Shaun Durkan - Vocals/Bass/Baritone Guitar
Kevin Johnson - Guitar
Abe Pedroza - Drums
Within a grainy film-still between a summer sunset and the end of times lies the post-punk squall of Weekend. Weekend filter the aggression, tempo and sneer of punk through a wall of reverb, haunting melody, feedback and primitive garage guitar. Formed in San Francisco in late 2009 by three childhood friends, the band have quickly developed a totally distinctive take on the history of post-punk noise rock. Durkan and Johnson first began experimenting on music together when they were just 12 years old, as bassists in the middle school band. "He had no clue how to play it, and neither did I, really," Durkan laughs, so they messed around with Sex Pistols bass lines while the rest of the class worked on marching tunes. Durkan's dad, the singer in post-punk band Half Church, had turned his son on to groups like Killing Joke and the Cure (and outfitted him in original Joy Division T-shirts, Johnson recalls), but while the pair talked incessantly about albums, they never wound up in the same band.
After high school, both musicians attended the San Francisco Art Institute, where drummer Abe Pedroza was Durkan's roommate.The trio bonded over their love for music and their background playing in punk bands. All three dropped out of the school, and it was not until 2009 that the band began serious work on Weekend. They recorded Sports over the course of a year in Vallier's studio, sneaking in sessions whenever the space wasn't booked.
The post-punks been touring hard behind their debut album Sports since it arrived on Slumberland Records in November 2009. Between seeing their track "End Times" promote the Showtime hit Dexter, touring with Wire, and suffering a van breakdown of panic-inducing proportions on the road with label-mates the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the noise-pop trio found time to pause and reflect. The result: a five-song EP titled Red due this fall. Some touchstones along the way include the chaotic psychedelic noise of groups like Skullflower and Terminal Cheesecake, the bad vibes power-drone of "Feed Me With Your Kiss"-era MBV and No Age, and the scything racket of post-No Wave noise bands DUSTdevils and Sonic Youth.
"The goal for the EP was to remove some of the haze from the first LP and be up front about all the fucked up things that were happening musically and lyrically,"says bassist/singer Shaun Durkan. "We've always been interested in indulgence and restraint and we tried to push that further with these recordings," adds guitarist Kevin Johnson. "Maybe this song doesn't have a guitar in it, or maybe we use a synthesizer or there's no distortion or no drums. We were pulling back to make everything a little more searing."
Slow-burning opener "Sweet Sixteen" and urgently bouncy "Hazel" were originally recorded during an all-night jam earlier in the year and refined during the band's sessions with producer Monte Vallier, who also helmed Sports. Durkan started fiddling with the lyrics of "Sweet Sixteen" in a tour van in Europe while thinking about his sister and dog, who had both turned 16 (the EP is named after the latter). "I was reflecting on the endless optimism of youth and impending doom of aging," he explains.
Red represents the group's musical and personal growth since Sports. Trials on the road, losing jobs, and a sudden exposure to the music industry all had a hand in the sound of the EP. The songs on Red show Weekend exploring their sound with confidence and energy, while maintaining a self-effacing vulnerability. Equal parts terror and wonder, the songs are immediate, articulate, and heavier than ever.
Where many bands who share similar influences are content to bludgeon the listener with noise, Weekend pay special attention to texture and atmosphere, and leaven even the most riotous moments with unexpected shards of melody. Weekend have instinctively staked out a unique sonic territory where feedback guitars, crunching riffs and pounding rhythms are harnessed in the service of, rather than in opposition to, their haunting tunes. Says singer Shaun Durkan: "Our goal has always been to balance the abrasive qualities of punk and noise with something more introspective and vulnerable. Creating that simultaneous push and pull. Like the beauty of an oil fire."
They're rapidly developing a reputation for their stunning live shows, and gigs with bands like Japandroids, A Place To Bury Strangers, Little Girls and SF compatriots Young Prisms are drawing crowds of ever-increasing size and devotion.