The band name may give it away, but Leeds rockers Weirds are not normal. The four-piece, who define their sound as “sludgey, amphibious rock” are a thrilling combination of big rocking riffs and almost mystical, but totally cool psychedelia.
The quartet of Aidan Razzall (vocals and keys), David Nash (drums), Zachary Thomas (guitar) and Matthew Vaughan (bass) met at school and bonded over their similar music tastes. As Aidan tells us: “We practised religiously in the school practice rooms and pissed off all of the actual musicians who were far more talented than we were.
“We’ve always loved music – it’s the communicator of life. To be able to play it and experience the ups and downs of being in a band is on the whole a pretty fun way to live. I think we just didn’t want to follow a conventional career path of school / work / uni/ job etc.”
The band’s debut album Swarmculture is out on Friday (26 May), of which Aidan said: “We’re really excited – it’s our first album so we are just enjoying the process. It’s gonna be fun to see how people react. If you’ve seen our live show, I think you might be surprised by some of the songs on the record, as we wanted to make an album which mellowed out towards the end, not just relentless heaviness.”
The album includes most recent single Phantom, which will have you tripping out one second and moshing the next, with big heavy riffs fused with psychedelic verses. Check it out in the video – in which they burn a giant version of their own album cover – below:
The album opens up with a gradually building repeated riff with increasingly wild atmospheric guitar noise in the background then launches into a big guitar blitz as opening track Things That Crawl kicks into life. Vocals laden with echo come in with a funky guitar riff in support, then launches into a big chorus. There’s a cool little guitar filler before diving into a highly effects-ridden solo as the song delves into madness. It’s an amazing introduction to the band.
It’s followed by Valley of Vision, the first single from the album with its big powerful chorus and diving guitar riffs. Crazy high-pitched guitars lead us into Old World Blues, which then dives into a blues-infused heavy riff and more effects-heavy vocals that lead into a wild chorus of big riffs and screamed vocals – it’s raw, heavy and brilliant.
Black Desert sees the intensity drop temporarily in an almost dreamy intro, with a light guitar riff opening up and flowing into laid-back vocals through an atmospheric verse. The vocals pick up in the second verse, with a funky darting riff building the intensity then smashing into a heavy chorus with big guitars underneath wild vocals. A little keys riff comes in before giving way to a big blast of the chorus to close out.
Weird Sun also opens up a little slower, then the instruments drop out completely before an onslaught of almighty psychedelic rock noise followed by a funky bass riff through a trippy second verse. The psyechedelia reaches new levels through a prolonged instrumental section with a repeated riff supported by background keys noise, then flying into a huge rock-out to bring the six-minute-plus track to a superb ending.
The album begins to slow down with Crows, a more relaxed but still hugely atmospheric track featuring all manner of bizarre effects and a really cool, deliberate guitar solo. Salamander’s Sister continues in the same vein, with some awesome blasts of guitar and really catchy vocals, followed by the really chilled out Tunnelling, which eventually builds out into a funky guitar riff.
Final track Past Life opens up with a drum intro and a big smash of guitar with piercing noise in the background, then a moment of calm before a relaxed verse with a cool, flicking guitar riff. It then bursts into a huge, fast-paced chorus that sees the song kick into life and is followed by a more upbeat second verse. Wild guitars bring the track, and the album, to a brilliantly fitting end.
Weirds’ debut album is an eclectic but hugely enjoyable listen, fusing heaviness and anger with otherworldly sounding psychedelia. And that eclecticness is not restricted to their sound.
Aidan tells us: “On Swarmculture there are lyrical themes of reptiles, family, violence, religion, society. We don’t naturally choose to write about anything, the songs just take shape musically and lyrically in the most natural way we can. Personal experience is definitely a factor when writing lyrics, but I always find that the lyrics I am most proud of just appear out of the blue sometimes. I carry a notebook everywhere with me and write a lot of stuff down.
“Influences change all the time, and across the four of us we have a really varied music taste. I don’t think there is one band that we could all agree on being a defining influence on our songwriting. At the moment though, we’re into bands like Josefin Ohrn & The Liberation, Danny Brown, and Yawning Man.”
Weirds finish our interview by telling us: “Our favourite film EVER is Anvil: The Story of Anvil. Go watch it.” You heard them.
The band will be out on tour following the album release, starting with Gullivers in Manchester on 31 May, taking in Camden Rocks Festival on 3 June, a series of gigs through early June, then 2000 Trees and Truck Festival in July, and LeeFest in August. Their upcoming gigs in full are here:
18-20 May – The Great Escape, Brighton
31 May – Gullivers, Manchester
01 Jun – Full Moon Club, Cardiff
03 Jun – Camden Rocks Festival, London
04 Jun – Crofters Rights, Bristol
06 Jun – The Cookie, Leicester
07 Jun – Brudenell Social, Leeds
08 Jun – Broadcast, Glasgow
09 Jun – Cluny 2, Newcastle
12 Jun – Polar Bear, Hull
06-08 Jul – 2000 Trees Festival, Upcote Farm
21-23 Jul – Truck Festival, Oxfordshire
10-12 Aug – LeeFest, Tunbridge Wells