Chicago's Weekend Nachos came into being in 2004, during a time when the North American underground metal and hardcore scene was thriving and commingling at an unredecented pace. The nascent influence of the Internet and social media had begun to allowthe little guys to build a countrywide (sometimes world-wide) following; it seemed like everyone and their dog was going on tour or getting signed, and the relative ease of interacting with fans and setting up tours led to more and more bands getting their music out to the masses. This, of course, contributed to the scene becoming increasingly washed out and generic, as bands that never should have left the basement attempted to use the “metalcore” formula to make it big. This is exactly why bands like Weekend Nachos are so necessary.
At a time when everyone was playing it safe and trying to make it big, Weekend Nachos were not afraid to get violent. They play a caustic, ugly mix of punk, hardcore, and grindcore that never takes itself too seriously—but never lets up, either. Chances are that if you have even a passing familiarity with the American hardcore scene in the last 12 years, you know Weekend Nachos. The Illinois natives have put at least one release for every year since they started, and now, after countless shows on tons of tours, 15 official releases on almost as many labels, Weekend Nachos is ready to throw in the towel, and share its swansong with the world.
Their final album, Apology, is due out May 20th on Relapse Records (preorder it here). Given that it is now or never, I wanted to discuss the band’s history and their future plans with vocalist and founding member John Hoffman. Hit play on the exclusive, full-album stream below, and read all about the writing and passion that went into writing the brutish and frenzied final album from these already dearly departed Midwestern grinders.
Noisey: What bands got you into music growing up?
John Hoffman: A bunch of regular punk rock bands is what got me into music. I would say Rancid is a huge influence; that pretty much started it all. As far as what got Weekend Nachos started, I would say Youth of Today and Carcass are like the two biggest influences—we’re kind of like a hybrid of those two bands.
Did you have anyone that pushed you towards making music?
Honestly, I think my dad would be the main person that I would set there. He writes his own music. He pushed for us to get into rock music in general. I don’t think I would be anywhere I am without that. He just steered me in that direction and taught me what good music is. Not that non-rock music isn’t good, but it’s pretty much what I play—it doesn’t stray far from that main genre. I can thank him for that. He was a musician, too. He bought me my first drum set when I was a kid.
You also play drums for the band Spine. Has having that background in drumming allowed you to be more involved in the songwriting of Weekend Nachos than most other vocalists are in their bands?
I don’t know, it’s weird, you hear about bands [where] the guitar player writes all the stuff, or the drummer. I’ll give a nod to Carcass again—on the first few Carcass records, the drummer wrote most of those songs for the earlier stuff. You would have thought that Jeff Walker wrote all of it. Most of that stuff is written by me, though, including this album and the last three albums; a lot was written by our guitar player and bass player as well.
Did involving them more in the writing process develop naturally as you all became more comfortable playing together?
It wasn’t much of an adjustment. For the first half of our band, it was a revolving lineup, and it was kind of my own show. Once we reformed in 2009, we stuck to [this current] official lineup, and that was right around the time when we started releasing those later albums. [It happened] naturally; once it became more of a solidified thing and less just me picking and choosing who was in the band, that was when we all got more involved in the songwriting, and I think you can tell in our later albums.
When you started Weekend Nachos, did you set out with the intention of “making it big” in the underground hardcore/metal scene?
Definitely would have to say no. I always knew that we were doing would be something because I could always see the big picture. I don’t think I knew it was going to work out, [but] I don’t really ever do anything with the intention of it failing. At the same time, when we started the band, we literally were just asked to start a band just to ruin this one coffee shop that my one friend didn’t like. He was like, "Hey, I don’t really like this place, but I book shows there." His promotional company is doing really well now and is an active part of the Chicago scene, but this is back when he was just starting to book like 20 person shows at coffee houses. He just hit me up one day saying, "I kind of just want to ruin this place and have that be the last time they ask me to do a show there." And I was thinking like, “That’s not going to be good for your reputation, but sure!" If you ask us to do something like that, we will absolutely do that.
We started this band and just wrote songs that were really short. It was kind of just a fun thing at first, and we actually had a demo ready to go by the first show. I don’t think any of us thought that 12 years later that we would be selling albums and touring other countries. We definitely did not expect any of the success that we’ve kind. I mean, the band is called Weekend Nachos.
