Imagine you’re asking a seasoned Rock star – one with decades of stage experience and a few platinum records under their belt – if they are ready to give up half of what they have in order to magically reclaim their youth. Just guess what the answer would be! There’s something special about the early years in each band’s history and the power of youth. This is why it’s such a privilege to spread the word about the younger generation in Rock and Metal. It’s also the reason why recently I caught up with Melbourne-based drummer Dean Weedon, a member of Rockin Volts.Their self-titled EP was released last year with the full-length soon to follow, making one think it might be the right moment for AC/DC and Rose Tattoo to pass the torch to their younger disciples. With Dean, we talk influences, future plans and present obstacles – everything that’s related to Rockin Volts keeping that Rock’n’Roll train going…
Alexandra Mrozowska, Rock Speculo Interviews: It’s hard to omit this topic really, so how is the situation with the pandemic in Australia right now and how does it influence the band?
Dean Weedon: It’s a sticky situation here, if I’m being honest. We are in stage 4 restrictions which has been in place for 6 weeks but by this Sunday, it looks to be extended even further. We have to wear masks outside and go to the shops for one hour only, it’s just messed up everyone’s lives but we will get through it. The band and myself have been talking every day and sending riffs and content to go on our socials. It’s hard that we can’t see each other and play in the rehearsal room together, but we are still strong and hope we will be back playing soon.
AM: Fingers crossed! Guessing by your social media posts, you would also be somewhere in the middle of recording your debut full-length album if it wasn’t for the virus…
DW: Yes, we were about to go into the studio, ready to go to record the debut album, but this virus put it on hold so to speak, same as a lot of other bands who were doing the same thing. We are still 95% comfortable with how all the tracks we will be putting out, just a couple of edges we need to refine but we are playing the songs in our own space, ready to go when all is lifting and get in the studio.
AM: Sounds like a plan, so can you reveal anything about the new album? Will it be a continuation of your debut self-titled EP music-wise?
DW: It will be a continuation from the EP for sure. Working with Chris Gatz who did the EP with us at GM Studios in Campbellfield will be on this album. It will have 12 tracks, no ballads – just wall-to-wall Aussie Pub Rock just like the EP does. The cover art is done by Ian Ritter who has done some great art with other Aussie bands. He made the front cover look mean and in-your-face and I think we couldn’t have gone to a better guy to do the artwork.
AM: Are you going to include any of the songs previously released on the EP on the new album, or is it going to be all new material?
DW: We’re gonna include the three originals from the EP: our single “Rockin Volts”, “Ballbreaker” and “Ain’t No Woman” on this debut album. But also nine new originals that we thought deserve to be on our debut album and this takes it to 12 tracks. It’s a big thing for us, so we’re not gonna waste anyone’s time, no ballads, no bullshit!
AM: Speaking of your EP, it also includes the cover version of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock”. Why did you decide to record this particular track?
DW: I personally think it’s one the great AC/DC tracks that most people will never think of if you say AC/DC to people. We play that song live as a set closer and if you need to hit the crowd with a fast hard-hitting Aussie tune, that will take the roof off the joint and make people talk about your band after the night is over. We make a statement with it. It’s one the greatest songs live and I always wanted to record it – funny enough we did.
AM: Still, it’s not like you play “Let There Be Rock” note for note…
DW: Kind of in a way. I saw them live in 2010 on the Black Ice Tour in Melbourne and when they played that song at that tempo, I really wanted to attempt it in my band. So I showed them a live clip of them doing that and they were on board to do it. Even when we got new members in, they had to it that way. For a lot of people, I think, we stunned them with re-arranged version, we wanted it to sound and be like us when we play it live and I think we achieved it in bucket loads. A salute to Malcolm Young and Bon Scott.
AM: Speaking of the cover versions, I believe you also include a couple of them in your live setlists…
DW: We play Aussie Pub Rock’n’Roll, so what we did was only play Aussie Pub Rock songs off bands that influenced us like AC/DC, Airbourne, The Angels, Rose Tattoo etc and our favourite tunes from those bands and a couple that were requested or want to hear live.
AM: Some bands are afraid of being labeled a “cover band” whenever they feel like playing or recording a cover version of their favourite tune. Do you think covers can really narrow the audience’s perception of you and divert their attention from your original material?
DW: It’s a hard question but I guess some bands like Bad Wolves, when they recorded a cover version of “Zombie” [originally by The Cranberries – AM], or Disturbed, when they covered “The Sound Of Silence” [originally by Simon & Garfunkel – AM], they got a lot of new fans for covering something. Yet, these people didn’t know they were an original band and now they have a wider fanbase because of that. I think no band should be afraid to cover a tune that either influenced them or to have a crack. It can make people think when in a live setting if you’re playing originals then throw three or more covers they will think automatically they are a cover band. Still, I think you should play what you want when you want. It’s never a bad thing to do a cover or record it. If it comes from within yourselves, belt it out no matter what. It shouldn’t change an audience’s perception, but that’s how a lot of people think.
