THE WORLD mostly knows Wilmington N.C. and surrounding area as a quiet, polite, pretty place featured in a lot of movie scenes.
But the music world knows Wilmington as a Southern capital of stoner metal.
At the center of the dank storm is Dave “Dixie” Collins,” a seminal figure in the stoner/sludge metal genre. Currently fronting Weedeater, Dixie was also a member of the deeply influential cult punk/thrash outfit Buzzov*en, and a former member of the legendary Bongzilla.
Formed in 1998, Weedeater remains one of stoner metal’s most respected OG proponents. The entire genre is experiencing a renaissance of sorts —in part fueled figuratively and literally by the increasing acceptance and celebration of cannabis in all its forms.
Weedeater returns to Savannah to play the Jinx on March 6, in one of the most anticipated metal shows here in a long time. We spoke to Dixie last week.
Bands like Weedeater, Bongzilla, and Sleep have been around awhile but still draw huge crowds on the road. I’m seeing a lot of younger fans these days. Have you noticed a new excitement for sludge metal with younger people?
Dixie: Yeah, on the tour we just finished, with Mothership and Crowbar, we noticed a lot of young kids who seem really into our music. It's funny, because younger people didn't seem to care at all about it for years. But now it really seems to have turned around. Now they love it.
Is it because this type of metal is just less bombastic than a lot of the genre? It's super heavy, but also just fun.
I don't know if there's necessarily a secret to what we do. We've always done things the same way, and I'm sure we'll continue doing things the same way. It's very much an if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it kind of thing.
This is cave metal, man. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here.
I’m curious about the evolution from Buzzov*en’s sound to Weedeater. The former is much faster and more aggressive.
It has similarities but key differences. Weedeater is definitely a slower, heavier tempo, whereas Buzzov*en was more uptempo. Weedeater’s uptempo is more like mid tempo!
Y’all recorded two albums with the legendary Steve Albini. What does he understand about this kind of music that so many producers just don’t get?
He’s one of the best in the world at what he does. Of course we’ve had a lot of great producers over the years – Billy Anderson gets it, too.
They both understand live sound. Their goal is to record the band as close to what we sound like live as possible. It’s all basic tracks, pretty much played live. Steve’s really good at mic placement.
A band should sound better live than on the record anyway — if your band sounds better recorded than it does live, your band might suck!
Steve’s basic philosophy boils down to less is more. This band is supposed to sound like one thing: Bulldozing. We don’t need a lot else.
Your music is experiencing a resurgence at the same time cannabis is becoming more mainstream. Is that a coincidence? Is pot part of your creative process as well as your brand?
I’m a big advocate for it, for sure. It’s certainly better than many other things you could ingest. And it is a part of our creative process, to an extent.
But Weedeater isn’t actually named for weed, it’s named after your dog.
Well, it’s kind of named after weed. My dog ate some weed that someone had left out on a table. So we called her Weedeater, and named the band after her.
Was she OK?
She slept for quite awhile! She was fine — she lived a long time after that. We always figured she'd actually outlive the band!
You're touring with a new drummer, fellow Buzzov*en vet Ramzi Ateya, after the tragic death of Carlos Denogean.
Carlos just fell over with a brain hemorrhage. He was just 30 years old. So young. It's crazy. I mean, I was already playing in bands when he was born.
He lived a healthy life. Didn’t drink, didn’t abuse anything, stayed in shape, ate right, he jogged every day.
I always said that the most unhealthy thing he ever did was stand next to me!
Tell me about the music scene in Wilmington. There’s a lot going on, but it’s been sort of under the radar.
It’s always been a great scene in Wilmington, but what hampered the scene was a lot of bands just didn’t get out and work around. We’ve always worked really hard and toured a lot. We play with some other area bands like ASG, who’s on this tour with us, and Toke.
Good stuff started happening with the scene when a lot of local bands started to get out and play more. Now they’re showcasing the real music scene here. It doesn’t surprise me that it’s now becoming more popular.
In this genre especially, you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to get out and work and tour. That’s what we’ve done for 25 years.