You might know Weighbridge from when they graced the UNIFY Gathering 2020 stage earlier this year. Or maybe you’ve seen them opening a local show and you were impressed at how good they were, or perhaps you fell in love with the songs of their debut EP, Limbic Resonance.
Whichever way it’s happened, Weighbridge are a band turning heads at the moment, including ours. Not only did Limbic Resonance earn my personal pick for EP of the Year 2019, but the Depth readership voted with the same outcome. It seems clear that Weighbridge are onto something. On the phone with Weighbridge’s drummer Jake Leahy and bassist Josh Godwin, I hit the guys with a million questions to understand the Weighbridge story so far.
They seem to have appeared out of nowhere, but there’s a history to the Melbourne based band that starts back to early high school. The seeds were planted when vocalist and guitarist Sean Ross and Jake met in year 7, and quickly bonded over music. Jake remembers “We used to jam in the bandroom at high school, pretty much until he moved away in year 10.” The two later played together in Fear Of Flying Objects, which disbanded in 2017.
The idea of something new came about and Weighbridge was beginning to form. Jake shared how Sean had had songs lying around for a couple of years, adding “I always thought they were really cool.” Sean asked Jake to join the band in its very early stages, and it was the songs that made it a no-brainer for Jake; “I accepted because I knew how good the songs were.”
Elsewhere in Melbourne, Josh Godwin was playing bass with Set The Score from 2014 until early 2018, when the band broke up. As soon as the last show was announced, Josh says “Sean slid into my DMs and asked me if I wanted to come and jam these songs out.” Weighbridge was expanding, and the recording process for Limbic Resonance would follow soon after.
The band were still a three piece when they released their first single, “Use”, in late 2018. ‘Grungy with heavier elements’ is how Josh had described it to me at the time. In reviewing the song, I was struck by the anguished vocals, sparse instrumental moments, as well as the force and fire. “Use” was a big catalyst for the band according to Jake. He says “Once “Use” came out, it all happened very quickly, to get where we are now. Not that we’re anything yet, but the acceleration happened quite quickly.”
They were able to jump onto shows in support of friends’ bands, and their appearance at these shows marked a wave of interest. Their first show was opening for Void Of Vision at their launch for “Kill All My Friends”, and they played a set of unreleased songs as well as their cover of You Me At Six‘s “Bite My Tongue”. I happened to review that show and my impression was:
“I enjoyed the band’s post hardcore vibes from the word go, and a sweaty Stay Gold band room felt improved by the tones filling it, having me wish these songs were already released!
Weighbridge’s vocalist Sean Ross drew my attention the most: His emotionally fraught and earnest singing was held supported by strong instrumentation and interesting rhythms and song structures. I also thoroughly enjoyed the bass tone, and an overall sense from this band of having something to say and doing it well.”
Still with just one released song to their name, Weighbridge impressively played in support of Tapestry, Thornhill, Stuck Out, Windwaker, Belle Haven, and Yours Truly. It was personal connections that led to these early show spots, which the guys feel very lucky to have had behind them. Bands help other bands and that’s what helped Weighbridge too.
For example, Josh used to play in a band with Jack Bergin, after meeting him through friends who’d worked with Jack. He adds “I saw him at shows and stuff. I think I first met him at a Parkway Drive show in 2010 or 2009 or something like that.” Josh was also already friendly with Stuck Out due to having played with them with his old band. [Note: Josh would not tell me the name of the band with Jack, saying it was “high school stuff”, but that their first demo is still on Bandcamp if someone decided to hunt for it…]
After 10 months of shows with one song, “Gaunt” (featuring Jack Bergin) was released in September 2019. By this point, Ethan Taylor had joined the band on guitar, and three had become four.
When I asked about how Ethan’s joining the band came to be, Josh shared how he’d put the call out on Facebook for a guitarist. Though he didn’t really know Ethan, they were connected on Facebook and he had seen the post. “I think we figured it out, that he went to a show, Sierra‘s last show with Ocean Grove and Storm The Sky at OLP Ringwood. My band had opened that show. And then he added me on Facebook. That was years back. You know, just the random add and you don’t really talk to each other on Facebook? Just because they’re a random musician from Melbourne.”