AM: We still revolve around AC/DC in a way, so why do you think their vibe is so prevailing in Rock music in the Land of Oz and beyond? What makes them so influential?
DW: I think they just didn’t tell bullshit to anyone with their music. All the way back to original singer Dave Evans, then Bon [Scott] and Brian [Johnsson], their lyrics never went dark or about the low life we hear in a lot of newer bands these days. AC/DC were about having a good time, have a drink or few, have a woman and enjoy the force of their music come at you a million miles an hour. Their live show is outstanding. Best live Rock’n’Roll band I’ve ever seen. Angus [Young] running around the stage at 65… I don’t know how he does it! And when at the end you think he doesn’t have any more left, they do “Let There Be Rock” that goes for nearly 30 minutes. While the band just stands back and holds the rhythm nice and tight just like in every song, they let Angus take control and the rhythm section with Malcolm [Young, now nephew Stevie Young), Phil Rudd and Cliff Williams keeps it locked in and that’s worked for 47 years now! Best band ever which shaped me into the musician I am today – and I’m not the only one. Music is about having fun and that’s what they did. Everyone has a personal connection with that band. They influenced so many people in so many different ways but they always come back to the thunder from down under. Everybody likes a bit of AC/DC in their life. It was Malcolm Young’s band from the start and he set out on his quest and look what it became. A huge tip of the hat to him!
AM: Absolutely! So apart from this AC/DC vibe, is it like each of you in a band comes from a slightly different background music-wise?
DW: Yeah, we do. We grew up with AC/DC, The Angels, The Beatles, Queen – the classic bands. I know Hayden [Scott, bass/vocals] and Dylan [Stevens, guitars] grew up with Metallica and Iron Maiden while Tyler [Theo, guitars] grew up with Guns N’Roses, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. We did have slightly different backgrounds, but when all of them mixed together, you get our sound.
AM: The self-titled single off your debut EP received quite extensive airplay. In general, do you feel you receive enough coverage from the media at this stage of your career?
DW: For our first go at releasing music and a single into the big world, I’m very happy with the outcome especially overseas in the UK. They really have given our debut single a spin a lot. Even just recently on HRH radio in the UK, thanks to Mike Smith who put it up on which is a big radio station over there with more than 10 thousands of listeners. That’s a massive for us and we couldn’t have seen better. Being from Australia all the way overseas makes us feel great.
AM: It sounds like conquest of Europe has just begun for you guys, so the next logical step would be a European tour – let’s hope it will happen soon! Yet about the single, its lyrics revolve around unity in Rock community. Do you think it is still so, in spite of all animosities and Rock/Metal not being mainstream anymore?
DW: I still think so. We are all about coming together and being as one in love for Rock’n’Roll. The single was about paying homage to the Rock gods that gave us the will to make Rock’n’Roll. There are a lot of Rock bands here who want everyone to be united as it’s a big world out there.
AM: We rockers need that unity. So do you think chances are that we’ll see Rock music becoming mainstream again?
DW: I really hope so. I can see bands like Thundermother and Airbourne especially are keeping that Rock’n’Roll train going to push more Rock bands like ourselves to try get Rock to the top again. It’s really hard in the Rock industry with all these new genres and everyone wanting a piece of their genre on top. Hopefully, it gets back on the throne where it belongs and we will try to get it up there with everything we can.
AM: In general, what’s your approach to songwriting in terms of themes and topics?
DW: I can only go from how I do things, but I usually start with a melody or a line for the song and it goes from there. I don’t need a guitar or anything to write a song or theme. I write about having fun or having a drink, Rock’n’Roll type of stuff, nothing very deep as I don’t write like that. Everyone is different on how they do things, but that’s my best way to do it. Usually, when you’re not thinking, an idea comes and you go with that.
AM: Too much thinking may spoil everything (laughs). So, what are the band’s plans once pandemic restrictions are lifted?
DW: Going in to the studio at GM Studios in Campbellfield to record the debut album with Chris Gatz – that’s number one! A tour around Melbourne and maybe a show in Sydney to boost interstate, getting on more radio, a music video as well for the new album at some point… Just gigging and releasing tough Rock’n’Roll like we do and hope it gets out to many countries!
AM: Is there anything you’d like to add in the end?
DW: We hope you go check out our EP – it’s on our Facebook page and Spotify (please see below), so go and check it out! Once we have recorded and released our album, please go get it and turn it up to 11! Hope we have gained new Rock’n’Roll fans and if you love Rock’n’Roll, then you’ve come to the right place so welcome aboard the Rockin Volts train. Hope to see you all soon!
Check out Rockin Volts’ debut EP on Spotify and their self-titled lyric video below: