Interview by Dustin Blumhagen
When describing a band to readers who may have never heard their music before I always struggle with the vagueness of genre. If you were to describe yourselves to some random senior citizen wandering down the street, what would you guys say?
Pete: Without getting into sub genres and trying to explain things deeper than they should be, I’d say we are generally pop punk. And as vague as pop punk might be at the moment, it comes down to our conscience song writing and arrangements mixed in with our punk roots and influences.
I had a few utterly brilliant questions lined up that centered on the fact that The Weekend Kids were on the lineup for Pouzza Fest in Montreal alongside great acts like New Found Glory, MxPx, Saves the Day… You were kind enough to inform me that plans had changed and you had to pull off of the festival. Would you like to clarify for confused readers what could possibly be more important than playing a huge music festival like Pouzza? Maybe Andrew would like to answer this one. I was really looking forward to talking about poutine.
Andrew: I’m getting married, and weddings are expensive man! I would’ve loved to do it this year, but with everything going on it wasn’t possible. Hopefully next year they’re kind enough to ask us again.
There are a lot of great bands on the Pouzza lineup, including a strong representation of Edmonton, Alberta bands. You guys have toured Canada with The Old Wives and played shows with Fire Next Time and Audio/Rocketry. When people talk about the Canadian music scene, they usually mention Toronto and Vancouver, but ignore places like Edmonton and Winnipeg. Personally I think the two latter cities have strong music scenes that are strengthened by their isolation, something like Seattle in the grunge heyday. Do you agree? How do you feel about the artistic community in Edmonton?
Pete: We definitely agree. Being ignored feeds the urgency to express yourself, especially through music, to tell a story and to be heard. And that’s early evident in the Edmonton music scene, aside from the bands, the music fans are just as passionate here.
Andrew: The music community here is awesome. When we started out, it was hard making friends or booking shows with the same bands more than once. I think it’s grown a lot since then and everyone supports one another. Whether you play punk or folk, you can see people from other bands at pretty much any show you go to.
Speaking of the local scene, you guys are currently working on a split release with fellow Edmontonians Freshman Years. Can you tell us a little bit about that release?
Pete: Yes we are. We have already recorded the songs for the split, but I just recorded an EP for Freshman Years that will be released first. We all have the artwork and DeadCity Records will be releasing it for us. There’s no set release date just yet, but it will be soon.
Andrew: This one’s a long time coming, but I’m super excited that we’re doing it. We recorded part of the song awhile back, and it almost ended up on our Run This Town EP. But it felt like it needed to put on another record, so having this split come up was a perfect opportunity to use the song.
Back in the late 90s Canadian pop punk group Gob got a lot of airplay. I hear that The Weekend Kids are contributing a song to a Gob tribute album. Who is organizing that release? Do you know of any other artists on the album? I assume that you guys were/are fans of Gob, did you get to choose the song that you are covering?
Pete: We rarely ever do covers! It’s a fine line between hitting it out of the park and sounding like a cheesy cover band but when the dudes from Stay Asleep booking (who we met during out Canadian tour with the Old Wives) contacted us to be a part of the tribute album we couldn’t say no, so we really have to step up to the challenge. At the moment they are still confirming other artists, but we are pretty excited to be a part of it. We are definitely Gob fans! To be honest, I haven’t been keeping up with their latest albums, their older stuff from the 90’s is what we’re stoked about and we got to pick our top three songs to cover but we’ll have to keep it under wraps just in case we don’t get the song we want…I can tell you that the songs we’ve picked are some of the bigger hits, if you’re going to challenge yourself, you might as well go all out.
Are you working on new music? You seem to keep the flow of music relatively steady, but I am sure that fans new and old would love to see a new full length in the near future.
Pete: We get bored quick, so we’re always trying to write to keep the momentum going for ourselves and fans. Right now we are working on some new material for a new full length. I know all bands say this, but this is going to be our 3rd release and we want to take our time to write songs that really push our boundaries as a pop punk band. And no, we aren’t going to introduce auto-tuners and canned beats.
