Local Current Blog

‘We love to see people genuinely raging’: The Weathered Heads rock in the shadow of Sugar Loaf

Photos by Molly O'Connor for MPR. Below, l-r: Nick Novotny, Craig Weatherhead, Andy Bauer.

On one of the last cold nights of January, three members of the Weathered Heads unwound on a blue leather couch in their rehearsal space in Winona. Lead vocalist Craig Weatherhead explained that the band were recovering from a weekend of traveling between Minneapolis for a show at the Cabooze and Duluth for a show at the Redstar Lounge. The Weathered Heads have been playing songs from their new album, The Sinner, to be released on Saturday.

The band have been a favorite at Ed’s No Name Bar in Winona, known for bringing large crowds and an explosion of energy to each show. With the band’s grooves, brotherly banter, and an occasional beard stroke from bass player Andy Bauer, the group are as entertaining to watch as they are engaging to hear.

“We love our music and we love each other. Wherever we go, we like to be the life of the party,” said Weatherhead. “We’re always doing goofy stuff on the stage—especially during solos, we’re playing off of each other.”

“If we’re enjoying playing it, we’re doing something right,” agreed drummer Nick Novotny. “Oh man! In Duluth, Jonathan lost his mind in that solo! I’ve never heard him do that solo so well. You can tell when he’s getting really into it,” Novotny laughed, “because there’s that one vein that just pops out of his head.”

“When we’re performing, I’m having the time of my life. I’ll get so into it that I’ll let out a sort of primal scream,” laughed Bauer.

The music began over four years ago with Weatherhead scribbling ideas for songs in his bedroom, and in 2012 the Weathered Heads were born. Initially the band included Weatherhead’s high school friends, the so-called “Winona kids,” including Chris Bullard on lead guitar and Jonathan Birdsall on saxophone. Eventually, they expanded the band to a few students associated with Saint Mary’s University when they met Bauer and keyboardist Trevor Woggon.

A year ago, Novotny joined the Weathered Heads on drums. As the most recent member and the youngest of the Weathered Heads by a few years, Novotny has been given the nickname “Little Baby Nick” by the rest of the band. He seems to relish in his role in a band that the members describe as very familial. Their playful friendship is evident when they perform.

“There’s such an interesting overlap in instruments. Craig starts out with the skeleton of the song, and nowadays, the three of us will write together,” said Bauer. “Then we we’ll work it out with the rest of the band.”

The Weathered Heads struggle to define their sound. They describe themselves as a combination of rock, pop, and jam. “When it comes down to it, I think we are rock and roll, or eclectic rock,” said Bauer. “Our style has become very organic for us. We know each other and each other’s strengths.” Most members of the Weathered Heads have some experience with jazz and improvisation, which influences their style.

“We struggle to define our sound a lot. Dave Matthews is a comparison we get a lot. I mean, it’s clearly there, but we are influenced by a lot of musicians. We all bring in different influences,” said Weatherhead.

The Weathered Heads say that their audience spans all ages, but they’re particularly popular among college students and 20-somethings. “We love our audience, and we love to see people genuinely raging,” said Weatherhead. “I just love looking out and seeing these guys get amped.”

The six members of the Weathered Heads look forward to performing at their album release party on Saturday at Ed’s. The show will be a celebration of their album as well as Novotny’s (Little Baby Nick’s) one-year anniversary with the band. General B and the Wiz will open, as will Ruben.

Writer Anna Segner is a student at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Photographer Molly O’Connor is a student at Winona State University.