Deadweight cuts through the San Francisco fog with a creativity and instrumentation that defies the norm in modern, alternative rock music. The premise behind Deadweight is to write heavy songs harmonically fueled by electric violin, electric cello, and vocals. Sometimes fast and furious, other times hip and hummable, Deadweight’s sound is distinct and accessible.
The trio consists of San Francisco Conservatory of Music graduates, violinist/vocalist, Ben Barnes and cellist, Sam Bass. Instead of a lifetime of uncomfortable cummerbunds and standing ovations, they enlisted drummer, Paulo Baldi, to round up the lineup. Baldi has performed and recorded with George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars, Ottmar Liebert, the Ali Khan singers from Pakistan. Barnes has performed and recorded with Isaac Stern, Metallica’s Jason Newsted, Mr. Bungle, DJ Disk and MIRV. Bass has recorded with Mr. Bungle and backed Third Eye Blind, both at San Francisco’s Warfield and on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as well as worked on string arrangements for Third Eye Blind’s newest recording. In 2002, Deadweight is touring the nation with Les Claypool (West Coast in February and East Coast in November), as well as nationally with Fishbone. Live performances have brought comparisons to Tool, Clutch, Smashing Pumpkins, Primus, and Nirvana.
Jason Newsted of Metallica fame produced Deadweight’s first demo. This was followed by two full-length recordings, “Opus One” (1999) and “Half-Wit Anthems” (2002), an album currently distributed throughout Asia, Europe and in North America on Fishbone’s new label, Nuttsactor 5 Records. Deadweight has appeared on a number of compilations: KUSF’s “Indie Jams 1998” (20,000 copies distributed in Japan), Fresh Tracks’ “The Best Bands of 1999” (45,000 nationally distributed), and “Riffage.com 2000” (600,000 copies distributed worldwide).
With their unprecedented style, chops and unique approach, Deadweight receives critical acclaim both locally and worldwide. The group has been asked back to Japan to play the Fuji Rock Festival 2003. At year 2000’s Fuji Fest, Deadweight shared the stage with The Foo Fighters, A Perfect Circle, Sonic Youth, Run DMC, and Fishbone. The San Francisco Weekly honored the band with a “Wammy” award in 1998, and in 1999, Deadweight won “Best Band in San Francisco” in Fresh Tracks’ Band-to-Band Combat, a national competition. By request, the group also performed at year 2000’s NEMO Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2002, Deadweight toured throughout the United States with Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade and for New Years Eve 2003, the band was asked to be in the Frog Brigade for Les Claypool’s sold out performance at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
The band is hard, definitely progressive, and lyrically warped. They take their instruments to new levels, creating unbelievable sounds like you’ve never heard. Deadweight’s aural assault on their centuries-old instruments would have, if played back in the day, driven Corelli and Vivaldi to think they’d met the Antichrist. They have a knack for writing well-crafted songs that are sometimes short and sweet and others that are all out rockers.
— San Francisco Bay Guardian
They rock! They’re fantastic — a fine violinist and cellist, the different colors their instruments can take, the different rhythms are unbelievable.
— Dave Harrington of the Kronos Quartet
San Francisco’s Deadweight puts the power back in power trio despite its non-standard lineup of violin, cello and percussion. The uninitiated will stand agape at the band’s crazed tribal performance wondering aloud, ‘How do just three guys make such a huge noise?’ before they even realize there’s no guitar onstage. The heavy, groove-driven songs vary from cacophonous to melodic, akin to the best experimentation of the Smashing Pumpkins and Tool. The band’s latest CD, “Half-Wit Anthems”, is an audio lesson on how to make traditionally classical stringed instruments weapons of rock.
— America Online Entertainment Guide