I’m a songwriter and I’ve written about my experiences, the stories of my friends and family, the twisting path and the great experience of life.
My name is Elliott Weston and I sing and guitar for Sydney band, Welter. I spent my first years on a small farm north east of Launceston, Tasmania tussling with my three brothers. But from long summer days just amusing ourselves with the frogs, snakes and the dogs our lives changed dramatically when our parents divorced and we moved to the city, Launceston. Now to those that know what a city looks and feels like, Launceston is a country town but to me it could have been New York, full of many people, the traffic lights, ten story buildings and the faces that don’t look you in the eye.
I first discovered a joy for singing when a choirmaster at East Launceston primary school pulled me from the back row and stuck me in the front row, probably cause I smiled and laughed at his jokes. Music at high school intimidated me. The big leap forward came when in year 9 my older brother, Matt, got a guitar and my dad bought a farm on the East Coast of Tasmania and opened a youth hostel, a YHA not a YMCA but it was full of travelers from across the globe, many of whom could play the guitar. So, Matt and I spent the summers learning songs from anyone that would teach us and going to the Longford Folk Festival.
Years 11 and 12, I started playing saxophone as I saved money picking up boxes at a supermarket at night. I s’pose my first ever band was a student Jazz band, The Timartoonies with my fellow Community college friend Ben Holgate who introduced me to Scott Tinkler whose trumpet playing was, and still is, in a class of his own.
A brief flirtation with a punk band “Plead Insanity” with my brother Matt but the most challenging and regular work was an acoustic trio with Stewart Corrick and Mark Eadie, feasting on a steady diet of Beatles songs. Through this time I discovered Gambit Theatre and, having finished school, I landed a job as an actor. After two years work, I packed up my guitar, a fist fill of folk songs and headed to Canada and then England. Busking and working and keeping alive and seeing the sights and doing my best to be the Aussie on tour. Back in Australia after two and a half years I audition for an acting school and got in. What a drama, drama school is.
My first job after school ended abruptly was with Buddy the musical and I found a band of great muso’s and actors that I could identify with. I’d been writing songs for years from the first days of playing back in Launceston through busking in London but here, with these great people around me, I started to take it seriously. The show toured for almost two years and then landed back in Sydney.
No work and no plans, I put my first Sydney band together with Jeremy Scrivener on bass and, Kiwi drummer, Paris Razos. We worked through a few name changes and settled on the Wellfrogs. “Music in isolation is like a frog down a well”. Paris had to take off back home so I asked Dave Williams to sit in. Well as soon as he started behind the kit the
shows took off and people noticed. We won a few band comps and started gigging at the Three Weeds on Oxford Street and other gigs. We saved a bit of money and I landed a TV ad so we went into the studio to do an EP Cleaver.
After Cleaver musical differences may describe it but Jeremy left and Dave and I started looking for a replacement. Very talented multi instrumentalist Jon Pedrotti filled in on bass for us while we looked for a permanent member. Through the search that year I started recording a solo album that ended up as LO-FI HOLLYWOOD. Very scratchy, but I learnt a lot and found some great ideas that I then used on the nest album. Matt Skinner worked the bar
at the Excelsior Hotel is Surry Hills. What a venue that was. Apart from his bald head, many tattoos and love for hard rock funk bass playing he was a perfect member as he had seen us a few times and got it. Explaining to someone
what “it” is, is hard. He said years later that he swatted and sweated on the EP before he auditioned. With my acoustic folk, Dave’s blues rock and Matt the Hard rock Funk it became a welter of influences so Welter was decided on.
I was brought up in your typical working class family. My Dad was a Bricklayer and my Mum was a part time Nurse, money was tight but we were happy. My name is Dave Williams, I’m a drummer. I’m the youngest of five kids, I grew up in a small coastal town, on the East Coast of Australia just north of Sydney.
My understanding of how to live life back then was, go to school get a trade, get married and buy a house, but all I wanted to be was a musician and play drums for a profession. I left school when I was 16 to pursue my dream of making it in the music industry, I also joined a local Theatre company, as this was something I had been involved in while at high school. I enjoyed performing on the stage.
The Theatre Company asked me to play drums in the musical band, they were looking for a rock player because they were doing the musical Hair. I jumped at the chance because they wanted to pay me $20.00 a show (how cool). The first band I formed was called “Far East”, with the Hewitt brothers Ken on Guitar Ian on Bass, Dave Lowe on guitar/vocals, Kevin George vocals and Tony Beasley on rhythm guitar. We mainly played Led Zep covers, but we did play some Eagles, Doobie Brothers,Bowie & even Bread . This band was happening at the same time I was playing for the Theatre Company, it’s here I met Rob Wales& Jeff Brown, they were playing in the Pit for Hair as well, these guys poached me from my own band. So I joined their band, which was called “OverkilI” with Jeff on guitar, Rob on bass & front man Rat Riddley, they taught me how to kick ass, playing mostly Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and AC/DC.
We did a lot of small tours up and down the coast for a couple of years, then it happened again, I got poached by a band called “The Y Fronts” with Craig McLachlan on guitar vocals & Mark Bechaus on bass. The big difference with this band was, these guys were writing great originals with a rock funk feel, it was great to have the chance to form my own style and to start to experiment.