Andrew: Although we get bored quick, we’ve been so busy with our personal lives, that it’s hard to find time to write. When we started out we were writing, growing, jamming and playing shows all the time. But we were so young then and had nothing else to do. With everyone being a bit grown up it’s harder to get everyone in the same room. But I feel like now as we’re more comfortable with our sound it’s harder to write stuff that’s new and at the same time stuff we like, so sometimes it takes a long time. (Laughs)
Your latest release is a free 6 track EP self-explanatory titled Acoustic and B-sides. What prompted the reimagining of previously released tracks? How has the response to the EP been so far? Where can fans find the free release?
Pete: We actually played a couple of acoustic shows, sometimes with just a couple of us but we would all be at the shows. We ended up doing a show with the full band playing acoustic with a stripped down drum kit, and it felt way more comfortable for us. The feedback was great so we decided to give it a shot and we recorded the 6 tracks live over a weekend with Liam Copeland from the Old Wives at Eat Shit and Die recordings. Right now the EP is our most downloaded album, you can really focus in on the lyrics and some of the more subtle guitar lines so it really appeals to a wider range of listeners…that and it’s free. You can check it out and download it for free at theweekendkids.com.
Andrew: I was honestly a bit against the idea in the beginning. I’ve never really been comfortable playing acoustic in front of people until like Pete said, we introduced the stripped down kit. But after we jammed and worked with Liam, it felt a lot better. As feedback goes, lots of people were telling me it was nice they could hear the lyrics during live shows. Which I never really thought about before, but it’s cool people are paying attention.
During a recent holiday in Vietnam, you recorded the great looking video for “Run This Town,” the title track from your first EP. Can you tell us a little bit about your time in Vietnam? Did you play any shows while in the country? How did the video recording process go? For an independent band, The Weekend Kids always have high quality videos, as well as great looking merch. Do you feel that the image you portray as a band is an important aspect of your art?
Pete: We were there on a family reunion, and decided to take a crack at booking a show. We met some great promoters that were quick to throw us on a packed, Jager sponsored New Year’s countdown show. The bands and the scene itself blew us away. But finding gear to play was harder than we thought. We luckily found a guy who rented out gear from his high-rise apartment/studio/jam space. It was equal parts sketchy and awesome. The whole music video thing was just pure luck, our family in Vietnam happen to be in the movie business, so they arranged the whole thing. We had a crew and our cousins shot and directed the video. We shot on the roof of a half built, high rise building from the 70’s and around Ho Chi Minh City.
And Thanks! We’ve spent countless hours learning how to shoot our own videos, design our own merch, and record our own albums. As an independent band I think knowing who you are and portraying that the best you can is the only way to keep your head up in the ‘music industry,’ that way no one else can tell you who to be…I guess that’s the power of DIY.
For some seemingly random reason, many of my articles for a wide variety of publications are getting a lot of attention in Indonesia. There appears to be a strong love of punk music there, which is controversial in a way that North American kids will never know. Is there a similar cultural backlash in Vietnam or is it a more open culture?
Pete: In Vietnam there was less punk and more metal, and from what we’ve experienced it wasn’t as controversial or political as you would think. It seemed like the scene was more focused on the music itself and the hard work to establish a venue, a band, and to play and hear live alternative music. We were actually surprised at how open the scene was, but we didn’t get that deep into things, maybe there are some more politically charged, underground punk bands out there.
Your first release as a band was the full- length Of Friends and Foes. For a debut, the album holds up very well three years later. After time and playing the songs at countless shows, how do you feel about the release today?
Pete: When we did Of Friends and Foes we basically put every song we have ever written on it and it was also the first time recording ourselves, so it used to be hard to listen to it without picking it apart and reliving the stress of learning how to record and produce an album ourselves, but now It’s easier to be proud of what we’ve done. There are still a bunch of songs that we love to play live; we don’t play them as often as before so it’s a ton of fun when we do.
Andrew: I’m super proud of what we did, and will sometimes listen back to old songs and be like, “hey that was cool.” I don’t wanna sound like I’m bragging or anything, but as a band or any kind of artist, I think you should always be proud of your work.