by Grady Mitchell | Weed is a Vancouver trio responsible for swampy, melodic, furious rock. The project began as singer/guitarist Will’s solo undertaking back in his native Wisconsin, a set of bedroom tape recordings he describes as “lo-fi pop” recalling bands like Duck Tails and Real Estate. When he came to Vancouver for school he met guitarist Kevin, who’d relocated from California. Bassist Hugo entered their lives through a mysterious and enigmatic tale reportedly centred around a donut eating contest.
“That was a deceiving highlight in a series of events,” Kevin says of the donut incident. “It’s something that sticks out, for sure,” adds Will.
Today the lofi quality of Will’s early tapes remain, albeit swathed in swirling clouds of fuzz. The nine tracks off their 2013 LP Deserve are draped in heavy reverb and fuzz but braced with solid melodies. “I think the melody, the pop side of it, is what we know best,” Will says. “Then the loud feedback side of it is what we think is cool.”
“Will has a really good ear for vocal melodies,” Hugo adds. “Kevin can bring a riff and Will will add a melody that changes what the whole thing sounds like, so I don’t think it’s something we set out to do, I just think that’s the relationship of the way that they write.” The band’s sound built naturally through the instruments, the tastes and the personalities of the members. Most often you’ll hear Top 40 in the tour van, the guys say, dipping even into territory as dubious as modern country.
Last month they release Deserve’s follow up, Running Back. Recorded over five days on Gabriola Island with producer Jordan Koop, the record continues the strain of muscular rock somewhere between shoegaze and punk. “I don’t know if we’ve ever set out to deliberately do anything,” Kevin says when asked if they built a plan for the record.
Hugo nods. “It just kind of happens.” The only goal was to get ten songs. Several of the tracks that made the album were written during the recording process. Will’s voice is often subdued, layered under analog fog, but at times it explodes with ferocity.
Despite the drug implications and the difficulty it gives them at border crossings, the name, Will says, is actually a reference to the verb, not the noun; the act of plucking the negative influences from your life. In reality the band is just shy of straight edge and maintains a strict policy of playing only all-ages shows, a habit instilled by Will’s youth in small-town Wisconsin.