Weeed: The psych sounds of…

by Andrew Nickerson

Bainbridge Island based band psych rock band, WEEED, is currently spreading across the country on a six-week national tour, their first, from old hangouts in Olympia, to Hostel-Bars in Louisiana, the unknown of the East Coast and Midwest, and eventually back to Bellingham and the Puget Sound area in late-mid August. The tour serves as both a birthing celebration of their new six-track LP and as a “sayonara” before the upcoming months of inactivity due to being, once again, flung apart by the lives of the individuals who make up the band.

WEEED formed in 2008 when they had four members and one less “e” in their name. John Goodhue, Gabe Seaver, and Mitch Fosnaugh, along with Charlie Powers, were in their last years of high school when they got their first sample of touring, playing shows down the West Coast in 2009. Afterwards, however, the band lapsed into hiatus as Powers and Goodhue moved to Bellingham, Seaver traveled Cambodia and Laos, and Fosnaugh traipsed Bulgaria.

“We were moving but we always intended to be a band,” Goodhue said. “The breaks were a natural consequence of life.”

By 2012 school had wrapped up for Goodhue, other projects had faded away, and all of WEEED’s members were in the same country again. It was time for reformation with each member contributing their uniquely won experiences acquired during the time apart. But when they reunited it was as a three-piece; Powers was tied up with other commitments which compelled Seaver to switch from guitar to bass. Additionally, a Vancouver, B.C.-based band, also called Weed, had begun playing shows in Washington which lead to difficulties during promoting. The solution was to simply add another “e.”

“We’ve since embraced [the name] because now there’s an ‘e’ for each member of the band and it’s fun to hear people say it,” Goodhue explained.

Three years and two EPs later the band has released their first full-length. Our Guru Brings Us to the Black Master Sabbath is two seconds shy of 54 minutes and was engineered by Taylor Carroll (of Leatherdaddy) at Mushroomson Airplane, a farmhouse on Bainbridge Island. The album was tracked live over four days with overdubs limited to vocals and moonlighting friends who provided saxophone, pedal steel, and throat singing.

“We tried to turn the studio into this intentional space to make this album which is a culmination of writing over the past two years, maybe longer,” Goodhue said. “We see the album as an apex of where we are.”

Capped at either end by stoner-jam implicit, 80 beats per minute, quarter-hour-long bong-songs, Our Guru Brings Us to the Black Master Sabbath unabashedly ritualizes the swampy haze spawned by the heavy giants of the early 70s. Led Zeppelin’s influence is laid bare during the sliding blues crescendos of “Bullfrog” and in “Rainbow Amplifier Worship’s” oar-rowing bounce from the land of ice and snow. “Enuma Elish” conjures Black Sabbath to the point of wondering if Mr. Osbourne & Co. relocated to the backwoods of the Puget Sound. Despite being tracked live, when WEEED dig in, the tone rendered on this album is a thick syrup.

They were assembling press kits to shop the album to various labels when Tristan Sennholz offered to put the album through the lens of Illuminasty Records, a DIY label newly charged with releases by the familiar names Leatherdaddy (of which Sennholz is a member), Sloths, and Livingston Seagull. Deciding it beneficial to choose friends over strangers, WEEED agreed and they ordered 300 copies of OGBUBMS on white LP vinyl. It was, as Goodhue said, “One and done!”

The cycle of disintegration and reintegration will continue for WEEED these next few years when Goodhue begins pursuing an MFA at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. They may find time for a handful of shows during school breaks but new recordings seem very unlikely. As such, your only shot at seeing WEEED perform in Bellingham for some time will be Aug. 19 at The Shakedown.

LIVE SHOW: See Weeed Aug. 19 at The Shakedown. For more about the band, follow their Facebook page. 

Published in the August 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine