By: Michelle Alexander
These days rock ‘n’ roll is a genre that many bands seek to claim as their definitive sound. However, this is easier said than done when it comes to delivering on this lofty promise of a rollicking good time with the musical chops to match. It’s a pure delight to encounter a gem that packs a punch of finely crafted tunes. Such is the case with WEISSHUND’s debut self-titled EP.
WEISSHUND is a rock and roll duo out of Atlanta made up of Rick Lollar (vocals, guitar) and Marlon Patton (drums, Moog bass pedals) that is breathing new life back into rock simply by doing what comes naturally.
I recently had the pleasure to sit down with Patton and Lollar. Leo,* the band’s larger-than-life namesake, mascot and spirit animal also made an appearance. We combatted the Georgia humidity with cold beverages along the Beltline at the Ladybird while chatting about WEISSHUND. Prior to our rendezvous, the EP had already won me over earning ample playtime in my car’s stereo. I had joined the ranks of a growing fan base that is already extending beyond Atlanta.
This debut, topped off with a hefty dose of a “let’s do this” attitude is the result of a direct creative connection. Lollar and Patton are seasoned regulars on stage within the Atlanta music community who joined forces in February 2014 to find an outlet for their mutual love of rock and roll fare. “We wanted to see what we could do as a duo, rock out and make some noise.” You could call it garage rock, but they both agree “back porch sunroom rock” is the most accurate descriptor.
Both Patton and Lollar grew up playing rock and “nerded out” attending music school where jazz quickly became a source of influence. Hendrix, Zeppelin, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder are just a few of the heavy hitters that Patton and Lollar cite as inspiration. A mutual affinity for rich, bluesy chords and a desire to get back to what originally inspired a love for music in the first place has stuck with them and reveals itself in thumping, rhythmic elements throughout their EP.
“We stayed up all night, until about 4 in the morning, playing loud, loud music and we just recorded everything. We made a mighty whiskey-fueled ruckus, and when the dust cleared the next day, we found a pile of new songs,” Lollar recalls.
The recording of their EP was a whirlwind affair. While playing in New York, they received a text from a friend who happened to be a sound engineer at Brooklyn’s Studio G. Plans were made and they hit the studio at 11am with a show to do later that day. Working on tight time limits proved to be fruitful and they powered through recording the five- track EP.
“It was cool to just go into the studio and get it down, we had a gig to do.”
Each song on the EP is distinct, but each song can hold its own. Drums and guitar crescendo and pulse with Southern rock ferocity, synced with Lollar’s earnest verses that reel you in. Lollar’s method for composing lyrics is straight-forward, “write about what’s real to you.”
“What You Came For”, sets off the album with an urgent guitar rip and a thumping beat that rings with heart and soul. “Up, jump over the fence/ Climb up on the roof like we used to/ Look down, let’s survey our domain…” Lollar paints a vivid picture in his soaring vocals that establish ties to the madcap days of youth. This track is a fitting call to action, signaling it’s time to gear up for a pleasing ebb and flow of licks. “Save Your Love (For The Living)”, invites, “Gather ‘round the radio, let us have a fireside chat” and slowly builds up into a sizzling burst of unchained melody. On “Orbit”, Lollar croons against a backdrop of unexpected funk breaks that hit hard and with confidence. “Love is Murder” infuses a honky-tonk aura that is boot-thumping and laced with bourbon-soaked reckless abandon.
The closing track, “Nothing Was The Same” leads out with a softer, poignant tone. A story is spun, “For ten years I’ve been eyeing you across the classroom or the country — it’s all the same. I checked in occasionally, because I really did want to know, are you happy? Looking forward to Thanksgiving when I’d see you at the bar. Once or twice a year, seemed to satisfy the urge. And a jukebox filled with Genesis, found the Rolling Stones, that was all we needed.”
This EP serves as a reminder of the artful and intelligible power rock and roll can invoke. WEISSHUND does an immaculate job of gearing us up for what the future holds. The band already has a plan. It’s quite simple. Write, write some more, record and play as much as possible live. They are anticipating their full-length album, with plans to begin work as early as fall. With this to look forward to, ‘WEISSHUND’ is a celebration of vibes and sound for any season.
*Weisshund is German for “white dog”. Leo is Marlon’s Great Pyrenees. He is super cute and tends to steal the show. While rehearsing, he’ll sit outside and walk away if he doesn’t like a song. He’s the arbiter of what stays and goes with the band. Think of him like the Simon Cowell of Weisshund.
Photos by Josh Geyer