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NMF Q&A: Weedghost

By Garrett Bower, Copy Chief

Weedghost is the ambient drone of Athens' local Andrew Lampela and his co-conspirator Chris Poland. The duo are sonic nomads, roaming soundscapes with intrigue before moving off to the next distant, noisy hill. This approach to form has led to a countless number of recorded works and a bizarre that has ensnared listeners over the last decade. ACRN Media caught up with Weedghost in a Hocking College parking lot after their performance at this year’s Nelsonville Music Festival in the fitting No-Fi Cabin.

[The band Howard's set bleeds out from The Porch Stage, filling the parking lot.] Andrew Lampela: Really, they named their band Howard? They sound pretty good. I would never check them out because of their name, because that’s a dumb fuckin’ name. Weedghost is at least intriguingly stupid. Howard, you just sound like a janitor.

So, how long have you guys been playing as Weedghost?

AL: Probably 12 years?

Chris Poland: Around there. It’s more than a decade, I know that much.

AL: He’s the serious one.

CP: Hardly. Probably around 12 years.

AL: I’m the Shaun Cassidy, he’s the David Cassidy.

CP: I don’t know about that.

AL: You’re right; I’m pretty haggard for a Shaun Cassidy. [Laughs]

What did you guys start out playing?

AL: Well, I used to hound [Chris’] band. I told them to put out a velvet 10-inch! I used to hound them all the time then I joined a band with him--two basses and a drummer, called the Archvillains--and then we got really, really tired of waiting for our drummer. So we would have 45-minute band practices with just bass and pedals and whatever.

[Matt Majesky, owner of Columbus-based restaurant Pierogi Mountain approaches.]

Matt Majesky: Oh, this is a Weedghost interview… You guys enjoy yourselves.

CP: Cameo by Matt Majesky!

AL: Shoutout to Pierogi Mountain!

CP: Buy some pierogies! They are amazing!

MM: It’s all going down tomorrow, I’m turning the green room into Pierogi Mountain.

AL: Pierogi Mountain is wonderful. They’re in Columbus at--

MM: [Cafe] Bourbon Street and Weiland’s.

AL: You should pick them up! They are badass!

MM: I totally feel like shit though right now, so I’ll see you guys tomorrow.

AL: It’s not because of his own pierogies!

CP: So can I finish the story?

AL: Well, I mean you can add to it, I already finished it.

CP: Well, yeah, Andrew and I would just dick around on our basses and that’s how we started out. Weedghost was just two basses for a long time and it was--was it Brandon that named us?

AL: Yeah, Brandon [Smith] from the band EYE out of Columbus. He walked up to us one time, when our drummer was also a dick, and we ended up playing eight to 10 minutes before a show--

CP: He was just setting up. It takes him awhile to set up!

AL: Whatever, we played for a pretty long time and then we played our set and when we were done, [Brandon] walked up and was like, “Man you guys should just do that opening noise stuff and you should totally call yourselves Weedghost.” So we did, and we started doing that all the time.

So is it a ghost that smokes weed or a ghost made out of weed?

AL: No, I like to think of it as a nature thing.

CP: Dead plants.

AL: I haven’t smoked weed in a long time. [Group laughs]

CP: No comment.

AL: Whatever. It has nothing to do with weed.

So it’s more like the ethereal aspects of nature.

AL: Yeah, I’ve tried to incorporate all the nature elements in the artwork over the years.

CP: Some of that comes from Jimmy Kaiser too. He was always the dirge singer, right? The singer of the dead in Kid Panda Hands, instead of dead people and animals, we decided dead plants.

AL: Yeah, you know it's… [A Trampled by Turtles guitar solo rolls out from the festival grounds.] AL: …a very organic, otherworldly kind of thing. Rather than Trampled by Turtles who are all about weeds. CP: [Quoting Weedghost’s festival description] “Uniquely Appalachian.”

AL: Yeah, totally! Appalachian gospel, I believe. Gospel dirges.

