The Weeklings are a four-piece band who credit their love of the 60s, especially the Fab Four (The Beatles), and it’s inspired pop music. The legacy of The Weeklings is to continue “tight song construction, which they execute with passionate performances of bright melodies and harmonies punctuated by shimmering guitars and adventurous bass and drums.”
The Weeklings consist of four members who all have been long-time fans and purveyors of The Fab Four, including Lefty Weekling (Glen Burtnik), Zeek Weekling (Bob Burger), Rocky Weekling (John Merjave), and Smokestack Weekling (Joe Bellia). All members came together having met at a series of Burtnik’s “Beatle Bash” shows. The group wanted to keep the Beatles’ memory alive, yet still write and play original music. Their new single, “In the Moment,” features both traits incredibly well, with an added touch of The Weeklings’ superb music skills.
The Weeklings reflect on their love of The Fab Four, their music that keeps the memory of their music alive and well, their favorites and much more.
I love that you guys pay due to the incredible music of the 60s, specifically your influence of The Beatles. What about this decade of music makes it so special still to this day?
Lefty Weekling: This is actually somewhat a mystery! The technology of the era, although sonically amazing, was limited. Pop records required organic, human imagination in the writing and innovation in the arranging. But there was also some cultural magic taking place – the sociological timing was explosive. It’d be difficult to compare any other decade’s music to the one which contributed Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Phil Spector, Burt Bacharach, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Laura Nyro & Jim Webb, The Four Seasons, Simon and Garfunkel, Motown Records, Sam Cooke, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills and Nash, Cream, the Mamas and the Papas, The Who, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, Duty Springfield, the Moody Blues, the Lovin’ Spoonful, The Band, The Isley Brothers, Janis Joplin, Santana, Dion and The Beatles. The shadow that generation of music cast is incredible.
All of you guys have been immersed in music and songwriting for many years, mostly as an offshoot of a series of Lefty Weekling (Glen Burtnik)’s “Beatle Bash” show. What inspired all of you to come together to create your own form of music?
Lefty: For years I had presented my annual “Beatle Bash” shows in which I assembled a cast to perform complete Beatles albums song-by-song, instrument-by-instrument and note for note. For instance, doing Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band meant we needed an orchestra. Doing the ‘White album’ required an orchestra and a choir. Lots of big productions with large casts on stage.
One year the show celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first two albums. It was then we realized, with very few exceptions, all those early songs of theirs were recorded by only four musicians with very few overdubs. This was music arranged for a quartet and the studying made us enjoy the beautiful simplicity of performing such vital, thrilling music as a four piece. We liked it so much we decided to become a band.
Were all of you guys raised on The Beatles music, and did the progression to lean towards that sound come from that, or did it “just happen”?
Smokestack Weekling: I saw The Beatles on “Ed Sullivan”… And like so many of us that’s the reason why I’m playing drums… The Beatles are my foundation…The starting point…the standard for which all music is compared… consciously or sub-consciously… How’s that for BS…
Zeek Weekling: Growing up I assimilated The Beatles music in spite of how I was raised. The fact that the sound was so deeply ingrained in me at an early age, made it impossible not to lean towards that sound. So it “just happened.”
Lefty: What Zeek said.
Your new single “In The Moment,” reflects the Fab Four sound (as it was recorded at UK’s Abbey Road Studios on original 1960s gear), yet also carries the New Jersey attitude you guys hail from. What’s the process of songwriting with each of you?
Lefty: Zeek (aka Bob Burger) and I (aka as the Artist Formerly Known As Glen Burtnik) are fairly accomplished songwriters. Together we’ve written songs cut by a number of rock artists and I’ve had number one pop and number one country hit singles. We know what we’re doing.
For years we’d avoid the pitfalls of sounding like our ideas were vintage. We kept going “modern.”
