Weakened Friends, Nervous Dater
1274 Library St
Detroit, MI, 48226
This event is 18 and over
100 or so miles north of Boston, you’ll find Portland, Maine.
Among its many awesomely quirky attractions (beyond dope AF lobster rolls, of course), the mini-metropolis boasts the International Cryptozoology Museum and even served as the site of the nation’s first chewing gum factory. Suffice it to say, the town possesses all kinds of character and charm. It also makes perfect sense as HQ for Weakened Friends.
Three alternative rock wiseasses and snack food connoisseurs, the trio—Sonia Sturino [vocals, guitar], Annie Hoffman [bass], and Cam Jones [drums]—first congregated in their adopted hometown during 2014. Sonia had recently relocated from Toronto and holed up in a house with Cam and a bunch of other dudes before witnessing Annie play live and asking her to join the band. As they released two independent EPs, Gloomy Tunes and Crushed, they stirred up a palpable buzz (between consuming sour spaghetti and causing trouble). Gigs followed with everyone from CHVRCHES and Silversun Pickups to Beach Slang and Juliana Hatfield as they made their 2017 debut at SXSW and earned praise from Vanyaland, CBS, If It’s Too Loud, and many more. A wiry, whimsical, and wild fusion of disarmingly pop hooks and fuzzed-out riffery that wouldn’t be out of place on the Reality Bites soundtrack or in a modern Brooklyn bar fueled this quiet rise.
“If something is ear catching and interesting, I’m drawn to it,” says Sturino. “I love pop hooks, but I have this truly weird and shaky voice. I started to embrace that, and I think people connect to the sound.”
For the uninitiated, they’ll definitely connect to the group’s 2017 single “Hate Mail” featuring J Mascis. On the track, a buzz of feedback slips into melodic guitar and an unshakable rhythm as the frontwoman captivates with the confessionally catchy refrain, “I hate everything you’re saying, get away from me. I hate everything we’re doing, it’s a waste of me.” It’s the perfect backdrop for an epic Mascis cameo.
“It’s about when I was miserable in this other band,” recalls Sturino. “This is the most important thing to me. I don’t live comfortably. I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t have a lot of free time, because I’m putting all of my effort, passion, and self into music. So, it has to be the right situation. At the time, I just wasn’t working with the right team. The song is about those corrosive relationships with emotionally abusive assholes. J is a guitar god for indie rock. He’s an obvious inspiration, and he killed it.”
“Hate Mail” hints at a lot more to come from Weakened Friends. For Sturino, the band brings everything full circle. In tow with her best friend Cam and wife Annie, she encodes a powerful message in the lyrics.
“A lot of times, you hear expressions like, ‘Find your happy’,” she leaves off. “I think you should find yourself. Our music is about self-awareness and finding that. Sometimes, you’re having a shitty day. It can be hard, and that’s beautiful in its own way. In the North American mentality, if you’re depressed or sad, you have to just get rid of it. This is less about getting rid of that feeling and finding those things causing the feeling and dealing with them. It’s self-awareness, believing in yourself, finding yourself, and defining how you feel. That’s what this band is to me.”
Common Blah is the debut full-length by Portland, Maine’s Weakened Friends. Founded by songwriter Sonia Sturino, bassist Annie Hoffman, and drummer Cam Jones in 2015, the trio is a low pressure outlet for emotionally volatile music. Engineered and produced by Hoffman and perfected over the last year, the record broadcasts heavy feelings amid screech and feedback with little more than a distortion pedal the clog up the signal chain.
For Sutrino, writing in Weakened Friends is more of a physical process than a mental one.
“I have to feel the vibration or sound coming out of my body. I need the physicality to do it, to enjoy singing it,” she says. “People probably hear the vocals and think, ‘she just puts on that weird voice,’ but it’s really just what comes out. It’s my body making that sound.”
Many of the songs reckon with deep mid-20s malaise — with the feeling of being young, stuck, and settling for less. “Sometimes, things look good on the outside, but they’re not working. That’s how it used to be for me. I’d hear, ‘You have a really cool job. You live in a cool city. Your band is cool.’ It was ‘Common Blah’ though because I was miserable. I didn’t care. Now, I’m at the other end of the spectrum. People do something that they think they’re supposed to do when it’s not what they should be doing and it doesn’t make them happy. In a lot of ways, this is the first time I’ve found happiness. I wrote the lyrics about the time before that happiness.”
On Common Blah, Weakened Friends use volume — instrumental and emotional — to reassert a sense of control in a time when daily life has slid out of tune. The album also features guest shredding by peer and kindred spirit J Mascis on the song “Hate Mail.” Common Blah will be out on CD, LP, and digital download via Don Giovanni Records on October 19th.
$12.00 - $14.00
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