San Francisco-based group Weekend is one of the few bands to emerge from the Bay Area’s indie scene in recent years with widespread national recognition.
It has been quite the ride for shoegaze trio, which was created in 2009 by childhood friends Shaun Durkan and Kevin Johnson with the addition of drummer Abe Pedroza. The group received critical acclaim in 2010 with the release of its debut album Sports. 2011 finds Weekend continuing its rise in the independent music world with the release of the new Red EP. We spoke with the band at Treasure Island Music Festival.
In 2010, the year after you formed, you released your debut album Sports and it received critical acclaim from Pitchfork, NPR and so forth. Did you expect that kind of reception so quickly?
Shaun: I think I expected people to be interested in it and appreciate it because we’re all listeners who like creating music that we would want to listen to. I don’t think I have a super unique taste so I assumed other people would like it too.
Kevin: I was a little bit surprised. I think when we set out, we wanted to make the record a little bit difficult and a little bit confrontational, and it’s just really cool to see how people connected with that.
Do you think a lot of the first record’s success was based on word of mouth recommendations?
Shaun: It’s hard to say what it was. I think it just really didn’t sound like a lot that was coming out at that point. A lot of people had been making shoegaze records but none that sounded as dark, or angry, and confrontational and natural as ours somehow came out. So I think it stood out by the nature of its aggression.
Kevin: I think it was cool, too, at least speaking on a grassroots level, when we first started the band, there was a huge community of our friends and other people that I think just knew us and knew our personalities and the things we had done before. When they knew we were starting a band they became immediately interested. Our first couple shows were really small but there was a ton of people there and they all wanted to hear. They were into and it just went from there.
Weekend just released the Red EP and a lot of people are saying this is a transitional record from Sports. Did you guys approach making this EP differently than Sports?
Shaun: The first record was really done as a quasi favor for us, an old family friend Monty produced and recorded it for us. We had no money, but he believed in our vision so he would squeeze us in three day sessions at a time when he could over the course of a year, so the nature of the song writing on that record is a lot different than the songwriting on the EP.
Would you say the same about the production quality?
Shaun: The production quality is different but that was much more of a conscious decision.
Kevin: We did it all in a two week recording session and that was a very different process for us than the first record.
Are you guys planning on recording another full length for next year?
Shaun: Yeaj, we’re going to record this spring. We’re going to record the record with Monty again.
The Bay Area right now is really experiencing a golden age of independent music with so many bands coming up, What brought you to the Bay Area over cities like Los Angeles and New York?
Abe: I don’t think music really brought us to the Bay Area. I think we all had different ties to the city.
Kevin: But when we started we didn’t have any ties to the music community at all. We just started the band and have formed a relationship with the music community since then.
Is there a sense of cohesiveness between the Bay Area bands?
Abe: Not as far as sound, but everyone knows each other.
Kevin: I was trying to explain it the other day; I feel like being in a touring band is such a unique lifestyle and such a weird existence that you end up really clicking with people who are also in touring bands, so we definitely made a lot of friends with people in the Bay Area that play music.
Abe: I don’t even feel the community is as regionalized as it used to be. Now it’s like you kind of meet people from everywhere touring and you become friends. There’s like this national community. We all live on the Internet.
Are you guys planning on touring soon?
Shaun: We have some tentative plans to probably go to Europe in November but probably not in the U.S. until next year.
What are some of the current groups you’re listening to who you think aren’t getting enough exposure?
Abe: Grave Babies, I also like Pure X a lot.