Meet The Weeks: Mixing southern swagger with indie-rock edge

A press shot of the weeks

Classic Rock’s High Hopes slots are usually reserved for eager young whippersnappers fresh out of rock’n’roll’s starting gate, not groups who released their first record more than 10 years ago. But we’ll make an exception for The Weeks, who mix Skynyrd-like swagger with Kings Of Leon-style indie rock, and in true southern style are supremely relaxed about their arduous, decade-long route to this point.

“Yeah, I guess it might seem a bit frustrating from the outside,” frontman Cyle Barnes says with a laugh. “But I love being in this band. Our thing was always: ‘We’re going to play music, whatever happens,’ and we found a good group of dudes to play it with.”

Mississippi born and bred, the members of The Weeks – vocalist Cyle, guitarist Samuel Williams, drummer Cain Barnes and bassist Damien Bone – were brought up on the region’s staple diet of Skynyrd, Allman Brothers and their ilk. “My uncle Charlie would play the music all the time,” remembers Cyle. “Later on you grew up and saw pictures of Skynyrd – just to see them there in tight pants and long hair, looking like badasses, was enough for me to be like: ‘Something cool is happening here.’”

The Weeks formed at school, and played their first gigs in a converted brothel. “We were only fifteen when we started, so we had to tip the doorman to get in,” Barnes recalls. “It was a real shotgun shack with three female bathrooms and just one male bathroom. A scummy place, but it was where you’d want to have a rock’n’roll show.”

The band cut their teeth there before a move to Nashville opened up their horizons, as did being taken under the wing of not-too-dissimilar fellow travellers Kings Of Leon: The Weeks have supported KOL at arena shows, and released three albums on their Serpents And Snakes label.

“They’re really nice guys,” says Barnes. “We certainly wouldn’t have gotten to play for half as many people if it hadn’t been for them.”

For their fifth full-length record, Easy, they’ve switched to Nashville independent label Lightning Rod, and added a soulful snappiness to their sound – most likely a byproduct of recording it at Ardent, the legendary Memphis studio that has seen virtually every major southern rock and soul artist pass through its doors.

“Ardent was like stepping into a time machine,” Barnes enthuses. “I’m singing into a microphone that Elvis sang into. Next thing it’s like: ‘Oh, that throw-up stain on the wall is from The Replacements.’ It sounds super-clichéd to say places have certain vibes to them, but in this particular sense it was true.”

Whether or not Easy provides The Weeks with their long-awaited breakthrough remains to be seen. If not, you can be sure they’ll be back grafting away at rock’s coal face for album number six. “It’s always been slow and steady for us,” says Barnes. “We could take another twenty years. We don’t care.”

Easy is out now via Lightning Rod Records.

For fans of

“When we all lived together in the same place, The Allman Brothers’ Live At Fillmore East was played all the time,” Cyle Barnes recalls. ‘It was never off the stereo. Even now when we play it on the road it just rips the van apart. The version of Whipping Post on it is just incredible – one of my favourite tracks of all time.”

The Weeks: Stay positive and enjoy a good sandwich

Will Simpson was Music Editor of the Big Issue South West in Bristol before relocating to Thailand to become Deputy Editor of English language books magazine New Arrivals. Since returning to the UK he's freelanced, writing about music for Classic Rock, IDJ, Metro and Guitarist, and environmental issues for Resource and The Spark. He also writes for contract publishing titles such as Teach, Thomson Air, Musician and Korg.