WEEKEND NACHOS/ LIKE RATS “An End and A Beginning” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

One band exits, another band enters. 

One of the heaviest, angriest and most crushing bands of the last decades has the unlikely name of Weekend Nachos. A name more fitting for a kiddy pop-punk band but which conceals enough anger and volume to curdle your blood. Perhaps the unrelenting belligerence took a toll on the Nachos, as they recently announced that they are breaking up and will stomp no more heads into the curb. As a send off and a major league “up yours” to the music community, they have released their final album “Apology” on the Relapse label.

But perhaps it is a bit premature to say that the anger of Weekend Nachos has disappeared completely. For now a new band rises from their ashes, bearing the name of Like Rats. Several WN members are involved in Like Rats and while the sound is still heavier than a wedding cake made with concrete, Like Rats owes more to classic death metal than the more hardcore influenced Weekend Nachos. You can hear both similarities and differences on their new album "II".

I got to say hello and goodbye both by talking to Andy, Todd and Dan who are connected to both bands! Come meet them…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to you! I first want to ask, what led to the end of Weekend Nachos and the rise of Like Rats? Is one related to the other? 

Andy: It’s pretty much entirely coincidental. Nachos has just run its course and we decided to bow out while we still had the inspiration to do one final record that (hopefully) doesn’t suck. Better to end things on a high note than to drag it out half-assedly for years to come. 

Like Rats has been a band since 2008 and while we’ve never been incredibly active, we’ve been able to stay our course and keep writing music. I suppose it is suspicious that only a few months after the Nachos breakup announcement a new Like Rats LP appeared and suddenly we’re playing more shows. It’s really just a coincidence though.  

WC: With Like Rats, did the death metal memories of youth awaken after a long slumber? Did you go back and rediscover some of the things that led you to extreme music?

Todd: Honestly, I probably don’t like most of the stuff that got me into extreme music. My first forays into underground music were via skacore like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Less Than Jake. From there, I got into a bunch of Fat Wreck and Epitaph bands like NOFX and Rancid, as well as the Slapstick family tree from Chicago - more particularly The Lawrence Arms and The Honor System.

I don’t remember what the first “screaming” band I got into was, but it was probably some nonsense like Poison the Well.

My tastes had to mature a bit before I appreciated the bands that are influences on Like Rats (Celtic Frost, Sepultura, Incantation, Immolation) - my first forays into extreme music were mostly lead by an interest in annoying techincal metalcore.

WC: You guys are from the Chicago area. What part did this play in your influences?

Todd: Can’t say that Chicago is an obvious or purposeful influence on Like Rats, although the mighty Cianide also calls Chicago home and is also known to be influenced by Celtic Frost.

I do think that most of us grew up in an amazing time in Chicago music. We were all part of a hardcore scene that introduced me to a lot of bands and friends that shaped the trajectory of my life. We also were able to go to shows at the Fireside Bowl almost every weekend. It’s difficult to articulate how important it was to have an all ages venue like that in the city growing up.

WC: The first track on “II” by Like Rats is “From Beyond”. Is this kind of a tip of the hat to the first Massacre record or just a coincidence?

Dan: Hey…I said, hey…That kinda turned out as a nice afterthought actually cause that record rules. It is more of a reference to the H.P. Lovecraft short story and really awesome movie, but not necessarily about them except the pineal gland theme. Also, the Repka art for ‘From Beyond’ reminds me of the Vio-lence ‘Eternal Nightmare’ artwork where things are floating in some hell down a spiral which is completely fine with me. 

WC: The second tune on “II” is “Primordial” and that seems to sum up the bands approach perfectly. Is there more meaning to the song and lyrics?

Dan: A good call. Those lyrics were written with a slight theme of the absurdity of nature and existence and how mangled and beautiful it is. The world is and will always be whether we are here or not. 

WC: What place are the lyrics of Like Rats coming from? With Weekend Nachos, it seems to be pure hatred of modern society. Is it different for Like Rats?

Andy: I will let our singer Dan answer this one, but I can say that he is solely responsible for the lyrics on “II” and John (Weekend Nachos vocalist) is solely responsible for Nachos’ lyrics. I doubt either band has an influence on the other, lyrically.  

Dan: Where John does write lyrics with conviction and contempt and social awareness dealing with personal issues, the latter are what we have in common. My lyrics focus on socio/political observation with a hint of the fantastic, cause in a metal band I can fully exorcise my wish I could write comics muscle. The personal aspect is a common theme of fear and dealing with death and loss. 

WC: What’s being shown on the cover of “II”? Is it a forest fire, an avalanche or fog on the mountaintop? What and where is it?

Todd: Our former singer Daniel Shea took that picture for a little magazine called “Bike.” It later became a hit and received many shares on his Tumblr, so we figured it would make a good album cover.

