By Brian Tucker
Turchi’s show at Lagerheads is homecoming and bon voyage for the blues trio’s drummer Cameron Weeks, an area resident for two years is moving to New Orleans. Talking from Asheville where Turchi rehearsed for their current tour, Weeks sounded excited for the show he calls a going away party.
“(Lagerheads) is a place I go to. After being on the road, and literally being my last show in Wilmington, I want to have a good time,” Weeks said.
Don’t expect a stripped down set. Like the last stop there, they’ll set up in the corner and open the windows. And be loud.
“Kirk, one of the main bartenders, (said) we were the loudest band there in the last ten years. Last time we turned it into a juke joint, people huddling up, dancing and having a good time.”
Turchi – singer-guitarist Reed Turchi, bassist Andrew Hamlett and drummer Weeks, is touring behind their new album Can’t Bury Your Past. Weeks is a Goldsboro, North Carolina native who moved to Chapel Hill for college and played in a lot of bands – The Comas, Jennyanykind, Two Dollar Pistols, and Some Army.
Bartending for four years at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill Weeks saw many bands come through (plus every member of Wu Tang perform) and met Turchi there. Running the university’s now-defunct music label Vinyl Records, Turchi was looking for bands and later asked Weeks to play drums on some demos.
“Turchi said, I have Luther Dickinson from North Mississippi All Stars to play on it and produce it.”
Cut to the present and Can’t Bury Your Past is winning over audiences, getting radio airplay and solid reviews. Its title is apropos. When Turchi entered a Memphis studio to record a full length album they didn’t like many of the songs. The ones they did like no one knew what to do with.
(EP My Time Ain’t Now) is actually stuff that didn’t fit personality-wise on the new album,” Weeks said. “Songs like “My Time is Now,” which is one of my favorites, and “Mind’s Eye,” I pushed to get that out. Reed thought we’d use it for online stuff. I thought, let’s get something out now because we don’t know when the record is going to come out.”
Two other songs from that session – “Big Mama’s Door” and “450 Miles,” are on Can’t Bury Your Past, recorded in Nashville and happened by chance.
“A friend gave us the studio’s number they use in Nashville. We had two days off during a tour and Reed said let’s go over, do a couple of songs and see what happens.”
Nine songs happened, each done in one or two takes (“We just didn’t know how much time we’d have”), a benefit of playing ten days straight on the road. Weeks maintains they had a clear idea of what they wanted but came out with something different.
“The thinking is we’re going to do a simple record, knock it out. Then later its – what are we going to do with this? You really never know. You can’t just harness creativity, when it happens it happens.”
The same can be said of Turchi’s live show, where sets include medleys of multiple songs to keep the energy going and the band on their toes.
“I never thought this would happen, but they’ve become more like Dead shows. There’s a lot of improvisation. We have a loose structure of a song and you’ll never hear it the way it is on the album. It’s always something new every night.”
More with Cameron Weeks
What’s your favorite place to play?
Weeks: I like college towns better for the fact that that there’s more to do. I know that’s crazy, but big cities, just parking and ways to get around, is a pain. College towns are usually prettier and people way more accepting. Big cities, bands come through every night. They just want to get in and out the door.
How did you come to live in Wilmington?
Weeks: I moved from Chapel Hill. I have a lot of friends that live in Wilmington that are from Chapel Hill and I wanted to live near the beach for a couple of years. I have a friend who got into to grad school and needed a housemate. At the same Reed got a job in Memphis for awhile and he said you might as well move to Wilmington. That was two years ago.
And you were in bands before Turchi?
Weeks: Lot of bands in Chapel Hill – an indie rock band called The Comas, JennyAnyKind (blues, along same lines of Turchi) that was on Yep Roc and Elektra. I was in (honky-tonk band) Two Dollar Pistols for a while with John Howie, Jr. In Some Army from conception until I had to move. I’ve been in bands since I was thirteen, grew up in Goldsboro and went to Chapel Hill for college.
How did you and Reed meet?
Weeks: I was in a band called Aminal, and Aminal became Some Army. Reed was a senior at UNC-C and was head of the college record label – Vinyl Records. He just informed me that it just shut down. Apparently two years after Reed graduates they didn’t maneuver the way Reed does. I don’t know how he somehow convinced the college to give him money to put out his friend’s records.…Some Army did an EP on there, Aminal did an EP.
I met Reed because he as at the clubs looking for bands to put out (on the label). My housemate at the time was good friends with him and we connected. He came to me one day and said (he was) trying to put together some demos and (had) Luther Dickinson from North Mississippi All Stars to play on it and produce it. (He said) You wanna play drums on it? That’s how Turchi was born. We got an album produced with Luther Dickinson on it.
How soon did you feel like you guys were on the same page?
As soon as he asked me to play we did a couple of rehearsals at my house. We went out for beers and we always hit it off.
How do you balance life on the road and life here?
Weeks: I’m actually moving May 20th out of Wilmington to New Orleans. The reason I do Turchi, and I haven’t pushed do anything in Wilmington, is that Turchi allows me to do what I want to do. I can cut it off. As soon as a tour is over or finished recording, I can go back to bartending and doing what I want to do and I don’t have to think about until he calls me. He calls and it’s, I need you to take off these three weeks to tour. I can plan it. We usually meet in Asheville and rehearse for a couple of days or come to Wilmington to rehearse.
Are you leaving for a change of scenery or a job opportunity?
Weeks: Little bit of both. In May I’ll have lived two years in Wilmington. I never expected to settle down here and I want to live in another city for awhile. New Orleans is a city I’ve always enjoyed any time I’ve been there. Basically something different but I’m also a bartender.
The new record is doing well with audiences?
Weeks: To us, it’s kind of gotten bigger than we thought it would be new music-wise. A year ago, we weren’t thinking, let’s get a horn section, let’s put this on the record, and let’s do this. People have responded to it really well, gotten great reviews, gotten radio airplay and we have a ten day tour of Italy in July.
Is typical for you to get more songs out of sessions?
Weeks: We go in with a clear idea with what we want and leave with something completely different. The thinking is, we’re going to do a simple record, knock it out, then six days later its – what are we going to do with this? That’s the way the new record came about. We had a friend who basically gave us the studio’s number they use in Nashville. We had two days off in Nashville during a tour and Reed said let’s go over, do a couple of songs and see what happens. That’s when you come out with nine songs of a whole record, you really never know. You can’t just harness creativity, when it happens it happens.
Was it recorded as single or live stakes?
Weeks: All the rhythm guitar drum and bass are done together. Every single song on Can’t Bury Your Past is done in one or two takes. It’s because we didn’t know how much time we’d have. We had just been playing for ten days in a row on the road. We just knocked it out. Every drum track on that, my job was done in two hours.
What are your more favorite songs to play, that you look forward to playing live?
Weeks: We do, what I really like as a live band, and not bore ourselves or the audience, we like to do medleys. We do four songs in one; get them down where we can go back and forth. I never thought this would happen, but they’ve become way more like Dead shows. There’s a lot of improvisation. We have a loose structure of a song and you’ll never hear it the way it is on the album. We’ll never do it the same way again. They’ll always be a longer solo or somewhere in the middle I’ll decide to slow it down tot half time. It’s always something new every night.
What are you thinking for a next record, more electric or more stripped down?
Weeks: We’ve already been talking. I think the next record is going to be more stripped back to the first record. I think maybe more lo-fi, more Delta Blues kind of stuff.