So how does song structure come into play? AL: Aw, we just make that shit up. Find it as you go, huh? AL: Yeah, obviously we have very--I have very limited capabilities. CP: This is Andrew being modest; he is the musician in the band. AL: No, no. We just go. CP: Yeah, our first, like, four albums are strictly bass. No overdubs, just hit record and go. AL: Open D, just barely doing anything. Then we just started doing other stuff. CP: Yeah, playing different instruments… AL: We just like to get freaky. Well, it seemed like you have an inventive streak, like using those Korg Tiny Bits and just feeling them out. CP: Yeah, yeah! Just seeing what comes out of them! AL: And the last five or six years has just been that, you know. I’ve actually just reigned it all in. I used to use what? 10 pedals? I use two now, I leave all the crazy stuff to him… CP: We’re way more minimalist now than we used to be, I would say. AL: Yeah, I like the acoustic aspect with the freaky miniature Korg nuttiness. But then you also make the acoustic stuff just as freaky and that way people just don’t know what to do. It’s great! CP: And you play drums on a handful of albums too! AL: Sure. That’s *bad* drums. CP: I don’t know; he does cool, swirly stuff with cymbals and so forth. I like it. How many years have you guys played Nelsonville now? AL: [Laughs] At least eight. CP: Ever since it moved here, right? AL: There are some great pictures of me playing, [Chris] kind of kneeling next to me, and then Seth, from Akron/Family’s, butt on a ladder. Like all the good pictures that year, literally had Seth’s butt in the picture somewhere. There were a couple that I was looking over and it looks like I am looking right into his butt because it’s right there. CP: Has it been eight years since? AL: Yeah, I think it’s been at least eight. We used to set up on the corner between the two main bands, and possibly one of the best stories is, we’re playing, and we’re playing, there’s like four of us and we’re almost done with everything and the guy finally walks over in the middle of us and he’s like “Alright, where do you want these things amped?’ You know, “Do you want these things mic’d? How do want everything to..." It’s like, “Dude, we’re done.” That’s how much nobody cares. CP: Yeah, a lot of people think we’re warming up. Seemed like you guys had a pretty good turnout tonight. AL: Yeah, the last two years have been great. You know, normally we were very early in the day; nobody’s ready for that shit while it’s daylight out. I mean, you’re barely even sweating out the mushrooms at that point. CP: Yeah, it goes well with the night. AL: Yeah, 8:30 is perfect. Well, the mini Korg almost sounded like some spooky crickets there for a while. CP: [Laughs] Spooky crickets. That could be our side project. AL: Yeah, we’re Yo La Tengo now, we just put out 14 albums a year. We’re Spooky Crickets. That’s our cover band. You just call us up on the phone and we butcher a song for you. Take that, Yo La Tengo. I love you. Don’t sue me. How many albums do you have out now? AL: God, like 50. So you already are Yo La Tengo basically? AL: Seriously. Yeah, pretty much, we just crap things out. We record things, they sound great, we burn them, we put out like 30, then we move on. CP: Let’s see. Let me try to think… AL: No, no don’t think about it. There are tons. CP: I know but let me hit the highlights. AL: Highlights…they’re all highlights. CP: There’s Birth of Weedghost… um… what’s in the middle? There’s the creation and destruction of Weedghost, something in the middle. Rise of Weedghost I think…. So does it follow any sort of conceptual arc? CP: No! [Laughs] AL: After the first three, no. The first three came out and we tried to keep it kind of like that and then like 40 other things just got crapped out. CP: Then we had our self-titled… AL: Doesn’t matter. Didn’t matter. CP: We did We Grow the Dead AL: There’s tons! Tons! CP: New album is Luxury Umbrella AL: For sale over there! Five dollars! Or just stop in the store, I’ll burn it for you. CP: Those are the main ones that come to mind but I know there’s more. Lots of live compilations and so forth. AL: Woof. So much, so much. Did you record this one tonight? CP: Yes. AL: And I think Milo probably got it as well so we’ll have two. CP: Yeah, so hopefully we’ll have multiple. AL: We’ll mix the two, slightly out of phase so that it’s vomitus. Like spoiled Dairy Queen. CP: Yeah, maybe later I’ll be able to give you a complete discography. AL: I don’t even think you could because I put out a bunch of crap that you don’t even know about. CP: Eulogy! I forgot about Eulogy! We sold that last year, right? AL: Oh there’s tons of shit. I don’t know. CP: There’s a lot. It’s easier to put out albums when you don’t have to practice. So you don’t necessarily play anything off the albums, you just go for a new thing? AL: Uh, some things have similar themes but they aren’t very close. CP: Yeah, we’ll visit themes and revisit them. AL: We forget that crap pretty easily. But we’ll play your house!

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