TourKidd was fortunate enough to get in touch with John Hoffman of Weekend Nachos, Spine, and Bad Teeth Recordings, prior to his departure for Weekend Nacho’s first ever tour through Japan, to review the relevance the “DIY” ethic plays in his different creative ventures and its importance to the larger hardcore punk community. John provided elaboration behind the dedicated sentiments that fuel his current ambitions and the initial observations that sparked his fervent and enthusiastic motivations.It’s these personal motivations that have really driven Weekend Nachos to evolve into a position where they’re, more or less, beyond reproach, with Spine starting to follow in a similar trajectory.
Hoffman: Hmm, well, I’ve been playing in bands and booking shows technically since I was 15 years old. It all started out with me just having bands play in my basement and my garage…we would always have the shows be free because we were all local bands and didn’t feel the need to get paid, haha. Eventually I moved into my own house and started booking shows for bands on tour…they needed a place to play and I had a basement on a college campus, quite a few bands came through and that’s kinda how I got started booking shows. As for touring, that kinda started with Weekend Nachos, I hadn’t really been out on the road too much before that. Everything I do is DIY, I apply that philosophy to everything in life. I believe it’s important to be as involved in what you do as possible.
And so how did this experience apply to what you would go on to do with Weekend Nachos? Considering the fact that Weekend Nachos has been active for over a decade, how have you seen the aforementioned topics change from the beginnings of the band up through to 2015?
Hoffman: Honestly, when Weekend Nachos started, no one really took us seriously or thought anything positive about us, other than that we were very ridiculous and funny. No one would even entertain the idea of putting a record out for us, and i really don’t even know how we got shows at first, haha. So the attitude from day one was “Do everything DIY, because no one else will” and we took pride in that. Now, we’ve worked with many people at this point in time, but the spirit remains to always be involved in what we’re doing. You’re able to stay close to your community that way, and always able to understand that this music scene was created by us and for us.
I know you place great pride in your work with Spine as well. What’s the band dynamic like for Spine compared to Weekend Nachos? Do you feel that both bands get the effort and attention that you’d like or are there more ideal ways you’d like treat both bands?
Hoffman: Spine is a whole separate thing. Spine is more about friends hanging out and eating food and just loving hardcore. We all love the band and the songs/records, all that stuff, but the main priority is always just getting together and enjoying eachother’s company. Weekend Nachos is more about the music, the message, playing out and making people hurt each other in the pit. Spine is more like my way of seeing all of my friends in Kansas City and just having an amazing time.
Taking things back to Weekend Nachos, tell me about how the D.I.Y. philosophy plays a part in the band. It’s commonly known that Andy runs Bricktop Recording, where the most recent Weekend Nachos recordings were done. Are there any facets of the band that adhere close to the D.I.Y. ethic? Are there things that the band tries to stay consistent with or avoid as it relates to D.I.Y. and general band details?
Hoffman: It’s really the ENTIRE basis of the band, in every aspect. DIY is just instilled in everything we do. Andy records us in his studio, I design all of our albums/merch, I book all of our shows, Drew handles a ton of logistics and international stuff, Brian too, and we all write songs together. We just function on our own. When we work with labels like Relapse and Deep Six and A389, we are so involved with it and really it’s just another way to get stuff done with other people we love and respect. We have always taken care of what we need to take care of and rarely reached out to anyone else to do it for us…it’s just the way we were raised and the way we came to understand how hardcore works. And at this point, there’s no other way we’d rather do it.
You’ve commented on the fact that Weekend Nachos will never be a full-time band, or even a part-time band in regards to touring. Seeing as how a “get in the van” mentality or a need to constantly tour doesn’t apply here, how does the band go about deciding on a touring schedule? Do you look at any offers you receive in terms of relevance or does it come closer to a common availability between band members?
Hoffman: Usually we’ll just kinda discuss what we want to do for the year. If we haven’t been to Europe in a while, that will be a priority. If we haven’t been to the West Coast for a while, we’ll try and do that. Occasionally we will get a crazy offer like Japan or Australia and then that will become a priority, because it is new for us and we would love to have that opportunity. And once we’ve decided on what we’d like to accomplish, that’s when we have to figure out when we’re all available to do it. It’s a tough thing, making time to do the band with everything else that we all have going on. Usually a younger kid doesn’t quite understand that, younger people think that everybody’s priority needs to be to “get in the van” and they scoff when we aren’t available to do that. But yeah, when you’re in your late teens or early 20’s, i agree, that is the time when you should take advantage of your freedom and get in the van! we are all in our 30’s now and that luxury just doesn’t exist anymore. We appreciate every chance we get to go out on tour and play shows.
How has your experience been being in touring bands specifically from the Midwest? Do you identify with the notion that bands from the middle of the country have to work twice as hard as bands on the coasts do?
Hoffman: Absolutely, 100% that is true about the Midwest. In the Midwest, you need to have the mentality that hype doesn’t exist for you and you are going to have to work extra hard just to get people to even listen. That’s not to say that bands from the Coasts don’t also have to work hard too…believe me, we all have to work hard for what we have. But, I do believe that there are certain challenges that we face being here in the Midwest because people are always going to pay closer attention to what is going on in California and New York. And most people have easier access to those parts of the country too…the Midwest kinda has to stick together in that regard.
Describe your approach to running Bad Teeth Recordings. The label’s been active for almost three years and it appears to be an on-going personal project of yours as you release your own bands records, as well as records by close friends. What were your motivations when starting the label in 2012 and how do you view what you’ve done under the Bad Teeth Recordings name in 2015? Does the D.I.Y. ethic play a part here?
Hoffman: The DIY ethic plays more of a part in Bad Teeth than probably anything else in my life, or at least very equal to my work with Spine and Weekend Nachos. I started the label because Spine was starting up and we wanted to do a 7″. I said “I’ll release it myself” and just went from there. It’s actually exactly the way Weekend Nachos started out too. We wanted to do a 7″ and I said “i’ll release it myself” and that was actually the beginning of my previous label Tooth Decay Records. The motivation, both times, for starting a label was just to a) release my own records, and b) release records by friends’ bands and other bands that i wanted to support. It’s always just been about being involved and helping shit get done!
Considering all of the topics covered, what are some successes, failures, and lessons you’ve learned that we haven’t touched on that you’d like to share and pass on to others?
Hoffman: Hardcore and punk is what you make of it. The scene can exist forever if there are people involved and putting their heart into everything they do. That’s why keeping things DIY is so important. If we rely on big business to take care of everything we want to get done, then we distance ourselves from the true spirit of the music and everything else that we’ve created. So, support what your fellow punk/hardcore kid is up to and encourage yourself and others to appreciate what we’ve built and continue to build. It’s truly a special thing and I love it more every day.