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Weedpecker interview with Wyro and Jeso

Weedpecker is a band straddling two times, they’re at once extremely contemporary and remind me a lot of some of the Sludge and Stoner rock coming out of Europe right now.  But they also bleed this late 70’s influence of Sabbath and Zeppelin worship, which sounds especially interesting here filtered those aforementioned heavy influences and dope stained riffs.  Weedpecker self-released their Self-Titled debut album last year and it’s a beast, sounding a lot like Alice in Chains recording an album with Sleep and Black Sabbath as members of the band.  Opening with the six-minute “Berenjena Pipe” the nature of Weedpecker becomes absolutely evident in the dissonant feedback loops that loom in the background, fading and erupting out of the distortion and chaos.  The guitars really start to kick into high gear with “Mindbreath” bringing more of the Stoner and metal influences of the hardcore music scene founding member Wyro grew up with to the table, but sticking with a more intelligible and controlled vocal line than most metal bands would dare, sheltering some hidden harmonies and melodies in the muddied stew of heady madness.  “Don’t Trust Your Elephant” follows that up with a nine-minute exploration into the psychedelic and ambient soundscapes that Weedpecker seem to be able to conjure at will.  It’s the only song that overlaps with the original digital demo and the refinement of the re-recorded version is almost immediate, acoustic guitars melting and intertwining in what seems to be a real desert rock, vision quest of a song which erupts into probably the most interesting song on the album.  Building momentum to a bursting point, “Don’t Trust Your Elephant” propels you into the no-holds barred “Kraken”, pummeling away with some serious Stoner Sludge for the metal heads and Belzebong freaks out there.  It’s tracks like this that quickly remind the reader where the influences of Wyro and a few of the other guys are based, and offers up their own unique blend of those elements reassembled into some new deranged Kraken to be unleashed on an unsuspecting Polish population.  “Sativa Landscapes” keeps the momentum up while showing off more of the Psychedelic Stoner sound that Weedpecker is more than fully capable of.  It’s got the best solos of the album in my opinion and the vocals sound almost perfectly drowned in the torrential downpour of psychosis that personifies “Sativa Landscapes”.  “Weedfields” finishes out the album with an utterly tripped out exploration into another of the ethereal soundscapes of Weedpecker, before suddenly absolutely transforming into a hulking monster of shred, the cosmos-via-electronics madness of Cheesy Dude from Belzebong providing an utterly perfect back dropping for the end of the album.  It’s a journey to be savored and I’m really looking forward to details on the upcoming vinyl reissue of the album.  In the meantime, I managed to get founding member Wyro and current bassist Jeso to talk some serious shop with me and fill in all the details about Weedpecker one could ever wonder about.  For the curious or the uninitiated I warn you, these riffs may shock or alarm, but if you keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times and you’ll be just fine.  So role up a big ole spliff, kick back in your easy chair and prepare to look like a classic Maxell add!
Listen while you read:  

What is Weedpecker’s lineup these days?  Has this always been the lineup or have there been any changes made since the band started?

Jeso:  I was the last to join the band.  We are Wyro and Bandos on guitars, Falon on drums and I’m the bassist.

Wyro:  In the beginning Adam Szczesny played bass, but as he didn’t have much time and our paths soon separated.

Especially here in the states people are involved in more than one band at a time.  Are any of you in any other active bands at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone else in the past?  If so can you tell us about that?

Wyro:  I like to jam with different musicians sometimes and I don’t dismiss the idea of side projects, but right now Weedpecker keeps one-hundred percent of my attention.

Jeso:  Falon also plays drums in Belzebong, but the rest of us agree with what Wyro said and Weedpecker is our only band.

Where are you originally from?

Wyro:  Warsaw, Poland.

Jeso:  I’m from Madrid, Spain.

What was the music scene where you grew up?  Did you see a lot of shows when you were growing up?  Do you feel like the music scene there played a large role in forming your musical tastes or the way that you play today?

Wyro:  When I grew up I started going to amateur bands’ concerts, but most of them were heavy or thrash metal.  At that time the scene in Poland was about extreme music, nobody played psychedelic rock & roll.

Jeso:  In Spain, I grew up surrounded by the classic hard rock of the 70´s and 80´s, along with the local music which imitated those English and American bands.  There were a lot of concerts and I have been going to shows since I was very young.  Of course watching all those bands live awoke in me the will to perform music on stage.

