EP Premiere: Weakened Friends raise guitar-rock spirits with ‘Gloomy Tunes’

It was just a little over a month ago when Weakened Friends unleashed their debut single, “Won Yet,” a guitar-rock ripper perfectly suited for those summertime drives between Boston and Portland, Maine. Now as the seasons shift to autumn and life takes on a darker, more reserved tone, the trio is set to release their new EP, Gloomy Tunes, a collection of four upbeat, supercharged songs that lyrically reflect the confusion and chaos of modern life.

These are still road trip songs, mind you, but they’ll also give you something to think about once you reach your destination. That is, if any of us ever really reach our destination.

With all that in mind, Weakened Friends, consisting of members of Portland’s the Box Tiger and Boston’s the Field Effect, are celebrating the release of Gloomy Tunes with shows in their two aforementioned home bases and an official release party on Thursday, September 17 at The Dr. Martens Store on Newbury Street, co-presented by the iconic footwear brand and Vanyaland.

We caught up with guitarist/vocalist Sonia Sturino, bassist Annie Hoffman, and drummer Cam Jones over the internet to get the backstory on Weakened Friends, how the trio came together, just what is bubbling up in Sturino’s dark songwriting, and how this new project fits in with the other bands the three musicians are known for.

In advance of the EP’s September 15 release, fire up Gloomy Tunes via Soundcloud — embedded track-by-track and as a complete package — and check out our quick Q&A below…

Michael Marotta: So what can you guys tell us about the band and the new EP, Gloomy Tunes?

Sonia Sturino: Well I had moved to New England — Portland, Maine, where I live now — from Toronto last year with the idea of really sitting down and focusing on writing. My other band The Box Tiger was gearing up to write and record a new record and that at the time was my main focus. What I realized though was in between writing for that I started writing a lot of shorter more direct candid songs, I knew they didn’t fit for that whole deal… but at the same time felt really attached to them. I sort of decided to take them on and build a band around them. These songs are all simple and direct, almost embarrassingly so at times. They highlight weaknesses and are pretty vulnerable, but the sound is light and poppy accessible which makes them easy to take in. I think it’s the least bit obtuse and the most honest, I want this band to feel kinda like: “Hey everyone is pretty fucked up and confused right now, right? But at least we’re all together in it so that’s cool.”

How did it all get started, and how did Weakened Friends come together?

Sturino: Well like I said I had a handful of songs and wanted to get them all worked and stuff. Cam plays bass in Box Tiger but also plays drums and I live with him so I was like, “Dude wanna play drums?” And he was like “Hell yeah.” We had a few practices just the two of us and it was really awesome. I’ve been playing music in one way or another with Cam for the last five to six years and he’s by far one of the most interesting and spirited musicians I know.

Then back in April, The Box Tiger and Annie’s other band The Field Effect played a show together. I generally always thought Annie was way too good of a musician to even speak to — despite playing shows together multiple times probably exchanged a total of 5 words before this — but a friend of mine who knew I was trying to get this band together nudged me to ask and see if she would play bass for this. So I awkwardly Facebook messaged her a few days later asking if she would and she was actually super stoked about it. Everything seemed to kinda click really quick, and then we kinda just got the ball rolling on stuff.

Annie Hoffman: Sonia hit me up about this project a few days after The Box Tiger and Field Effect shared a bill back in April. I was feeling pretty down and miserable at the time, especially since that was TFE’s final show before going into hibernation, and I’d just about written off the notion of being in a band from there on out. But one morning, I sat down to a Facebook message from Sonia explaining that she’d written a handful of songs that didn’t quite fit for Box Tiger and wondered if I might be up for joining a new band with her and Cam. I’ve been a pretty big fan of Sonia’s since the first time our bands played together a couple years ago, and Cam is a monster musician and one of the coolest people I know, so obviously I was all for it. Sonia sent me a few demos and the three of us started rehearsing soon after that. Everything really came together quickly and almost effortlessly: rehearsals are awesome and super efficient, we’ve booked and/or been invited to join a bunch of cool shows, we finished the EP in record-setting time. It’s been a pretty exhilarating start!

Now that the EP is ready for public consumption, what you guys have lined up?

Hoffman: We’ve got a handful of awesome shows lined up! Some of which we can’t discuss publicly yet. Obviously we have the Boston and Portland EP releases, but it’s looking like we’ll be out on a short Northeast tour at the beginning of November. We’ve also got studio time booked next month to record our next EP. Exciting stuff all around.

Do you consider this your main band? Is there even such a thing anymore?!

Cam Jones: I think the idea for all of us is to play music and get it out there no matter what we’re doing. I play in another band called Worried Well. We just put a new record out and play quite a bit. Box Tiger is in the mixing process of our new record and have a couple shows coming up. So there’s so much going on behind the scenes. Weakened Friends is just another outlet to express ourselves in a different way. And as a bassist who plays in one band and a drummer who plays in another, it’s a lot of fun to be able to show off my different skill sets and be able to wear different hats creatively on stage and in the studio!

Sturino: I think for me it’s hard to say what’s my main band. Obviously I write sing and play guitar in both bands I’m in so at first a lot of people found it weird that I felt the need to start up another project. I just write a lot… and I felt like I wanted to get back to the root of having fun and starting from the top of something. I’d until now never really been in any other bands ever except Box Tiger, but I really did feel that these songs needed to be looked at with different people and in a different project. I guess it’s just about putting the total focus into each project while you’re doing it. So when I’m doing Weakened Friends it’s my main band… when I’m doing other things, that’s my main thing.

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