If there’s one thing The Weeks love more than music, it’s Mississippi. They have an unadulterated love, a fierce loyalty that comes through in lyrics and melodies and conversations. It’s a visceral sentiment pervading from their skin and popping from their bones, all of which hail from the rural outskirts of Mississippi’s capitol, Jackson. But, when the Magnolia State isn’t enough, they can also resort on their mistress: music.
“You have nothing else to do in a town like that,” Sam Williams, the group’s lead guitarist explains. “So we just started playing music.”
This was back when Williams was about fourteen years old, and the lineup of the group was a bit different then; it has shifted and shuffled throughout the years, bouncing from six guys down to four guys and most recently settling in with five twenty-something rock ‘n rollers including fraternal twins Cyle and Cain Barnes as well as Damien Bone, and Alex Collier.
In their Mississippi days, the guys would get together with nothing else to do in the sweltering Mississippi Delta countryside outside of Jackson and they would write music. They ended up recording these tunes in 2006 and 2008, until they realized that they needed a change of scenery. And so, like most young bands with a sense of fearlessness, a love of the South, and a knack for cigarette-drenched-melodies, they decided to head to the one place they knew they could still live in the country while living in the city: Nashville.
“We didn’t know anybody when we moved here,” Williams says (the band relocated about three years ago). “We didn’t go anywhere that first year,” he says, “ our first year here didn’t really count.”
Since they only had a few friends in town, they disappeared to their East Nashville basement and did the same thing they were doing in Mississippi: they played music. They holed up, wrote songs, and prepared to play in any bars and venues that would have them.
“We perfected our four song set,” Williams says, as the group scrounged to get short gigs wherever they could around town. And, seemingly, the perfection of the four-song-set paid off; somehow, through some ostensible music city magic, within The Weeks’ first year here, the Kings of Leon were interested in signing the band to their new label, Serpents and Snakes.
“We were on tour with The Meat Puppets, and we played the Mercy Lounge…and that sort of got the ball rolling,” seeing as one of the guys from the label just happened to be at the show — a drop-in that isn’t all that uncommon in the Nashville music scene. And while The Weeks were a young band in a small town with a big offer, they soon found out that the Kings’ deal wasn’t too good to be true.
“We learned pretty quickly that the Kings’ label would be very family oriented,” Williams says, which is often not what young bands get when they sign to a label — even a small vanity label such as Serpents.
“They could not have been cooler about the whole thing,” Williams explains, saying that the guys were hands off but always available for advice or check ins. “If I was stumped on something, they were right there,” he says, recounting a time when he decided to call Caleb Followill, Kings of Leon’s lead singer for feedback on some demos. And, the relationship has been good; neither the album nor the band has felt rushed or micromanaged—leaving The Weeks feeling really good about the decision.
“There are so many times when bands are like, ‘we’ve got to do this now, we’ve got to do this now.’ … but we’ve always gone at the pace, where, I mean, if things take a really long time, then, I’m going to be playing music with these dudes till I die; we’ve got all our lives to get it right. I don’t want to spend ten years correcting something where we made an impulse decision to do something quickly when we were kids.”
The Kings of Leon essentially granted The Weeks full autonomy and control of what would eventually become the album Dear Bo Jackson, an album that lots of other local artists and friends were invited to sing on (in exchange for hang outs and wings, typically). The album itself is the group’s first full-length effort since 2008, and, according to Williams, it took a significantly longer time to write and record.
“We’ve definitely taken the slow route which I always think is the best way, and I guess that’s what Mississippi has done to us as a band. We’re perfectly willing to just mosey along,” Williams says, laughing, at his own laid-back mentality on life.
Slow and steady has always worked well for The Weeks, especially Williams, who will spend ages writing songs and playing meticulously until the tunes come out right.
“I’ll work on songs for months… I play guitar for 6-8 hours a day and I don’t play other people’s songs. I don’t have shit else to do…I’m the obnoxious perfectionist.”
And yet, when Williams brings completed melodies, riffs, and chord progressions to the group’s lyricist, he says that he’ll have the words to the song in, maybe thirty minutes. The group will record the first demo just on an acoustic guitar — which is interesting, considering most of the songs the guys play are a far cry from acoustic anthems.
“If a song cant hold your attention with an acoustic guitar there’s no need to add all he flourishes,” he says, noting that “it’s the subtleties [in the songs] that makes them really fun to play.”
And, when The Weeks play live, it’s pretty clear they’re having lots of fun. They look like the bedraggled rock stars that they are—skinny, lanky, bouncing around like they don’t give a shit when they definitely do. Long hair, don’t care may look like their motto, but that’s hardly their actual modus operandi.
“We still play songs we wrote six, seven, eight years ago,” Williams explains. “We still play ‘Buttons’ — one of our bigger songs — and that song is eight years old.” For a band who is still in their early twenties, that’s a veritable timeline to be dealing with.
And that’s the thing about The Weeks — they’ve been around for ages, and they look (and sometimes sound) like they don’t give a damn about anything they’re doing, unless what they’re doing has to do with Mississippi, of course. And isn’t that what we all love about rock ‘n roll? The jaded nature of not being nearly jaded at all? The eff-you to everyone and everything that doubles as a gracious thank you? The Weeks may look worn out as hell; presumably, given their long run, they could be. But really, if Dear Bo Jackson says anything about these guys, they’ve only just begun.