Weirdo Click is prolific, talented and just making its mark on the Halifax hip-hop scene. Lucky for us, this young group's not planning on stopping anytime soon. by Stephanie Johns
Sitting in Weirdo Click's living room, eating poutine (shoutout to gravy on the side) and playing NHL 12 would take anyone right back to the lazy weekends of high school. Watching Jacob "TwoTwo" Toney, Austin "Aux" Jennings and Alex "Bueller" William goof around, play video games and talk about music is like crashing a sleepover rather than interviewing a hip-hop group about its plans.
They met in junior high, drawn together by a love of rap and a similar sartorial sense. "I met Jacob because we had the same shirt, and I was like 'Who is this motherfucker that has the same shirt as me?'" says William.
"TwoTwo had it first!" says Jennings
"I can't even lie, he did."
But Weirdo Click really came into its own in 2012. "This year there's been a lot of shows, a lot of opportunities, a lot of good has come of it," says Toney. "It's been a fun ride so far and we want more."
As a group, they differ quite a bit. Jennings is talkative, bordering on hyper; Toney is laidback and soft-spoken and William bridges the two, at times bursting out with cartoon character voices, then back into seriousness. Although onstage they collaborate as a unit, the songwriting is split between Jennings and William. Jennings' songs (in contrast to his ultra-happy personality) are more contemplative and personal and William's songs are a bit more experimental, although Weirdo Click's prolific catalogue has enough variance in it to defy categorization. Toney is the backbone. "I keep them in check a little bit, not like a mom or anything, but I am honest," says Toney.
"If he wasn't there me and Alex would probably be at home playing FIFA instead of getting the tracks done," says Jennings.
Toney doesn't like to say he's a manager, but instead, "a friend looking out for his friends. We've had some similar personal situations we've all been through, they've been there for me," Toney says. "I'm just looking out for those guys and they know that, I hope they know that." It's beyond sweet. The three pals hug it out on the couch, William gives Jennings a peck on the cheek, and they're cracking up again.
Due to the difference in ages (William and Jennings are 19, Toney is 22), Weirdo Click has become well-versed in Nova Scotian liquor board bureaucracy while trying to play shows. The difficulty of those hurdles may have led to its massive collection of tracks: Instead of worrying about playing a ton of shows, the group has had the luxury to sit at home and write and record to its heart's content. After converting a closet in Jennings' home (Weirdo Click HQ, where Jennings lives with his understanding family---his father has been a musician for as long as Austin has been alive) into a recording booth, the group has made a staggering amount of albums in its short existence.
Its first mixtape, Weirdo Click's Greatest Hits (released March 2011), lived up to the bombastic name, then came William's solo Back of a Textbook ("The difference between Bueller and I is our writing process, this guy can write a mixtape in a weekend, I will take a weekend to write a song for my mixtape and then still have to put another verse on it," laments Jennings). Then came Aux Jennings' solo Hali's Offspring, then William's Private Resort, the title taken from an old Johnny Depp movie. "He was like 15 and he was pulling mad bitches. It was awesome," says William. It was a concept album, he says. "I starting thinking Private Resort would be this place I could go relax and get rid of everything and have fun," says William. "I think at that point I was probably homeless or getting kicked out a lot and doing a lot of drugs, so in general I was messing up. But I wanted to capture it before I got better."
Jennings is currently working on two albums that reflect both sides of his character. "Aux Jennings Is A Good Seed" which he is recording with Jay Mayne, "that's my real emotional music, where I talk about my life," he says. "Get It or Cop a Rain Check is that more hype, uptempo music you want to perform at the club."
Not to be outdone, William surprises Toney and Jennings during the interview by telling them he has 30 songs ready for a mixtape in July. "Bueller is an insane songwriter," says Jennings. "He's not human."
"That's funny you say that because the tape is called Human Nature," says William.
The energy that leads to these writing jags isn't new. Think back, way back---it comes with youth. Weirdo Click is at its prime transitional, sorting-life-out peak, where all the best creative output comes from.
"When I write music I think of Hunter S. Thompson," says William. "I'm inspired by people that aren't with the rest of the world but have that one thing that they're good at."
In many ways, the group is on the fringes due to age as much as its unique sound. It has the rough, unsettled feel that comes with trying to find its footing, which is as exciting to listen to as it is to live through. The members are still figuring it out. William just returned from four months kicking around Grand Prairie, AB. Toney is throwing his all into his clothing line, Rebels Against Society ("It's about the death of the norm," Toney says. "I don't want to be like anybody else, that's not what we're about and that's not what I'm interested in"). Jennings practices classical Spanish guitar and can ride a unicycle (when he's not recovering from a broken ankle). They're waiting on a new singer, Nathaniel Gough, to return from Winnipeg to add another dimension to the group.
Overall, Weirdo Click does things simply, but 100 percent. "We're really dolo about our bookings, we never turn down a show," says Jennings. "Who cares how much you get paid? You can't be stuck up about that." The help it gets from friends---Jadee "$lim" Gilpin and Critical are listed as two people it couldn't be making music without---is invaluable. Their presence at the shows helps the group push it beyond its limits. "A motto I always try to use is 'F.A.L., fuck a limit," says Jennings. "You might as well go buck on stage. Why wouldn't you?"