What was your household like when you were a kid?  Was it very musical?  Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved/interested in music?

Wyro:  No doubt that my father has always been interested in music.  Ever since I was a child he has been playing Sabbath and Zeppelin to me, and he also plays guitar and sings.  As far as I know, my great-grandfather, whose name I carry, played the mandolin.

Jeso:  At home there was always some LP playing, flamenco, rock, soul, anything…  It was my dad who played most of the music and he also used to play harmonica and some bongos.

What was your first real exposure to music?

Wyro:  It was long ago.  I went to a rehearsal as the vocalist for this band called Fethor, that’s what we were called believe it or not, and that’s the way it started for me.

Jeso:  One summer, an old friend invited me to smoke some joints on the beach near Gibraltar, he had a guitar and played some Marley and Zeppelin stuff.  So I told him, “let’s make a band.”  I bought myself a bass and the next month we were in some basement playing the easiest parts of ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres album.

If you had to pick one moment, a single moment that changed everything and opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of music, what would it be?

Jeso:  The first time I watched the The Song Remains The Same movie by Led Zeppelin after smoking some hash.  It was like, “Wow duuuude!!!”  

Wyro:  “Stairway To Heaven” impressed me a lot when I was a child.  I played that song in my tape player all the time, and also my first psychedelic trip for sure.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that decision about?

Wyro:  Well Weedpecker is the first project I’ve put together and the first in which I take most of the writing on my own shoulders the way I want.  The reason for this is, I wanted to play in a band where we just play what makes us feel high and proud. 

Jeso:  As I mentioned before, old classics like Led Zeppelin, Sabbath or even Bob Marley and the Wailers along with pot are guilty of my decision to buy an electric instrument and perform rock.  So, after passing through several bands doing much more extreme music, I wanted to return to my roots and found Weedpecker the ideal band to play with.

What was your first instrument?  When did you get it and who gave it to you?

Wyro:  It was an acoustic Yamaha, which my dad gave me when he realized that I was interested in playing.

Jeso:  Apart from my father’s Moroccan bongos, my own first instrument was a bass guitar. 

When and how did you all originally meet?

Jeso:  Wyro and Bandos are brothers and they planted the seed of Weedpecker.  They met Falon through some advertisement.  I answered an ad as well in which they were looking for a bassist.  I listened to the demo, liked it a lot, and learned a couple of fragments of the songs so we could have something to do the day of my audition instead of me trying to speak Polish.  Ends up we got along well as they speak English too, and here we are.

What led to the formation of Weedpecker and when did you all originally form?

Jeso:  Wyro created the concept of the band.

Wyro:  Yup, but from the very beginning I knew I wanted to do it together with my brother.

Is there any shared creed, ideal, code or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Jeso:  We just love to play, we really enjoy it.

I almost shudder to ask considering one half of your name, but what does the name Weedpecker mean or refer to?  Who came up with the name and how did you go about choosing it?

Wyro:  Heh, I came up with the idea.  I wanted to make it clear that we play Stoner, that we are inspired by weed, and we do not give a shit if there’re a lot of bands with weed, dope or bong in their names, we feel unique anyway.

Where’s the band located at this point?

Jeso:  We’re located in Warsaw, Poland.

How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at these days?

Wyro:  I would describe it like this: Belzebong, Dopelord, Weedpecker.  Ganja rulez!  He-he-he!  We have a lot of good bands, but it’s extremely hard to mention everybody.

Are you very involved in the local music scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?

Jeso:  We try to attend our friend’s shows and those of the bands we like when they come to the city.

Do you help to record and or release any local music?

Jeso:  No, we have plenty of work releasing our own stuff.

Do you feel like the local scene there has played a large or important role in the history or sound of Weedpecker, or do you feel like you could be doing what you’re doing anywhere; regardless of your location or surroundings?

Wyro:  I think that other Polish bands have a natural influence on us.  We go to each other other’s concerts and to each other’s rehearsals where we can steal each other’s riffs…  Just kidding of course, ha-ha!  But apart from that, we rent a rehearsal space together with Belzebong and very often we’re there together, speaking about ideas for songs, and sounds and stuff.  So, for sure it has an influence on Weedpecker.

