The Weaklings – Just the Way We Like it – Interview

The Weaklings

Just the Way We Like it (Junk)
An interview with singer Bradley Wayne Shaver and drummer Steve “The Kid” Mickelson
by Jon Sarre

Anybody who’s seen Portland, OR’s favorite deadend kids, the Weaklings, knows the horrible mess they make: shit breaks, glasses smash, blood is spilt, reputations are ruined, promising lives are derailed, paying customers have a good time… that kinda stuff. Their shows are somewhat legendary coast to coast (as a result of their relentless touring, but then again they probably’ve already played in your town and you didn’t even know it) for the mayhem these hard-playing lightweights have been known to immerse themselves in no matter what the scene’s like. A little while ago, not long after the band returned from a U.S. tour with the Candy Snatchers (during which Junk released their newest LP, Just the Way We Like It), Weaklings singer, Bradley Wayne Shaver and drummer Steve “the Kid” Mickelson sat down (late, I should add) in front of Portland’s oldest continuously operational punk rock dive, the Satyricon, to talk about what’s on their minds, just the way they like it.

Okay, you’re so late, I forgot all the good questions, so…
Bradley: Sorry.

Steve: Yeah, you told me midnight, and I was looking at the clock… it surprised me when Bradley came in and goes, “You got 15 minutes?”

You only think this is gonna take 15 minutes? Come on!
Steve: It’s 15 minutes of fame, right?

You get five.
Bradley: We get two.

How long you been doin’ this thing?
Bradley: Ahh… January 20th, 1995 was our first show. We were together for a year, tryin’ to find a stable drummer before that.

Steve: I joined the band, got a call from Mark [Rhemrev, guitar] on Christmas Day ’97… We practiced and went out across the U.S. with these three guys.

Bradley: The current lineup [Steve, Mark, and bassist Casey J. Maxwell] is the longest.

How many people have you had so far?
Bradley: Like 18… most of them drummers. Probably ten drummers.

Bradley, what’s the idea here, you bored?
Bradley: No, I wanted to do a rock’n’roll band [with original member Chris Thomas]. We didn’t wanna fuck around anymore. We’d been in dumb bands before… we didn’t do shit and we’d decided we’d do this thing 100% and do it ourselves if that needed to happen. Within six months of our first show, we had two singles out and went on tour for ten months across the States knowing nobody. We just worked and worked and worked until everything fell apart so many different times that [Chris] didn’t want any part of it anymore. By that point, I’d been doing this for so fuckin’ long that I felt obligated to keep things going. Not only cuz we had stuff coming out, but cuz I wanted to and I wasn’t done with it yet. It’s all about livin’ that little dream.

How far into it did you figure that out?
Bradley: Almost immediately. I dunno, I didn’t even start out doin’ it until somebody told me “you should be a singer.” Once we started doin’ stuff it was like… fun. It just kinda mutated itself into something I have a passion for. I really wanna do it.

So you’re stuck with it.
Bradley: Yeah, pretty much… locked into the “go nowhere” club.

Runnin’ your head into a brick wall and bouncin’ back hasn’t…
Bradley: No, if anything it’s just made me work harder. The more people say I’m not gonna fuckin’ do shit, it just makes me work harder. I look at things that way.

Steve: Too late to stop.

Bradley: I just don’t wanna… Obviously when the steam runs out, the steam runs out… The steam has run out for lotsa people, but I just do it cuz I like to do it. Whatever. I mean the funnest fuckin’ thing is playin’ in a town I’ve never been to and havin’ people fuckin’ dance and have a good time.

How do things play out when you’re outta here [Portland]? Better?
Bradley: Yeah, in certain areas.

Steve: Hit’n’Miss.

Bradley: It’s funny, this is our hometown… people see us every fuckin’ day, blah, blah, blah. Just a coupla weeks ago, in Oklahoma City, we did our run-of-the-mill rock show and they went crazy cuz they never see shit like that. We’re home and they’re like “Bradley’s fallin’ off the drums again.” It’s no big deal. But some places will always suck, like the South…

Steve: For us it stops around Austin. We usually do good in Austin – past that, I dunno…

Bradley: Two years ago we were in Virginia Beach… Nobody’s there and I walk around the corner to buy a pack of cigarettes. The city’s dead but there’s 200 teenage kids freakin’ out to this disco ball and it’s like, yup, definitely in the wrong field for money… Kids don’t have any fuckin’ idea about rock’n’roll.

You guys played a show with Buckcherry. Now they’re gettin’ some kinda radio play, what’d ya think of that?
Steve: I feel an argument comin’ on!

