Interview: Five Minutes with Weston Rd

Stafford-based rock band Weston Rd have announced their debut single ‘Take You Down’ due for release on Wareman Records. ‘Take You Down’ is a whirlwind of pounding drums, delivered with a full-on dose of guitar and fierce vocals.

Weston Rd is lead singer/guitarist Joe Blanks, Leon Philipsen on bass guitar and Jake Brown on drums. Their name is derived from the street on which their home studio is situated in the county town of Stafford. The boys have a strong connection to the area and have many fond memories of crazy antics there – from filling their kitchen with scarecrows pinched from the town fete after a boozy evening, to filming their upcoming video at Stafford Castle. 

Ahead of their latest release, we got a chance to sit down and meet the men behind the music. 

Set the tone for us. Why the arts? 

It’s difficult to say as it is something that has naturally resonated within all us for as long as we can remember. None of us can actually remember a time that music wasn’t featuring greatly in our lives. As a result of it being there from such a young age I guess we have always expressed ourselves best through music.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea? 

It can be either. It could be a word, a riff, something in day-to-day life-like the rhythm of the printer, or even birdsong. There is no set way to write, if something inspires us then we find it relatively easy to crack on and put a good song together.

Does your material feature any collaborations? 

Not at the moment but we have a hit list of artists we would love to have in our studio, like Foo Fighters, Royal Blood, Chris Stapleton and Richie Kotzen for instance – we’ve all admired these guys for ages and feel we could do something really great with them.

What’s on your current playlist? 

We listen to a varied palette of music at the moment – can range from Leon with ‘Rivals Sons’ (whose latest album is ‘Killer’) through to Jake listening to ‘D-block Europe’ and Joe with Richie Kotzen’s latest single “Venom”

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage. 

Every show for us is something special. We have an incredibly close relationship with our fans and we love to see them enjoying what we do. With every gig we seem to be building a stronger relationship with the crowd on and off stage, in fact we have just recorded a song “Breath As One” which was inspired by someone’s comments on what she was going through. You could say we feed off each other.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound? 

That’s easy we just pile in all our influences. Jake might be thudding out a hip-hop beat, then Leon comes in with some really jazzy bit of nonsense while Joe tries to make it into a rock song. You see, we all have differing roots: hip -hop, punk, Latin, metal and Jazz, but what we all love is great music in any form. And when something just pops out of fresh air we all burst out laughing. And believe it or not that’s how many of our songs have started. Technically, we run dual guitar amps and cabs both with completely different tones which, as a three-piece, we found really makes a huge and full sonic wall. Weston Rd. really are unique… “no bout adout it!“

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Lashings of bacon, tea and coffee before anything musical is even considered. Jake might then begin singing or screaming nonsense whilst dancing around in his underpants and playing a toy saxophone! Seriously though, when we’re in the studio it really depends on what we are aiming to achieve. Sometimes we have Jake lay down his groove and then we put the other parts in around it. Other times we go over parts in the live room and then plug them in. We tend to dedicate certain days to getting the vocals on top. It’s all about how the creativity takes on the day. We also spend good productive time in the green room working acoustically until something magical happens – be it a riff, a groove or a beat. We might then lay that down and compose around it.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

In fact the three of us have known for many years that we wanted to make music as our career. But on one particular September evening in 2016 when we ended up jamming together for the first time there really was glitter dust in the air and we knew we had the right chemistry. Something just clicked. This was the start of Weston Rd. in its current form and what we now want to share with the world.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set? 

Fire extinguisher in case Jake combusts! No, not really. Spare strings, leads, sticks, climbing chalk, gaffer tape and the bands toolbox.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Yeah, we are really excited by our friends in Haunted by Wolves, they have just released some new music and it is just so great.

What gets your creative juices flowing? 

Extreme situations in the news. Extreme situations in life. Extreme happiness and extreme sadness. All things that we as a band have shared. It’s interesting when people relate, particularly, to the lyrics of our songs. Listening to our favourite artists is also a great way of getting inspired.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression. 

We love our gear. Our full stage set up consists of a sparkling blue Natal kit that Jake has his Zildjian symbols towering over. He loves to give his gong a good whack as well! Leon‘s bass rig definitely stands tall with the Eden amp and cabs punching out the bottom end of the band. This is accentuated with the Sire axis he plays. Whether the P7P bass or the V7 jazz bass, doesn’t matter as it sounds huge. Joe has a large array of gear starting with his pride and joy, the Gibson 355 and his Zemaitis 60th anniversary. When plugged into his Marshall JTM 45 and JCM 900s the 2 4×12 cabs are a force to be reckoned with. All three of us use various effects units to really get that precise tone experience we desire.

Any side projects you’re working on? 

Jake says he is working on his solo album “Wareman, Wareman” on his Fisher Price toy sax in the key of H (bubbles optional). Other than that, Weston Rd. is our lives.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry? 

Collectively we have 30 years experience in the music industry Winning competitions, performing on TV, and touring with a wide variety of genres and artists in venues varying from pubs and clubs, theatre and full arena tours. They proved great breeding grounds for learning and meeting great musicians. Leon has a music degree in jazz performance. Jake studied percussion at the London School of music. But surprisingly both Jake and Joe enjoyed success in the young drummer of the year competition (Joe was the face of the competition for five years).

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year? 

This year promises to be massive for us and we can’t wait to share the music with everyone. We will be making lots of music and video releases, touring and definitely spending lots of lovely time meeting up with our new fans.

Imminent, is the release of our new single ‘Take You Down’ together with our new EP release. Touring, Mirch, ‘Superfan’ competitions, limited edition signed swag et cetera. The list goes on.

Famous last words?

Joe: “She dunked me like a biscuit”

Leon: “Yeah That Will Do”

Jake: “Wareman, Wareman”

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