Jeso:  I personally think that Weedpecker could be doing what we are anywhere, regardless of location.  Of course it would be a lot easier if we lived some place with better weather and legal weed…

It doesn’t matter how good you are at describing the way that a band sounds they usually come up with a description that you would have never thought of and is usually much more apropos.  How would you describe Weedpecker’s sound in your own words?

Wyro:  Heavy psychedelia.

You all have a nice dead ahead metal sound but I can hear other stuff bouncing around in there as well.  Who are some of your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as whole rather than just individually?

Wyro:  Too many to mention but if I have to say, at the moment the most influential for me are Colour Haze, Causa Sui, Elder, Tame Impala and Electric Moon (Interviews hereand here).

Jeso:  I individually feel influenced by the classics, mainly Sabbath, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd but the old Spanish band Triana and their LP El Patio from 1975 is also a permanent influence on me.

What is the songwriting process like with Weedpecker?  Is there a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas when you all get together to practice and play together, or is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out and compose with the rest of the band?

Jeso:  Normally one of us comes in with some riffs that we jam around on.  Once we feel comfortable with the riffs and after having jammed on them for some time, we give them a structure in order to create a coherent song.

You guys seem to be pretty open about your drug usage, at least when it comes to marijuana.  Is that an important part of your writing process?  Do you all utilize any other substances, psychotropics like mushrooms or LSD for instance, when writing or performing your music?

Wyro:  Marijuana helps me very a lot in the process of composing, but anyone who play and smokes already knows that.  It’s not any secret.  If I’m tripping I much prefer listening to music than I do playing it, but I think it has an influence in the post-intoxication process of composing.  I must admit that mushrooms had their influence in the process of recording the effects parts of our song, “Weedfields”.

Jeso:  I spent most of the 90’s baked.  I practically lived between a pothead park and a rehearsal room, so I feel a bit like Obelix with the magic drink.  I probably have THC integrated in my DNA so I don’t even really need to smoke, it’s enough just to smell it to feel the boogie.  It opened my mind long ago, yes, and it remains open.

How much improvisation is involved with your music?  There are some bands that prefer to work out every nook and cranny of a song figuring out all the arrangements and compositions and others that just get a frame work or an idea for a song and kind of run with it?

Jeso:  We’re in the middle of the two, tending towards the second one.  Live and rehearsing we have more freedom of course, but it’s during the recording when the detailed arrangements and effects come in to play.  Wyro and Bartek record a few takes with different ideas and choose the one they feel are most inspiring for the song.

Do you all enjoy recording?  As a musician myself, I think that most of us can really appreciate the end result.  Holding an album in your hands knowing that it’s yours and you made it, it never gets old.  Getting to that point though, getting everything recorded, especially when it comes to dealing with an entire band can be extremely difficult to say the least.  How is it recording for Weedpecker?

Wyro:  I love to record, although the conditions for the album were really poor and weak.  As you say, it’s a great feeling to record an album, to pass through all these different parts of the processes and finally have the album in your hands and say, “I did it!”

Jeso:  Well, the album was recorded in a short but very intensive time.  We were all conscious that we didn’t have the means or the time to get the very best out of us, so we all just concentrated on trying to perform our parts in the most natural and accurate way we could.

Do you all handle the recording duties yourselves on your own time with your own equipment and personnel or does Weedpecker utilize studio environments when recording?

Jeso:  We had very limited funds to record so we recorded our album with the help and recording equipment of a friend who’s a sound engineer, in our rehearsal space during one week.  One day drums, the next day the bass and rest of the time guitars and vocals, which required more detailed work.

Does Weedpecker do a lot of preparation before you record getting things to sound just the way you want them?  I guess this kind of goes back to my earlier question about working out songs, but is there any breathing room for songs when you head into record, where things have a little room to change and evolve during the recording process?

Jeso:  Well, as we mentioned before, the structure of the songs are pretty tight as far as the drums and bass goes, but the guitars have more room to improvise when it comes to the solos and more spacey psychedelic passages.

Your first material that I’m aware of is 2012’s self-released three track Weedpecker Demo.  Can you talk a little bit about the recording of the material for that demo?  Where and when was that recorded at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  Was that ever released physically at all or was it just a digital only release?

Wyro:  We recorded the demo in our first rehearsal room.  We asked some friends to borrow the minimum amount of necessary equipment and one friend who’s a sound tech, to record it.  The drums and guitars were recorded in one session and I recorded the bass individually later.  We never made a physical edition of it.