Bradley: Any buncha idiots up there jerkin’ off with their instruments that has X million dollars of promotion behind ’em is gonna sell records and is gonna draw people. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t fuckin’ like ’em. I think they’re bullshit. They may be great guys and a great band, but I didn’t see it when I saw them. It was a big joke to me.

Steve: Okay, but here’s my take on it: You can’t help but admit they’re a rock’n’roll band. They may make these kids realize that maybe they should explore other avenues…

Do you think there’s maybe a little there that would make people check out the Candy Snatchers or some Junk bands or…
Bradley: No… I just think they’re awful. Comparing them to a real rock’n’roll band – I mean, come on, this is like the Spice Girls of Rock’n’Roll!

What if they said to you after the show, “We want you to tour with us”?
Bradley: I’d say, “How much?” and then I’d do it. It’d be nice to come home with rent money for once.

Steve: We’re sittin’ in a Denny’s in Oklahoma City after a show and these two bimbos come up and they’re like “Are you guys Buckcherry?” I wanted to say yes, but Brad had to step in and say “No.” What’s a lie every once in a while? So bimbos think you’re Buckcherry… ya might get lucky.

Bradley: End of the fuckin’ Buckcherry conversation. The Candy Snatchers come home [from tour] in the fuckin’ hole…

Steve: And Buckcherry’s in a tour bus.Bradley: It’s fuckin’ bullshit; those guys [the Candy Snatchers] have been doin’ the stuff for so long with no fuckin’ credit!

[Craig, who used to be in Olympia, WA’s Fitz of Depression and now drums for Portland’s Viles has been sitting at the next table for a bit, chimes in:]

Craig: Whatever, man, look at the Wipers!

Bradley: Exactly!

Steve: The [New Bomb] Turks are just starting to get recognition…

Craig: We played, like ten years ago with the New Bomb Turks, they packed the house and they’d sell all their fuckin’ shirts. They do okay!

Steve: They still go home to their shit jobs.

Craig: They live in Indiana, for chrissakes!

Ohio… Eric still works at a record store.
Craig: They had their chance and they were like, “We’re way too punk.” They turned down a buncha shit! They turned down like three labels.

They woulda got a shit deal like Gaunt did with Warner Bros.
Craig: They got a fine deal. Until you do it, you don’t know!

After the restructuring, all the bands got fuckin’ dropped…
[Short argument ensues and Wade, drummer for the Lucky Thirteens, Bradley’s other band, shows up and spontaneously joins in]

So Bradley, uh… I gotta ask the token cuttin’ yourself question…
Bradley: I cut myself, I bleed, I fall down…

The difference between you and Iggy or G.G. or even Larry [from the Candy Snatchers], they’re usually pretty fucked up and you’re, uh… sober. You cut yourself when you’re stone sober – what’s up with that?
Bradley: I like it, it’s somethin’ to do, I dunno…

It’s pretty much a staple of your live shows, Bradley cuts himself…

Bradley: And Wade falls down…

[Wade gets back up]

Wade: I have something to say here! Shut up!

[Wade throws my stuff and a chair into the street]

Don’t throw my stuff into the street!
[Wade gets my stuff]

So you got something to say here, or’re you just makin’ a spectacle of yourself?
Wade: A little of both.

[All three drummers start clapping in time to the Gary Numan song playing at the restaurant]

This is just degenerating into a drunken mess… so [to Bradley] where’s this going, both the Weaklings and the rock’n’roll thing, is it gonna come back?
Bradley: No, but that’s good, cuz it’s really, at the heart, an underground thing…

Wade: Why are we talking about this? Why? Why? Why?

Cuz I need x thousands of words for copy.
Steve: You can also look at bands like AC/DC and the Stones, they still sell out arenas.

Twenty years later.
Wade: Yeah, that’s what we’re talkin’ about, okay, yeah…

So why do you drum for fuckin’ bands, Wade?
Wade: Because I’m a loser!

Craig: Amen!

Wade: Cuz I like it.

You like being a loser or you like drumming in rock’n’roll bands?
Wade: Yes.

Which one? It was an either/or question and you answered “yes”?
Wade: Okay, either/or A and B.

A and B?
Wade: A is what?

You like being a loser and B is you like drumming in rock’n’roll bands.
Wade: C.

C is?
Wade: All of the above.

How’d you do on your SATs, Wade?
Wade: I did great, but I didn’t apply myself. You know why? Cuz I wanted to play fuckin’ drums!
(7071 Warner Ave. #F736 Huntington Beach, CA 92647)