Louder with Weatherstate
Anger, frustration, and a burning desire for change are rampant from the grassroots levels of music upwards- and as a result, the resonance of punk music is further-reaching than ever before. One band who are riding this ever-cresting wave are Bristol punk rock four-piece Weatherstate. Following the recent release of their latest album ‘Born a Cynic’, we caught up with the band after their set at Gullivers in Manchester, on their run supporting pop punk quartet The Bottom Line, for an in-depth chat peppered with hearty laughter and poignantly potent lulls in equal measure, to discuss the release of their album; their musical heroes; and the intricate details of their perfect heist...
You’ve recently released your album ‘Born a Cynic’- how have you found the response to the record so far?
Toby (drums): It’s been the best response we’ve had to anything we’ve released really
Harry (guitar/vocals): It’s been great to see all the people picking up the album - working with the American label Wire Tap Records has been good because it meant that people in the States have been picking it up and sending us tweets and stuff, and we’ve got some Australian radio airplay as well, so it’s been amazing to get messages from people in all these different countries that we haven’t had before because we’ve never really pushed it in those places. It’s been amazing, the response we’ve had from all these people that we never could have expected, it makes us feel very proud of what we’ve done!
Toby: The weirdest part was that 24 hours after the record came out, we were doing the release shows, and people knew the words within 24 hours, which we’d never experienced with the last release.
Harry: And that was with songs that weren’t even singles as well, so they would have literally only been out for a day and they knew them all already which was wicked!
One of the tracks that stuck out in particular was ‘Arteries’ - can you give us a bit of background behind the track?
Harry: Quite a few people have said that! Basically, the whole album was written at a time when I was trying to cycle through very intense negative emotions, so it’s about just completely running yourself into the ground. I’m a massive over-thinker, I worry about absolutely everything, so it was about overthinking absolutely everything, and the resulting high blood pressure! It fits in with the whole negative cycle of the album too, so it deliberately latches onto that one part and uses it as an outlet to deal with that one particular [type of emotion].
Callan (guitar): The way we all play that as well, the snotty attitude of it really comes through, like the chorus has that childlike ‘na na na na na na’ [to the tune of Ring-o-Roses], that whole kind of school playground feel- that angst really comes through though I think
Harry: Like Rugrats or something!
Toby: What a quote!
Harry: Yeah, just have that as the answer, forget all the overthinking stuff!
Is tackling those kind of dark emotions a cathartic experience for you then, or do you find it difficult to put that kind of vulnerability out there?
Harry: I see that as my specific outlet for it, rather than being really pissed off and punching a wall or something, I try and put it into something positive, which sounds really corny! It’s just my way of dealing with shit, like everyone is dealing with different stuff, and rather than letting it affect you or stewing in it too much, it’s better to put it into something positive that you can be proud of, because then you’re turning a negative into a positive. Whenever anything happens in life, not just with music, if you have a day where you just feel really shit, rather than letting it affect you for the next month, you can channel; it into something you can be really proud of.
Joe (bass): It’s not hard to get those emotions out as well, because everyone can relate to those kinds of feelings, so when you listen to a song like ‘Arteries’, you can be like ‘I get this!’. Everybody gets it.
Harry: Yeah, it’s great that people can relate to it as well, because it’s stuff that everyone goes through- [our music] is not always about really really deep stuff, but it is about dealing with the real world and the negative things that will come up in my life [and in the lives of others]
Toby: Music is definitely an outlet in that sense- the whole reason I started playing drums was as a sort of anger management technique! I’ve got really strong memories of being a teenager when you’re getting rally annoyed at the world, and I remember I had these headphones that I would wear to protect my ears [while drumming] and I just went ‘fuck it!’ and threw them at the wall, and they broke into pieces!
Harry: that’s the other thing as well though- I’m not a fighter in any sense, so [even though] I get more angry than sad, that’s my way of dealing with it, rather than going out and fighting someone who I have an issue with or resolving it with violence, it’s better to just go to my room and write something that we can then work with.