But when this concept came along, the assignment to embrace our 60’s roots and the old school approach to pop song writing, we felt liberated. F*** loops. F*** computers. Pick up the guitar and start singing harmonies together! It was a revelation. Exhilarating and liberating. We try to forget all the song writing tricks employed and overused throughout the 80’s, 90’s and beyond and remember a more direct era when the rock song required a band working out together instead of a sequence of samples.
One of us will have a bit of an idea we think sounds like something Beatles (or some other power pop band) might’ve done and we show it to another band member, who reacts and adds more ideas. Then it’s brought to the band to pick apart and put back together with the plan to create something rocking in the way records used to in the sixties.
Having released 2016’s full-length, Studio 2, is a series of single’s planned, or another full album in the works?
Lefty: A bit of both. We have a number of songs we’re releasing one at a time as singles and we are also working other tracks we’ll combine with the singles on an album (probably out in the new year, if not before).
Lefty, what was the vision behind directing the music video for you guys’ single with “In The Moment”?
Lefty: Here we had flown to London, put all this effort into recording– and BOOM! This song came out so strong we figured it deserved a video. We thought it would be more fun to sync up a bunch of different edits of The Weeklings displaying lyrics in what the kids call a “lyric video“ rather than the standard ‘band lip syncs along with their song’ kinda video. (You could say the “lyric video” was invented by Bob Dylan for his infamous “Subterranean Homesick Blues” promo. Then again, I suppose you could credit whoever it was who invented the “Sing along with the bouncing ball” films.)
Basically we walked around shooting the song’s lyrics written out in as many different situations as we could quickly and easily grab on our cell phones. Our manager Caesar Weekling got involved, as did Lily and whoever was hanging out with the band at the time.
Really, the guy who really brought the video together and made it pop was our friend Mark Laidlaw of HushPark productions, who edited all our DIY bullshit together to make it kick-a** and fun.
Who was you guys’ first concert, and which has been your overall favorite so far?
Lefty: As I recall, my parents first brought me to see Ray Charles at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, NJ, then Freddie and The Dreamers at the Schafer bowl in Central Park. Richie Havens was the first concert I went to by myself (without Mom and Dad).
And the Patti LaBelle show I caught at the Roxy on Sunset strip in Hollywood in 1980 blew me away most – perhaps because I had no idea what I was in for ahead of time.
Zeek: Led Zeppelin. The first was the best!
Smokestack: My first concert was The Doors. And the best concert was either The Doors for the newness of experience…Or Led Zeppelin for how different it was compared to anything else I’d heard until that point.
What was your first album on vinyl, cassette and/or CD?
Lefty: Vinyl must’ve been the White album or Hendrix’ Axis Bold as Love. As far as CDs go, it was very well all of those all over again on what was the new format!
Smokestack: Meet the Beatles. Vinyl of course
Zeek: The Beatles Second Album
Which five albums or artists would you not want to live without?
Nick Lowe (cowboy outfit & party of one)
Depeche Mode – only kidding (laughs)
All the Beatle albums
All the Steely Dan albums
Yes – Close To The Edge
Todd Rundgren – Initiation
Jackson Browne – The Pretender
Tom Petty – Damn The Torpedos
Jimi Hendrix – Axis Bold As Love
Stevie Wonder- Fulfillingness First Finale
Beatles –White Album
Todd Rundgren – first 3 albums
Beach Boys- Surf’s Up
Yes – Fragile & Close to the Edge
Jeff Beck- Blow By Blow
George Gershwin– Second Rhapsody
Laura Nyro- Eli and the 13th Confession
Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak
Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
Deep Purple – Machine Head
Which of The Beatles’ albums is your most played?
Lefty: Definitely the White album for me.
Smokestack: White Album
Zeek: The White Album
Rocky Weekling: The White Album
Who’s your favorite Fab Four member, and why?
Ringo(For drumming influence) Could have easily said anyone else for different reasons
Zeek: Either John McCartney or Paul Lennon
Rocky: George Martin, because he doesn’t get enough credit.
Lefty: Bernard Purdie