On Thursday, December 12th, Philadelphia-based band Weekender performed at the first Philly Underground Music Festival, presented by WXVU and CAT Music. Begun initially as a solo project by Derek Sheehan (lead vocals, guitar) that has expanded to include Jesse Petas (drums), Steve Rosplock (guitar, vocals), Dan Mudd (synth), and Brendan McGeehan (bass), Weekender has established themselves with their unique electronic-psychedelic-pop sound. The band sat down for an interview with me before their set.
How did Weekender get its start?
Derek: The band really started with me a couple years ago in 2013. We put out a record, starting as a solo-esque recording project, and it went through a couple iterations of live bands. Now it has moved more towards an actual band as opposed to just a solo recording project with a live backing band, so it’s a little more collaborative now.
Jesse: Last June (2015) was our first gig as a full band; I had played a couple gigs with Weekender in the transition of the line-up change, and it kind of came about from just knowing each other through different connections, learning the music that Derek wrote and moving more towards a collaborative thing where we’re all writing together.
Was your first EP, Spanish Peaks, mostly a solo project?
Derek: I did that myself, pretty much a solo effort. I had a band that toured around that record, and did another EP at the beginning of this year which I recorded mostly at the beginning of 2015. That one was solo as well, with a couple guests coming in here and there, so really the only two records that are out right now were both basically solo.
Moving forward, will the process be more collaborative?
Derek: I’m still kind of driving the ship, but now songs and ideas filter through the whole group and other people bring ideas so it’s not just me—maybe I’m hatching most of the ideas but they definitely get shaped in the eyes and minds of all these guys before they go to recording.
You just released Floaty Feeling, Blue in early 2016. Do you have any new releases planned?
Derek: We’ve been working on a new record over the past couple of months, it’s coming together. We’re getting ready to start looking at studios to record at and who we’re going to work with—still getting all the demos together and figuring out what’s cool and what fits and what we all like.
Dan: We’re actually trying out some new songs tonight, previously unheard (WXVU exclusive!)
Where did the name “Weekender” come from?
Derek: It was just one of the names in the hat, a reboot from an old name that we transitioned. We wanted to start fresh because it was new songs and new backing, and Weekender was the name that we went with. It kind of fit too, because at the time we all had day jobs and a lot of the recording and rehearsing was relegated to weekends.
During the nearly three-year gap between the two releases, what were you doing?
Derek: PaperCup Music (Weekender’s label) re-released Spanish Peaks in November 2013 (originally self-released in March 2013). I started recording the next record, probably 8 songs or more in the studio, but I was having a tough time getting them where I wanted them to be. Then I wrote “Loving/Hating” and “No Time to Waste” from Floaty Feeling and all of the sudden all these songs came that sounded different from the other ones, so I basically started over, shelved a whole record. So technically this will be the third record but the second one is just in the archives for now.
Do you have any plans for those songs, or are you completely moving away from that sound?
Derek: Maybe—they’re always ideas that are available, and sometimes you can take a piece or a snippet of an old song and incorporate it into a new tune, always good material to pull from.
In the Philadelphia circuit, what is your favorite venue to perform at?
Dan: We like Johnny Brenda’s, we have a good relationship with them
Jesse: I like Underground Arts too, and Boot and Saddle
What are your largest musical influences?
Derek: One of the cool things that I would say about this band moving to a more collaborative approach to songwriting is that a lot of these guys have different starting points and influences than me so it helps to get a different take. A lot of times someone will have an idea for something that never would have occurred to me to go in that direction—sometimes it doesn’t work, but sometimes it’s absolutely great.
Jesse: If you put any combination of us in a room, there’s different overlaps of influences. We all like the pop stuff, the shoegaze stuff, psychedelic, 90s indie rock, Motown funk—Steve is a straight punk.
Derek: There’s some cool stuff that pop music is doing, some cool sounds. I think initially when I was younger I wanted to shy away from that kind of thing, because you know it’s not necessarily cool but there’s some neat production stuff in there that if you pay attention to it that you can pull.
What genre would you consider Weekender?
Derek: I feel like sometimes people have a hard time giving us a genre—they’ll pull references to bands that I don’t even know or I wasn’t going for that at all. I would say our genre is dreamy, psychedelic music, it’s a little electronic now, definitely a pop sensibility in the melody and vocal parts, (Dan: in a lot of the guitar riffs that we’ve been writing there’s a 70s influence which is cool too). I just think it’s cool that people hear a lot of different sounds. I hope it means that the music is accessible (Dan: it also might mean that it’s totally confused).
Learn more at http://www.weekenderband.com/.