Local Music: Weeknight Motion


Ella Pulst, Staff Writer

So, you like music. And you like supporting your local human beings. Well, now’s your chance to discover an amazing, local band, Weeknight Motion. Based in Sterling Heights, Michigan, this alternative pop band is made up of Connor O’Brien (front-man), David Jackowicz (drummer), and Nathan Waldorf (bassist). Oh, and how could I forget the most important member and songwriter of the group, Mr. Lion O’Brien, Connor’s orange tabby cat.

This incredible band gives the world songs that people can relate to and extract hope from. Some of their discography includes classics such as Insatiable, Terrestrial, Strawberries, and my personal favorite, Clean Slate.

I was lucky enough to ask some casual questions to Connor O’Brien. It was wild. This is how it went.

Me: On a scale of Gerard Way to Tyler Joseph…

Connor: Oh gosh

Me: How Pete Wentz are you?

Connor: Wow. I’ve been told I look like Pete Wentz.

Me: Really?

Connor: Like in high school, before I had the beard and stuff. People would walk up to me in the hall and be like, “Do you know Pete Wentz?”, and I’d be like, “yes“. They’d say, “You look like him”, and I’m like, “I know”. So I’d say I am Pete Wentz on a scale of Tyler Joseph to Gerard Way. That’s my – well, actually – you know what? I’m gonna change my answer, and say that I am Hobo Johnson out of – do you know him?

Me: Uh, no.

Connor: Never mind, my answer is Pete Wentz.

Me: Okay, solid answer. How long have you been playing music?

Connor: I don’t know, man, like ten years? My dad was a musician, so I was always around it. So, I just had a guitar when I was six. But, like, actually playing music, I’d say ten years.

Me: So, guitar was your first instrument?

Connor: Yes.

Me: How did your band, Weeknight Motion, begin?

Connor: Great question. So, I had a band in high school, called Shorline Statues. It was a punk band. It was me and David, who’d play drums, and Nate, who plays bass for Weeknight Motion now. Then we had two of our other friends, Mitch and Nick. It was great, and we were like, “Oh my gosh, we’re gonna do it!” Then it didn’t work out personality wise. We kind of stopped and didn’t have time for it. We decided to start it back up years later, and we had this document of band names that we’d vote on. It was super tedious. The name that I suggested was Weeknight Motion. I found it on a random word generator. I was clicking, and eventually the two words were “weeknight” and “motion”. I was like, “that’s kind of cool”. That’s where the name came from. So when this second attempt didn’t work out, David and I were like, “let’s just do our own thing”. Nate joined eventually, and that’s how it began.

Me: Cool, cool. So, Lion O’Brien. Is he just an honorary member, or does he truly do everything for the band?

Connor: I’d like to change my story on how the band began.

Me: Oh, yes, of course.

Connor: There was a day when this cat came, and he was like, “you need to start this band with your friends”. I said, “I don’t know how to do that”. He said, “I have already written like 40 songs, and I just need you to do it”. Then he climbed into this metal box and he disappeared. Later in life we found that box on the street, or not the box, but the cat, and now he’s part of the family. That’s my assumption, that one day he will go back and tell me to start the band. You know, like time travel. He is part of the band though.

Me: Now suppose Lion didn’t do the heavy lifting of the band. What would the creative process of songwriting look like?

Connor: Well, I imagine that I would write all of the songs. I write all the stuff, and then David is good at production. I’ll produce something, I feel like I’m getting okay at it, but for a while he was way better. I’d be like, “what should this sound like?”, and he would produce it and make it sound better. We’d finalize it and play it live. A lot of the time we’ll play something live before we release it to see how it feels.  We’ll make something, then we go to play it live, and we’re like, “it feels like it should be this.” We can play something live and decide, “I like that better than I thought I did.”

Me: How has music helped you, rather it be listening or writing?

Connor: Oh, I gotta be serious for this one. When I was younger, especially mentally, it wasn’t easy all the time. I’ve had, and a lot of people do, problems with anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, and certain things that I’ve dealt with. I’ve always been able to put in headphones and I’m suddenly not there anymore. I can be someone else. That’s how my brain works with music. Listening to music is always like an escapism kind of thing. Writing music I feel like I can say things that are more honest than things you can say in real life. I can write a song and say, “I’m a fake, and you think I’m a nice guy, and I’m just bad. You don’t know me well enough to know I messed up”. You can’t just say that in a conversation. I feel like I can be a lot more honest writing things, because people will listen to a song and think, “oh man, that’s cool”, and not think too much about it when music is behind it. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing music so much… I feel like when I write songs, it’s therapeutic just to say, “here’s me being honest”, but I try to articulate it in a way that hasn’t been said. There’s a lot of songs that are like, “I’m sad”, or, “I’m in love”, you know what I mean? I always want to find a way to say it in different ways that haven’t been said. I know for me sometimes I’ll hear something said and I’ll be like, “that articulates how I’m feeling so well, and I didn’t know that I needed to be able to word it like that. But now that it’s been worded that way I can capture it and get rid of it”. You don’t always know exactly what you’re feeling, but then you’ll hear it or read it described in a new way and you’re just like, “gosh, now I’m free. Now I can be rid of this, because now I understand it”. So if you can write and someone else can benefit from it, it’s wild.

