Weekend | Love + Death

Jinx, the new album by Slumberland’s Weekend is awash with gloomy, tempered, British shoe gaze and post-punk sounds.  The first time ION’s interviewer Bryce Dunn heard the track “Mirror” and the refrain “I feel sick, sick, sick in my heart…” from San Francisco-bred, Brooklyn-based group Weekend, he had a feeling these guys weren’t exactly singing about sunshine and lollipops. 
Rather, most of the tracks off Jinx are a practice in exorcising personal demons about their self-confessed main influences – love and death - for singer/bassist Shaun Durkan, guitarist Kevin Johnson, drummer Abe Pedroza, and recent touring addition Nic Ray. The follow up to the 2009 album Sports is no sophomore slump, but a victory lap of fuzzed out vibes that leaves people like Bryce wanting to know more about this band with semi-famous family ties and a penchant for Disney living.

ION: Okay guys, let’s break the ice. What’s your favourite song with “Weekend” in the title?
Abe: “Lookout Weekend”, by Debbie Deb.
Shaun: I honestly cannot think of a single song with weekend in the title at the moment!
Kevin: “Where is the Weekend?”, by Terry Malts.  

ION: You started playing in punk and hardcore bands before you formed Weekend - any memorable gigs from that era? What inspired the transition into more post-punk sounds?
Abe: I played a show on a bus once. This guy converted a bus into a mobile music venue. It ran on batteries and cooking oil. Shit got gnarly.
Shaun: I can remember headlining the Phoenix Theatre in Petaluma, CA, as a 15-year-old. The openers were a bunch of adult, skinhead, metal freaks. I think they actually liked us. 
Kevin: One of my bands in high school did a big US and Canada tour in an old van. Our last show was in Shaun’s garage, which was pretty fun. I think the cops came. As far as transitioning into other music I think it was just a matter of growing older and expanding tastes.

ION: There’s some awesome footage on YouTube of Half Church (Shaun's dad sang for this seminal post-punk band) playing at the Mabuhay Gardens in 1985. Do you know what other bands played with them at this show and has any of this footage been compiled for a proper release?
Shaun: As far as I know the event was more of a showcase, giving bands the chance to play on TV for an hour or so to a small private audience in the club. I don't think there were opening bands - and no, I don't know of any plans to release it. 

ION: For Shaun: Once you found out your dad was in a band, was there anything he said to you about getting into the music biz that you look back at and think “Okay, whatever Dad…?
Shaun: Just the general "don't sign anything unless you have a lawyer present,” rant. I don't think he had much music "biz" knowledge at all, he just grew up in a pretty dangerous part of London and so he learned at a young age to be skeptical about people's motives. 

ION: On the Half Church 12’’, were you aware that there is a veiled reference to the Pachuco (Mexican subculture gang) that was in the cover art and the logo for the band, and similarly Weekend have a variation of that cross in your logo? Coincidence, or homage?
Shaun: I was not aware of that, can you elaborate? 
(ION: During the 1940’s, the Pachuco were essentially gangs of Hispanic migrants who adopted a flamboyant lifestyle, wore zoot suits, listened to jazz and swing, and used a variation of the cross as a tattoo some historians said as their way of pledging solidarity to their particular neighbourhood.)
Shaun: I do know that the boy in the photograph on the cover is Charles Whitman, famous for opening fire on the students/staff at the University of Texas with a sniper rifle from a tower on campus. 

ION: Other than Tom (Durkan, singer) and Monte (Vallier, bassist for Half Church, and current producer of Weekend’s output to date), do you know what the other two members of Half Church are doing now?
Shaun: Bob Gaynor (drummer) is retired I believe, and Rick Tedeschi (guitarist) works in a retail store somewhere in California. 

ION: Do you know the band Merchandise? I think you share some similarities with them, not just musically, but in ideology. Their singer, Carson Cox, was quoted in a recent interview as saying, “With punk you count on no one but yourself. That to me is the most important experience.” 
Have you found this to be true? Noting your early support of the scene, but then eventual disdain for the Bay Area and your relocation to Brooklyn, are city-centric music scenes still important to you?
Abe: I disagree with that statement. Punk bands heavily rely on "scenes". What if nobody went to your shows? What if nobody let you play in their living room? What if nobody bought your 7" or T-shirt? What if nobody talked about your band on "punk" message boards? If this guy wants to think he did it all on his own, that’s fine, although, I highly doubt that that was the case.
Kevin: I like Merchandise. As far as “scenes” go, we don’t really care about anyone/anywhere/anything.

ION: You had already recorded Jinx upon your relocation - why not just start fresh in a new city and make the record there?
Abe: Because it was already recorded, and it sounded great. 
Kevin: We were comfortable working with Monte in California, and we probably would have never been able to put so much time, focus or energy into the record had we been in New York.

ION: Speaking of the new record, tell me about the song “Celebration, FL”? 
Shaun: It's about wanting stability and comfort in my life, but finding it impossible to make happen. Celebration is a community in Florida owned and operated by Disney. It's basically Pleasantville.  
Kevin: We like a lot of dance music...maybe it shows a bit.

ION: You contributed a song to an Adult Swim compilation called “Teal Kia”. Can you tell me what that song is about
Shaun: A teenage girl dying on the side of a road and just wishing she was in her bedroom.

ION: With your background in visual arts, I understand each band member contributed something to the design of each version of the album’s cover art? Can you explain your choices and their significance?
Abe: I chose objects with sentimental value. This record is more upfront and personal so it seemed fitting.
Shaun: We took objects we felt represented the new record, our time in the band, or anything that was particularly meaningful to us, and unified them by painting them black. A conceptual group hug, if you like: a form of unification. 
Kevin: My choices were mainly selected from the small things I decided to keep when I moved to New York - I gave 90 per cent of my possessions to Goodwill, including personal things like photos. A friend told me recently he saw a photo of my ex girlfriend and I camping on a random refrigerator in Oakland. 

ION: If the music thing doesn’t pan out, what do you think you might do instead?
Shaun: Mowing lawns in Celebration.
Kevin: I’ll fake my death and grow weed in Joshua Tree.  


Leave a comment

ION Magazine 170-422 Richards Street Vancouver BC Canada V6B 2Z4
© Copyright ION Publishing Group 2013