The universality of music is really important in that sense, because those emotions are so intrinsic, that when you do get them out you can make those connections with people.
Harry: It’s like when you’re a kid and you’re really pissed off at your parents because they didn’t give you any pocket money, so you go listen to Slipknot like ‘oh, fuck those guys!’
Joe: Whole movements of music have been founded on that, just people being pissed off with shit! Grunge, why did that happen? Because people were pissed off with the way things were. Punk was the same, people were pissed off with the world-
Harry: It’s like a counter-culture isn’t it, people just thinking ‘I absolutely hate this situation, let’s try and do the exact opposite of that’.
Joe: People have told us that before, that if you’re in a bad mood and you listen to Weatherstate, it’s like ‘yeah, I get this!’, but then also if they’re in a good mood they’ll listen to Weatherstate and it feels like exactly the right sort of music for that too!
You guys do have a blend of influences that reflect that as well, with some indie influences but also that darker, punkier sound- does that come from your own personal music tastes, or was that something that grew organically through playing and recording?
Harry: With Weatherstate, our focus from the start was always to try and write music that we liked, rather than trying to aim for a specific genre, so that is why we sound the way we do. Obviously, there’s elements of different influences, of course there is, if we like certain styles it’s going to come out in [the songs]
Joe: I think it’s quite good that between the four of us we all have our different areas of rock music-
Callan: I think Weatherstate, organically, when we were trying to find our feet and a ‘sound’, so to speak, we found passion in doing music we loved as we grew up. So there’s clear influences of bands from the 90s punk movement, but then at the same time, Toby, for instance, comes from a metal background, so his drumming is very hard-hitting, metal-style drums. Whereas (hogan?), on the other hand, loves bands like Queens of the Stone Age, so we have that stoner-rock influence too.
Harry: Whereas mine has always been about bar-chords and melodies, so the hooks in the songs, the verses and the riffs, but then once everyone then puts their other bits in as well, it’s coloured up and then it turns into something completely different. If you were to listen to a demo recording of a chorus from ‘Born a Cynic’ that I’ve recorded in my bedroom, it would sound completely different [to the finished version], because when you add those different elements it just spins off completely.
Toby: We were playing that song in the practice room, and you had the chorus for ‘Ghost’, and then when it came to the refrain into the next verse, I just added that blast beat into it! I just needed to get that out!
Harry: Which is a classic example- I would never have written that in my bedroom and thought ‘this bit would be really good with a blast beat!’
Joe: But at the exact same time, the other side of it at that point is, that bands like Green Day are a huge influence for all of us- I wouldn’t have started playing guitar if ‘American Idiot’ hadn’t come out
Harry: We’ve definitely all had that influence from Green Day- I think that’s abundantly clear! [A reference to the band’s video for ‘Medicate’, which recreates Green Day’s iconic ‘Basket Case’ video with almost fanatical precision- a feat which earned them online plaudits from the legendary Mike Dirnt himself].
Currently, you are on the road with The Bottom Line and Forever Came Calling, but given your love for Green Day, I’m guessing they would be on your ideal tour line-up? Who else would you have on your perfect tour?
Toby: So if we make it a 5-band tour, and us, then we can all suggest one?
Harry: Green Day have to be top, for obvious reasons!
Toby: I’ll have to put my hand up and say Slipknot!
[after much deliberation]
Harry: The Arctic Monkeys! And Nirvana would have to be on there!
Joe: Why are Slipknot playing above Nirvana?
Toby: Because they just are!
Callan: It’s a tough question, because I’m trying to think practically, like who would sell the most tickets, who would fit… Weezer would be great!
Joe: Right, so we have Green Day, Nirvana, Slipknot, Arctic Monkeys, and Weezer- and who’s opening?
Collectively: We are!
Joe: Who else would we have opening? Like a current band that’s killing it?
