‘We have a lot to say’: Weapons of Mass Creation debuts new single

Weapons of Mass Creation perform for an appreciative audience. OC Protests Juneteenth Rally.
Weapons of Mass Creation perform for an appreciative audience.
(Spencer Grant)

Weapons of Mass Creation performed for the first time in more than a year to small clusters of people spread across a grassy corner of Anaheim’s La Palma Park. It was golden hour and the first weekend after California lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions. It was a homecoming of sorts too.

Before diving into a snippet of new music, emcee Josh Quiñonez, who performs as Solitude, said he remembers practicing soccer in the park. Saxophonist Silas Franco said he used to play in marching band at the park’s auditorium. Vocalist Julia Franco, or Joules, chimed in remembering one of the band’s first shows in the same location with only three people showing up to see them live.

“We’ve come a long way,” Julia said to the audience at the Juneteenth event.

The band, whose members were all born and raised in Anaheim, started out as Franco Funktion composed exclusively of Franco brothers. Guitarist Luis Franco first learned how to strum chords at church as a pre-teen. Then, his siblings followed suit.

“Franco Funktion was really about learning how to be on stage and trying to rock out as hard as possible,” Luis said.

After returning from colleges spread out throughout California around 2014, they became Weapons of Mass Creation, adding a hip-hop influence to their sound among other genres like cumbia. The band, now eight members ranging from 19 to 31 years old, is composed of six Franco siblings (Luis, Jacob Franco, Joseph Franco, Julia, Moses Franco and Silas) and a set of Quiñonez brothers (Josh and Enrique Quiñonez, or EQ).

Weapons of Mass Creation
In the back row, left to right, Enrique Quiñonez (EQ), Luis Franco, Jacob Franco, Joseph Franco and Moses Franco. In the front row, left to right, Julia Franco (Joules), Josh Quiñonez (Solitude) and Silas Franco.
(Courtesy of William Camargo)

“WOMC is expanding as we speak even more than just these immediate members,” Luis said. “We think about how we can use our wealth of resources that we’ve been able to put together as a collective to amplify different voices within Anaheim and in Orange County.”

The band members consider their collaborators — photographers, artists and filmmakers — as a part of WOMC.

Over the years, they’ve cultivated an audience that resonates with lyrics focusing on issues like sexism and police brutality.

For Julia, the song “Hard to Admit” was the first time she received a significant response from listeners.

“[The song] was about my personal experience with patriarchal violence, like sexual assault. Things that you don’t hear in music, especially in rap or hip-hop,” Julia said. “When we released the video, a lot of people messaged me on Facebook and Instagram ... People said even stuff like this song saved my life. My writing isn’t just for my own healing. It’s for so many people who don’t necessarily have the words to name their pain.”

The public reaction to “Rest In Paint (Asmek)” was another standout moment. The track was written as a tribute to their friend, Gustavo Najera, a 22-year-old who was shot in the head by Anaheim police in 2016. They describe it as a song written from a purely emotional standpoint without political rhetoric.

“I remember being in the studio just crying together,” Joseph said.

Donna Acevedo-Nelson, the mother of Joel Acevedo who was shot and killed by an Anaheim police officer in 2012, connected with the song and asked WOMC to perform at a benefit concert while she was running for the Anaheim City Council.

“To know that [Joel’s] mother reached out because her son had been murdered still makes me feel like a knot is in my throat,” Luis said. “At the same time, the fact that a song can make that kind of impact so quickly and locally was mind blowing. I didn’t know music could do that.”

The song also unlocked a new level of lyricism and production for WOMC. It showed later on in their 2019 EP “Labor of Love” that they showcased in performances across O.C. and Los Angeles venues until the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to their plans.

Weapons of Mass Creation band: Julia Franco, Moses Franco, Josh Quinonez, Joseph Franco.
Weapons of Mass Creation band: Julia Franco, Moses Franco, Josh Quinonez and Joseph Franco.
(Spencer Grant)

The band members dispersed in separate homes in Anaheim, Fullerton and Long Beach during the state’s pandemic lockdown. They postponed the music video release of “Neighborhood Watch” from the EP until the fall. Even though live music stopped, each WOMC member still maintained their creativity.

“We’re all artists, and that separation allowed us to reconnect with our individual artistry,” Josh said. “When we came back, everyone was at a creative peak because we had all been really experimenting with what we wanted.”

The latest single, “All I Do,” released in June and produced by Moses, is a departure from their usual sound. It’s an upbeat, feel-good love song.

“We wanted to express love in a very healthy manner and also just make a cool song that’s bouncy,” Josh said.

The band will celebrate the release of the accompanying music video with a performance at a Long Beach event on June 25.

Julia said WOMC feels like they need to reinvent themselves, because the pandemic didn’t allow them to retain some of their fans.

They are planning on releasing additional singles and eventually putting out another EP.

“We’re creating at a superspeed,” Julia said. “There’s a lot going on and we have a lot to say.”

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