Post-Punk Fantasy

Oct 10, 2013 Issue #47 - September/October 2013 - MGMT
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When you think of post-punk's 1980s heyday, the mind doesn't tend to wander too far outside of London. Killing Joke, The Cure, and Wire were all huge influences on the New York scene that followed and warped into New Wave, so it seems a little incongruous that one of the most exciting bands leading its revival actually hails from sunny California.

"I think it comes down to what I grew up listening to," explains Shaun Durkan, singer/guitarist with San Francisco's Weekend, whose well-reviewed second album Jinx was released in July. "My dad was in a band and he bought me my first guitar, gave me all my first CDs, got me into Killing Joke when I was eight or nine."

Said father was Tom Durkan, singer in the little-known but influential post-rock band Half Church, whose song "Paradise" Weekend covered and released as a download in November 2012. Clearly it was this era that had the most profound effect on Shaun when writing and recording Jinx. "Disintegration was kind of my goal, getting to that kind of realm, because The Cure was a huge influence...but I don't know if we could nail a Cure record even if we tried really hard!"

Back in 2009, the band signed to former Black Tambourine member Mike Schulman's Slumberland records. "The important thing to us was that Mike was a musician first off and not a businessman," says Durkan of the band's decision to sign with the label. "It was important to us to sign to a label that understood what it was like to be a musician and be an artist, to find a label that supported art and wasn't just churning out records. Spending time with [Mike] and seeing his passion for music-he was unlike anyone I've met that works for a record label."

Despite the heavy influence of numerous 1980s bands, Weekend retains a strong sense of identity on Jinx. "It was something we were definitely conscious about," Durkan says. "We didn't want to make a revivalist record; we're a modern band, so we wanted to deal with life today and not in the '80s. It was important to us to make a modern record that people could relate to now, but then of course all our inspirations were from the '70s, '80s, and '90s. So it was definitely a conscious thing to try and reference old records while keeping it fresh and trying to make a new record."

For long-term followers of the band, the most striking thing about Jinx is the greater focus on textures and melodies than on 2010's debut Sports. A subtler record, it sees the band showcasing more than just the deafening directness that characterized its predecessor. Although Durkan believes the loudness is still an important aspect of the band's live shows, he is keen to demonstrate their more nuanced side. "When we were first starting as a band that was much more something we focused on; it demands attention and makes the show an immersive experience rather than the audience just being a spectator. It makes the show a true physical experience and not just an aural one.

"As we've developed as a band we've become more focused on the tiny things and the nuances in the live sets," he continues. "There's a lot more to our band than the volume, but it's still a part of it. Whatever people choose to focus on, it's their decision, I guess."

In keeping with their punkish aesthetic, Weekend's music is very direct. Nonetheless, they are capable of surprising. For Durkan's favorite song you might expect something along the lines of The Cure's "Plainsong," Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence," or perhaps even Einstürzende Neubauten's "The Garden," but noinstead he says it's Mariah Carey's "Fantasy."

"Oh man!" he laughs. "I think it's one of those things where I heard that song a lot when I was in middle school and I associate it with certain girls I had crushes on. Now every time I hear it I think about them! Maybe that's why it's great? It reminds me of a more innocent time in my life."

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar's August/September 2013 digital issue.]



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October 14th 2013

The Weekend’s new album is rad! Also into post punk band INVSN’s self titled new album. Check out their single stream on Noisey