Happy Mondays Interview: Weakened Friends

Written by Laura Curry

weakened-friends-press-photo

Weakened Friends is a long-limbed trio whose music is attracting listeners in droves thanks to their straightforward lyrics that make life more manageable and the sheer volume of their garage rock-tinged tunes. Although they’ve only been together for a year, Weakened Friends have been on multiple tours visiting DIY circuits along the east coast, as well as popular indie music venues in Philly and NYC. In honor of their performance tonight at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, Pop-Break had the opportunity to interview Weakened Friends about their inspirations, the simplicity of their songwriting process and their most recent EP, “CRUSHED.”

Who is Weakened Friends? (Names of the band members & the instruments you play): Weakened Friends is Sonia Sturino on guitar and lead vocals, Cam Jones on drums and backing vocals and Annie Hoffman on bass and backing vocals.

From indie to garage rock with some rock ’n’ roll and punk elements, how would you describe your music in terms of sound: Loud, fuzzy, catchy and fun.

Are there any bands or artists that you draw inspiration from? Who are they and in what ways do they inspire you: What we find inspires us lately is our friends and peer bands. It’s really awesome to get to tour and play shows with folks doing the same thing you’re doing and being so awesome at it! It makes us want to work really hard and be the best we can. For example, in this tour we’re playing with awesome bands like Slingshot Dakota, dollys, Toy Cars and Hodera. They’re all super rad and make us want to keep doing what we do.

It’s easy to see that you are an independent DIY band, especially with the amount of basement shows that you play and how much time and effort you put into touring, recording music, and creating your album art and merchandise. What do you like most about the DIY scene: It’s a really supportive scene, everyone is always trying to help each other out and there is really no middle man, so it’s good for smaller touring bands for sure.

In your RadioBDC Session, Sonia explained that Weakened Friends started in 2015 as a simple, fun project to play some songs she had just written. I’m wondering if this idea also plays into how you work together as a band? Is there a sense of ease when you’re creating music: For sure. All three of us live together and are the best of buds. Sonia writes the bulk of the songs and then we arrange them at practice. It’s really all simple and fun, and our music reflects that!

Before I saw that you were based in Portland ME and Boston MA, I thought you were a band from central Jersey that I somehow hadn’t heard of – 11 of my friends like Weakened Friends on FB, you play in lots of basements and cover a lot of ground in the NY, NJ and Philly areas. So based on all this, it seems that wherever you go, you make a big impact on listeners. What do you think it is about Weakened Friends that draws people in so quickly: We feel like this area has such a booming scene with so many awesome bands that we are lucky to be friends with. So we try to play out here as often as we can! I think people can tell we are having a good time and I think our songs are really just about what’s up. I don’t try to beat around the bush or be too artsy for people. Life is already hard and complicated as it is. We just want to write songs that make it simple.

How does your EP “CRUSHED” capture what Weakened Friends stands for? What’s the main idea or theme behind this EP? What message do you want to get across to listeners: It’s loud and fuzzy! “CRUSHED” is kind of an EP of sad songs, but we have the most fun playing them. I think what people can take from that is if you just go do what you actually want and surround yourself with people you actually like, the hard stuff gets easier to deal with.

Weakened Friends CRUSHED album art on bandcamp.com
Weakened Friends CRUSHED album art on bandcamp.com

To me it sounds like “Crshd” is basically a song about unrequited love, or realizing that someone you dated for awhile is clearly not worth your time because they kept your relationship a secret and aren’t making you a priority in their life. Is this an accurate interpretation? Does “Crshd” set the theme for the album? How does it fit in with the other tracks on the EP: Yep pretty much! I was listening to a lot of Patsy Cline and wanted to write a song like one of hers but all fuzzed out and stuff. It’s pretty much exactly about that. I don’t think anyone needs to ever settle for that kind of relationship. The person you’re with should be proud of you and make you feel good about yourself, otherwise fuck that. I learned that the hard way, I’m lucky that I’m no longer in that messed up situation and in a loving happy thing. If you’re going to be with someone, treat them right!

During your performances, how would you describe your energy on stage, and how does it transfer over to the audience: We really get into what we do. Sometimes I feel like we look a little dorky because if it, but I’d rather feel like that instead of standing in one place trying to look cool! We’re three tall awkward dorks, but we embrace it and I think that’s important. It makes people feel comfortable, and they should be! Everyone is a freak in their own way and you just gotta fly with it!

How many tours have you been on since you started as a band? What’s been the most memorable show you’ve played so far? Or if there are too many to pick just one, what tour stands out to you the most and why: We’ve only been a band for a little over a year! But we’ve been on a handful of small self-booked tours! The coolest show for the three of us was actually a hometown gig! We released “CRUSHED” at a local brewery in Portland called Bissell Brothers! We sold the place out and it was just the best vibes!

If someone has never heard your music before, what song should they listen to in order to understand what Weakened Friends is all about, and why: I don’t know, I think everyone has different favorites, so I just say dive in and find what works for ya!

You have a lot of exciting shows coming up in the next couple weeks from the Wonder Bar on Monday to opening for Letters to Cleo on the 19th and playing basement shows in between. What show are you looking forward to playing the most: It’s always fun playing shows with friends’ bands and stuff, so the small ones are exciting for that! The Cleo shows at the Bowery Ballroom and Paradise should be crazy cool! We’re just stoked for all of it!

Have you been working on any new music since you released CRUSHED this past July? What’s in store for Weakened Friends for the rest of 2016: We’re always working on new tunes and ideas! I think we’ll tour around as much as we can this year, maybe release a video and hopefully have a new release plan for 2017! 

WEAKENED FRIENDS PLAYS TONIGHT WITH DOC EMMETT, THE NORTH AMERICAN AND WELL WISHER AT WONDER BAR IN ASBURY PARK AT 7 P.M.

Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.