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Black Country metalheads WEAK13 working on major project

By Leigh Sanders | Entertainment | Published:

'A double album is a huge amount of effort, bands just don't do it.'

Nick J Townsend, left, and Wesley Smith are the lifeblood of WEAK13

So says Nick J Townsend, frontman of Black Country metal band WEAK 13, music video maker, public speaker, reviewer and magazine columnist, and a whole lot more.

He's talking to us about what WEAK13 have been up to recently. Other than a fairly steady stream of music videos since their debut record They Live arrived in 2015, not a lot of new material has been heard from the rockers in the intervening period.

But that doesn't mean they haven't been working on any.

"An album is an imprint of who you are as a band," Townsend adds when speaking to us recently. At the same time, he was working with us on another column about his relentless work with local artists helping them promote their music through his multi-award-winning promotional video company NJT Media.

"People can dismiss them or take them very seriously. We want to be very serious.

"People ask us what we're up to and are taken aback by the fact we're working on not just one album, but two.

READ MORE: Midlands rockers WEAK13 nominated for music video award at Birmingham Film Festival - WATCH

"Guns N' Roses did it [with Use Your Illusion I and II in 1993]. A whole 32 songs. That's an insight into their capability as songwriters. To write 32 songs is an achievement."

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As for WEAK13, a chunk of the process is complete and they are working towards a 2020 release date for a record they are currently calling Aluminium. It was written by Townsend partly in his current base of Stourbridge and partly on recent trips he has made to Los Angeles to promote the band and also to improve his contacts book for his video-making enterprise.

And despite Townsend saying people have viewed them negatively as a "video band" in the past - a term he rightly dislikes - he has been putting in a lot of effort to make this next release special.

"You've got to know your songs inside out before going into the studio," he adds. "They're mostly recorded [with John Stewart at FrEQ Audio Recordings in Coventry]. Time is money so we like to be fast in the studio and get it done. Now we've just got the boring stuff to do. Let the engineer do what he wants to do to it."

And Townsend put a lot of effort into getting the preparation right for the mammoth recording sessions, turning to a former Unsigned column star for help.

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"I've been working with Elizabeth Fields having singing lessons as I made two music videos for her. I take my career seriously.

"Hopefully I'll surprise a few. I'm often not seen as a singer or musician. People often just know me for the videos."

The reason they have teased very little thus far is Townsend firmly believes that is the way it should be. He isn't a big fan of the current social media traps that burgeoning artists often fall into by "giving their tricks away", and doesn't like labels. He says WEAK13 have been around too long to be referred to as 'Unsigned'. Instead, he prefers 'Independent'.

READ MORE: Black Country-based Nick J Townsend wants to put other bands in the frame with their videos

"Currently there seems to be a big home recording culture and people aren't giving it any real thought," he adds. "They're desperate for attention. They write something good and then it's uploaded to Instagram or Twitter 10 minutes later.

"All they want is for it to be streamed so many times and there's no thought put into marketing. How are you going to get people to buy your material? You need to keep it to yourself until it is fully ready and then release it properly.

"For example, we've pretty much got one of the two albums done, but I'm not revealing any of the secrets until it's all done. I don't want to spend all that money on getting it recorded just to then throw it away for free."

He has a point. He's got bills to pay and food to buy.

"As I've said, this double album has been a huge effort and we're keeping it under wraps for now.

"We don't really have any upcoming live gigs as such apart from playing with [Dudley band] Buzzard for their new album launch in September or October time. We're just focussing on our content.

"We also don't want any of the new songs recorded at a show and put online. Like I said, we're keeping it secret."

READ MORE: Black Country Music Awards celebrate the best of our local scene

They started off life as a Kidderminster band before Townsend first moved to Wolverhampton and then to Stourbridge to be closer to his bandmate, writing partner and creative right-hand man Smith so work could get more serious.

And it did. In 2010 they picked up their first huge win when the First World War-themed video they created for their track Wake Down was picked up by the London Film Festival and nabbed the Best Music Video award.

And that has continued. WEAK13 picked up four nominations in total at the inaugural Black Country Music Awards last month - for best album [They Live], best metal/punk band and they also had two entries in the best music video category - Closure and Loyal Coward.

A video NJT Media created for his vocal coach Elizabeth Fields - for Don't Wanna Know It - also made the shortlist.

Closure walked away with the prize, and Townsend was understandably delighted.

"Almost every artist we've filmed was up for nomination too in other categories," he added. "We're doing 30-to-50 music videos a year and what this means is that we are creating the look of the Midlands music scene. Other parts of the UK aren't doing this.

"We're working with the best from the area and our band is leading the way forward."

To keep up to date with how the double album is progressing, WEAK13 can be found on Facebook @weak13fanpage and Twitter @WEAK13, or at their website www.weak13official.com. Those interested in working with Townsend and Smith on their next music video can contact them on Twitter @NJTpromovids.

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders
@LSanders_Star

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at leigh.sanders@expressandstar.co.uk

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