Harry: Maybe Muskets or something? [followed by impressed murmurs of assent]
Focusing on the touring side of things (in the real world, that is!)- which if you is the easiest to tour with and who causes the most trouble on the road?
Joe: I think Toby’s the easiest to tour with, because he’s just such an easygoing guy- I’ll throw my hat into the ring for most annoying because a) I’m just generally annoying, and b) I snore!
Callan: I can be annoying though because I’m like that ‘band dad’!
Harry: I’ll put it out there- you’ve got the negative one [indicating Ginge], the diva [himself], Mr Nice Guy [Toby] and Callan’s the dad that can be naggy sometimes! But that’s all fine, because you dip your toe in the water with you little personality traits, but then you all come together
Toby: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there- I don’t want to come out and say ‘I’m the best!’, buuut…
Harry: His bad side is that he doesn’t even read the fucking group chat! Toby wouldn’t even know that we’re on tour!
Toby: I genuinely didn’t even know all of the dates [on this run], where we were playing…
Harry: We could literally tell him, like ‘we’re doing this session thing’, and then on the day he’ll turn around and be like ‘what?’
Joe: That’s both the positive and the negative of it- you’ll do anything, but if we don’t tell you to do it then it won’t happen!
Harry: This is like band therapy!
Toby: We’ve never had a massive fall-out on tour though, we’re all really good friends and we do get on really well.
Harry: We sort of scratch at each other like lairy cats! We’ll have a scrap, and then five minutes later we’ll be fine again.
Well teamwork would definitely be essential in the upcoming scenario- if you could sneak into any celebrity’s house and steal one thing, what would it be?
Callan: Well, obviously we talk about Green Day a lot, but I’ve always wanted to know what happened to their lost album, because there are claims that it was burnt in a fire, but it’s also said that it was just shit and they said that to get out of it, so I’m breaking in to my mate Mike’s house, and having a root around in his basement to see what he has hiding down there!
Toby: So, Morrissey kind of annoys me, so I would do something just to annoy him, and have it end up as an article in the Guardian or the Independent or something! I think I’d take his typewriter, because he’d definitely cry about that!
Harry: I’d break into Lars from Metallica’s house and steal one of his shit paintings! Auction it for like £3 million, because apparently those paintings are worth shitloads of money! That would sort us for life, we could get a brand new tour van!
Toby: What’s he painted, like a house?
Harry: They’re just really bad! I’d just sneak into his bedroom, go [mimes picking a picture casually off the wall] and just walk out with it!
Joe: I think I would be sneaking into [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg’s house and stealing his laptop- I want the mast key to Facebook! He doesn’t deserve it, he’s abusing the key!
Harry: That’s such an IT guy response!
Joe: Yeah, I was an IT manager and now I’m a web developer, which is the context for that! Just get rid of the algorithms! [a hugely popular sentiment with the rest of the band!]
Harry: We can put a picture on Instagram, and it’ll get like 150 likes, and then on Facebook it’ll get like 5!
Toby: It’s sad that that’s the state of music these days though, that it’s so much about likes on social media
Harry: And you can spend £50 on a campaign to run for 3 weeks, and it still won’t get that much interaction because by the time it gets shown to people, it’s almost old news
Toby: I like how this question on stealing things has turned into a debate on algorithms! I also love that you think the key to Facebook is a physical thing that you can steal!
Joe: It’s like the internet in the IT crowd!
Harry: You really would have access to everything though- and I’d take £20 out of his wallet as well on the way out!
It is that tongue-in-cheek humour and genuine warmth that shines through most powerfully with Weatherstate. Their music may be doused in anger, pain and darkness, yet their future is shining very very brightly indeed.
'Born a Cynic' is out now via Failure by Design
Check out the aforementioned video for 'Medicate' below:
Weatherstate will be playing at the Sheer and Loathing in Trowvegas event at Trowbridge Town Hall in October- full details and a link for tickets can be found at the link below: