Long Bio

The Weak Knees formed in the spring of 2009 from the ashes of another band.

Matt LaPenna (bass) and Shawn Lawson Freeman (drums) were part of Evaline and the Dream Machine, a musical project led by singer & violinist Camelia Nine. Also in the band was Matt's fiance, Ashawnta Jackson (backup vocals).

For fun in late 2008, Matt and Shawn jammed occasionally with Bjorn van der Voo (vocals, guitar). He soon joined the project on rhythm guitar, and the band progressed over the course of several months. However the project quickly fell apart, leaving the three instrumentalists without a singer.

The three decided to create a new project and came up with several early songs. In the spring of 2009, they were introduced to vocalist Bethany Batsell through a mutual friend. The group hit it off and Bethany joined the still unnamed project.

Bethany brought a jazzy R&B approach to the vocals, so combined with Matt's love for classic Soul music and Bjorn & Shawn's rock chops, the band embarked on a "Modest Mouse meets Motown" sound.

In choosing their band name, the band had a favorite pick: Queen Bee and the Weak Knees. The name derived from Bethany's nickname of simply "B", and of her admittedly fickle nature. The group liked the multiple meanings implied in the Weak Knees, such as a person of nervous temperament, or a person who swoons and gets weak in the knees.

However, right before the first gig, the name was shortened to just the Weak Knees. Bjorn admits that, after Evaline and the Dream Machine broke up, he worried about naming the band after a lead singer, only to risk losing the lead singer and having another project fall apart.

With Bethany on lead vocals and Bjorn on occasional backup vocals, the Weak Knees progressed and played several good shows and venues in the Portland, Oregon area, including the Blue Monk Jazz Club in SE Portland.

The band was on the verge of recording a first album in the summer of 2010 when the same thing happened: the singer left the band.

After much bitching and moaning, the remaining members decided to carry on as the Weak Knees. Shawn and Matt encouraged Bjorn to take over on lead vocals, and since Bethany's vocal chops were out of Bjorn's range, the band wrote a new batch of songs.

With a set list in place and looking to expand their sound, in the fall of 2010 the band tried out several guitarists. Matt reached out to James McDermott (guitar, backing vocals). James brought an explosive, clean-toned sound to the lead guitar position, reminiscent of the Velvet Underground's John Cale.

The band immediately clicked, especially the guitar tones between Bjorn's delay-infused mid-tone and James' clean high-tone. Within months, it sounded like James and Bjorn had spent years perfecting their dual sound.

In 2012 the band recorded their first album, A New Lie Will Guide You Home. In the summer of 2012, Matt followed a life-long dream and moved to New York City. Ben Marcus (bass) joined the band in July 2012.

In July 2013, they released their second album, Until You Can (They Will Tell You You Can't.

Following the second album, the band lost another member to follow-your-dreams: James went to Poland to teach English. The band carried on as a 3-piece until the end of 2014, when Ben decided to focus on other pursuits.

Shawn and Bjorn decided to try the two-man band approach, crafting a new sound using backing tracks for bass and synths and bringing the energy with their guitars and drums sound.

In late 2016 James returned from Poland and rejoined as occasional lead guitarist, and the band released their 3rd album, Inside Voices, in March 2019.