In connecting with each other, Ethan checked out Weighbridge demos and felt that it was what he’d wanted to do. According to Josh, Ethan’s other band, The Friday Nights, were “a bit more funky, groovy, and he plays piano for them. This is the first heavy punk rock guitar band he’s played in.” The two talked about gear and other things in this initial chat before trying to line-up a band practice: “I was actually in my university library at the time. And he’s like ‘Yeah, sure. I’ll just do it after my exams’. I was like ‘Oh, what are you studying?’ and he goes ‘Oh, year 12’. I was like ‘Ohhhh, okay’. So he’s super young. We had to wait until after schoolies. He had to finish schoolies before we could actually try him out, which was pretty funny. I’m 25 and he’s much younger than me. I felt old being in a university library talking to a bloke that’s still in year 12, talking about music. It’s pretty weird. It’s a weird dynamic, this band.” And yet it seems to work just fine!
From there, the finishing touches were applied to the songs of Limbic Resonance by the full band together. Shortly before Limbic Resonance EP released, the band shared a final single from the EP, “Gums & Teeth”. Josh describes the release of the EP as “a relief”. The wheels had been in motion since they’d connected in early 2018, and it had taken a lot of effort behind the scenes to get to the point of putting it out (in October 2019).
He says “To be honest it was a stressful release to put together because it seemed like everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. In hindsight they were all just little things and we were all just learning to work together. Ethan hadn’t really been a part of an actual release where you put together something and actually release it. Sean and Jake had, but everything they’d done before they’d recorded themselves, where this was going into a studio with an actual engineer who’s going to engineer it for you. There were a few little issues, but we got there, we’re happy with how it came out, and that’s just how it is. So far it’s opened some doors for us, so no complaints.”
Some of the relief may well come from how these long-held songs were finally able to be heard. Jake shared that “Lessons Learnt” was written in 2016 while in TAFE, but on the other end of the spectrum, “Something Bleak” was written two weeks before the recording of it.
What’ll be interesting now for Weighbridge is beginning the process of the next album or EP, and doing so from scratch. Josh agrees, saying “It’s definitely weird. For the previous release, we had the songs and we didn’t have the lineup or the shows. It went in reverse. Now it’s the other way around. Obviously there were no expectations on our music and when we found the shows even. People weren’t expecting much of us because no one had heard of our name or anything. We were just the opener. So that kind of helps I guess, no expectations.”
Jake adds to this by talking about newness in the production side of things. “Apart from Godwin, the other three of us never really have been in a position where people can be expecting music from us, because none of our bands have really kicked off anywhere. Producing to expectations is a new experience for us, I’d say.”
Josh describes how Limbic Resonance came together as a ‘unique’ process. He says “All the EPs I’ve been involved in have been all pretty structured, whereas this is stuff from years ago you’re dusting off and bringing together. We had half an EP written and then Ethan joined. Now it’s a clean slate, we’ve all got to bring up new ideas now and you can’t sit on them for a year now.”
They’re not a band that’s short on ideas though. Josh described seeing the other three of the band continually putting forth new ideas. “The guys keep continually putting stuff forward, which is really cool. But it’s hard to pick.”
Trying to get a mental image of how they work together, Josh explained “We’ve got a group chat going. Nothing really too structured in terms of bringing songs up. It’s literally like Jake or Sean will message ‘Hey here’s something I did at home’ and it’ll just be a quick little pre-pro and we don’t really say yes or no right there. Usually we like to bring it into the bandroom because some of our favourite songs on the last EP, we wrote together in a room. We just have a big list of songs really. We kind of get to prac and if we’ve got time or if we’re actually writing songs at prac, we’ll pick an idea and run with it. And if it’s good or if we like it, usually we’ll sit on it for a bit and decide. It’s all different now. We’re still kind of halfway through that process. Picking ideas out and working on them.”
I wondered if this relatively new group of musicians were still working out how to work together. From Josh: “Definitely working it out. Everyone’s got their own little styles and stuff. Jake likes to write by himself and bring songs to everybody when they’re about halfway done. Sean likes to get it fully done, finish it off and then bring it and then we can kind of change it, and then Ethan, he likes to write by himself, but I feel he prefers to have an idea brought to him and then to change it. So it’s all different and I’m kind of the same with Ethan as well. I much prefer to work on something that’s halfway there than to write something from scratch. It’s all just a feeling out process at the moment. Apart from Jake and Sean, we haven’t had a lot to do with each other before Weighbridge came together. It’s all just fumbling around and figuring it out at this point.”
