Hailing from the Midlands and effortlessly oozing passion, poignancy and charisma; WEAK13 are a band that never seem to be standing still. Whether it's front-man Nick J Townsend jetting off to Hollywood, or shooting videos challenging politics - the grunge three piece have a way of constantly staying relevant. If you don't say anything about them, they're going to make you.
We recently caught up with Townsend to see what life inside both Hollywood and WEAK13 is really like.
First of all, any musical influences? Or bands that have inspired you to get where you are today?
Nick J Townsend: I'd be a liar if I didn't mention Nirvana or Soundgarden having a huge influence on WEAK13; spent my teenage to mid twenties listening to them solid. I came across these bands through mainstream media back in the 1990s; the sad thing is that the rock scene of today isn't represented as well via popular music channels. The major music magazines nowadays write about and make reports on the bands that are just plain boring whose safe lyrics are dumbing down the population. I honestly think that the owners of these music TV channels broadcast videos of uninspiring hopeless jokes to the general public in order to harm the reputation of rock music and sway them eventually into warming to worse forms of corporate music. If I was a teenager living in today's world then I would not relate to the mainstream music scene one bit. It appears devoid of creativity. Bands that inspire me these days are the underground independent ones that I see on the live gig circuit around me; in the US I would have to credit new younger bands such as Los Angeles based group The Mendenhall Experiment; they are really inspirational; I love what they are all about. In the UK there's so much music ignored by the mainstream music media, it's got to the point now where a lot of musicians don't view the popular rock journalists and Radio DJs as credible because they ignore the bands which are independently making waves. I love the underground music scene and it's getting larger with each year. There's a lot of bands we've come across on the live gig circuit such as The Rocket Dolls, Buzzard, Naked Sunday, Left For Red, Eight Great Fears and Wrapped In Plastic who have the right attitude. We're lucky to say we've worked with them all and seeing what they come up with next is always exciting.
Are you a band that sets long term goals? Or do you prefer to take an every day as it comes kind of approach?
Nick J Townsend: We always plan ahead; there's so many ideas in the band and some surface in public faster than others. We spent 3 years making our debut studio album "They Live" for a good reason; so that it was a strong album; almost every review it's received has struggled to fault it; that's down to long term planning as we wanted an album that would stay fresh with a long life ahead of it. It's only available to order from weak13official.com and that was planned too.
Your music videos are always creative and tend to totally differ to each other, is this an important part of your bands DNA?
Nick J Townsend: Every WEAK13 music video has to be different because our songs are that way. We wouldn't write the same song twice so it makes sense to maintain that dedication to visuals. We have fans that genuinely look forward to every new WEAK13 music video whereas a lot of today's bands have fanbases who really couldn't care less.
Despite a few exceptions grunge/punk has been a genre that has remained underground, is this something about punk that you hope always remains the same?
Nick J Townsend: Speaking as a teen of the 90s; it wasn't always underground; MTV had shows such as Beavis & Butthead that played and totally thrived on what many refer to as grunge. Kids today see a watered down MTV lacking anything musically inspiring. For about 4 years the mainstream bands were loud; crazy, artistic, dripping with life and arguably flying the flag for underground music but the world seems to forget this. Even the really cheesy pop acts of that period had to raise their game and incorporate down tuned guitars on their singles or adopt the fashion inspired by the rock bands of the 90s because rock had become a dominant force. Rock, Punk, Metal, Grunge etc has always been underground but eventually it comes to the surface and I believe that it's getting much closer to a return to the top.
Your vocalist (Nick J Townsend) is someone who has spent time in Hollywood and various other parts of the world directing/starring in films and TV shows, do these kinds of different experiences add to the bands creativity when writing music?
Nick J Townsend: Yeah loads; it actually makes you think a lot bigger; some bands get really stuck in a rut and half the time it's because they aren't thinking about being creative or original at all; they're just fixated on surviving or just getting by instead. I think if you have a good idea then see it through as best as you can to the end; that to some is called a risk; too many bands these days play it safe, they don't stand out as a result and unfortunately go nowhere. WEAK13 isn't fed with a silver spoon so we have to work hard to make a big idea come to life; it takes a commitment and when you've met some of the people who've sacrificed everything to work in Hollywood to pursue a dream then it inspires you to dream big; but making dreams come true are constant goals for WEAK13 and we're glad that we've made a lot of ambitious ideas become a reality without any backing from the music industry.
You're a band that has played a lot of shows and seems to live off your exceptional performances live, have you got one show that stands out as your favourite?
Nick J Townsend: We played one live show in a book store in Walsall and it was awesome because people were totally fixated on what we were doing musically and really noticed our lyrics.
Do you ever see yourselves as a band that could deviate away from punk/grunge and write something completely different and surprising?
Nick J Townsend: I think we've already shown on the "They Live" album how diverse we can be and the next WEAK13 album will be very surprising to people we promise. The fans of the first album are going to be treated on the next album.
A lot of your music is politically charged, do you relish being in a position where you can write about revolting against politics to a large audience?
Nick J Townsend: We've made our political opinions via music and film very clear; a lot of people relate to what WEAK13 writes about. It's not something we take lightly either; we try to be as honest as possible with plenty of research; we use satire a lot. I don't know about relishing it. We just write about what we see happening around us; I'd be happier if more people opened their minds and spotted in their daily lives some of the corruption in the world that we write about.
Finally, we have a podcast here at Noizze called SoundCheck, each couple of weeks they enter an album into the "SoundCheck hall of fame" if you could enter one album into this hall of fame, which would it be and why?
Nick J Townsend: well I'd obviously suggest WEAK13's debut studio album "They Live" and our reasons are simple; it's a strong album; but if we're talking other bands then that's tricky as we love so many underground or independent artists.