San Francisco post-punks Weekend have 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.
"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.
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.
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.