programmed to ignore artists and bands, not from The Capital; dismiss artists from poorer areas in order to protect the fragile reputations of the over publicised mainstream artists whose roles appear to (be to) dumb down the population with mundane mediocre drivel. I believe that more than answers your question.
The band has undergone some shifts and changes over the years. Do you think the line-up you have now is the most solid and satisfied WEAK13 have been?
Yes for sure. The past few years have been the most important too. We spent three years writing and recording the first professional WEAK13 studio album They Live with engineer John Stewart from Birmingham band Eight Great Fears; he taught us how to home in on our strengths and we’ve become much better musicians and songwriters. The three of us have shown the fans how committed we are to the music; we’ve always tried to be ourselves; Neel and Wesley are two of the best musicians I’ve worked with and they take their craft very serious. I think all bands have to go through shifts and changes; we’ve just tried to adapt to whatever comes our direction. The They Live album is getting so many good reviews; a lot of folks notice one particular change and that’s that the overall sound of the band live and on record is more professional than ever before; songs such as Closure and Here Come the Drones have opened up a lot of critics’ eyes.
What types of bands and albums were influential to the band members growing up?
Speaking personally, I’d have to credit bands like Mudhoney; Nirvana, The Kinks; Gruntruck, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden- but the three of us all have very different music tastes. The Jimi Hendrix live album Hendrix in the West is one of the most powerful performances ever captured on a record
Your songs look at deep subjects- passing away and survival- whilst your guitars employ dark, low tunings. What were the reasons behind these dynamics?
In the early 1990s, there was a revival for unusual guitar tunings: lyrics were deep, music became less predictable and the songwriter was reborn. Before that we had the ‘80s Glam, Shred-Cock-Rock years filled with bands whose guitarists seemed to be just worn out technical players coated in make-up; selling guitar tuition videos despite having little or in some cases no actual ability to write songs that kids could relate to or identify with. When the Seattle scene exploded the music industry completely changed overnight; I remember it well. At the time, I was a bored teenager watching M.T.V.; it was obvious that the only music reaching out to my generation came from these strange looking new bands with meaningful lyrics; songs which didn’t insult your intelligence and imagery that opened your mind to new possibilities. This wave of new bands also had some characteristics that mirrored the iconic music heroes of the late-‘60s and the early-1970s. WEAK13 is pretty much a modern-day equivalent of that school of thought: there are traces of influence from the greats of the early 1990s encoded in our music; we’re not part of the current fairy tale state-controlled music scene; we’re writing about dark subjects that make a lot more sense right now to teenagers and adults. Unlike the majority of mainstream artists; we’re not writing songs about whoever’s got the biggest bottom.
I know you guys are hunting for label management at the moment? To any labels reading: what defines and distinguishes you guys from the pack?
That’s not entirely correct: I wouldn’t call it a hunt. Since the band has self-financed its own professional debut studio album with the help of loved ones and slaving all hours of the day; we’ve not actually spent much time searching for a label. We’ve instead just concentrated on our fans and further spreading the name of the band in new territories. We are still open to considering offers for sure but about four years ago we didn’t have much faith in the idea of some magical handout from a big label saving the day. Instead, we’ve worked hard ourselves with support from our good friends; made a seriously good album; created our own music videos; concentrated on the music and made sure we had a lot of fun during the process too. What distinguishes WEAK13 from the pack I’d say is that we aren’t lazy. The They Live album demonstrates what the band is capable of musically and we’ve even been told that it intimidates a lot of bands. Everyone that’s bought the They Live album seems very impressed. Songs like Ashes in Autumn have really surprised the critics as we’ve shown how versatile we can be as a band and also how we can handle delicate subjects too in a tasteful manner.
Tracks like Joke are defined by their political edges and humour. Given what is happening in the world right now, from terrorism to political upheaval, how does that resonate with the group? Is it inspiring new material?
Yes; it is inspiring to an extent but rather than us jump on any sugar-coated narrative, created by the mainstream news media. We conduct our own research first and attempt to send out an informative message of hope via the hard truths in our song lyrics. We tend to use satire rather than fearmongering. Currently, we’re writing and recording a lot of new material and investigating the subject of crisis actors; a disturbing topic and visible in abundance during mainstream news stories. There’s a lot of dark humour in the WEAK13 music video Joke and it’s a pretty sarcastic look at the world of politics; in it, we explore and make fun of political sex scandals, media sensationalism, the selfie culture and the illusion of democracy. I got the idea for the music video after watching a T.V. news channel feed which showed a reporter explaining how heads of state were using Nelson Mandela’s funeral as a photo opportunity; it was a ridiculous, disrespectful and selfish opportunity to generate media attention from the funeral of a public figure and overshadow it with the ‘Selfie’ buzz-word. I thought to myself: “If someone assassinated a president then those around would probably be more concerned with a selfie opportunity rather than care about what was taking place”. I then contacted some filmmakers close to my heart (Fifty Seven Studios in England) and we began working on producing the music video to Joke.
On that front: can we expect any E.P./album before 2016 is through?
Probably not. We spent three years making a strong 11-track record and I think it would be a rushed effort if we attempted to release another record before the end of 2016. What is more likely is the band producing and releasing a series of music videos that represent some of the tunes from the They Live album- whilst we work on recording the follow-up. We expect to make the next album bigger in scope. It’ll take as long as it takes to complete. The material we’ve got all ready for the next album in our opinion is very intense and has the potential to wake a lot of people up.
I see you are launching a new behind-the-scenes reality show. Is it going to be a Keeping Up with the Kardashians-type thing or a bit more raucous?
I have never watched an episode of the Kardashians’ fake reality T.V. exploits; maybe if they changed the show title to A Day in the Life of Some C**ts it would be more representational? No, ours is likely to be a polar opposite in regards to content; I’m assuming that the show about this self-appointed Royal Family of America documents their staged lives integrated with all the predictable farces which occur within the media that people have been programmed to believe are factual events. We’re just producing a small and simple series about three underdog musicians making music the hard way; without the support of the mainstream music industry. This is purely for the fans and supporters of WEAK13 but if anyone else enjoys it then that’s a bonus.
For being good interview sports; choose any song you like (apart from one of yours; I’ll feature one in the interview) and I’ll play it here.
Well; we are big supporters of underground music and independent artists so I’ll choose the song Kamikaze by the Dudley-based band, Buzzard. Their music video is on YouTube and it’s kinda like hearing a young version of Motörhead- I’m looking forward to seeing this band grow.