A band named WEEED hardly needs an explanatory introduction about the fact that cannabis is a major influence in the band member’s music and lives. Playing a unique, bluesy mix of doom metal, world music and rock and roll with a psychedelic flavor, WEEED is no stranger to creativity and innovation fueled by cannabis. CULTURE sat down to chat with the band’s drummer, John Goodhue, to talk about cannabis consumption, creating trance through repetition and the power of AC/DC.
How did you start making music?
WEEED started in 2008, when all of us were in high school. Most of us were or had been involved in other projects at the time, but I suppose the timing was just serendipitous. It started, more than anything, from the combination of a communal desire to play “stoner rock,” a genre we were all excited about at the time, and the existence of four weird guys. The original line-up consisted of me, John, on drums, Gabe [Gabrieal Seaver], Mitch [Fosnaugh] on guitars and our good pal Charlie [Powers] on bass. The sound was, for the first few years, pretty classic–Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, Sleep, Electric Wizard, etc. Then we took a break for a couple or so years from 2010 to 2012, playing occasionally, but little was happening in the way of writing new material. We sort of started up again more consistently around the beginning of 2013. Charlie left and we dropped down to a three-piece with Gabe playing bass. This was when the music began to change a fair amount, or at least the influences did. In 2015, we added our close high school friend Evan Franz on another drum kit.
Do you have anything exciting in the works that you want to announce?
We have a new full length, THIS, coming out on Important Records in early 2018. We’re also in the throes of recordings on our next album, likely to be a 2xLP. We are also doing a winter tour around the West Coast and the Southwest this December, and all the dates can be found on our Bandcamp.
How would you describe your sound?
I mentioned above some of the legends. Those bands, among others, are still quite fundamental for us. But day-to-day, I think, we’re all most often listening to other styles of music. To name a few: Gnawa, traditional folk, jazz, minimalist orchestras, cumbia, krautrock, overtone singing, punk, desert blues. At some level, whatever we’re listening to we try to incorporate.
Especially in our most recent songs, I think we’re less interested in the idea of heaviness as a thing conjurable only via loud, chunky, doomy licks. We want to build energy, but have found [that] we can achieve that without an over-reliance on riffs, instead placing focus on creating trance through repetition, looping, syncopations and polyrhythms, all the while leaving space for improvisation and the potential of the present moment.
How do you feel about the doom scene and the way it embraces cannabis? Did doom and metal get you into cannabis, or the other way around?
To be honest, I wouldn’t say the band was, at its beginning, a put-on, but the name definitely was. We needed one for our first show, and just sort of figured, jokingly, what better a name for a “stoner rock” band. As you can see the name stuck (though we added the third “E” in 2013), or maybe we were just too lazy to change it . . . Mostly what I’m trying to say is, at this stage, the name serves better as the designation for a lifelong sonic exploration between best friends than it does an indication of what we actually care about.
We’re all fine with doom, definitely respect it, have played shows with many dooms bands, but I’m not sure any of us feels a deep emotional investment in it. I definitely think we all have a deeper emotional investment in cannabis, but even so I wouldn’t say we’re fanatics. We love a good toke, especially during practice or just before a set, and we all go through phases of using it more or less, but it’s not like we’re going around militantly proselytizing the wonders of the plant (though I’m sure we’d all agree it has many). Like anything, moderation.
To actually answer your question, I first experienced weed, then heavy tunes, then of course a lot more weed. Not sure I can speak for the rest of the members, though.
How do you feel about cannabis legalization so far? What could be done better, or differently?
Well, we’re all from Washington, so we get the effects first-hand. I don’t presume to really have a sound perspective on the economics of it all, but I definitely appreciate being able to go into a store and buy a $5 joint of a strain that suits me, that I know won’t make me anxious or cloudy-headed. I’d wager that, of this band, all of our relationships to cannabis tend more toward a numinous nature, as opposed to a sociopolitical one. However, I recognize what seem to be both boons and banes of legalization, that is, the potential for cannabis to, like tobacco, like alcohol, like most products available within a capitalistic framework, to birth an industry susceptible to monopolization, lobbying, etc. On the flip, if legalization would rid our atrocious prison system of non-violent, disproportionately targeted “offenders,” I’m all for it, everywhere.
How has cannabis affected your life and/or creative process?
It seems that, generally, we use it less for writing and more for live shows, though I suppose, sometimes, those two acts are the same thing (a lot of our songs get at least partially written through the act of playing them live, jamming, listening, improving parts in the moment and recollecting in post). Sometimes a joint does wonders for generating ideas, parts and transitions. Other times we all just end up more freakazoidal than we already are, and not much new is created.
How do you advocate for cannabis?
By sparking up!
Give some examples of how you’ve worked cannabis into your music as a theme.
I think the very fact that we use it when we’re playing suggests it’s a theme. We’re not exactly consciously choosing ways to work it in. Allusions to it definitely show up in some of our artwork, but those decisions often feel more tongue-in-cheek than truly serious. We convene around it as a tool to help us lock in, to help us generate one mind whilst playing, but that one-mindedness, I feel, is far more related to the themes we express than weed really is.
What is your favorite strain or cannabis product?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Keep it up, Gizz.
Band Name: WEEED
Genre: Doom, Rock
Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Most Recent/Upcoming Album: Meta, March 10, 2017
See WEEED Live:
Dec. 11 at The Hi Hat in Los Angeles, California
Dec. 16 at Hi-Dive in Denver, Colorado
Dec. 19 at Neurolux in Boise, Idaho
Dec. 20 at Bunk Bar in Portland, Oregon
Dec. 22 at The Crocodile in Seattle, Washington