Interview with Randy Weitzel
Conducted by Robert Williams
You may remember Randy Weitzel from his previous hard hitting thrash metal act Flatline who released the excellent "Pave The Way" disc on Stand and Deliver Records back in 2008 before sadly disbanding a short time later. It wasn’t long before Randy was at it again, only this time the gifted axeman sought to travel a different musical path than that of extreme metal. With the formation of Three Thirteen whose sound harkens back to the ideals of classic seventies hard rock, Randy was able to pay tribute in a way to the music that he grew up with, offering up a very solid debut effort entitled "Full Tilt" in the process. Metal-Rules.com recently caught up with the multi-talented singer/songwriter/guitarist and graphic designer who took some time out of his crazy busy schedule to fill us in on his new band and their new album.
How are you doing today Randy?
Great, it’s a beautiful day here in Southern California.
Your new hard rock band 3/13 has just self-released your debut full length album "Full Tilt" on your own Phantom Republic Music. Let’s talk about what lead you to leave your former thrash metal band Flatline and concentrate your talents solely on the hard hitting music of 3/13. How did this all come together?
I started 3/13 because I wanted to write songs that were completely different from what I was doing in Flatline. My main musical focus had been metal and thrash for so long, that I was ready to mix it up, revisit my roots, and write some solid, full tilt rock!
I really get the sense that a whole lot of effort went into creating "Full Tilt" with yourself handling the songwriting, artwork, layout etc. How long had the three of you been working on this record? In your opinion what was the most challenging aspect of the whole process?
The writing came pretty quickly and easily to me, but it took a while to get the finished product out. The process of recording and producing the songs, getting the artwork and packaging finalized and tweaking all the little details took about a year. That might seem like a long time, but the actual process of making the record was the smoothest and easiest of any record I’ve ever made.
What were the inherent benefits of getting this new record out on your own? Are you hoping to have this album re-released at some point by a label that could offer you better distribution?
When you work for someone else, you are basically employed by them so it was nice to ignore all the rules and not have to get anybody’s permission. It was very freeing creatively and those good vibes came across on the record. I don’t really think physical distribution is as important as it used to be. I have the CD on all of the major digital sites for download and purchase, and since that’s where the majority of purchases come from, I think I’m doing ok.
3/13 filmed a pretty slick and nostalgic looking music video for the song "City of Devils" with director Kara Simpson. In your opinion, has the music video garnered a lot of outside interest for the band and are you pretty satisfied with how the video turned out?
We said "Hey let’s rock out for an afternoon and we’ll just film shit." We had a rough idea of what we wanted and made the rest up as we went. Everybody had great ideas and I think it turned out great. The video turned out to be very important driving home the idea of "Hey, we’re in a band and this is fun".
As an artist I’m sure it’s difficult for one of your tunes to stand out amongst the rest of your material but having said that, was there any tracks in particular on "Full Tilt" that hold a special personal significance for you?
When I first started writing lyrics for it I thought "Now’s the time to get some shit off of my chest", but what I ended up with was an album full of tunes about hot rods and pinball machines haha! Some of it’s based on troubles I’ve had in the past but you know, instead of whining about it and depressing everybody, I thought I’d add a little humor and exaggerate everything. A lot of it is simply honoring my heroes.
The packaging that you designed for "Full Tilt" makes for such a killer nostalgic tribute to our hard rock heroes of the seventies and eighties. The iconic imagery and all too familiar fonts that you utilized for this release was a clever touch. Tell me about how you got started doing graphic design and how that talent has come into play with both Flatline and most recently 3/13. Are you also offering your services to other bands/outlets?
For me, being in a band is about getting my music and artwork out there. I live for it and can’t have it any other way. I work with other bands too offering anything Pro Tools recording, mixing and production to Photoshop artwork, logos, shirt, posters, CD design…that’s Phantom Republic Music and Design.
How has your fanbase reacted to hearing the songs from "Full Tilt" in the live atmosphere? Which tracks seem to go over best in concert?
We just started gigging, but Death’s Head definitely comes off the best simply for one reason – it’s fast and heavy as Hell! I can see more songs like that in 3/13′s future. Initially I was worried about what fans of Flatline would think about this new sound but I figured the point of rock ‘n’ roll is "no rules" and I needed to reinvent myself. What ending up happening is that a lot of the Flatline fans connected with the record because we are metal fans and we all come from the same place. The record is such an obvious tip of the hat to old school rock and metal that you will hear something in the music that seems familiar and you can relate to it, and that was the intention.
Are there presently any plans to do some touring in support of the debut release "Full Tilt"? What are some markets you’d most like to hit and which bands do you think would make for ideal touring mates?
To be honest I never intended to play this material live so the fact that we are playing shows at all is blowing my mind. I’m very grateful to have a killer, kick-ass line up right now too: Jimmy Schultz, who played drums on the record, Elaina Bangma on bass and Steve Marshall on guitar. These guys are also in a band called Soulbleed and they make 3/13 sound just awesome! We just did a show with Steven Adler’s Appetite at the Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana and that was a nice blend. I think playing with any band from the 80′s would make a good show!
Flatline vocalist Travis Johnson makes some cameo guest appearances on "Full Tilt" on both vocals and bass guitar, I guess it’s safe to say that you are still on good terms with everyone from Flatline?
Yeah man, we went to battle together and I am very lucky to have had the opportunities that I had with Flatline. I actually play in another band with Travis called American Massacre and we’ll be doing a benefit show June 10th at The Vibe in Riverside, CA. We really look forward to getting out there and tearing it up.
I remember when "Pave The Way" was released it generated quite a buzz in the metal underground. What would you call your personal highlights during your time recording and performing with Flatline?
Right before "Pave The Way" we toured New Zealand and that was awesome. After "Pave The Way" came out we toured through Farmington and Gallup New Mexico and those were the best shows we ever had. They go berserk down there.
What were the factors that ultimately lead to your departure from Flatline?
Well, we took it as far as we could… when you are out on the road you are not working, and it gets hard to make ends meet in your personal life, and that bleeds through to the band. When it got harder to say yes to tours the system collapsed. Witnessing the death of your band isn’t easy, you know, I just told everybody that I wanted to do some other shit instead of sitting around.
Let’s talk about who or what originally inspired you to pick up a guitar? Were you self taught or did you take lessons with an instructor? What advice would you offer to someone interested in learning the six-string?
Ace Frehley was the guy that made me want to play guitar. My advice to aspiring musicians is to do what I did, learn from your heroes, put on their music and figure it out. You can’t go wrong because rock ‘n’ roll is a musical form without rules and you can invent it as you go.
How did you originally get into hard rock and heavy metal music? Who were the bands that forever changed your life?
Well I think my baby sitter had KISS Destroyer! It was all about KISS growing up. Then I discovered AC/DC Back in Black and eventually Ozzy, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica…to all the greats, thank you!
What’s next for 3/13? What would you say the band’s goals are that your aspiring towards for the remainder of 2011?
3/13 has a show at The Vibe July 2nd with American Massacre and Soulbleed. There are more shows in the works and there is some recording going on in June too, so stay tuned!
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk metal with me today Randy, before we wrap this up do you have any last words for your fans reading at home?
Big thanks to everyone who helped make the record what it is, the fans who have been a part of 3/13 from the start, thank you so very much, my gratitude is endless.