One of the doors that Limbic Resonance opened for the band was their appearance at UNIFY Gathering 2020. “That was a really big surprise for us. We had no inkling that we would be getting that at all. A bit of a dream come true for a lot of us. I go every year and it’s THE festival for our friendship group to go and all the bands we like. So to play it was just a happy day when we got that news.”
It was relatively short notice for the band, due to Caged Existence pulling out of the lineup. The guys of Weighbridge were all on the way to band practice on the day they found out, and went ahead with that practice. Josh remembers “I think we played so tight. We were just so pumped up. Probably the best that we’ve ever played. It’s a bit of a shame that no one was there to watch it. We could have walked on stage then. We were just over the moon really to have that and we’ve got that forever now.”
The band have Matt Van Duppen (from Thornhill) managing them, and it’s Matt who has done a lot of behind the scenes work on behalf of the band. “He jumped on board just as the EP was released. I used to play in a band with him for awhile so he’s a good friend of mine, we go way back. I was playing shows in a band with him for 5 years and playing shows on the same bill for 7-8 years, so it’s cool to have him on board because he’s a good friend, trust him a lot.”
Curious as to what it’s like to play on the UNIFY Gathering stage, Josh describes it as “the most fun that I’ve had on stage”. He says “I’d gone and seen my friends’ bands play in previous years.. Better Half, Thornhill, Void Of Vision, that kind of thing. So I really got a kick out of seeing people that you grew up being friends with being able to achieve that and you know that’s a huge accomplishment. But you never think you’re going to get there. So once we got there, we were pretty nervous before the show, but I guess everyone who came through and saw us before we went on just said ‘We know you’re going to kill it’ and we just went ‘We’re here. Let’s just have as much fun with it as we can’. I think that’s what we did and it sounds like that’s what it came across as.”
I was lucky enough to witness the experience, and in my review of their set used phrases like “nailed it”, “spot-on”, “flowing”, “hit the stage front in full badass mode”. Weighbridge played like they’d done this before and so many people I spoke with later in the festival marked it as a favourite set of the entire weekend.
In terms of pre-show nerves, each of the band members does their own thing. On UNIFY day, Josh says “Reside played before us, so I was pretty keen to see them, so I tempered the nerves by watching them play, which was pretty cool. They killed it as well. The time went really fast to be honest with you. By the time you wake up and get ready and stuff, because it was midday, you’re on anyway and it just went by like that.”
It was definitely an intimidating experience for Josh [Just so you know, I wasn’t ignoring Jake, he had to leave the call], especially seeing Weighbridge on the same poster with The Ghost Inside, one of his favourite bands. “It’s a bit weird to think about, and you see all the techs there, like there’s all these stagehands that aren’t usually there at regular gigs and they’re all there to make you sound good. You’re like ‘Oh this is a big event’, it’s not just rock up down the bar and there’s one sound guy who has run your show a million times. There’s actually a lot of people, a lot of moving parts and stuff, especially with everything that happened the day before, there were so many people working on it, just working around the place, so it was a bit weird that they were all working on this big construction that you’re going to play on. I know that we were just one of many bands, but it’s just a bit odd. Because it’s a lot more of a professional environment than I guess we’ve ever been in for sure.”
Looking to the future, it can be summed up for Weighbridge as “shows and songs”, but that kind of captures every band, I guess! Josh elaborated about how they’re trying to get interstate as much as they can, with just two Sydney gigs under their belts so far. “There’s not too much of a complex plan at the moment, just trying to get out and about and play as many gigs outside of Melbourne. We’ve played here a lot. We really want to get out, get on the road. That’s what we like doing the most. We’re going to try and do that. Going to try and write some songs and see how we go from there. No long term plans at the moment, but we’ll see what comes up, I guess. Always working.”
Josh isn’t sure as to whether the follow-up to Limbic Resonance will be an EP or not, but he feels that the ideas from the band chat seem to suggest it’ll be something a little bit differently to the norm. And by way of sound, Josh is happy to keep the Weighbridge sound, but still have room enough to play with it. “As long as we’re happy to put the name on it, it’s Weighbridge.”
Listen to Limbic Resonance via Spotify and check out what Weighbridge are up to via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/weighbridgeau/