Craft Beer. Heavy Metal. Fuck Yeah.
If you like your music short, loud, and really fucking angry and you’ve not yet checked out Weekend Nachos, you’re really missing out. Formed in 2004 in Chicago. IL, through a series of demos, splits, EPs and three full-lengths–the most recent of which, Worthless, was released last year on Relapse–they’ve both become one of the premier powerviolence bands in the US and successfully moved beyond the confines of the genre to incorporate more elements of doom and sludge metal into their sound. And they absolutely destroy live; I recently saw them on the same bill as the legendary Napalm Death, and there was no question that they deserved to be sharing the same stage.
On the eve of the release of their new 7-inch Watch You Suffer (the title track from which you can stream here), vocalist John Hoffman was good enough to do a email interview with us.
Iron Hops: So our website caters to a mixed audience—craft beer drinkers and metal fans—not all of whom may be familiar with the style of music that Weekend Nachos plays. And granted, your style has evolved to incorporate more sludge elements on Worthless than on the earlier stuff, but how would you describe powerviolence to someone who’s never heard it (aside from ‘Hatebreed for wimps’)? And what’s the line that distinguishes powerviolence from grindcore or hardcore? Or is that even a relevant question at this point in the development of all three of those musical styles?
John Hoffman: Powerviolence is a subgenre, and the term was originally coined as a joke between some friends in Southern California. Honestly it’s just as irrelevant as a lot of subgenres i.e. moshcore, emo-violence, screamo, tech-grind, etc. because it merely classifies what bands have done to spice things up within a larger genre. Personally, I don’t think that just because a band is creative and original that they need to be lumped into a whole new subgenre as a result. Anyways, if I had to describe powerviolence I’d say it’s a style of hardcore that incorporates grindcore, punk and sometimes death metal. The problem with that explanation is that there are hundreds of people out there who would disagree and say “No…it’s more like ____” and then everybody starts to sound like a blabbering idiot! Weekend Nachos is a band that incorporates a lot of different styles of extreme music, whether that be hardcore, punk, metal, grindcore, sludge, powerviolence, doom, stoner metal, etc. See, right there, I even said it without thinking…”Stoner metal,” for example…a very dumb classification that some idiot came up with and it stuck for some reason. See what I mean?
IH: So in your music in particular, there seems to be a particular emphasis on the ‘violence’ part of powerviolence. Songs like ‘Shot in the Head,’ ‘Hometown Hero,’ and ‘You Could Exist Tomorrow’ just seethe with rage, and your live show is absolutely ferocious. Where does all that rage come from? How long have you been making this kind of music—is that degree of rage difficult to sustain? Are you just an angry person in general, or is it more of a persona you adopt when you’re writing or on stage?
JH: I’ve been an angry/misanthropic/hate-filled person for as long as I can remember. It had to have started in my youth at some point…I was bullied relentlessly for being small and weird looking as a kid. Lots of brutal attacks and tormenting at school. When you grow up with those demons, it’s very rare that you know where they should go except keeping it trapped inside. When I discovered punk, I was halfway towards figuring out where I could release that energy…the music was different and courageous, but didn’t seem that fucked up, just pretty fun and sometimes fast. Getting into hardcore really changed all of this for me. I started listening to bands that weren’t ashamed to say “I want to kill you” or “I hate people,” things that I previously just thought were very bad topics to bring up because they were demented. Well, hardcore changed all that. I started feeling comfortable with this rage inside me and it improved my well-being to find ways to release it. I still consider myself an angry person…but hardcore has given me an outlet to release negative energy in a way that we all understand and incidentally benefit from ourselves. It’s like one big giant support group for people that don’t feel quite right. Hardcore taught me that it’s OKAY to write songs about whatever the fuck you want…there are people out there that “get it.”
