by Malik Hall
Social distancing is currently a way of life and is giving all of us a chance to explore different aspects of ourselves. As a member of the punk bands Deathbirds Surf Club and The You Go Girls, Bean Weatherford decided to take a break from his normal genre and instead work on a solo project by dusting off some songs that he had drafted up over a decade ago. Weatherford just released his new album Refried on his birthday, and it can be considered an experimental project as he took a break from punk and channeled his inner Southern roots. Born and raised in Danville, VA, that’s where Weatherford discovered his love for music and skateboarding. He showed how he is making the best out of our current crisis as I caught up with him to learn about the new album.
What made you want to record a solo album?
I’ve been doing my solo stuff since way before DeathBirds and way before The You Go Girls, my other band I was in. I wrote my first kind of country song when I was in high school. I was also in a punk rock band called Caveman Crew at this time.
During college, that whole time I was in a band called Double Helix, which was more like a pop punk band, but we did some weird experimental kind of folk stuff in that project. After college, I was living in Chicago, and I wrote the first song. I wrote a song that was on this album. So, I mean, this is over a decade ago. I wrote some of the songs like over a decade ago.
What was that first song about?
I wrote a song called “Dryfork Virginia.” I’m from Danville, but Dryfork is a little town outside of Danville. That’s where my high school was, and it was super redneck, and the song’s all about me joking. I sing the song like I’m one of the rednecks, “Driving, my pickup truck in the mud.”
Why is it called Refried?
I recorded an album that’s actually up on Bandcamp now that we’re going to probably take down once this comes out. With the studio of (bandmate)Tripper, it sounds so much better. These are some of my favorite, solo stuff I’ve written, these eight songs. There’s a couple of others that I’d say they’re on par with this, but I just really want to make them be at the level of recording that I felt like they deserved. That’s what I was really aiming for with this album, and that’s what’s called Refried. It’s because some of the songs have been on albums I’ve done before that I didn’t really promote because I really wasn’t super happy with how it sounded, but this is like, I’m beyond happy about how this sounds. The fact that I had awesome musician friends helping out and record, promote it, and do things for me that I am super grateful for. So, that’s why it’s called ReFried, and I mean, obviously, it is a play on my name.
How did the album come together?
Our friends have a spot at Shockoe Valley manufacturing, our crew, the Red Love Crew, which has been the name of our career since high school skateboarding, like in the 90s, basically.
We have a spot down there where I’d have a studio that we built, a soundproof studio that’s practice space for Humungus and Slump. We bought some kind of compressor that he wanted, and that gave us free reign to work on this album as long as we wanted. It took a long time, considering it’s only eight songs long. We pretty much started on it in 2018, and we worked on it. All the initial tracks were done really quick, within a week, but then we went back and added it like we had to. We did the acoustic tracks, the drum, the bass, and the singing at once, and I went back and did more vocals and the pedal steel and did l some other guitar work and some piano keyboard work.
Who plays what on this album?
I play acoustic guitar and sing and play electric guitar, and on one song I play harmonica. My brother plays bass on a bunch of tracks. Then there’s Tripper, who is the bass player in the You Go Girls. My brother’s the bass player for Deathbirds. Tripper, I think he did bass on three tracks. Dan Kelly, who’s like my, pretty much my brother-in-law these days, plays drums. He’s the drummer for DollBaby and his girlfriend, Julie, is my wife’s sister, and she sings on a couple of songs. Pete Curry from FM Skyline, Saw Black’s band, and also Deathbirds, He’s a drummer. He plays piano, this weird keyboard vintage organ my friend Tripper had, and he also plays my old vintage Wurlitzer. Curtis Wayne Patton, who plays pedal steel guitar, he also plays with Saw Black. Curtis was the new friend I met in making this album via Saw Black’s band, too. I mean, he’s magical on what he does on that pedal steel. It’s pretty sweet.
Why make your solo album a country one?
I actually really got into it, I got back into that kind of music from my friend Jim, who’s a Richmond legend in his own right. We were living together, and he just had all this vinyl, like Hank Williams. I was like, I know all this stuff. That’s what I grew up listening to, this stuff’s so awesome. In a different context, your parents and their friends listen to music and you’re, “Oh yeah, yeah, see this is all crap or whatever”. Now, I’m like, this is awesome country music compared to this pop BS that’s coming out now. I mean, there’s some new artists now that are doing things differently, like Sturgill Simpson or someone like that who kind of has that classic country sound, but also kind of resonates with counterculture, or whatever you want to call it.
Walk me through a few songs on the album:
“Dead in Kentucky”
Now, I wrote that song when I was living in Oregon Hill at what we called the “Red Love House” on Laurel street. It was a love letter to Virginia as a state and, ironically, it’s called “Dead in Kentucky.” The lyrics are like if you find me. “Find me, drag me back to Virginia, a place where everyone knows my name.” Right now, we don’t have a state song in Virginia, the old state song, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia,” is super racist, and they got rid of it 30 years ago or something like that, which is a good thing. I think this is a good replacement for it, and I’m gonna I pitch it, pitch it to Northam.
“The Ballad of Jo Pulley”
It was an actual event that happened right outside of Danville. A woman was missing for a long time, and flyers were up everywhere. In Danville, we didn’t have street art and graffiti and stuff before our crew started doing it. There are all these flyers everywhere, and you know this woman, this is like a weird thing. Eventually, they found her body, and the song is meant to be super dark. It’s a missing persons case, it’s been on these cold case files and all these shows like that. I had one-degree of separation from that woman, but I did not know her personally.
“Between Us All”
The last song is the newest song, it is called “Between Us All.” It was just kind of where God is and all of this is going on, all this shit happening, and just questioning and looking at it from different angles. Not really being dogmatic or really leaving the listener or myself with a real answer, but more of a question.
Cassettes are just really affordable. I mean, I want to look into putting it on vinyl, and we’ll probably do that, but that’s obviously a little more costly. I’ve been reaching out to a couple of smaller record labels to see if they’d help me out.
How do you feel about your show being canceled with the current corona virus issue?
I mean, obviously it’s a huge bummer. I’ve been really bummed out and you know, not just me. I mean, tons of bands have had things planned. I’ve been working towards sending out people to promote bands to play it. We even had a taco special and had a food special for the release. I know we plan on having the show later on, but we also are going to do this livestream thing and live stream the show from there. On Saturday night, when people are maybe just stuck at home being bummed out, we can have that, and then it might be a big hit because of that. I’d love to have some entertainment for people who feel like they’re stuck at home or are not having some kind of social thing. Maybe we can create that kind environment online and just have fun with it.
Any plans to create a new album since we all have a lot more time at home because of social distancing?
I was having that thought yesterday, sitting here social distancing myself, and I feel like, in a way, it’s like I write music for end times. I feel there’s just so much doom and gloom and growing up in the whole idea of Jesus was coming back and Terminator Two. There’s plenty of that evangelical thought, and I don’t know, maybe my love for Sci-Fi and then my Christian upbringing made me always feel like, in the Biblical times it was like the prophets who were musicians. I learned that and realized that, oh, I guess that never really changed, you know?
I think the next album I’m gonna probably work on will be a new Deathbirds Surf Club album, and I hope to God this doesn’t get canceled. We were supposed to be opening up for the Growlers at Friday Cheers. We’ve known about it for a few months now, but we had it all hush hush. If that gets canceled, I might just give up on living. No, I’m just kidding.
Catch a remote show of Refried Saturday, March 28 at 9pm straight from Fuzzy Cactus, and also check out the video for the single, “Friends”.
I’m just another wanderer trying to find his place in the world. Just call me your friendly neighborhood something!
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