Where do we even begin?
The Weeds stirred up a bunch of shit wherever we went in 1996 and 1997.
Everything we did was live and improvisational. We always walked the high wire without a net. Sometimes we fell to a violent death, but most of the time we kicked a ton of ass.
There was nothing like us then and there has been nothing like us since.
Jim and I were the core of the project, but we had many talented musicians and co-conspirators join us along the way. We thank them for the great music, thank them for finding a new gear and thank them stretching themselves beyond their comfort zones.
During the past 20 years, between Jim and myself, we toted around cases of cassette tape recordings of what we did for those two outrageous years, from South Florida to San Francisco (twice) to Asheville and back to South Florida.
Glad we did, as we were able to find the original tapes, which allowed us to remaster Beer from the best, admittedly still shitty, source cassettes.
We recorded just about everything we did, which upon listening 20 years later is eye opening, sometimes embarrassing and always notable for the complete belief in what we were doing and the immense balls it took to do it.
We had a following that most bands in South Florida would kill for in 2017, packing clubs, book stores, record stores, art show openings, festivals and all sorts of other gigs. We actually got payed to play spoken word/music.
It was a reality show before reality shows. It was social media before social media. It was always in your face and honest as a motherfucker.
It was 100 percent free expression, and it was a steamroller that was to be fucked with at your peril, as some less than savory characters found out.
Doing it was about as much fun as you could possibly have with your clothes on.
Hope you enjoy this document of a more innocent time. We saw what was coming and desperately tried to tell everybody, but nobody was really listening.
But they did enjoy watching us try.
-- Adam Matza
Original liner notes from 1997:
First thing's first: the recording quality on "Beer" ranges from good to poor; we are starving artist/musician types and made due with what we could get. We hope the content and the performances make up for the low, low, low fidelity of some of the recordings.
The 15 tracks on "Beer" reflect the Weeds' wide variety of musical and spoken-word vocal styles, the diversity of our subject matter, as well as our multi-dynamic approach to improvisational performance.
It also stands as a document representative of one year of performing a musical style unfamiliar to most of the people who heard and saw it, as well as most of the musicians who played it.
Some people love us, some people hate us. Some people open their minds to the challenge, some just want us to shut the fuck up.
Those who have performed in our friendly little collective are forever effected by the experience, for better or worse, whether they like it or not. Some players excel in the freeform format, while some abuse the privilege.
The Weeds played more than 60 shows in 1996, ranging from poetry and percussion duos to the out-and-out chaos of eight players struggling to find space in the maelstrom. We played coffeehouses, nightclubs, artshow openings, private parties, festivals, radio shows, record stores and universities.
Sometimes we played to packed houses, sometimes to a handful of souls and sometimes to ourselves.
We always have a great time seeing how far "out there" we can go, always pushing the envelope, always setting a new precedent to live up to.
We find joy in the uniqueness of our "avant-jazz-funk and smokin' word." We love going from a whisper to a scream, revel in our Miles Davis-inspired "don't play what you know, play what you don't know" ethic of performance.
We feel like we break ground every time we play.
Every arrangement on "Beer" was improvised. Many people find that hard to believe because most of the pieces are quite tight. However, the improv is quite obvious on some tracks ("Men & Women," especially).
To a certain extent, we approach the Weeds as a freeform, Coltrane-esque jazz project with the vocals taking the place of the horn.
But we are also influenced by the poetry and percussion of Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets, the rock/poetry of Jim Morrison and Patti Smith, the jazzy beat approach of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and John Sinclair, as well as the aggressive contemporary stylings of Maggie Estep, Adrian Castro, M.C. 900 Ft. Jesus, Matt Cook and Reg. E. Gaines, among many others.
But whatever direction we turn, whatever influence gets assimilated, we are, inevitably, The Weeds.
"Love Poem," "Wallace Stevens" and "Near Dead Experience" represent our only foray into something approaching a recording studio. The three pieces were recorded live by Michael Gabriel in his living room in March of 1996. We were pleased with the results, although to this day Jim wants to kill Rey for his shitty cymbal and chime work at the beginning of "Love Poem."
"America Is" and "Warflowers (Lush Gardens) come from an April 1996 live on-air radio performance on the WVUM-FM Spoken Word Show with Darnella. It features a guest performance on flute by Amy, whom we had met three days before at an open mic. (Note what a great job of engineering Darnella does, as well as how worried she sounds just before we start "America Is.")
"Princess of No Domain" and "The Last Day of My Last Day Job, Pt. 1" were taken from our live August 1996 performance on the WZTA-FM Zeta-4 Local Show with Kimba. The pieces show off two diverse, traditional spoken word styles separated by four decades: Hip Hop and Beat-Jazz.
They also show off what great players Jim and Ed are. (Our improv was challenged that night by the earphones not working; Jim and Ed could not hear me, but you can't tell by listening to the pieces).
"Welcome to: I'm A Poet," "Pseudo Lovers," "CIA-I Remember" and "Men & Women" were recorded on a Radio Shack handheld tape recorder. (We are always amazed by that little thing).
"Welcome" was recorded, as many things are, in Jim's living room under the influence. "Men & Women" is an excerpt from a much (!!) longer piece performed at Tavern 213 in late July of 1996. This was one of the three most extreme shows The Weeds performed in 1996. We were joined by a strange combination of guitarist Scott Putusky (formerly of Marilyn Manson, and a great player), fuzz bassist Rich Penney (formerly of Danzig) and flautist The Silver Nightingale a.k.a. Laura Sue Wilansky of XS Magazine. It really goes off!!
"Pseudo Lovers" and "CIA-I Remember" were taken from our performance at Solo Restaurant during the 1996 XS Music Festival in downtown Fort Lauderdale. It was a show that culminated with the ritual burning of a Weeds book, a la Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival. I love how quickly the piece explodes and then calms.
We hope you enjoy "Beer" as much as we enjoyed its creation. Try listening with headphones if you have the chance. It's easier to hear the subtleties that way.
Why "Beer"? It's a Weeds mantra stolen from those Foster's beer commercials" "Weeds!! Beer!!"
released April 20, 2017
The Weeds are:
Adam Matza - words, vocals
Jimmy "Maximum" Seidel - drums, djembe, dumbec, percussion
Ed "No Comment" Ethridge - bass, keyboards
Rey "Conga" Diaz - congas, percussion
Laura Sue Wilansky - flute on"Pseudo Lovers" and "Men & Women
Amy - flute on "America Is" and "Warflowers (Lush Gardens)"
Jorge Gera - keyboards on "Pseudo Lovers" and "CIA-I Remember
Rich Penney - fuzz bass on "Men & Women"
Scott Putesky - guitar on "Men & Women"
Produced and Reduced by The Weeds
Engineered by Adam Matza, Jim Seidel, Ed Ethridge, Darnella Dunham, Kimba and Michael Gabriel
Compiled and Curated by Adam Matza
The Weeds wish to thank all the good sisters and brothers who are down with the struggle.
The Weeds are about freedom.
Be Free. Love. God.
Be Your Own Guru
Remastered from original source cassette tapes by Adam Matza at Magic Ears Mastering in 2017
all rights reserved