WC: The name of the last Weekend Nachos record is “Apology”. An apology for what? Is the title meant ironically or is it dead serious?

Andy: You could say we’re sorry that we’re no longer doing the band. Sorry a lot of people who recently got into us will never see us play. Or you could say we’re apologizing for absolutely nothing because we’ve always done things exactly the way we wanted to since day 1. 

The band also just recently had a huge argument that fortunately ended with apologies from all sides. So maybe we’re mostly apologizing to each other. 

WC: Both bands are marked by extreme anger. How do you get yourself psyched up to create such music? How do you prepare for battle?

Andy: I have contributed very little musically to Like Rats, but the songs I have written for Nachos have never come from a place of anger or sadness. If I’m in a bad mood all I want to do is be alone and do nothing. I’m best at writing music when I’m psyched and productive. With “Apology”, once the first few songs came together and a musical theme started to develop, I was more excited to write riffs than I had been in years. With Nachos in particular, it was for me always about writing songs that I and my friends would be psyched to play. Those riffs just happen to sound pretty hateful at times. 

WC: Do you leave Weekend Nachos behind with a sense of melancholy, a feeling of accomplishment or a sense of “thank God it’s all over”?

Andy: For me personally, it’s a mix of all 3. It’s been increasingly difficult to keep my heart in the band and it was beginning to feel like an obligation, which is how no band should ever feel. We have seen some incredible places and made friends with incredible people all over the world. I’ll truly miss seeing them. We’ve released 5 lps and many 7”s which is an insane amount of music for any band to have in their repertoire. There’s a lot that I haven’t quite processed yet. I doubt I’ll know how I truly feel about the band for another several years. I can say for certain though that the band has given me opportunities and experiences most people can only dream of, and for that I will always be grateful. 

WC: On the Like Rats song “Grief Incarnate”, a somber piano plays a large part in it. Is this something you might continue to experiment with in the future? 

Dan: Todd will absolutely disagree, but I believe I wanted that part in the song, especially the outro, because I wanted something like the ending of Epic by Faith No More. 
Todd: I actually don’t remember whose idea that was. John wrote and played the riff, though.
But yeah, all the new Like Rats songs are symphonic black metal.

WC: The Like Rats album is pretty compact but I have a feeling the songs could become more epic and involved. Is that a possibility?

Todd: The goal in writing songs for Like Rats is always to develop different riffs and rhythms and play them off of each other. This album features longer compositions than the last one, and we could continue to go in that direction. My favorite Sepultura songs are always the ones that have like ten riffs in the intro alone...

WC: Are songs written in much the same way for both bands or are there key differences in the writing for them?

Todd: I can’t comment on Nachos’s writing, but most of the Like Rats songs are written by me alone with an acoustic guitar. I have a lot of riffs that I’ve hummed into my phone, and I also have a lot of riffs that I want to steal from bands that I like.

Once I have something that I like, I turn it over in my head a bunch and modify it there. Sometimes a few separate ideas seem to work well together, and they become one song.

WC: What’s the live situation like for Like Rats? Will you be playing out more than Nachos?

Andy: Due to our jobs/personal lives it’s never really been possible for Like Rats to do much touring. A lot of that has changed over the past year though so I believe some touring is in our future. The friendships we’ve made with promoters overseas certainly help our chances of being able to cross the pond. Once we get through the remainder of 2016 and the final Nachos shows, we’ll have a better idea of what’s possible.

WC: How would you sum up the legacy of Weekend Nachos?

Andy: We’ve done things the way we’ve wanted to since day one. In our music and in our actions, we’ve always been a DIY band. We’ve made some enemies along the way, but they are utterly dwarfed by the amount of friends we’ve made. Ending it where we are now, I can honestly say there isn’t  a single bad record in our discography. The band has changed all of our lives for the better and I can never be grateful enough for that. 

WC:What was the last CD or release you got just because you wanted to hear the band?

Andy: I just picked up Chrome’s “Third From the Sun” lp in Seattle. I was familiar with and liked a couple of their earlier records but didn’t really know much about this one. I’m super glad I got it though because it’s great and the song “Armageddon” had to have been an influence on Godflesh. Finding connections like that in seemingly unlikely places is very gratifying to me. 

WC:Has there ever been a Spinal Tap moment with either Rats or Nachos that you could share with us?

Dan: Once we played a Minnesota gig where I was just grooving too hard where I finally managed to spin the drum set/rug completely sideways thus making me feel and look like the drummer of Incubus.

WC:Any last words for the faithful?

Andy: Don’t steal riffs from the bands you like; steal riffs from the bands that the bands you like like.
...and always keep the faith.