Interview: WEAK13’s Nick J Townsend speaks ahead of Telford date

WEAK13 band member and actor Nick J Townsend speaks to us ahead of the ‘Grunge Tour’ which stops in Telford.

Production still from forthcoming music video Loyal Coward
Production still from forthcoming music video Loyal Coward

The enigmatic Nick J Townsend is not your stereotypical ‘pop’ icon. He is known for his half shaven head and facial hair and has appeared on some of the UK’s most recognisable television shows.

The 42-year-old Wolverhampton University graduate, appeared as “Freddy the Face” in BBC’s ‘Hustle’, whilst performing roles in the cult sitcom Shameless and daytime soap opera ‘Doctors.’

Townsend has also produced ‘Clingfilm’ an unorthodox Hollywood based documentary, that focusses on the mechanisms of the ‘showbiz’ industry.

Furthermore, the Kidderminster born rocker, received thousands of hits on YouTube for an encounter with the ‘litter police’ which highlighted an unethical approach used by a private company to extract money – for allegedly dropping an unidentified item.

But his biggest passion lies with music. WEAK13 consist of himself, drummer Justin James, and bass guitarist Wesley Smith. Their debut album ‘They Live’ is available to stream on Spotify and ITunes. The band’s latest single ‘Halo’ is a cover of Depeche Mode’s 1990 hit.

Alongside Buzzard, Naked Sunday, and Wakedown, WEAK13 are starring in the ‘The Grunge Tour ‘which stops at Telford’s HayGate on Halloween.

Nick J Townsend, who also compiles music reviews for Ryan’s Gig Guide, is looking forward to playing in Telford. He said: “WEAK13 enjoy every live show; if you’re a fan of bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, and Killing Joke then you’ll probably appreciate or relate to the original music that we make.

“We’ve heard that folks in Telford have good taste in music so we hope they can come down and enjoy the gig with us. I suppose fans can expect myself (to be) singing and playing loud rock music on guitar, Justin James our drummer on a drum kit and bassist Wesley Smith playing a bass guitar; seriously we’ll be using this Halloween show to try out some of the new material for our forthcoming follow-up studio album.

“In short, we like to have a great time on stage and all we can say is we expect to work hard for those who honour us by coming to see us; it always means a lot to us”.

‘The Grunge Tour’ takes place between October 29 and November 16, and will also feature at Percy’s Café Bar in Whitchurch on Saturday November 4. Nick adds: “We soon begin the first leg of

‘The Grunge Tour’ starting from October 29th and WEAK13 are honoured to be on the road with bands we highly respect; Stafford based rock band Naked Sunday and Dudley punk rockers Buzzard.

“There’s a few other special guests scattered around the tour such as post grunge act The Rocket Dolls from Brighton who will join us for the Birmingham date. Wolverhampton’s Wakedown (who I might add named their band after one of our earliest songs) will join us for the show in Telford. Basically, three bands are working together doing a self-funded tour and hitting a load of areas we all want to play at. There’s Sheffield, Birmingham, Whitchurch, Deeside, Stourbridge, Nottingham, Telford, Dudley, (and) a load of other places.

“Once we’ve completed this round of shows we plan afterwards to organise another batch of venues in other parts of the country and play there. Like how a germ spreads I suppose but one with a very loud guitar!”

Mr Townsend revealed his enthusiasm for the area of Telford. He added: “A lot more people want to see us live these days so that means performing at venues we’ve never played before which involved going to new areas.

“Personally, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Telford as of late and much of the second WEAK13 album currently in production has been written there. It’s been a wonderful change of scenery; very inspiring and I really like the people of Telford anyway.

“After this we’ll be looking at few other nearby areas too. WEAK13 isn’t a record company manufactured band with someone else pulling the strings; we do what we want on our own terms”.

Following the tour Nick has revealed further plans for the band. He stated: “As far as progressing I think we’ll always continue to attempt things that some independent bands find impossible or unthinkable; including many signed to major record labels.

“Making the impossible a reality is something we get better at each year; when somebody tells us It can’t be done we thoroughly enjoy doing it anyway. WEAK13 have lasted a long time because we always up our game and try make it fun for the fans.

“For example, we have a lot of music videos filmed and recently we decided to have one set in a classic historical period. This involved me directing a Viking army raiding an authentic village; now some may consider that a gigantic project which would take up months of work but it was organised in a fortnight and four days later we were filming our next music video; we have fun with who we work with and just get stuff done instead of talking about it.

“WEAK13 are now busy working on the second album, whilst in the process of making it we thought we might pause and have a little rest but remain busy so we agreed to do a collaboration with top Birmingham hip-hop artist FONZi neuTRON; there will be definitely be a single emerging from this extra music project but it’s looking likely another album of songs may transpire from it as we are enjoying it too much”.

But what about Nick himself? As mentioned previously, his roles on the silver screen and on TV, has seen him gain a cult following in the West Midlands area and beyond. However, despite featuring as some striking characters, Nick has revealed he does not wish to feel “demeaned.” He said: “To be honest I’m not bothered about it; I only do stuff I enjoy doing these days and I’ve actually turned down a lot of stuff because I found the roles stupid or pointless.

“I guess I had my television debut when I was contacted by a casting agency and offered the role of Freddy The Face in the BBC TV drama Hustle – I loved doing it. Shortly after that I turned up in shows like Shameless, Young Dracula, and Doctors, but after a few months I kept getting parts that seemed a little bit demeaning so I started saying no to roles and began producing my own independent projects.

“I mean, who is going to cast a guy with half his hair shaved off for a leading role?! Saying that, going to Hollywood kind of woke me up as I got my first lead role in a film outside of the UK and it inspired me to become more interested in being behind the camera.

“I’ve directed at least 30 music videos for other bands and musicians in the past two years; I’m on camera for our band’s music videos of course but I think that’s the only place you’ll see me on screen these days. I’m not ruling out doing any future acting roles but only if it’s in a production I consider worth my time.”

‘The Grunge Tour’ will stop at Telford’s HayGate on Halloween. The show starts at 7:30pm – tickets cost £6 on the door.

Article by: Ryan Hillback