By Desi Rubio, Dec. 18, 2014.
It’s 7 p.m. on a very ordinary Tuesday night and, right on cue, local band members carefully traverse guitar cables, amps, and pedals and take their places among the instruments and sound equipment in the cozy spare room of a Mesa home.
Not only is this the space Weed out the Weak holds its weekly practice sessions, it’s also the laboratory where Darwin’s Garden, the band’s first full-length album, evolved from a collection of ideas to reality that was unveiled to the world Nov. 15.
Weed out the Weak comprises four band members – lead vocalist and guitarist Kurt Klassen, bassist Ben Ferguson, guitarist Annah Moore and drummer Roc Smith – each of whom contribute unique personal style, creative inspiration and musical taste to equation.
On Tuesday nights, the talents of these four musicians converge and are brought to life in what Ferguson describes as “groove metal” that’s comparable to Primus and Pantera. And, like any band, the banter and beer are all essential elements to balancing business and bonding.
“Networking and sharing a common interest with these folks is what brought us together,” Klassen said. “Commitment and determination is what kept us together.”
Klassen, who grew up musically influenced by such ‘80s metal bands as Metallica, Megadeath and Anthrax, eventually wanted to hit the stage and perform his own music, and the quest to form a band began.
It was during the summer of 2007 that Ferguson approached him with a similar interest. Shortly thereafter, with the help of mutual friends, the guitarist and bassist met up with Smith and arranged their first jam session.
A line of lyrics from metal core band Shai Hulud, “I will be a catalyst to weed out the weak and beget strength of character,” served as inspiration for the band’s name – making them official.
However, Klassen added that Weed out the Weak is more than just the band’s name; it is a message that coincides with weeding out any gender stereotypes, including those that may be linked to a conventional metal band.
Weeding out the weak doesn’t just address overcoming adversity, he said, it centers on each member’s personal self-discovery and acceptance of their own weakness and weeding them out.
For the next five years the band existed as a trio and release a six-track EP entitled You’ve Gotta Weed ‘Em Out. However the instant they overheard Moore shredding on her guitar – like no one any of the band members had heard before – they were all in agreement that the time to add a fourth member had come.
As a party of four, the band members bonded over their musical influences, tastes and talents. However, they quickly realized they had other shared interests and commonalities.
Not only did they all love women, three out of the four band mates belong to the LGBT community.
“How many metal bands have you seen with a transgendered male singer, a transgendered female lead guitarist, a lesbian drummer and a straight male on bass,” Klassen asked. “I hope that the story of our diverse backgrounds and our accomplishments inspire people to be true to themselves and to follow their heart’s desire.”
Disclosing their personal journeys of growth and self-identification breakthroughs to one another, and with their fans, has allowed the band to reach broader audiences, in the LGBT community and beyond.
While Moore joined the band after her transition, Klassen just began his journey one year ago, and cites his band mate as a source of strength.
According to Klassen, his fears and apprehensions about transitioning included timing the release of Darwin’s Garden – which the band began recording nearly a year ago.
Darwin’s Garden is a collection of both old and new songs that have been written in the seven years since the band’s formation. Klassen and Ferguson agreed that narrowing the song choices from 24 to 12 tracks was difficult. As a result, the band developed a rating system to see which songs made the cut, and are pleased to report that the final product is a diverse collection for fans new and old.
“Some of it is fast, some of it slow, some of it heavy and some of it is mellow,” Ferguson said. “I think most people will be able to find something they like in it.”
From here, the band has aspirations of radio play, a music video and, without a doubt, more live performances throughout the Valley and beyond.
Meanwhile, Klassen said his favorite part about being on stage is seeing the crowd mosh to the music. Adding that it’s in those moments they collectively know they’ve done their job correctly.
For information on upcoming shows, or to purchase Darwin’s Garden, visit