Introducing… The Weight – Words: Will Simpson
Originally a former punk southern boy one-man band, now they’re a rock outfit with southern stylings – and no girls allowed.
A group of 30 or so sturdy looking blokes, many of them clutching cans of beer, stare out from the photograph on an album cover; ‘The Weight Are Men’ it proclaims in large type. But who or what is behind this statement, and why the need to proclaim their masculinity?
The man with the answers is Joseph Plunket, a Georgia-born songwriter who until recently was The Weight. And, as you might expect, he is not being entirely serious. “The simple story is that we had a girl playing keyboards for us for a while,” he explains. “When she quit on us we were like: “Ah, screw this, the name of the next record is Are Men.’’ I suppose when you put a load of crazy looking dudes on the cover it kinda makes it look a little more forceful than it was originally intended. But that’s why we have the pink around the border, to soften it up.”
“A lot of it is a goof on us,” he chuckles. “None of us are the most manly men, but I think we put on the show as best as we can. I like to drink beer and watch football with the best of them but I’m not necessarily a jock. We’re not exactly the toughest dudes on the block.”
Plunket last surfaced in 2004 when he released 10 Mile Grace, an album of Springsteen-influenced alt-country that was a solo record in all but name. When it came to the more traditional country rock follow-up, he was determined that this time The Weight would be a proper band.
Strangely, though, for a record that’s so indebted to southern stylings, Plunket relocated to Brooklyn to recruit his new band.
“To me it’s not that different to what happened historically, with blues music going north to Chicago,” he argues. “I could have gone to Nashville, but they’re going to laugh at me there so I figured it’d be a little easier if I headed north. As a rock band we’re more in tune to the kind of music that’s come out of New York.”
Plunket himself is still readjusting to his new NY life. “It’s up and down. If you catch me on one day maybe I’d say I’m sick of it, but most days I love it. I’m really happy with how the band is working out. It’s still a bizarre place for a southern boy though.”
Are Men is out now on The Colonel/Tee Pee.
It’s hard to imagine now but Joseph Plunket has something of an angry, spiky-topped past. The Weight frontman spent his youth playing with a number of punk bands around the Atlanta area, before taking the same direction as the Replacements into more rootsy territory.
“I was really into Bruce Springsteen,” he says. “But it was hard for me to believe I could sing like that. I loved that sort of music, but I had always played in bands where everyone was yelling. Then one day I sat down with a guitar and realised I had a decent voice. I kinda surprised myself. And I’ve never looked back.”
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