Remember when music was still raw? Remember when music could still be a
testament to the rowdy, rough-and-ready renegades prowling and gettin’ it done?
I sure don’t, because I came of age in a time when the music had gone soft. Rock
and roll is now all slick-produced glam sounds; the party bands of old mutated
into over-the-top generic guitars and forgettable lyrics about nothing. Country,
the original outlaw breeding ground is nothing but purile fluff about tractors
and fried chicken; Waylon is certainly rolling in his grave.
I heard a story once told be Billy Joe Shaver in an interview that made me
ashamed to grow up in this time. He told about a time when he and Waylon
Jennings were shorted by the club promoter, and in retribution, got some sticks
of dynamite and set them off in the building. Like the Possum said, “Who’s gonna
fill their shoes?”. I mean, Shaver’s old and worn out now, but he’s still got
the spirit. He was arrested only a few years ago for shooting a man in the face
over a card game. While that’s a bit extreme, it shoes that somewhere the
spirit’s still alive, though it’s in danger of dying.
Even the underground has wussed out, for the most part. Silly songs about being
lonely and other “feel-bad-for-me” nonsense. And yet, down below the
Mason-Dixon, there’s still hope. No, I’m not talking about Kings of Leon, you
silly bunny. I’m talking about the South’s enormous underground metal scene.
Born in the nineties out of alot of New Orleans sludge like Eyehategod and
Corrosion of Conformity, it’s the baddest and the rawest outlaw bit you’re gonna
hear; how could it not be with names like Bongzilla. Hog Mountin’. Hail! Hornet
and Hellbender? In my opinion, the standout band and leader of the pack is none
other than North Carolina’s own Weedeater.
Born from the now-defunct hateful sludge band Buzzov*en, Weedeater is led by the
baddest of the bunch, Dixie Dave Collins, who recently blew his own toe off in a
shotgun cleaning accident. We’re talking about a lowdown outlaw man, someone who
once had one of his knee-length dreadlocks ripped from his scalp when shutting a
car door to run from the po-lice. This is a band that had a regular session
on-stage projectile vomiting every show. But all that outlaw mess wouldn’t add
up to too much of nothing if the music weren’t just so durn good.
These North Carolina boys know how to tribute their fallen hometown heroes by
way of song. Their 2003 album, Sixteen Tons, has a track called simply “#3”, an
instrumental tribute to fallen NASCAR driver and fellow North Carolina boy Dale
Earnhardt. The song utilizes quotes from The Intimidator in lieu of lyrics,
along with the excited shouting of race commentators as Dale won Talladega. But
once again, it’s the music that really grabs you. The metal instrumental is
nothing like using those silly orchestras so popular now; it’s just raw, heavy,
dirty southern fuzz riffs. It was enough for me to get a poorly drawn #3
tattooed on my right arm, a-yes indeed.
Their follow-up album, 2007’s God Luck and Good Speed, is even better. The title
track is a hateful, grinding, megariffattackittude with a choral glorification
of paranoid distrust for one’s fellow-man and hard drug abuse. Not exactly
family-friendly, but none of them ever claimed to be the Partridge Family.
“Alone” sounds just like the title suggests, with naught but a banjo and vocals;
the lyrics and production makes the song sound as if it were recorded in the
1930s by an old hermit sharecropper sitting on the back porch of his tiny
tarpaper shack at dusk. The album doesn’t let us forget where these boys come
from, either, with a blistering cover of those Lords of the South, Lynyrd
Skynyrd; their version, with its heavier sound and screeched vocals give the
song a vicious anger that the original implied but never fully expressed.
Seriously, folks, Weedeater is astounding. If you have half a rebel bone in your
body, you’d check these boys out. These boys have that Outlaw Spirit in their
veins, flowing like through like Frank and Jesse James galloping on their horses
with their gang out of a town they just knocked over. Go over to their web page
and give ’em a listen. If you don’t like it…. Tough.