Around the same time I started to pick up some part time work rigging lighting in theatres around Sydney, this was great, I still get to work in the industry. Anyway Craig was also an actor and moved to Melbourne, he landed a role in a TV soap Neighbours, so the band was put on hold. So I started jumping from band to band for a couple of years touring around to gain more experience, until one day Craig called us up to get back together, So off to Melbourne we went. We had a blast, mainly because Craig was now a celebrity, which got us great high profile gigs, great money, and everything else that came with it? Then came my first experience of how record companies can really screw your life. It was all over as quick as it started.
Back to Sydney for me.
So that’s a little of my back story, but who is Welter and how did it all start,
Sitting in my flat in Bondi Beach Sydney Australia early 95, my flat mate Tess Ryan (who was a stage manager for Sydney Theatre Company) asked if an actor/muso friend of hers could come and crash on the couch for a couple of weeks, “Sure no probs”, I said.
So enter Elliott Weston. Who would’ve known then that this guy would change my musical life forever, not at the start, but it was going to.
You see Ell (as we know him by) had a band called the “Well Frogs” and I was playing in a funk rock, Chilli Peppers/Stevie Ray Vaughan style band called “As Black As”. Our styles could not have been further apart as Ell’s music was kind of a folky lyric acoustic sort of style, I can’t say it rocked me at the time.
Godspell Erina High School 1979
Anyway Ell asked me to do a fill in gig, their drummer Paris was away, I thought why not. I just did my best to mimic their drummers parts, it was fine but it didn’t knock me out, I helped out fellow muso, job done.
A few months went by, I was getting a little over As Black As, not because I didn’t like the band, we just weren’t getting anywhere. Ell called to see if I’d be interested in filling in again, but for a few gigs this time. I asked if he could give me just the acoustic versions of the songs, just him and his guitar. This was my first “aha!” moment, these songs in their most basic form were really good. I asked for a rehearsal and if I could play the songs the way I heard them, sure.
Far East 1982
Well that rehearsal was one very special rehearsal and the beginning of an amazing musical connection and friendship, man we just clicked “aha” moment number 2.
Well those fill in gigs became a permanent place in the band because (Paris ended up moving to NZ), we decided that with this change, we needed a new name, so Welter we became.
An uncontrollable mass
1, Toss, roll, rise and fall in an uncontrolled way.
2, To wallow in water, other liquid or mud.
Welter suited the different mix of directions and musical influences from folk to funk rock.
We were having a blast gigging around in Sydney to packed out venues, so the next step naturally was, to record, and that’s what we did, “aha” moment number 3
First came a self funded EP named “Cleaver’ followed by the loss of our bass player Jeremy Scrivner. A friend of mine Jon Pedrotti, who was a drummer but was one of those people who could play any instrument filled in on bass for a while, this was great because it kept us gigging, but we knew it was temporary.
The Excelsior Hotel in Surry Hills Sydney was one of our home gigs. One of the bar managers Matt Skinner happened to be a bass player, he was already in a band Juggernaut, but he loved what we were doing, so we nicked him (in the nicest possible way of course). Matt was in, so off we went gigging around town.
We started doing some double bill gigs with Leonardo’s Brides (great band) their keyboard player Johnny Gauci was a master of the Hammond Wurlitzer, he was the real deal, man he lugged around the full Leslie cabinet as well, insane. Anyway why I bring up Johnny leads us to the next recording, Satellite Generation. We decided we want to experiment with some more sounds, so we asked Johnny G if he would record some Hammond, he was into it.
Ell also new a great piano player Mark O’Connor, who was playing with Wendy Mathews to play on some tracks as well. We were lucky that we seemed to have access to some great players that wanted to record Elliotts song’s. Then critically acclaimed album “Satellite Generation” was born.
“The breadth,tonal range and expressive quality of Elliott Westons voice are a delight.”
(Sydney Morning Herald feature Album)
“Welter have recorded an uncommonly beautiful album…..Whatever’s going through Elliott Westons head has made for one of the finest locally produced albums released”
(John Tingwell, Drum Media, Album Review)
Now could we get a record contract? Yeah, right! Record companies, the gatekeepers of the music industry, giving bands and songwriters permission or not (99% of the time not) to have their music heard. This is something I had trouble accepting for along time, but that’s the way it was. Thank god for this thing called the Internet, now artist can take control of their own destiny and share their talent to the world.We ended up loosing Matt he decided to go to colloge and get his degree in music, now he’s Mr Skinner at a High School, go figure. He will be a great teacher.
So here we are Ell and myself with our own site that we can share to the world on our terms. We are really excited to be able to share our music, stories and our lives with everyone who visits, because we now have control.
Although we are not touring anymore like the were, due to births, deaths and marriages, We are still doing gigs around town when we can, Mark Bechause from the Y-Fronts plays bass with us when we gig and anyone else who wants to drop in for a blow. It was decided by the both of us that why not use the Internet to share our music to the world, we have tested it on so many people,they’ve bought our music and loved it.
Our goal is to keep on producing great music that people of all ages can relate to, and share it through the power of the internet, I mean who said that musicians aren’t allowed to earn a living, and have control of their own product. It would give us such great pleasure to be able to share our music with you, and welcome you to come along for the ride on our “Zoo Train” (track 5 on our EP Cleaver). We want to make people feel and to connect to all emotions, this is the greatest gift I find that great music along with honest lyrics can do. This is our aim.
“SO COME FEEL THE MUSIC”
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