Last seen trying on boots at the Fader Fort, we reconnected with the Bay Area trio Weekend after they completed their recent tour of Europe. Shaun Durkan, bassist and vocalist of the group, talked with us about tour, San Francisco, their new EP, and growing up with a post-punk dad.
You just got back from Europe, how was the tour?
It was great. It was cool to play with a band like The Kills who have a really big audience. The majority of their fans are pretty open-minded. It was cool meeting new people, talking to them after the shows. It was a lot of people who had never heard of us but they enjoyed our set.
Coming from a very DIY/punk background, do you guys feel comfortable playing in larger venues like that?
Actually I feel more comfortable on a big stage in front of a larger crowd than I do at smaller shows. At smaller shows it is a little more nerve-wracking to be in front of a handful of people.
Weekend is known for the extreme volume you play at, did you manage to make that happen on this tour?
I don't know. The music might seem more violent when we play in a smaller space because we still have real control over the volume of the amp, whereas the volume on stage can get lost in a bigger venue. You're really at the mercy of the sound guy. Unfortunately we didn't have our own on this tour but we managed to make it work. Obviously the volume aspect of our show is an important part but it isn't the most important. Mainly we're focused on playing well.
Can you tell me about the influence of Half Church? Half Church was your dad's band in the early '80s and they played a similar style as Weekend. What impact did that have on you growing up?
My dad introduced me to the idea of forming a band and writing my own music. My dad got me my first guitar when I was 8. Music and bands were always around and I always understood that making music and playing in bands was something worth pursuing. MY dad turned me onto a lot of cool music and has always been really supportive of me playing in bands. Our producer, Monte Vallier, who works with us on all of our records was the bassist in Half Church so that's really cool. He's almost a part of the band.
That's awesome to have that kind of support. I'm sure that came in handy when you totaled your van last year on tour. What happened there?
We bought a van about two days before we were leaving for tour and we didn't really have time to get it properly checked out. We drove up to Washington and burned out the radiator. Then we took it to a mechanic and he told us the whole bottom, the chassis was rusted out. He didn't think we would make it to the other side of the country. We had dates in New York so we went ahead and drove. We made it to New York. Then we started to hear a strange noise, like two pieces of metal being ground together. Eventually we pulled over to a gas station and realized the chassis hd actually snapped in half while we were on the freeway. The whole van was just hovering there, the engine was about to drop out of the frame. It could have come apart any second while we were driving. We had to scrap the whole van and fly home. It was a mess. We'll never buy a van again. We only rent now. There's no way to get stuck with a lemon that you have to keep park and then passing on the street in San Francisco five years later.
Yeah, I see it in my dreams all the time.
How was making the new EP Red different from the full length? There was a change in your sound. How did that come about?
We're always interested in pushing things and exploring new ground. The EP is definitely a change sonically. It was intended. We wanted to experiment with recording techniques. we wanted to do things that were less about obscuring the performances and more about highlighting them. Whether or not we pursue that from here on, it was really important for us to get past what we had done with the first LP and try something new. Broaden the scope of the project.
The vocals are much more prominent. Was that challenging for you? To take that leap?
Yeah, it was definitely a challenge. You are much more exposed the more you can be heard and understood. Not only lyrically but melodically as well. I wanted to push the limits and see how far I could go.
So now people can hear the words and process that with the music?
Yes. The words have always been a big part of it even when you couldn't make them out. We included the lyric sheet with the first LP so you have them when you listen to it. I wanted to try actually communicating the lyrics.
It seems like there are a ton of bands coming out of the Bay Area right now, Thee Oh Sees, The Fresh & Onlys, and you guys to name a few, what is the atmosphere like in San Francisco these days?
A lot people ask us if there is a San Francisco sound. I don't see it like that. I see it like there is a group of really talented musicians and music lovers who are interested in pushing the envelope. All the bands are really supportive of each other. San Francisco is really small so we all know each other. It's great to feel so supported by other bands. We don't all necessarily fit together as far as style or genre but it doesn't matter because we're all friends. And everyone is interested in making good music. It's a community.
Check out "Hazel" from Red, their new EP.
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