You followed up the demos last year (2013) with the self-titled Weedpecker album.  There’s one song in common with the original demo collection hat was released, “Don’t Trust Your Elephant”.  Is that the same recording and mix that appears on both releases?

Jeso:  No, it’s not the same recording.  “Don’t Trust Your Elephant” was re-recorded for the Self-Titled album.

Was the recording of the material for the self-titled album much different than the session(s) for your earlier demos?  Can you share some of your memories of recording that album with our readers?  When was it recorded and who recorded it?  Where was it that?  What kind of equipment was used?

Wyro:  We smoked much more weed during the self-titled sessions. I remember the day we recorded the guitars, we smoked so much that we ran out and had to stop to score some more!

Jeso:  The writing process for the album started as soon as the lineup was complete with the four of us, really.  We, of course, all had some riffs in mind which were taking form as we were jamming around on them, crafting them into full songs.  It was funny and I remember it somewhat blurrily, as we had to change our rehearsal space several times in the middle of the dark and frozen Polish winter, with all that snow and cold and everything in the middle of the night and with all that smoke and sweet weed smell following us around all the time.  It was all weird and awesome at the same time.

I know that Cheesy dude from Belzebong was involved with at least one of the tracks “Weedfields”.  How and when did you all originally meet?  What led to the collaboration on the track?  Was involved at all with the recording or production of the album or anything?

Jeso:  Cheesy dude is an old friend of ours and he’s always been like family to the band, ready to help out and have fun.  We’re very happy that he accepted our invitation to lie down his spectacular cosmic trip on the “Weedfields” song, so his special touch is with us on the album. 

Does Weedpecker have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a song on a compilation or something that I might have missed?

Wyro:  We have one extra track from the Self-Titled album session and one extra track from the demo, but nobody’s heard them yet.

With the release of Weedpecker in August of last year (2013) are there any plans for any sort of follow up release in the works or on the horizon?

Jeso:  Yes, we’re already writing new material for next album, jamming around and beginning to feel the magic again as the new songs are taking shape.

With the completely insane international postage increases the last few years I try to provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up import releases.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?  What about our international and overseas readers?

Wyro:  8merch and bigcartel.

Jeso:  You can buy our CD directly from us via email, you can download it digitally from our Bandcamp site, you can buy it trough iTunes, Amazon and Google Play and there’s even an option to buy the CD through Amazon on Demand if at some point we run out of physical copies, but we still have some CDs to sell directly right now.  The vinyl version’s coming out together with a digipak CD edition soon, so we will have details on how to get them then.

And where’s the best place for fans to keep up on the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases from Weedpecker at?

Jeso:  We use our Facebook page to announce our news and stuff through.  We have a Twitter account but we don’t use it too often, it’s just there in case Facebook let’s down one day.

Do you have any major goals or plans for 2014?

Wyro:  In the spring or summer we’ll go and choose some inspiring place in nature, in order to record one or two new songs live within peaceful and natural surroundings.  It’ll be something really special.

Jeso:  We also want to release our second album this year and play some good shows.

What was the first song that Weedpecker ever played live?  Where and when was that?

Jeso:  It was “Berenjena Pipe” in Warsaw April 18th 2013 supporting Elder; who we are fans of by the way.

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring and gigging goes for 2014 so far?

Jeso:  We’re going to try and choose some good gigs to get noticed by people who like the kind of stuff we do.  For the moment, we’re managing the gigs ourselves but we’re hoping some proper tour management will propose a collaboration.

Do you spend a lot of time on the road?  If so, do you enjoy touring and what’s life like on the road for Weedpecker?

Jeso:  In Poland anytime on the road, is a long time on the road.

Wyro:  I like roads, trips.  Soon we’re going to play a couple of shows in Germany, Berlin and Leipzig, I’m very excited about that.

You all have played with some seriously amazing bands.  Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with?

Jeso:  Elder of course, Belzebong, Dopelord, Mars Red Sky, Naam and Pet The Preacher.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Wyro:  Queen.  

Jeso:  I would like very much to play some gigs with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.  Tame Impala seem to be cool guys as well, or with some old classic band like Black Sabbath, or even something more metal like Mastodon or Baroness.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from your live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Wyro:  There are always lots of laughs, but unfortunately we don’t remember too many of them.  

Jeso:  At our first show people told me I was putting a lot of feeling and emotion into playing but the truth is I was suffering cramps in my feet, thus the faces and gestures ha-ha!