Is there video for that show?
To my knowledge there isn't any video, but I do have pictures that were taken with a digital camera—like before people took pictures with their phone. It might have been before YouTube. It’s weird that even in 2004, we had so much technology, but so much has changed since then. I wish there was a video; it was incredibly stupid and funny
Since you started, there have been a lot of changes in the music industry and in technology. What positives and negatives have you noticed from the changes over the last 12 years?
I think the biggest thing that was coming to an end when we started, was Myspace. I have really fond memories, of booking 90 percent of our first few tours just via Myspace. Knowing that you could look someone up from like Pasadena or something, and contact them with just a simple message like “Hey, we are coming through, wondering if you could help out?”. That isn’t something we had even 10 years prior to that. I don’t really know about smartphones given that I’ve only had one for a year, [so] I don’t know how much of that technology I benefit from [personally]. Without social media, I’m sure there would have been no way our band would have been as popular. I think that is a huge part of it, but I think any band 10 years prior had to work a little harder than bands 10 years later. But it’s hard to hold that against people. When Black Flag toured, they didn’t use the Internet to help book tours; they didn’t even have cell phones. Everybody has to evolve with the times. Everything is so easy now. I think some bands don’t have to work at all. But I think the bands that want to work, do. I think it shows an authenticity to what they are doing. You can tell the bands that use technology 100 percent, and don’t really get involved in anything. You can kind of tell how transparent those bands are.
I think this new age of technology is going to implode on itself when it comes to what people are going to appreciate. There’s already so much that’s retro that’s coming back—people want vinyl again. People are starting to appreciate that authenticity that bands once had. I can’t predict how much worse or better it’s going to get. The people who want to work for what they have still do. And the people that don’t aren’t really benefitting as much as they often think they are.
It seems like you guys have been building a lot of momentum over the last couple of years, and things have been going really well. What is making you call it quits now?
It’s funny to think about people being into the band and all that. It’s honestly really been a slow and steady road to get there. We’ve been one of those bands that fought the odds from the beginning. We really weren’t taken seriously at all when we started, mostly because of the band name and because we really just weren’t very good. Over time, one album did better than the last. You lose some fans and gain some fans, and we have evolved our style and tried to not release the same thing twice.
As far as us breaking up at a time when we are still climbing up. It just naturally feels like it’s time to stop. I don’t think we have anything that we’d rather focus on, but given that the band is breaking up, there are things that we will focus on instead, and it will be a nice change of pace. I think that for a band of people in their 30s that started in their 20s, I think it’s appropriate to move on. I don’t know if this happens for everybody like Cro-Mags or somebody, but it starts to feel weird after a while. It feels like a different time, almost like we’ve had our time and it's time to move on and let someone that’s 20 years old start their band. I can’t say that bands don’t have the right to go in their 40s and keep doing it over and over again, but me personally, I can’t relate to that. I can’t see a band that’s in their 50s and taking away from bands that are 23. That’s the time in your life you should be out on the road and shining as hard as you can. And then when you get to be older, it’s time to start something new and let that reflect on the place you are at or just move onto something else altogether. I don’t mean that there is anything wrong with it, I just can’t relate to that.
Do you have any plans for after those last shows?
Every single one of us plans to still be involved in music, if not just as much, then more. Andy and Drew have a band called Like Rats, they just released an album on Southern Lord. It seems to be building some momentum. I have Spine that I play drums for; I’m hoping to do some more shows with them. I’m working on a solo doom/sludge project called Ledge, too, that will just be me writing the songs and recording most of the stuff. I have some writing that I’ve been doing. I think all of us definitely have music at the very forefront of our hobbies and goals.
I was hoping that you were going to say that you guys were starting your own nu-metal bands!
We already had a nu-metal band—it was called Weekend Nachos. Honestly, it was such a huge influence on our guitar tone and some of the later mosh parts. It’s funny how much nu-metal really did influence our band. There’s no joke about it. I think the only person in the band that hates nu-metal is Drew. Andy and I genuinely love it. We really use a lot of that to influence our style. It’s a very real, non-ironic influence.
On a side note, how did you meet Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy?
Drew! We’ve known the Fall Out Boy boy guys since our early days in the Chicago scene. I met Joe when I was really young. We both came into the scene together. Drew has been friends with those guys since his early 20s and they are super-tight. It’s no different than if you had friends that were in Creed or whatever. I don’t know Patrick well, I just know Joe, but Drew knows all those guys. It’s just all in the family, you know. The song that he sings on, "Jock Powerviolence," is a song that is about people calling us posers for so long. And we thought what better way to combat that was to have somebody from one of the biggest bands at that time do a vocal track on it?
Going into the writing and recording process, did you know this would be the last record?
Yes, absolutely. We were not even sure if we were going to try and do this record. We had made the decision to break up. At the meeting we had, we said maybe we should just call it quits then someone said, “I would like to do a last record”. Somebody else said, “Nah, I don’t really care”. And I was like, “Let’s maybe have a few practices and see how it goes”. I would say this record almost didn’t happen. That’s one of the reasons why I was nervous when we were writing. I was thinking “I don’t want this to suck; I don’t want it to be forced”. Honestly, I think it’s one of our best albums. It’s some of the best stuff we’ve ever done. It’s a perfect swansong. I’ll always know, just listening to it that it is the perfect way to go out. I couldn’t be happier with it.
Did you have any messages you were trying to get across with Weekend Nachos? Do you feel you got that message heard?
I think so. The band was always a reflection of my personality, [and] the other guys in the band were really up for it. The basic idea behind the band was to create the most hateful most antisocial thing possible. Part that was to alienate certain people who weren’t going to get it anyway. It’s sort of why the band name was so silly—because you’re going to judge us anyway, we might as well just weed you out. We always had a negative outlook on society and the scene in general. That was the basis of the band. Over time, it became tongue in cheek, but every now and then [we would] touch on real issues—social issues, or political issues. We’ve always been very confrontational with what we’ve been about. I think it’s made some people mad, and other people got on board with it. After 12 years, I don’t think we are a big band, but more a well-known band. I think we made our mark.
12 years: was it worth it?
It was definitely very worth it. I don’t think there’s anything I'd change. Somehow I've been in a band for 12 years and have never getting jumped or beat up at a show, so that’s pretty good. There were times when we came very close to being assaulted, or something. As long as we can make it through these last couple months, it was worth it. We can say we made it. I got to speak my mind and not have too many consequences for it.
For these last shows, overseas, did you handpick the bands you are playing with?
When we go to Europe, we have a booking agency. I don’t believe in going through a booking agency in the USA, because I know our country and I know who I want to work with. If you go to a foreign country, all bets are off; you don’t know who is sketchy or who is going to fuck us over. So we had a booking agency always help us in Europe and they knew us really well. They always help us pick the bands. It’s going to be with The Afternoon Gentleman, and we are really good friends with them.
Anything else you want to say?
I don’t think any band should take this for granted. If you have an audience, it’s a privilege that you should be grateful for. You shouldn’t get a big head and think anybody owes you anything. There’s a lot of hard work involved in this. Not every band can be so lucky. Any band that’s had any type of success, or the success we’ve had, nobody should take that for granted. It’s a huge privilege.
Weekend Nachos final tour dates:
***All Dates with The Afternoon Gentlemen***
May 19 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
May 20 New York, NY Saint Vitus
May 21 Boston, MA Middle East
May 22 Philadelphia, PA First Unitarian Church
May 23 Pittsburgh PA Dock 5
May 26 Tacoma, WA Real Art**
**= w/ Black Breath
Jun 2 - 5 Bristol, England Temples Fest
***All Dates with Wormrot, The Afternoon Gentlemen***
Oct 6 Hamburg, DE Hafenklang
Oct 7 Copenhagen, DK Pumpehuset
Oct 8 Berlin, DE Cassiopeia
Oct 9 Prague, CZ Modra vopice
Oct 10 Budapest, HU Durer kert
Oct 11 Ljubljana, SL Orto bar
Oct 12 Munich, DE Feierwork
Oct 13 Kassel, DE Goldgrube
Oct 14 Eindhoven, NL Bloodshed Fest
Oct 15 London, UK Nambucca
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