Despite being the tweaked out punk kids whose off-the-charts ADD can’t be tamed by all the ritalin in the world, Weekend Nachos have mastered their deliriously deviating minds within the parameters of quality song-writing and mosh-friendly party jams, engineering a trademark modern mash-up that evades most bands lumped under the header of ‘grind’, ‘powerviolence’ and ‘hardcore’. Their latest album, ‘Worthless’, is a glowing testament to the fact that if anyone can flawlessly erase the lines between Siege’s sludge, Infest’s in-your-face powerviolence, some Anti Cimex styled Swedish D-Beat, and Heresy’s swing, all while keeping the crusty vibes pumping, it’s Weekend Fucking Nachos. Then again, put on 2010’s ‘Bleed’ and you’d be hard pressed to find any of the previous within the slowly percolating filth. Since 2004, the band has championed spazz, flippin’ the bird to the traditional boundaries of every extreme genre under the black sun in favour of erractic, often unpredictable forays into whatever territory happens to pique their fickle fancy. Their work horse attitude and steadfast dedication to challenging their abilities has seen them deliver at least one release a year, always sure not to sacrifice quality for quantity. They’ve also refused to sacrifice the genre’s ethics and M.O., taking control of their fate with the DIY spirit that originally defined music’s extremities. Vocalist and White Castle enthusiast John Hoffman checks in prior to their jaunt across the pond to answer ZT’s burning questions.
ZT: When you started out what was the Weekend Nachos mission? What were you looking to accomplish as a band and as musicians? Has that changed getting to know the harsh realities of actually making it happen?
J: When we first started, we literally had nothing in mind at all. All we wanted to do was play shows and maybe cause a little trouble, piss some people off in Chicago. I had no idea that eventually we would release a 7″ and people would actually like it. When you say “harsh realities”, I suppose that’s not really the case for us because if anything, great opportunities were made possible as we played more shows and wrote more songs, and those opportunities just made us work harder to see what could possibly be coming next. Originally, we just weren’t thinking about any of those things. It actually took almost 2 years for people in Chicago to actually respond well to what we were doing. Most of the positive feedback that really got things going was from outside of Illinois. To be honest, I’m surprised we stuck it out as long as we did. There was enough hate for us in the beginning that we easily could have quit and moved on to other projects. In a sense, I think we enjoyed fighting the battle. It was funny to us.
ZT: You’ve said you don’t think your fans aren’t angry enough to get pissed at you for reinterpreting riffs. What is it about Weekend Nachos do you think that repels the holier than thou music snobs and generally crotchety wankers? You guys seem like you’re having fun. Do you think that’s infectious?
J: I think we attract a lot of different people but those people all kinda share a common understanding of what we’re about, which is essentially free expression of hate and malice that is not meant to be taken 100% literally. So when I think about music snobs and who you hilariously refer to as “crotchety wankers”, I think those people just don’t understand our band enough to care about us one way or another. The common bond between our fans is that they all understand and appreciate the raw aggression and free expression of negative thoughts, regardless of how they’re dressed or who they’re friends with. They all have a connection to me and what I’m not afraid to express though my lyrics. We are always having fun, for sure. That’s the dichotomy that a lot of people have come to embrace about us, we can express all of the bad shit inside of us without taking ourselves too seriously.
ZT: You’ve got a fairly large catalogue for just 8 years as a band. How do you stay inspired? What is it that keeps you coming back for more?
J: I think Andy and I really set the tone for this band when we originally got together and started coming up with riffs…we are a band that never really sentenced ourselves to just fast or just slow. That demo and first 7″ is chock full of slow parts and fast parts. When you start a “heavy” band, it’s important to leave yourselves room to expand on whatever style you start out with. I feel that Weekend Nachos is made up of musicians creative enough to keep releasing new material that builds and expands on whatever album came before it. We are always creating something new within our own boundaries, and it keeps people interested. But more importantly, it keeps US interested. We have always said that whenever we felt like we wrote a record that wasn’t interesting to us, we would not release it and it would be time to hang up our boots. But so far, we have not had to face such a dilemma. We’re still releasing records that satisfy us.
ZT: You’ve released several records over this period of time. Many people regard vinyl as the last bastion of a musical experience (ie. opening the record, taking in the artwork, painstakingly dissecting the lyrics) that no longer exists with the digital format. What is it about this format you appreciate as a band?
J: I think you pretty much described it perfectly right there. The thing I love most about vinyl is that the artwork is bigger. The most important thing on an album is the music, no question. But what makes it an ALBUM as opposed to just a RECORDING is the tangible format that you can observe and hold in your hands as a piece of art. Music is art, but an album is a physical piece of art. The music accompanies that and what you have is a very special format. I will always prefer for our records to come out on vinyl, but we have the digital option as well, because not everybody feels the same way and those people should be respected as well. Regardless of what format a person prefers, everybody deserves to have access to music.
ZT: As we get older the societal/parental pressure to ‘settle down’ and ‘get a real job’ usually becomes stronger. Approaching 30, do you ever feel like there’s a time limit on doing the band thing? Are you feeling this pressure at all? Can being in a punk band past a certain point become a bit of a joke?
