As August came to an end, I found myself venturing a bit outside my normal comfort zone in Atlanta to Swayze’s Venue, north of the city, to catch up with City of the Weak as they rolled into town. Led on vocals by the always energetic Stef “with an F”, Minnesota based City of the Weak have already made waves this summer as part of the Van’s Warped Tour and the All Stars Tour. Since the release of their second album Disclosure in April 2014, City of the Weak has been relentless in their touring in support of the follow-up to 2013’s White Fire Alarm.
Admittedly, I had never heard City of the Weak before I was presented with the chance to interview them and shoot their show. Always one to expand my horizons, I accepted the challenge and spent a couple of days checking out their music and videos. One thing became immediately obvious to me as I was talking with the band; these guys (and girl) love what they are doing and their energy is contagious. After a short interview, I was set to shoot a band I had never seen play in a venue I had never shot at before.
HHM: Who or what would you say has had the most influence on your music?
HHM: Individually or as a band
Stef: Hmm, that’s kind of hard for me to say. I listen to everything really. I guess I’d have to say Pop music. I know I don’t look very “Poppie” but I like the catch factor. I like hearing a song and then not being able to get it out of your head.
Cody: I grew up listening to a lot of hard rock and metal. Bands like Disturbed, Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold. As I get a little older it gets a little “artsier”.
Jackson: I like EDM stuff. I really like Noisia, Nostalgia, and stuff like that. I produce EDM too so that’s kind of what I like to bring to the group.
Brent: I would say Metal. I heard Master of Puppets when I was in the fifth grade and that was my start into music.
Ed: The person I would say influenced me the most was James “The Rev” Sullivan from Avenged Sevenfold. City of Evil changed my life. It took me like a year to learn that album cover to cover. There was a time that I could play every Avenged Sevenfold album cover to cover and I think that is where a lot of my drumming style comes from is being able to play the stuff he did. I idolized him so much and wanted to play like him so much, it changed my life.
HHM: You guys have been touring pretty much constantly since the release of Disclosure back in April. Have you learned anything on previous tours that you are doing differently this time around?
Stef: We’ve learned a lot. This might sound kind of cheesy, but for me, valuing the people around you and what we have now. I mean, growing up I definitely was not privileged or anything, but I always had what I needed. I had parents that took care of me and I had a nice house. Even now, we live in St. Paul, I have a nice apartment there, I have pets, and material things, but on the road, I have a suitcase and my band mates. We did a seven week tour this summer where we didn’t go home at all and you literally have to learn to live out of a suitcase with your band mates and the bare necessities. That’s a huge lesson. I know I said it sounds corny, but you can’t really value it until you don’t really have anything and then you realize I really don’t need anything. Hand in hand with that is living on no money. You learn to reduce your spending and that’s a good lifestyle to have. I spend so much less money now than I used to it’s not even funny, just because we have to.
Jackson: It’s more about the experience and less about the material.
Cody: It’s totally about the experience and building friendships
Jackson: And creating memories, that is probably the thing I like to do the most.
HHM: Do you have any unique pre-show rituals?
Stef: I do. I warm up. I have two different warm ups that I do. I do like a pre-warm up and then I have to wait an hour or two and then I do the actual warm up. It’s weird but I’m the singer, I have to. That and drinking lots and lots of water, that’s my pre-show ritual.
Jackson: I have no pre-show ritual
(rapid fire from the group) I stretch out, I like to yell, I do my hair, Yell and get the stuff out of my throat, slap each other in the face a couple of times (group laughter)
HHM: City of the Weak played the Vans Warped Tour this summer. How was the fan reaction from the crowds there?
Cody: It was exactly what we wanted
HHM: Those are the kind of shows you can really build on as a band
HHM: What are your plans after the current tour is done?
Stef: After this we go back and we are playing a Pride Festival in Minnesota and we are doing a hometown show as well. We are playing with Framing Hanley. Those are kind of our hometown shows and then we leave again, no, we are shooting our new video the next week.
HHM: What song?
Stef: Just Another Eulogy is what we are shooting. It’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to start promoting it. Then a couple of weeks after that we head out on another tour. It’s going to be in Colorado, California, and Texas and then we’ll see from there.
HHM: Are you going to try to be part of the major festivals next spring and summer?
Stef: Oh yeah, we’re already planning on it. We are going to try to get on every festival we can. Hopefully we can be on all of Warped next year, cross your fingers.
HHM: I’ll be looking for you
HHM: Funniest or strangest road story so far?
Cody: This run has been really good, everyone has been really appropriate
Stef: What about the venue that wouldn’t let us in. The bands were inside and the show started and they wouldn’t let us in. They were like “no, you guys can’t go inside”. It’s kind of hard to play when you can’t get in.
HHM: Which song is your favorite to play live or what song do you get the best reaction to?
Stef: White Fire Alarm I think. Everyone knows it, everyone loves it.
Jackson: I’m still trying to think of crazy road stories
Cody: What about the homeless guy
Stef: Yeah, that was before we left for the tour. We were trying to load our gear.
Cody: Not a better way to kick off a tour than with “that guy”
Brent: Some drunken homeless guy in St. Paul with a guitar and a bottle
Stef: We were trying to load
Jackson: Yeah, he set up camp outside of our van while we were trying to load up
Stef: It was like 10am and he was already trashed.
Brent: He was like 10 am trashed all night. He was yelling obscenities and looking for a fight.
HHM: Now a question for you Stef. Is your look a fixture or is it something that is evolving?
Stef: I mean, obviously I didn’t look like this when I was thirteen. I don’t know, I guess I just do my own thing and however it comes out, it comes out. I like big things. I like big makeup, I like big hair, I like making my own clothes. I’ll always be doing that, so I guess it might evolve at some point, we’ll see.
HHM: If you could take the stage for one performance with any musician, living or dead, who would it be?
Brent: For me that’s easy, I would love to play with Dimebag Darrel
Cody: I was going to say Layne Staley
Jackson: Oh, Layne Staley
Brent: or Jerry Cantrell for that matter
Ed: I’d have to say “The Rev”, god rest his soul. I saw him live three times, but to meet him or get a chance to play on stage with him would’ve been unreal
Stef: I’d want to play with Lady Gaga. That’d be like a match from hell, but it would be awesome.
Jackson: I’d have to say any of the guys from Noisia. They are all amazing producers.
HHM: Is there anything else you guys would like to add
City of the Weak: Check out our online merch. Watch out for our video for Just Another Eulogy and come see our show. Come to our show and hang out with us. We love talking to people.
For More In Formation:
- photos: City Of The Weak photo credit Gary Flinn
- The Nearly Deads announce new single, kickstarter, Pridefest and Paper Dolls tour w/City of the Weak and Kaleido
- The Nearly Deads release debut album 'Invisible Tonight' Jun.24; Paper Dolls tour May 15
- City of the Weak announce US tour dates with Stitched Up Heart; stream latest track 'Spit it Out'
- City of the Weak Play "The Blame Game" in New Music Video
- Interview with Atlanta-based modern rock band Electra Vega