Do you all give a lot of thought to the artwork that represents the band like on flyers, posters and artwork?  Do you have any go-to person of your artwork?  If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Jeso:  We trust in our friend Maciej Kamuda, who designs stuff for us following his own inspiration for the most part.  Of course we give him some ideas of classic imagery and stuff we’d like to have in there, like weed or boobs, etcetera…  But the rest is up to his hallucinating imagination.

Do you have a preferred medium of release for your music?  With all of the various methods that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do.  What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music?  If you do, can you talk a little bit about why?

Jeso:  I used to collect LPs back in the 80’s that I bought from second hand shops.  I felt very attracted, not only by the music, but by the artwork, the logos of the bands, the photos, the lyrics, anything which could lead me to know more about what inspired those musicians to create their stuff.  Of course the digital era has changed those tastes and textures of the good old days, but the young people are growing up with it and it doesn’t seem to represent a problem to me.

Do you have a music collection?  If so can you can you tell us a little bit about it?

Wyro:  I have somewhat of a collection but as a musician without cash, I prefer to spend money on guitars, amps and effects.

Jeso:  I used to have a bunch of LPs but what’s left of them must be in some boxes in different corners of Spain where I used to live.

I grew up around a fairly large collection of music, to me as a child though it was seemingly endless.  I was encouraged from a really young age to listen to music and developed a deep appreciation for physically released music.  I would wander up to then enormous shelves, pick something completely at random off, stick it in the player, lay back in the beanie bag, read the liner notes, stare at the artwork and let the music transport me away.  Having something physical to hold in my hands, something concrete and real made for a more complete listening experience for me and offered for a rare glimpse into the minds of the artists responsible for creating it.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Jeso:  Yes I do.  I miss those big LPs where you open them up and see all the drawings and designs in a very sight friendly size, and the surprise of finding booklets inside with lyrics and photos…  Oh, it was very, very cool.  I guess I’m lucky to have grown up in the 70’s.

As much as I love my music collection I never really had a way to take it on the go with me before.  Digital music has all but eliminated this problem over night, I can carry more music on my phone than I could have stuffed in the boot of my car a few years back!  While digital music may have revolutionized the industry when teamed with the internet, that’s where things get really interesting.  Together they have exposed people to a new world of music that they otherwise would never have known existed and for independent bands willing to harbor and promote a healthy online presence it seems to have levelled the playing field somewhat for independent artists these days.  Nothing is ever black and white though and while people may be being exposed to tons of new great they’re not always necessarily paying for it.  Illegal downloading is running rampant these days and with all of the stuff going on out there, it’s harder and harder to get noticed and make a living in the choked digital jungle.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Jeso:  Since digital music is obviously less oriented toward a physical product, the good part is how easy it is to distribute it.  Finally your music can reach people and corners of the world which were unthinkable before.  Also being able to listen to music on the metro or bus is a good thing, you can’t do that with vinyl, can you?  I believe that both formats can live and coexist together; digital for the fast, easy, portable listening, and then CDs, and vinyl if possible, for the most fulfilling artistic experience for those of us who enjoy the physical art and like to touch and experience organic things.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can using any method at my disposal for discovering new and wonderful stuff.  Though I spend a lot of time listening to stuff online, flipping through bins at the local shop and talking to the employees a lot of the best tips that I get come from musicians like yourself.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?

Wyro:  1926.

What about nationally and internationally?

Jeso:  From Spain there are two bands I recently discovered and like, Pyramidal from Alicante and The Sidereal Waves from Madrid, both have Facebook accounts (*which are hyperlinked in the names).  I like the La Leyenda del Espacio LP by this Spanish band from Granada called Los Planetas, where they transform flamenco music into psychedelic rock.  The result is quite interesting, it reminds me of old Triana from the 70’s with a much modern sound.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, it wasn’t short and I don’t assume it was quick to answer all of this stuff or easy to come up with answers for some of it for that matter.  Before we call it a day and I sign off though is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or my readers about?

Jeso:  Thanks for taking the time to read this and we hope our music brings you interesting states of mind.

Wyro:  Thanks man.

(2012)  Weedpecker – Weedpecker Demo – digital – Self-Released
(2013)  Weedpecker – Weedpecker – digital, CD – Self-Released (“Weedfields” features Cheesy dude of Belzebong)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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