The Weekend Run Club is on full display in its debut LP "Zoo," out for purchase and streaming today and being played at a release show Friday, Feb. 7, at Beat Kitchen. - Courtesy of Alex Zarek

Weekend Run Club’s debut LP ‘Zoo’ a menagerie of members’ truths

The Weekend Run Club’s debut LP “Zoo,” out today, chronicles the time the young band spent honing itself and its music since its last release in 2018.

There’s something to be said for letting an album sit on simmer, giving the musical flavors a chance to blend. The Weekend Run Club’s 12-track debut LP “Zoo,” out for streaming and purchase today, chronicles the time the young band spent honing itself and its music after pushing out its “Okay for You” EP in 2018.

“We had almost two years to write this,” guitarist Christopher Bryant said. “We had the time to really collaborate on what these songs needed to be. It wasn’t just the vision of one or two people. It was all of us coming together and writing it.”

The Weekend Run Club will showcase “Zoo” in its entirety at a release show, co-sponsored by Kickstand Productions and Chicago Sound Check, at Beat Kitchen Friday, Feb. 7. The lineup for the show includes Violet Crime, August Hotel and Splits.

The Weekend Run Club, Violet Crime, August Hotel and Splits play together Friday, Feb. 7, at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen.

When the “Okay for You” EP was released, only four of the current members were part of the band — Downers Grove’s Bridget Stiebris riding drums, Joey Resko of North Aurora joining Lisle’s Bryant on guitar, and Lisle’s Mitchell Kinn behind the microphone — and they hadn’t been together for that long. They were still exploring their roles and weaving together their sound.

“I was born into the band,” Elk Grove native Haley Blomquist said, laughing about how she joined on bass after the EP was finished.

“We spent time figuring out our love languages,” said Stiebris, also the band’s manager. “Everybody has such a unique way of processing information, and it’s kind of like a mini study on people. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about communication.”

“I think we got a lot more comfortable in being upfront about what we want to bring to the table,” Kinn added.

As band members meshed together, they crafted a work that is so much more to them than just a collection of tracks, with songs — or revealing “exhibits,” as band members sometimes referenced them — reaching all the way back to before the EP release.

“It’s a reflection of each point in time,” Blomquist said, “different flashpoints for the band.”

The album is still awash in The Weekend Run Club’s signature bright and shiny indie-pop rhythms and ripping rock riffs, as on the recently released singles “Beck” and “Rhode Island.” But some tracks (the introspective opener “Always” and “Never,” a late-album exploration of loneliness and secrets) spin off into more pensive territory.

“There are different moods that present themselves in the different songs,” Resko said of “Zoo.” “It’s cool to see what everybody else vibes with.”

While all the members’ musical opinions are reflected in the collaborative “Zoo,” the primary songwriting falls to Kinn and Bryant for most of the band’s lyrics.

“I try to be as straightforward as I can without excluding too many people,” Kinn said about his lyrics. “I want our music to touch as many people as possible. … Each song has its own thing that it’s about, its own conflict. … I want to give listeners an idea of what it’s about. But I don’t want to just plant a seed; I also want to guide them through it. Hold their hand, like ‘Hey, we feel these things, too.'”

Bryant, on the other hand, leans more toward the cryptic, or “mysterious,” as Kinn calls it.

“Don’t be afraid to show who you are through music, to express yourself,” said Christopher Bryant, second from left, of The Weekend Run Club. The band puts itself out there on its debut LP “Zoo,” out today. – Courtesy of Miranda Sherman

“I found that poetry gives the audience or the reader a chance to make it work for them,” Bryant said. “It helps them decipher and tell the story, to understand it from their perspective. I don’t like telling a story because I’d never want to tell somebody how you need to feel for this. … I think it’s really great when you can empower the listener to interpret it the way they want to interpret it.”

That being said, that balance between the two lead songwriters — and collaboration between all five members — shines a spotlight on the power behind the album.

“It’s about truth, self-identity, just being able to live your truth,” Kinn said. “That’s what we all want, to be able to be themselves and to be accepted for whatever issues they’re dealing with, whatever insecurities they have. Things get swept under the rug way too much. This is like an invitation to start a conversation.”

• • •

The Weekend Run Club with Violet Crime, August Hotel and Splits

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7 (doors open at 7:30 p.m.)

Where: Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

Tickets: $10-$13; (773) 281-4444 or beatkitchen.com

Presented by: Chicago Sound Check and Kickstand Productions


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