Throughout music history, several bands have been labeled as “the next” this or that. For Mississippi rockers The Weeks, comparisons to rock band Kings of Leon have always run rampant. From its Southern drawl to its family aspect, it is not the most far-fetched comparison. Rather than shying away from them, The Weeks embraced the comparisons with pride.
“I don’t mind when people say it,” said lead singer Cyle Barnes. “Mostly with the Southern drawl that we share, it’s hard not to make the comparison, but we never really worried about it too much.”
Made up of lead singer Barnes, his twin brother and drummer Cain Barnes, guitarist Samuel Williams, bassist Damien Bone and organ player Admiral Collier, The Weeks is a Mississippi band that now calls Nashville, Tennessee, its home. After signing with Kings of Leon’s record label Serpents and Snakes Records, the band re-released Gutter Gaunt Gangster in 2012 and has become one of Nashville’s rising rock bands. With releases Dear Bo Jackson (2013) and the Buttons EP (2014), the band has become a darling on Nashville radio and beyond.
I spoke with lead singer Cyle Barnes about the band’s roots, the Nashville music scene and what is next for the band.
Are your Mississippi roots reflected in your music?
I always say if the music doesn’t sound super Southern, I’d like to believe the feel is there. [Southerners are] wonderful people and have good stories, so we push through with that a little bit.
Why did you move to Nashville?
We were at Delta State University at the time. My brother and I were both art majors. It was either we’d stay or go out and try to do this full time. It was kind of like names in a hat at first. We really didn’t know where we wanted to go. We just knew we had to go and try to do something a little different and get moving and get motivated about it. We ended up touring through the cities we were thinking about moving to, and Nashville was the one. It’s close to home, the temperature’s great and it’s just a big small city, so we moved here and it was great. There are more musicians here than we could ever possibly think about meeting.
What do you think about the growing rock scene in Nashville?
It’s amazing. We’ve been here for almost five years now. When we were first coming here, we were worried because we were transplants. We had no idea what they would think or if we were going to be accepted. At the time, there was a little bit of buzz about Nashville, but not at all like it is now. But we ended up getting here, and it was so much more than just country music. If you wanted to see a different [genre]—punk, whatever—every single night, you can. So we got here and realized there was no competition. We’re all doing the same thing—everyone’s touring, everyone’s playing as much as they can. It was nice to get here and realize that coming from somewhere else, we were welcomed with open arms. We’re all in the same fight together.
You are signed with Kings of Leon’s label, Serpents and Snakes Records. What has that experience been like?
We have a special situation with that because their label is owned by a band, so they know what touring is like. It doesn’t feel super business all the time. There’s a family aspect to it. We like to make it as personal as possible. We want to know that who we’re working with are people we like and they enjoy us and not just what we’re doing. They actually enjoy us as people. It’s just one big family.
You have toured with Kings of Leon in the past. What is your relationship like with the band?
They’re all really sweet guys. Every time we get together, it ends up being a good time. It’s strange because, when we do hang out with them, it’s easy to forget they’re in the band that they’re in. But they’re all really nice guys and their families are super sweet also.
Do you and your twin brother Cain get along or is there ever tension?
My brother and myself are twins who have been together nonstop, so we don’t have beefs ever really. We try to keep it pretty nice. We do get the twin vibe, so we could read each other’s minds. Since I was young, we’ve always been in bands together, so I’ve always had him as a drummer. I don’t know what it’d be like to not have him as a drummer.
You guys are currently touring and playing shows throughout the South. How is it so far?
It’s been wild. We tour constantly—we’re on the road more than we’re home. We love touring. That’s why we do it constantly. We like live shows and getting out there and meeting new people and all the different bands we get to meet. When we get home for a little while, we try to write and keep busy because we get antsy and want to get back out there and get back on the road. But every chance we get—there’s just nothing like getting to go to a fun, strange place you’ve never been before and being loud there for a night.
Your last album, Dear Bo Jackson, was distinct from previous records you’ve released. Do you see a natural evolution in the band?
Yeah, I definitely think so. There’s a gradual change as we’ve gotten a little older. It’s interesting to see how it turns. [On Dear Bo Jackson] we had a lot of time to get some friends that we invited with horns and things like that just because it was the first time we really got to experiment with all of that. As far as the writing goes, it’s definitely the same sort of flow, same sort of style, but maybe more of just the band and seeing how it sounds more stripped down. I think it’ll be a nice middle ground between the two.