by Adelie Salagnac
Philadelphia-based band Weekender is about to start the new year off right, putting out their new record, Floaty, Feeling Blue, and celebrating with a release show that should be one for the books.
After a successful first EP, Spanish Peaks, Weekender’s new record seems like a natural progression for the band, offering quality dreamy-pop songs, soaked with the same psychedelic notes for which it is known. Reflecting songwriter and frontman Derek Sheehan’s vision of the balance between humans and the natural world, Floaty, Feeling Blue is full of promises, and feels like a personal accomplishment for him.
“My favorite song off the EP is the title track, ‘Floaty, Feeling Blue’,” he says. “I feel like it is the best song I have ever written, I am personally proud of it. I am proud of the whole record. All of the songs are kind of like your babies.”
And Sheehan has reasons to be proud, especially considering Weekender’s rocky past. Established in 2013, the band has gone through a lot. The line-up massively shifting over the past couple of years, the bold songwriter juggling his way through it.
“It’s always kind of been me, writing the music, running the band and leading everything, in that sense. The music was my vision,” Sheehan explains. “The live band was more about having people there to translate that vision, from the record, to the stage. I have always wanted a full, steady band, but I think it was just bad timing. Life can get in the way.”
Working alone in the studio, Sheehan carried the band, and shaped its new sound. The talented songwriter’s perfectionism is part of the reason why it took so long for Weekender to release a new record, after Spanish Peaks in 2013.
“I wrote and recorded 8 songs, but they did not seem like a cohesive body of work,” Sheehan admitted. “There was some good material in there, but I ended up writing a couple of new tunes, and the direction was a little bit different. It just felt better. I scraped all those 8 songs I had worked on for a whole year, and started fresh. Floaty, Feeling Blue is actually almost like my 3rd record, the second one just did not get put out.”
Luckily, Sheehan could count on Kyle “Slick” Johnson, producer and good friend. Having met in 2013 through a contest with a prize of some free time in the studio, Sheehan and Johnson have been working together ever since.
“We started working together and we really hit it off,” Sheehan said. “He gets what I am going for, and I like what he is going for. Sonically, our ideas really line up, but he also brings new ideas to the table.”
Today, Sheehan is surrounded by a new solid line-up, which includes Steven Rosplock (guitar, vocals), Brendan McGeehan (bass), Jesse Petas (drums, percussions), and Dan Mudd (synthesizer). Over the course of the years, Weekender slowly but surely became the “go-to” Philly band to support acts coming through town, some of them including notable bands such as Future Islands, The Growlers, or Surfer Blood. The opening slots helped build a strong local following and perfect the live sound.
Together, they plan on gigging their way through 2016, starting this week. To celebrate the release of their brand new EP, Weekender will be playing a bunch of shows and of course, they could not forget about Philadelphia. Sheehan & Co. will be playing at Johnny Brenda’s on January 16th and one thing for sure is that you shouldn’t miss out on this.
“I am pretty sure we will be playing the whole EP, plus some older songs,” Sheehan says, enthusiastically, before adding that, “our live sound is a lot different, I would say, than it was before. The band has definitely stepped up a level. We have a lot of new gear, we worked really hard to try and make our live shows sound awesome, and I think it’s paying off.”
A great kick-start of the year for the band, but they are definitely not stopping there.
“I want to do more touring on this record.” Sheehan explains. “And we don’t want to be the opening band forever, if possible. I think making that transition, if we do it quickly, would be awesome. But it is tough and there are a lot of bands out there. We’re just down to play! I also want to get back to the studio, and start working on the full-length album. Those are the goals for the year.”
Floaty, Feeling Blue will be released on January 15th, on PaperCup Music, and the band will be playing at Johnny Brenda’s on January 16th. More information can be found on http://www.weekenderband.com/tour/.
“I’m really excited for everyone to hear this record,” Sheehan confesses. “Personally, I feel like it shows the progression of my own personal writing, arrangement and production skills. I hope everybody enjoys it, and that they come to the show and come celebrate the release with us.”