From Minneapolis, MN, City Of The Weak haven’t slowed down since forming in 2012. The band has toured the United States relentlessly and are on track to play their 400th show in 2018. After being featured on EMG TV, spending 13 weeks on the Loudwire countdown, and receiving over 1.3 million views on their first six music videos, City of the Weak have proven to be one of the hardest working bands in America.
Stef Huschka aka. Stef w/ an F got her start in music when she joined a kids’ choir at 5 years old. After buying Brett Manning’s Mastering Mix program, she began intensive vocal training at 16. Now an adult, she has progressed into a well-rounded musician, entertainer, and songwriter. Though specializing in contemporary voice and being a badass on stage, her instruments include piano, guitar, and trombone.
How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto rock/metal?
I’ve always been really into telling stories & art. I started writing & creating little books when I was 5. Eventually my stories turned to poetry, which turned to song lyrics when I got a piano as a gift. I didn’t really have much influence growing up, my parents didn’t listen to much music, & the only station we had where I lived was a country station. It wasn’t until I discovered MTV around age 11 that I discovered Linkin Park & Foo Fighters, & other rock acts that were being played at the time.
How did you become a guitarist and vocalist? Are you proficient in any other instruments?
I am proficient in trombone, piano, guitar, & voice. I also co-lead a drum line in high school, that I was in for 4 years. I played in professional jazz bands, all state bands, pep bands, & a ska band with my trombone. I’ve accompanied school & church choirs & plays. I taught music for 10 years, & I taught music theory at a high school for a few months. I also have a college degree in musical performance, so I’m extremely proficient in lots of musical aspects. However, since City of the Weak has been my top priority for the last 5 years, my focus these days is obviously 100% on my voice and the business aspects of us as a band. I’d definitely be wiping dust off of my trombone & guitar if I were to take either one out these days.
What was the local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?
We weren’t really a part of any scene here, since none of us that started the band were from Minnesota. We played shows everywhere back in the day: Station 4, 400 Bar, Wild Tymes, The Garage. One of my favorite MN bands I aspired to be like was Children 18:3 – they were technically from Willmar, MN I think, but they put on an incredible show.
How did the band form and how did the band name come about? How did the band meet and how long did it take to finalize this lineup? How stable is the current lineup?
When I was 17 I moved to Minneapolis/St. Paul to form a band & play professionally. I was attending a training school called McNally Smith College of Music, & I started jamming with people every night. Once I was able to get a solid group going, we began playing shows around the Twin Cities and quickly branched out regionally, & then nationally. Over the last 6 years we slowly became the band that we are today.
You recently released a new album ‘Pulling Teeth”. What’s the reaction been like?
The reaction has been incredible. I have yet to hear a negative reaction, which is insanely unusual. There’s always haters coming from every direction, so it kind of freaked us out at first when all the reviews were great, all the fans are posting about how much they love it. It’s only been out a week though, so I’m SURE we will start getting some Negative Nancys soon. Which I won’t be disappointed about, I love my haters! They keep me on the edge!
So, how was working with Craig Owens and putting this record together different than what you have previously done?
Working with Craig & Jordan was literally the dream team. It was so great to work with a team that was insanely invested in authentic, original work. It was never about “you can’t do that cuz that won’t sell” or “you can’t say that because it’s too specific” like working with a lot of producers is. It was quite the opposite, & Craig encouraged me to get deeper & more specific, & it felt great to say all the things that I’ve been wanting to say. It felt amazing not to be stifled in our creativity. We had definitely been in a box for awhile, & breaking out was fucking phenomenal.
What is the writing process like for you? How do you pick what you want to keep and release and what gets tossed aside?
I’m inspired by everything that goes on around me, what’s in the news, what I see when I walk out my front door. We are very socially conscious so we like to address injustices that we see around us, we’ve written about child abuse, animal rights, gay rights, & more. Obviously whatever issues we are facing in our lives at the moment are our biggest inspiration. A common theme throughout our career has been about not giving up when the world is against you, & that you are in control of your own life. For this record, we all got together & ranked our top 5 songs that were in the pot, & whatever came out on top was getting recorded. We ended up adding an extra song because I felt the record would be incomplete without it. We never want to limit ourselves or our art.
What keeps you passionate about City Of The Weak and rock music after all these years?
I’m a very passionate person in general, & with City of the Weak I feel like I have a voice. It’s all about standing up and making a difference, & music is just the outlet for that. City of the Weak has become a brand that fully captures us as people, & who wouldn’t be passionate about simply being yourself & living your best life?
Top 5 albums or songs released in 2018 and of all time?
I haven’t really listened to much of anything that’s come out this year, to be honest. Right now I’m on a huge Super Bob kick, so I’ve been listening to them the last month or so. Before that it was Eternity Forever, & before that it was The Used.
Top 5 albums of all time:
1) Whydfml – badXchannels
2) That’s The Spirit – Bring Me the Horizon
3) D.R.U.G.s – Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows
4) Bangerz – Miley Cyrus
5) Dead Trees – From First To Last
What does rock n roll mean to you?
Rock n roll is an attitude & a lifestyle. It means not giving a fuck what people think, & it’s about living your life the way you want. It’s really disappointing how watered down “rock n roll” is these days. So many bands trying so hard to be something they aren’t. Rock n roll is sticking it to the man no matter what the world tells you. It’s never fucking selling out.