North Carolina’s bastard sons of sludge, Weedeater could more or less farm out their shitty luck to five other bands and still have enough to get by on their own. Before they finally got to Electrical Audio in Chicago to record their fourth album with the venerable Steve Albini (Neurosis, etc.), bassist “Dixie” Dave Collins blew off his big toe cleaning a shotgun, guitarist Dave “Shep” Shepherd tore his meniscus and drummer Keith “Keko” Kirkum broke his hand. It was, to say the least, a delayed record, but the punningly-titled Jason… The Dragon will finally be release March 15 on Southern Lord, and Weedeater, as ever, are taking to the road for a massive amount of touring to support. Following a U.S. run that hits Kung Fu Necktie in Philly and Santos Party House in NYC on Feb. 23 and 24, they head over to Europe for a slew of touring that includes a stop at the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands. That’s alongside the touring Collins will do with the recently-reactivated Buzzov*en. I won’t spoil how many days in a row it is.

Collins took my call for the following phoner from a bar in Cape Fear, appropriately enough, and was more than forthcoming about the trials the band faced going into Jason… The Dragon. What follows is but a sampling of the full conversation.

At this point, are you just glad to finally have the album done?

Yeah. Yeah, I am. We were prepared to do this on several different occasions. We were supposed to record, and, you know, Murphy’s Law falls into everything I’ve ever done in my entire life. I wasn’t really surprised that it happened the way that it did. We took time off on purpose to just get our shit back together. All of us are very busy people, but at the same time, we were ready to record this record a long time ago. That’s before Keko had the injury with his knee, and I blew my toe off with a shotgun and Shep broke his hand.

We’re pretty much gluttons for punishment, and we get through this shit all the time. I wasn’t very happy with the fact that we weren’t able to record it when we were originally supposed to, but at the same time I wasn’t surprised.

Was it worth the wait for you to record with Steve Albini?

Yeah. This is the second record in a row we’ve done with him, and he’s one of the best producers in the world for analog stuff, for sure, and I’ve been very fortunate working with nothing but the best. Billy Anderson is also, in my opinion, right in the same caliber, one of the best producers for analog shit and live sound in the world. It was worth the wait, and Steve was very patient with our situation. Even if, in the end, he did ask for the money up front, which I can’t blame him for (laughs). Once you cancel on him twice…

And he shifted around bands to get us in there, but when it was all done, we had a very positive experience at [Electrical Audio] once again. He’s got one of the best recording studios in the world, if not in the U.S. I think the place is awesome. So we had a blast, and it was our second time there and all the same main people that work there are still there, and they’re awesome. Look forward to doing another record either with him or Billy or somebody.

I hope you don’t have to go through the same kind of trials to get there.

I can only do that nine more times if I do.

Are you tired yet of answering questions about the toe?

Well, you know, I’m not so much tired of it. I imagine I’m gonna be asked questions about that for the rest of my life. I have a pretty good sense of humor, and I’m still alive and I actually fared better than a lot of people would have from that incident.

My doctor told me that if there’s any possible way to be lucky shooting off your toe, then I am. I’m fine with it. It’s not a big deal. I imagine I’m gonna hear about it. I’m still wearing the same shoes. I got a giant hole through my fucking shoe and I’m still wearing it right now.

How did “Homecoming” come about? That song stood out to me.

Yeah, that’s different as well. That’s another thing. I’m proud of that song. Very much so. Our guitarist David Shepherd had written that song as an acoustic song. Me and him are in a side-project that’s just me and him, known as Barstool, and it’s all acoustic guitar and banjo and lap steel and basically no amplified instruments at all, and he had written the song for that, and we were in the studio with Albini, and we had paid the extra money to stay in the bunks they have there at EA, in Chicago, so while everyone else was sleeping, we would just jam all night and see what we could come up with to add to it, and Shep had that riff and basically the structure of that song written for acoustics, and I was like, “Dude, we should just play it straight and loud through your Marshall rig and fuzz it out and make it a Weedeater song and see what it sounds like.” I’m very happy with it. I think it sounds different than anything else we’ve ever done and it’s one of my favorite songs on the whole new record.

It was one of my favorites as well, listening to it.

I think we’re going to do a video for it too. We are pretty much against doing videos, but I had a great idea for doing a video for it, so I think we’re going to probably do that very shortly. We’re going to go back to my junior high school here in North Carolina—I already talked to the principal now and he told us we could use the gymnasium. We’re gonna have a bunch of people stomping on bleachers, like it’s a homecoming football game or basketball game, but instead it’s gonna be zombie cheerleaders and a full-on grown folks, drunken, retarded dodgeball game.

And I assume you guys are going to be playing, like it’s a Weedeater pep rally?

Yep, pretty much. Pretty much a Weedeater pep rally with zombie cheerleaders and grown-folks playing dodgeball and beating the shit out of each other.

I can see why you would say, after not wanting to make a video, “Okay, maybe it’s time,” if that’s the video you’re gonna make.

Yeah. I’m still on the fence about it, but I promise, if I do make it, it’ll be completely retarded.

Tell me about doing Buzzov*en again, about picking that back up.

Well, it had been 12 years since we played a show at all, and I’m pretty sure that Erik Jarvis, one of the guys from Tone Deaf, was approached by Kirk Fisher, and he called me and asked me if I thought it would be worth our time to even try and get out and play some shows after 12 years. We contacted Jarvis, Jarvis fished around and figured out it would be worth our while, and here we are. We’ve done one run of the East Coast, one run of the West Coast and now we’re poised to do the Midwest.

I think I leave on Feb. 2 to do that, then I will come home from that for a day, and then Weedeater will leave for a 40-day, or so—40 shows in 41 days—U.S. tour, and then I will come home for one day, then I will go with Buzzov*en to Europe for two and a half weeks, ending at Roadburn, and then I will stay there with a day off, and then Weedeater will play Roadburn, and we will do three weeks. From Feb. 2 through mid-April, I will be gone.

When you’re scheduling tours, do you purposely try not to get days off?

Well, I would love to have days off, because I’m old (laughs). But at the same time, they just cost money, man. Every day that we play, we get fed for free, we get our drinks for free, and we get paid. If we have a day off, I don’t know how much we’re gonna eat, but we’re definitely gonna want to drink something, and it just costs money, and it costs money to find places to stay.

Out on tour, I would prefer playing every night. The Melvins/Down tour that we did, they had plenty of days off, because that’s the way those bands will do, and I think we played 71 shows in 72 days. I’m used to it. A day off just makes me realize how much my back hurts and how old I am, so I’d just rather keep going. It’s easier for me.

Weedeater hit Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia on Feb. 23 and Santos Party House in NYC on Feb. 24 with ASG supporting. Jason… The Dragon is out March 15 on Southern Lord. For more info, check out myspace.com/weedeater.

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