IH: I love your merchandise designs, like the Gott Fried shirt, or the Einstein shirt or the John and Yoko-esque ‘All You Need is Love’ shirt, or any of the Freddy Krueger stuff. But one of the reasons I like them is that they almost seem at odds with your music. I don’t listen to you guys and want to chuckle, but a lot of your t-shirt designs make me smile. Is that something you as a band did deliberately, making the t-shirt imagery less angry than your lyrical imagery? And I have to ask about a shirt you were selling when you opened for Napalm Death at Reggie’s—are you really White Sox fans, because I’m a Boston fan and still kind of mad about the whole Youkilis thing.
JH: I look at it this way…a t-shirt is something you either wear in public or just to a show, depending on your mood or what you feel comfortable doing. At a show, you can make any kind of statement you want. But in public, are you really trying to show the rest of the world how angry and hateful you are? Does that define you outside of these walls we’ve put up in the hardcore scene? I mean, for some it does…but that’s not really us. We make shirts that are funny because we really don’t take our clothing as serious as we do our music. Merchandise is just a fun little extra that gets us some extra cash and makes our “fans” have a little more fun. Some bands feel the need to make just as large of a personal statement with their merchandise…that’s fine, that’s cool with me. We just treat it more like a joke because to us…it really is. Sometimes the songs are even funny, like “Snowball Fight” or “Toothpaste,” but 95% of the songs are pretty serious because that’s more of our time to rage and really make a statement about who we are. And you know, on the contrary…every now and then we’ll make a merch design that’s serious too. We just open up our sense of humor a LOT more when we print merchandise because we don’t take it nearly as seriously as we do our music. By the way, there isn’t a single member of Weekend Nachos that really give a shit about baseball…we just hate Cubs fans like the rest of the world and most of our friends are Sox fans so we thought it’d be a cool shirt. I, myself, am more into basketball and sometimes football. And I wish people would stop pretending to like hockey so much. None of you posers like hockey!!!
IH: So you have a new 7-inch coming out soon called Watch You Suffer. I’ve noticed that a lot of power/grind/hardcore bands are embracing the vinyl format, and not in the ‘180-gram limited edition special color gatefold sleeve’ kind of way. What is it about vinyl as a format that makes you want to keep putting out 7-inches instead of CD-singles or digital EPs?
JH: Well, I’m going to sound like a snobby nerd but…it DOES sound better. It’s not a preference or anything…analog really does come through better as far as sound quality goes, so that’s cool about it. My REAL reasoning is because I like when the artwork is bigger. To be honest, that’s the only thing that sets it apart from CD’s for me…CD’s are a fine format to me. I think digital EPs are an actual symbol of how much the average young music fan in 2012 has become the biggest fucking pansy on earth. A click of a mouse and all of a sudden you have a record? No. Maybe I’m just getting old but you’re a wuss if you think you’re into music with that level of laziness and apathy. A band works hard enough on a record…the fan should have more self-respect than to just sit on their ass and download it. Is that really supporting a band? Like I said, it’s a new generation of kids and they probably think I’m crazy. That’s fine. I’m sure I’ll accept it sooner or later. But having a tangible form of a piece of music that I can hold in my hands is what makes it exciting for me when a new album comes out.
IH: Last question: so what’s next after Watch You Suffer? Can we expect another full-length anytime soon? Any big touring plans?
Actually…”Watch You Suffer” is a single off of a new LP that we’re working on! That song will appear on this new album and the B-side is exclusive to that single and will NOT appear on the album. We are actually very excited about this new album…every time we start writing a new record we don’t know what to expect from ourselves, it’s always a gamble. But I personally think we’ve created another great album. I look forward to recording it and seeing it all come together. As for touring…for the first time ever, the answer is sadly no. We are not planning on doing any big tours because we are all working and planning other things with our lives now. But we will definitely be making appearances out of town and doing maybe a few short 3-5 day stints every few months. My advice to anybody that wants to see us is…if you see us playing within 2-8 hours of your town…make the trip. You may never see us play ever again if you don’t. Thanks for the interview, dude!!!