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Dixie

Photo by Scott Kinkade
Photo by Scott Kinkade

Dave “Dixie” Collins isn’t backing down. Over the course of the last twenty years, the Weedeater frontman has seen it all. The departure of drummer and founding member Keith “Kiko” Kirkum last year was the most recent bump in the road while Dixie’s shotgun-cleaning incident from 2010 is still literally the most painful. “We’re pretty resilient dudes, and we’ve been through a lot of shit,” Collins points out a matter of factly over the phone while speaking from his North Carolina home. “Whether it’s been hurting ourselves or hurting others, in twenty years, we’ve been through just about everything you could throw at a band,” he adds. “We just keep doing what what we do, though. We don’t really know how to do anything else.”

Now, Collins isn’t saying any of this to try and make him sound like the toughest dude on the planet or anything like that. In fact, while speaking on the phone, Collins is thoughtful, receptive and careful with each question presented to him. The towering, whiskey-swilling mad villain that most see on stage is not the gentleman on the other end of this phone conversation. For a guy, whose exploits are talked about in a way that spills over into the realm of urban legend, Collins comes alive the most when talking about his desire to make a proper record. “Not a collection of songs,” he says, but a real, cohesive album.

Collins entered the world of working musicians in the early ‘90s by playing in a group called After Forever, a group of dudes from back home who named their band after a Black Sabbath song. As other members got married and pulled down more conventional jobs, Dixie pivoted and started playing with Dave “Shep” Shepherd and drummer Kirkum, and soon, the first iteration of Weedeater was standing on two feet. “I don’t have specialized skills,” Collins humbly states while trying to pinpoint what led to the formation of his celebrated sludge act. “Short of being a jackass, which I guess is my specialized skill, but not many people will pay you for that or let you travel with it,” he says before a long pause. Providing concise, honest answers may be another talent that Collins has at his disposal. When talking about when he was a full-fledged member of Weedeater, After Forever and Buzzoven all at the same time, he simply says it was “a bit hectic.”

As a young band, Weedeater plied their trade touring. They logged countless hours on the road, and it’s that work ethic centered around bringing the riffs to the people that continues to guide the latest version of the group, one that features former Zoroaster bassist Travis Owen taking over behind the kit after Kirkum’s departure. “For us, it’s all about the live show,” Collins says. “Bands just sound better live than they do on record. If you think you’re better on record, then you’re not as good a band as you thought you were.” From that vantage point, Goliathan, the band’s fifth full-length, is a smashing success.

Not only does the record capture the spirit of Weedeater’s live performances, but it’s also a culmination of the work that came before it. Acoustic, mellow bits that were only ever hinted at before find room to breathe on long-player number five. Tracks like “Bow Down” and “Claw of the Sloth” already sound like battle-tested numbers ready to be deployed on eager fans, but the most earth-shattering moment on Goliathan comes at the very beginning.

As the name implies, “Processional,” is a slow-crawling opener that deploys a warbly, sincere double-decker organ to announce its arrival. Each note feels lived-in and earned. The arrangement is also undoubtedly weird, as the contemplative tone on display couldn’t be further removed from the smoky fury that the boys have conjured up in the past. “With the title of the record and the idea behind it, it seemed like a good idea to open the record up with a gospel hymn,” Collins says. “I think it works very well, it provides for a short window before the heavy parts kick in.”

To cover all bases, Collins brings up (more than once) that the band runs on their own personal amusement and enjoyment. ¨We’ve been doing this for ourselves this whole time,” he says. ¨It doesn’t matter when people think a new record should come out, it’s whenever we feel like doing it.¨

No one, certainly not Dixie, ever thought that Weedeater would still be going after all these years. “Be careful what you wish for,” he says wryly when asked about passing the twenty year mark. “We’ve been through hell,” he offers up later on. “Things happen, and when they happen to us, we just laugh. What else can you do? Either laugh or cry.”

— Chris Brown

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