INTERVIEW: Weakened Friends chats new album, spring touring and female presence in the music industry!
We’re still buzzing off this past weekend at Boston Calling as I think everyone is that was part of the festival/attended. This year’s line up had something for everyone and was easily the most eclectic I’ve ever seen it. We’ll have interviews from the festival rolling out over the next few days but first up is Portland, ME’s Weakened Friends who opened up the main stage the last day of the festival! The band is on the cusp of releasing their first full length this October, “Common Blah”, and just came off a spring tour which ended by playing Boston Calling. Casual.
In our chat with the band, lead singer Sonia Sturino broke down the writing process, their Boston Calling set, and the importance of females being present in the music industry. Find our chat below and keep your ears peeled for the album and sure touring to follow!
You guys played second today on the last day of Boston Calling after STL GLD, you had a huge crowd. How did you feel the set went today and especially coming off this spring tour?
Sonia Sturino: It was super cool. Really fun, overall like a positive energy. It’s crazy how big the stage is, it’s unfamiliar to us. I feel like I was just trying to sprint back to the microphone at any time when I moved away from it because there’s just so much space. But the staff, everybody, has been really great. It’s been a really fun time, the crowd, it just sounded great onstage. So everything was really fun!
Perfect, then like I said you’re coming off a spring tour. Obviously getting the Unsigned Artist of the Year award at the Boston Music Awards, which is a big deal in Boston, maybe not nationally, but still exciting. You have the EP’s out, the singles, are you currently working on new music? I know that the last single came out in 2017.
SS: Yeah we have a new record in the bag. We’re going to be releasing it in October. We’re really stoked about it. October, new release! We’ve been waiting to get it out, it’s called “Common Blah”.
And will there be some songs on there from the past or is it like a completely different fresh set?
SS: There’s one song that’s a little older, we did a live session of it and it was recorded through that but we revisited it on the record. Just to get the full sound and the vision we wanted with it.
Then obviously you guys have been working together for so long. You’re all music veterans. Do you feel the songwriting process is still changing for Weakened Friends or do you think it’s fallen into a pretty steady rhythm?
SS: I think for myself, when I started this, there was a very direct thing that I wanted to achieve. I was writing these songs specifically to do something different for myself and to challenge myself musically to really bring it back to a simple place. Having songs be very candid, very off the cuff, very direct sounding, catchy melody. Chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, end song. And I think for myself as far as, not this upcoming record, but a few songs that I’ve been writing and we’ve been working together for newer material. In a weird way, it touches a little bit more sonically obtuse concepts of where I was at previous to kind of even joining or starting this band. But still very much this band. So it’s kind of I guess sort of a genesis or a weird coming together of two of my writing styles and worlds. Which is very exciting. It was not like I ever disliked anything I was creating within previous bands but it got to be someone else’s project more then my own. There were too many hands in the pot, too many cooks in the kitchen and it wasn’t really boding well for me so I think for the new stuff, I think we’re digging a little deeper and going a little further. But still the same old Weakened Friends. It’s never too serious but I think there’s a little more body to some of the new things that I’ve been thinking of.
And then obviously there have been some very powerful female acts on this line up. St. Vincent last night, Weakened Friends today, you had Pussy Riot on the first day. You said on stage today, ‘Please don’t be creepy tonight or at least be creepy in a good way.’ You hear about it all the time at festivals. Even down to the comedians not being afraid to talk about it who are in the arena. How do you think the experience has been of having so many more girls at this festival?
Annie Hoffman: I’m kind of new to the festival thing so you may have more of a stronger view.
SS: I tried to make Annie take it because she produced and engineered all of our stuff. I think my main comment with a lot of it is it’s excellent to see festivals bringing on more females and more LGBTQ. More people like minorities being represented in lineups. I think that’s so important. Both at a higher level at music festivals but even from the shows you book in your hometowns, small DIY tours. I think that’s so important. What I really, really love seeing is awesome female engineers. Awesome female producers, like Annie. Also, I work for a company where two of the main talent buyers are amazing, very strong females. I work for the Bowery outlet up in Portland, the State Theatre so seeing that. Or like showing up to the show and some of the stage hands or some of the engineers are female. I think it’s really important to have the public seeing strong female acts like on stage. I think the groundwork is being laid for that but I think we should focus really on not just assuming she has her engineering position because she’s married to the other engineer. Not assuming that kind of stuff, I think that’s really cool. And also, female journalists, female writers, I just want to see eventually not only on the stage, not only on the billings but actually in the blood and guts of the festival and the music scene.
Perfect then you guys have obviously been really busy like I keep saying. You did the festival in Maine, you’ve done the spring tour, you have the new record coming out. Is that just the focus? Getting that album out, are you going to keep touring? What are some focuses or maybe goals for Weakened Friends?
SS: Yeah I think we’re just going to continue to keep busy. Keep writing, keep playing. For us, it’s just how can we get to the point where this is what we do. How do we quit our day jobs? When you get to a certain point of commitment with any kind of art form, eventually you have to start thinking about that logistically. So I think the way to do that is really keep your head down. Keep working, keep trying, keep taking the opportunities as they come. Keep being grateful, keep feeling like a novice. We’re still new, we’re still so new and there’s still so much to learn for us. We don’t take anything for granted and we are really just trying to push the art we make to the people who want to hear it. And we’ve been really fortunate to have like a great response. Even if it’s small, even if it’s not this huge thing, we have people that just really connect and that’s what keeps us all going. Just finding those people. Festivals, they facilitate that so of course we want to play the biggest festival in New England. So we’re just going to keep going, keep doing it, keep touring, keep playing. Put the record out!