Exclusive Interview: Weaponry talk writing and recording!
Reading based Deftones inspired quintet Weaponry have been smashing out the singles in the absence of being able to play any shows with the re-recording of “Moving To Andromeda” alongside “Something I Lack” and now “Blindly Follow Us” as songs we’ve known and loved from their live set now available in the finest of quality. We never need more than half a chance to chat to them and so getting them involved in an interview series about writing and recording joining the likes of Aristic, Spoiler and Ruina was a no brainer. So here it is. Merry Christmas. In March.
How does the writing process of a new Weaponry track start? Lyrics or music first? “Generally we’ll have a load of lyrics pre-written with a basic idea of what the song could sound like but we’re not precious with it. We’ll normally jam out an idea of a new song and see if any of the lyrics can fit with how they have been written, but if not we’ll add extra words or re-structure the lyrics to fit. A couple of times we’ve written the music around the lyrics (“Hard Place”, “Moving To Andromeda”) but even then we’ve added a new verse or middle eighth where new lyrics need to be written. It’s a very democratic way of writing songs, everyone gets a say and we might even take a vote! But it works for us. Recently we found a video of Dan playing the beginning of “Blindly Follow Us” 12 years ago, which is weird as we wrote it 3 years ago! Just shows how long he’s been wanting to use the riff.“
We’ve been to your gigs so we know you’ve been experimenting with new songs live before committing them to tape including changing parts between shows. What’s the thinking behind that? “Whenever we write a new song it’s our favourite song immediately, so we’re very eager to have other people listen to it. We do realise that we’re probably just getting a bit excited so we don’t get carried away and record something we are going to regret, we will choose to play it at gigs to gauge any reaction or just to see if every part works in that situation. It also means we play it loads when we rehearse for the gigs, which helps with getting it tight for recording. With “Something I Lack” we had a Nu Metal type break reminiscent of Papa Roach and we thought it was top notch. But after playing it live a few times we realised it just killed the momentum of the song flat and we were not wanting that. So we changed it to the song you hear today by removing the Nu Metal bit with what we call the Pop Drop! It’s just after the second chorus if you’re wondering.“
Before you go into the studio, do you do any pre-production work or is it just rehearsals to get the material tight? “We will record a demo as well as we can at our rehearsal rooms so Daly (George) will know what we are going for, but this is normally with just 1 or 2 room microphones. We also take a list of songs we want certain parts to sound like. Although if you watch our YouTube series “No Lasting Memories” you’ll know it’s normally just a selection of Deftones songs! Other than that we do nothing. We are a very DIY band who will do everything ourselves – photography, artwork, promo, gig bookings – but we know we can’t make a recording sound how we want to. So we give Daly a bag of cash and get a proper professional to make us sound better than we are.”
For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “An absolute top quality Elvis replica microphone from China that costs about £40 and is better than any microphone we’ve been given at a show for starters! Although it is HEAVY and absolutely relentless. Teeth chipped all over the place. A Trace Elliot amp for the bass and big fat 110 gauge strings for that classic Trace Elliot scooped sound. Both guitarists use Boss ME80 pedals. Switching between Epiphone SG, Les Paul, Ibanez Gio and a Telecaster with custom pickups. Mostly just the SG and Gio for live, Les Paul for recording. Marshall Amps too. Drums are a Mapex Black Panther 14×16.5 brass snare with Evans skins cranked high for that snap sound. Iron Cobra high hat and double kick pedals. Always uses Vic Firth 5b sticks and Zildjian A or K customs too.“
What difference would it make to you as band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? “It would probably mean we’d change our strings every now and again! We want Brewdog and Monster to come knocking. Or Greggs. That would save us thousands a year! Tim is an actual musician so getting an endorsement from Zildjian would be a dream probably.“
You’ve been recording with Daly George (Creeper, Milk Teeth, Boston Manor) at The Ranch Production House, who handles all of the production, mixing and mastering aspects of the Weaponry sound. How did you find him to work with in the first place, what’s he like to work with and what does he bring to the table? “It’s a funny story actually! We’ve known Neil Kennedy who owns The Ranch for about 15 years. He used to have a recording studio in a quality rehearsal room in Southampton called Planet Sounds (owned by Jason and Al’s uncle). He used to do us cheap demos in our band from back then. We even recorded at The Ranch in its first year with Neil. But about 15 years have passed since then and Neil has produced a top 20 album in Creeper’s Eternity, In Your Arms and countless other top albums. We got back in contact with him and booked a couple of days recording with The Ranch’s apprentice. On the day it turned out the apprentice had to miss the day so Daly (one of the 3 in house producers with Lew Johns and Neil) stepped in to produce for us. We hit it off straight away. He’s a great guy, hugely talented and obviously has a lot of music knowledge. He’s been in some great bands too! (Faux, wavebye)“
You re-recorded and re-released single and live favourite “Moving to Andromeda” in 2020, the original version of which was the first single that appeared on Spotify. How did the decision to do that come about and what had you learned about the recording process which you applied to the new version from the original? “We recorded that live at Reading College and our drummer at the time (Andy Bailey) produced it. None of us went there (although Max does now) but the student got to have time with a proper band and we got to do what we liked with the recording. It was good as a demo and actually got quite a lot of listens but it was very rough and not what we wanted someone to hear as a first impression if we had something better. We used it to get gigs but we removed it before releasing “Hard Place” knowing we definitely wanted to re-record it professionally. We count “Hard Place” as our first release. We did have a demo of “Blindly Follow Us” on there which was recorded at the same time! But if you missed it you’ll just have to listen to the professionally recorded version, out on the 12th March 2021!“