Week in Pop: Inspired & the Sleep, WEEED, Work Drugs

Sjimon Gompers

Getting to know & getting really, really, really weird with WEEED; porch-rocker press photo courtesy of the band.

WEEED

Catching up with the wonderful world of WEEED; press photo courtesy of the band.

Catching up with the wonderful world of WEEED; press photo courtesy of the band.

Courtesy of the good people over at Seattle’s Halfshell Records, it is our pleasure, passion & privilege to unveil the ambient world wonder META from Bainbridge Island, Washington’s own WEEED. Recorded during a new moon in the summer of 2016, the sessions became something of a ceremony of what the group referred to as an “exploration of growth & expansion”. The cover art depicts the very altar that was involved during WEEED’s musical rituals that signaled the group’s ushering in of a significantly deeper, atmospheric sound. The result features flute work from Mitch Fosnaugh, Gabriel Seaver’s loops, keyboards, knob trickery & hammered dulcimer with further percussive sequences & melodies from John Goodhue, featuring a drum assist from Evan Franz. The result is the feeling of orbiting around the earth’s globe, where the WEEED’s improvisational work makes for something you might experience while watching a special on space/earth sciences where the mysteries of nature are observed with an airy audio accompaniment that keeps everything in a floating form of balance.

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META in a way works as a meta-narrative for an amusement ride adventure of holistic discovery. The album opens with “Womb” that illustrates the miracle & mystical notion of birth as being a skronk session where a host of electrical instruments are fuzzed-up beyond belief; where a shred-fest busts out to mirror the violence that is awakening to find yourself out & alive in our great-big-small-world-after-all. The title track “Meta” alone is worth the price of admission as you are brought on a 25 & a half minute journey through the cosmos where realizations occur as if you were an astronaut sent on a strictly scientific mission to make new postulations about the vast galaxies & worlds that extend outside of the ones we already know. Hosts of rumbling chords spurn the story further as everything from chimes, key sustains and various other harmonic elements keep the entire event resonating like a cosmic space mission in the name of research & experimentation. The conscious awakening epic then transitions into the big bad & loud event of “Enchant the Love Alive” that seeks to awaken the most affectionate & emotional chords from within. Utilizing an arsenal of skronk & crunchy guitar riffs, WEEED kicks out their jams in the most psyched out & surreal style that keeps every guitar amp weeping & wailing in ecstatic glee. The following number “Spiders, Spiders….Spiders” incorporates everything from found sound to woodwinds and a whole lotta environmental clicks & snaps that creates a soundtrack to score the lesser known life of insects and their day to day operations. The wild thing about “Tunnel” is that it creates the feeling of being on some kind of crazed road trip where the sound scores everything that gets slightly more claustrophobic & contained as it approaches the three minute mark as WEEED succeeds in conveying the feeling of flying head first as fast as possible through some sort of corridor tube. Everything comes to a classic form of electronic conclusion on the beautiful mind illuminating track “Water Bear” where the magical, mystical wonders of tardigrades can practically be heard swimming & bubbling between both audio channels. WEEED’s own John Goodhue joined us for a candid interview conversation featured immediately after the following debut listen to META.

Take us back to the June, 2016 recording sessions for META and what sorts of epiphanies & realizations were made during that time?

Well, the majority of META, that is every track save “Enchant the Love Alive”, was recorded in a single nonstop three-hour long session that occurred just at sunset in the living room of a house—aptly called Sunset Palace, since light would flood in around that hour and illuminate the space—that Gabe was living in. So the sounds you hear are both completely live & completely improvised. Essentially, the idea was to view the time together as less of a session & more of a ceremony—a space to set & clarify intentions for both future recording & a summer’s worth of touring that was yet to come. Certainly some of those intentions revolved around expansion, exploration, and growth—sonically-speaking. There were a number of different instruments set up around the room; shakers, bells & blocks, a singing bowl, flute, synth, hammer dulcimer, a guitar & a looping station. Some of them were familiar, others not so much. We sat together for some time, sharing aims & intents. Then, once the singing bowl rang, the hours that followed were filled with each of us walking the room, listening, encountering an acoustic sensibility, adding something to the ambiance with the varied instruments, repeating that process, all while keeping in mind the purposes we’d earlier discussed, many of which were not exclusive to the music being generated. In short, the idea was to explore new sonic territory & to do so with as communal a mind as possible. Perhaps more peripherally, we were also envisioning META as somewhat of a precursor to our next album—we recorded it in August 2016 and are in the process of preparing the results—which, though more traditionally composed, written, and recorded, is incorporative of some elements that are present in META.

What have you all discovered about yourself as artists recording a third album?

It’s funny thinking about META as an album, in a traditional scope anyway. Comparing it to other recordings we’ve done, it feels less recorded than experienced, if that makes any sense. Though some of what we played were variations on themes we had previously explored, nothing was orchestrated before hand. No songs were written. Few—if any—compositional [sic] ideas were bounced off one another prior to the start. As you can imagine this really put the idea of discover to the foreground. Some of us were working with instruments we’d either never recorded with or just altogether never played. Sometimes you simply did not know what sound was actually going to be made. In this way, the process felt truly raw, explorative, unmoored from most of the laws & constraints that sometimes occur, often subconsciously, when having played music together for nearly ten years, as we have. And for most of those years we’ve been playing loud music, hence the genres we’re inevitably affiliated with. So it felt necessary to stir the pot, switch gears for a moment, consider different modes under which our musical conversation might be made new & relevant, to us as much as our listeners.

Tell us about life on Bainbridge Island, Washington and the sorts of local environments & scenes that you all find of interest.

Bainbridge is a special place. Special & also somewhat freaky. All four of us grew up there & very much call it home. It’s gorgeous. To be no more than fifteen minutes from the Puget Sound in any direction you go makes one feel blessed. But it’s definitely freaky. There are a lot of weirdos who seem aggressively concerned with sterilizing the whole place into a middle-upper class suburban dream. Thus, it can feel insular at times. Bubble-like. Removed from even the realities of Seattle, which is a city that itself feels somewhat sequestered, though ironically, the Seattle boom of the past several years has taken its toll on Bainbridge, which seems like it’s slowly becoming more & more pruned for the cover of some tourist pamphlet, at least if you spend time in town. All that harping aside, there are, surprisingly, a fair amount of young people reside there who invest themselves in making art, music, people who attempt to curate a space for open-mindedness, who see Bainbridge as not a condo complex or candy store waiting to happen, but a space to preserve with creativity. The music scene on Bainbridge seems to flux with the years. Back in high school, when we started, there were lots of other local bands, and occasionally some DIY sensibilities would shine through. There definitely still youth on the island who’ve got energy & verve to make stuff happen, but as we’ve gotten older it’s become more difficult to stay centered in the immediacy of it and feel the urgency there. Now & again we’ll try to host shows, but space is a necessity & it’s not always available, nor are chill neighbors. It seems like we’re consistently in our element when playing Olympia & Portland, both more-so than Seattle. We have some amazing groups of friends in those zones who inspire us deeply and have nearly no limits when it comes to generosity & enthusiasm.

Getting our zen on with WEEED; press photo courtesy of the band.

Getting our zen on with WEEED; press photo courtesy of the band.

Current arts that are inspiring you all? (Visual, audio, literary, etc?)

Everything all the time. But mostly Klaus Johan Grobe & King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

Current activism & causes that you all feel everybody should get involved with?

That question seems more relevant than ever & paradoxically difficult to answer considering how many valid causes there currently are to involve oneself with. Growing up on what-was-once fairly rural Bainbridge has instilled deep concern for the environment. There are definitely some ominous statistics floating about that suggest the island might not be there too much longer.

But again, that’s just one. Blocking the DAPL,and other pipelines, Black Lives Matter, LGTBQIA rights: those are another three. It’s fairly endless & it’s completely necessary. Stand up, show up, speak up: and if you can’t, donate—ACLU, Planned Parenthood, GSA Network, standwithstandingrock.net… Again, it’s endless.

Spring & summer solstice goals & meditations?

MORE TUNES. Oh, and add another drummer so that we have three.

Thank you all for such rich ambient psych arts and for everyone’s time.

Love & Dubs.

WEEED’s META is available today from Halfshell Records.

Catch WEEED on the following tour dates:

March
10 – Olympia, WA @ Obsidian w/Ronny Tana
12 – Portland, OR @ The Liquor Store w/Melt, Headband
17 – Portland, OR w/ Cower
20 – Oakland, CA @ The Night Light w/Flaural (not confirmed)
21 – Nevada City, CA @ The National Hotel w/Flaural and Hazz
22 – Reno, NV @ St. James Infirmary w/Flaural
23 – Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Fest
24 – Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Fest
25 – Seattle, WA @ Lucky Liquor w/Oh Rose and Bay Witch

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