In hardcore, there are some things that must be taken seriously, and some things you need to laugh about. Weekend Nachos define the happy medium. Approaching the scene with a hard-edged but joking attitude, they’ve become one of Chicagoland’s most beloved (and successful) heavy bands. Powerviolence never sounded as good as it does on their latest and most fine-tuned album, 2013’s Still. Vocalist John Hoffman from Nachos was nice enough to give me the update on the band headlining the sold-out first night of Skeletal Lightning Fest at Error Records.
Smile Politely: When was the last time Weekend Nachos played in Champaign?
John Hoffman: I think it was a few years ago, I wanna say three or four years ago, we played in someone’s basement, and I forget what the place is called. Oh yeah, it was called, I think, Dan Akroyd’s House.
SP: Since then you’ve made a new album, Still, how have people liked it?
Hoffman: So far the reception has been really good. It’s sold a lot quicker than any other album that we’ve ever done, and it seems to be getting nothing but positive reviews. We haven’t gotten to do a whole lot of touring on it, just ‘cause of jobs and all that. Other than that we’ve enjoyed plenty of success from it. It’s been awesome.
SP: Do you plan on touring over the summer?
Hoffman: Yeah we’re going to Europe for about nine days, and then we have a few shows this summer, but that’s pretty much it. We just get to go to Europe for about a week but other than that we don’t really have anything else that we’re going to do right now.
SP: Have you always been the vocalist for Weekend Nachos?
Hoffman: Yep, the whole time, almost 10 years.
SP: You can really hear your vocal style change from your earlier stuff to the last album. How do you develop your style as a hardcore vocalist?
Hoffman: It’s kind of hard to say because I’ve never really thought about it. It’s just kind of always developed over time. I think that it happens the more we play live, the more that I figure out ways to get more comfortable with how it sounds without trying so hard. It seems like every time we do a record, it almost sounds more like the way that I envision it sounding live. Each time I try a little bit less hard to sound a certain way. So, what you get with this latest album is a lot more the natural live sound than before because it’s developed more and more into the live sound over time.
SP: So it’s hard to replicate the live vocals?
Hoffman: Yeah, exactly. When you play live you’re not really thinking about it as much you’re just kind of going off, and then when you’re recording an album obviously you want it to sound good so there’s a lot more pressure. But I think that over time I’ve thought about it in the studio a lot less and so therefore it sounds a lot more raw like it does live on the records over time because I’m getting more and more comfortable all the time.
SP: So, Still is the most accurate album as far as seeing Weekend Nachos play?
Hoffman: I would say so. I would say for sure it’s definitely the most developed our sound has gotten so far and probably will ever get. It’s the least contrived. It’s what we were building up to, for sure.
SP: So this is as good as it gets?
Hoffman: Oh, I wouldn’t say it’s as good as it’s gonna get but it’s probably the most comfortable we’ll be on a record. Hopefully we can do that again with the later records after it. Hopefully we’ll keep releasing better music, but as far as how comfortable we’ve gotten in the studio playing the instruments and writing songs it’s definitely reached its peak right now.
SP: I know you’ve got a record label called Bad Teeth, are you planning on doing anything with that in the near future?
Hoffman: Yeah I have a few records that I’m releasing this summer. Next up is the Genocide Pact 7”, they’re a death metal band from DC. I’m putting that out pretty soon, they’re just doing a two-song 7”, and yeah I definitely plan on continuing to do that. I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for it but I’m trying to do it as much as I can with work and all other life stuff. I plan on keeping it going for pretty much ever, as long as I can.
SP: How do you pick bands to put out on the label?
Hoffman: Mostly just people that I’m friends with. If I go on tour and I play with a friend’s band and I like them a lot or if I just happen to see a band that we play with that I really like, chances are I might offer them something. I don’t really actively look for bands to release records for but usually just happens by chance if I happen to run into somebody or see somebody. Usually it starts with me seeing them live.
SP: I saw an article on the internet that you wrote about posers in the scene.
Hoffman: Yeah, I wrote that.
SP: I was just wondering if you had any updates. Is there anything new that the posers out there are doing now that’s grinding your gears?
Hoffman: Oh man, that’s a really good question. I think that the rule still stands, the five rules that I came up with. I don’t think much has changed, but I definitely think those people are all still out there and still posing hard. Hopefully they’ll realize the error in their ways someday.
SP: They have to admit to it, then they can move on.
Hoffman: I think that’s probably the best step, in their case. I don’t think a lot of them will ever realize it ‘cause usually people that are doing these things, it’s rare that they ever find out the way that they are.
SP: Does this stem from bands that you’ve had to deal with, playing with them?
Hoffman: Yeah, sometimes. We’re not exposed to a ton of it in the DIY hardcore scene cause a lot of people have the same general ethics and ways of going about things, but occasionally we’ll run into people that are just kind of not really legit. But the article was written more as a joke, I think a lot of people took it way too seriously. A lot of people were kind of bummed about it. I was just kind of making fun of people, which is something that we always do. We make fun of ourselves, we make fun of our friends, you know? It was kind of a tongue-in-cheek article that I was hoping people would find funny, and a lot of people did, but some people kind of took it seriously. That wasn’t what I wanted, but so be it, no big deal.
SP: You’re gonna get that any time something’s on the internet.
Hoffman: Oh yeah, of course, I mean, it wasn’t unexpected or anything but when I posted it, it was kind of funny watching a lot of people take it really seriously and I was just like, “Can’t you tell that I’m kind of just making fun of you?”
SP: If you had to explain what powerviolence is and what straightedge is to a grandma how would you do it?
Hoffman: Let’s see, I’d have to do them both separate, ‘cause they’re very different things, but I would explain powerviolence as the fastest, noisiest, most obnoxious music possible. I think that a grandma would understand that pretty well. She would just kind of take it literally, which is the most literal way I could explain it. Straightedge I would say is a commitment to live a drug-free, substance-free lifestyle. When you’re explaining things to somebody that’s old and doesn’t understand much outside of their little bubble in society, I think that I would just try to keep it as simple and as literal as possible.
SP: What’s coming up next for Weekend Nachos? Are you working on a follow up to Still yet?
Hoffman: We actually are not working on an album right now at all. We’re not working on any new material. We’re really just trying to go to Europe this summer, we’re trying to save up our money and make sure that we can do that. The tour is booked. We’ve got a bunch of shows locally coming up. We’re playing with All Out War, we’re playing with Pig Destroyer. We’re just trying to focus on our next few shows.
SP: Anything else you wanted to say?
Hoffman: I just wanted to say that I’m really, really excited for the show on Friday, so hopefully other people are excited as well and we should have an excellent time.
Weekend Nachos are headlining a sold-out show at Error Records Friday night for Skeletal Lightning Fest. For more info, check out the Facebook event.