J: I’ve thought about this quite a bit. Honestly, those pressures exist sorely within my own mind now and not within society or my parents. For a long time, I was getting shit from all sides, but over time my parents have accepted what I do and as far as society goes… well, I’m getting better at ignoring society more and more every day that I live! Society is an annoying plague that can fuck right off, as far as I’m concerned. As far as my life is concerned, I am coming to terms that this is simply what I do. It’s not just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. And I’m not just talking about playing in a band, but the hardcore scene in general. It’s a community I’ve pretty much dedicated my life to at this point, so until I’m naturally able to reject this community, I am not going to settle down and give up on it. Being in a punk band is no different than being in any kind of band. It’s not a joke to me, it’s music that I understand and relate to and there will always be people who feel the same way. Whether you’re Pig Champion or Eric Clapton, you’re expressing yourself through music because it’s what you love to do and that’s the bottom line.
ZT: How has Relapse opened doors for you guys? Having put in the leg work yourselves for so long, how has it gotten easier with their infrastructure at your disposal?
J:Relapse has helped us branch out into different communities other than hardcore, and for that we are grateful. It’s a nice feeling when you can look out into the crowd and see 30 year old metalheads standing next to 17 year old hardcore kids in the pit. As much as I think all human beings should be incinerated, UNITY is important.
ZT: Running for over a decade, Obscene Extreme has retained its strong DIY ethics, remaining affordable and totally vegan, without massive sponsors, while Curby still organises pretty much everything himself. Much like the Weekend Nachos way of doing things, really. How important do you think this approach is to punk/grind/metal? People made quite the scene regarding Scion and the various bands it got involved with. What is lost when larger companies/sponsors get involved, if anything?
J:What people don’t understand about the Scion debate is that Scion does not have any interest in the DIY community, whether it be punk, hardcore, metal, any style of music, really. Scion is a company. The motivation behind what they’re doing is to make more money and increase their profits. To this day, I don’t understand what they think they’re going to gain by showing advertisements to a community as small as ours is, but regardless, their intentions are not to support what we’re doing. They are simply experimenting with marketing. Don’t get me wrong, I do respect capitalism to a degree. You have to make money to survive, and making more than what you need can lead to other possessions that result in a more comfortable, enjoyable lifestyle. I understand that. But this music, this community and this alternative to mainstream society that we call punk rock does not exist to service a corporate mindset. It’s counterproductive to what we claim to stand for. When your band exists as an advertisement, you have sacrificed what I consider to be the most important part of DIY culture, your integrity. Money is great and I think it’s nice that Scion is willing to pay up front for their marketing experiments, but I am not interested. Punk rock is anti-establisment, it promotes self-expression and communication of ideas OVER money and profit. This whole Scion thing is a fucking oxymoron. At this time I’d like to add that I have friends who I love and respect that have played for Scion. I still love and respect those people. But you asked for my opinion on the subject and that’s what my opinion is.
ZT: What have you heard of the fest and who are you looking forward to seeing?
J:I’ve heard a lot of the things that you previously mentioned, the DIY aspect of it and how it’s all run by one guy, essentially. I respect that and I’m looking forward to playing to thousands of people. It sounds like it’ll be one of the biggest shows we ever play, which is exciting and a little bit intimidating, haha. I’m looking forward to seeing Exhumed and Suffocation.
ZT: Festival culture is practically non-existent in the States compared to Europe. At least when it comes to several day camp outs. Why do you think that is?
J:I don’t think there are a lot of venues in the United States that punk and hardcore promoters have access to that would incorporate a gigantic field for people to set up tents and sleep at for multiple days. Those types of things are more reserved for things like Woodstock and Ozzfest. You may correct me if I’m wrong but I believe Europe is a land where the government funds a lot of venues and in general supports the punk/metal scene a lot more than the U.S. government does.
ZT: What sort of experiences have you had touring Europe? Is it any easier or do you find it more difficult because it’s financially unfeasible to return often to build your audiences? How do the crowds compare?
J:We have a lot of fun in Europe and it is truly rewarding to know that we have support all across the world. Financially, it is a huge loss for us. We spend a lot more money on plane tickets than we receive back from the gigs. But that’s okay. It is something we accept and we are grateful and privileged to be able to tour overseas. We don’t take anything for granted. As far as the crowds, we play to a similar size crowd in Europe as we do in the U.S. Usually between 50 and 100 people in a smaller venue.
ZT: What has been the most important innovation in the Taco Bell menu in the past five years? Is it on par with the hot dog stuffed crust pizza at Pizza Hut?
J:Hot dog stuffed crust pizza??? That sounds like it could be either really delicious or really disgusting, but regardless I had no idea that it existed and I would like to try it sometime! Drew, our bass player, eats Taco Bell a few times a week even when he’s not on tour. I personally don’t like it that much. I much prefer White Castle, which you definitely do not have in the UK or anywhere in Europe. Next time you’re in the United States, I highly recommend you locate a White Castle and try it. The World’s Most Perfect Food, as I like to call it.
You can catch Weekend Nachos at Europe’s premier freak fest, Obscene Extreme, taking place from July 11-14 in Trutnov, Czech Republic, touring the UK in July with local grinders Afternoon Gentlemen and Shoot the Bastard, or raiding your local Taco Bell.