Me: So, so cool. Who is your biggest inspiration in music, and if you could collab with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Connor: Oh gosh, I don’t know. I’m a big fan of bedroom pop guys, like Jon Bellion, AJR, twenty one pilots. I like rap a lot. I really like Kanye West and Andy Mineo. I also grew up on super classic rock like Creedence Clearwater Revival. My favorite song growing up was Mr. Blue Sky by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra). Like stylistically, twenty one pilots is huge.

Me: What’s your favorite Weeknight Motion song?

Connor: I have two, and neither have been released. One is called Helicopter and one is tentatively called Hide in the Dark or Hiding in the Dark or just The Dark. 

Me: What’s your dream venue to play?

Connor: Oh gosh, that’s a good question. I’d want to play the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac. We played the little room, but there’s also a big room. There’s a 300-400 cap room, then there’s the 800-1000 cap room. I feel like most people would say, like, the Madison Square Garden. I just want that (Crofoot). I’ve seen so many things there. It’s not a stadium, but it’s big enough to be like, “this is so exciting”. Thinking about doing that one day makes me want to cry. It would be so good.

Me: Since we’re on the topic of shows, how do you go about energizing the audience?

Connor: Well, let me tell you. I drink monster energy. No, I don’t. One thing I see that bands don’t do is interact. I go to a lot of local shows, like the Surfaces show last night. They’d play a song then say, “How you doing? Alright, let’s get back to the music”. But, I want to know who you are. Part of energizing is actual interaction. For people to interact, you have to tell them how to interact. It’s easier for them to get involved and energized if you tell them to jump, or, “I’m going to sing this part, then you sing this part”. Intentionally placing things in songs is really good. Having a moment where you tell everyone to put their hands up, or everyone sing a part, they’ll have more fun. It’s like giving them handlebars, saying, “I know you want to be a part of this. Here’s how”. Instead of, “I’m going to sing at you, and you’re going to watch me.”, it’s like, “we’re all doing a thing”. I think that’s cool. People are generally energized if you are also wildly energized. We try to bring super wild energy, so, like, the guy at the bar looks at you. We had one show at a super crappy bar in Hamtramck. The guy at the bar was watching us while cleaning a glass, and we were like, “we did it!” It was the worst place, but the guy liked us. So if you bring energy, they will have energy. That’s my theory. I tell people to do stuff, I am loud, and I jump around.

Me: You know how Harry Styles makes fun or points people out, have you ever had interactions like that?

Connor: I think I’ve done it like one time. I was telling everyone to do something and a couple people weren’t. I was like, “okay. I can see you. You are wearing a red hat. Listen, everyone’s doing this, and I’m going to need you to do it”, but also no one wants to be the guy who gets called out.

Me: Unless it’s Harry Styles calling you out.

Connor: Yeah, for me it would just be like, “this jerk.” But we played the Creepy Cheapy Halloween show, and there was a point during Holding On To You (twenty one pilots), during “Lean with it, rock with it”, we were doing the dance. In the moment I was like, “everyone has costumes on. I didn’t even think about this, this is so cool.”, and I looked at some guy and said, “will you come on stage for a second”, and he said, “no”. But there was a girl who was like, “I’ll do it”, so I was like, “alright, come on”. But sometimes you do have to call people out, just because it makes it fun. There’s no wall between you guys.

Me: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Connor: I’m an aspiring musician currently.

Me: But, like, if you were to tell someone who has music, but just hasn’t put anything out there yet, how would you encourage them?

Connor: I would say that it is better to do it and it not be perfect, then wait until it’s perfect to put it out there. I feel like its super easy to think, “I want this to be polished, and amazing, and everyone says wow”, but the reality is no matter who you are, the first thing you put out, like 100 people might listen and it would be awesome, but in 10 years, you’re going to look back and be like, “Oh, those were the old times.”, and it’s cool to look back and see how far you’ve come. Just doing it is so valuable. It’s easy to think, “I don’t know if this is what I’d want to do and put out there”, but if you just do it and release 100 songs, you can always just delete them later on. And people will still have access, but then it will be endearing. I have a friend, Nick, who is the best songwriter and musician I’ve ever met, and he just won’t release things. He’s like, “I just don’t have the drive for it”. But if you write something that could connect to someone and you’re not putting it out there, you’re kind of robbing someone of having that moment of, “oh my gosh, I feel this way too”. Also, asking friends to write things with. I used to think I had to do it all myself, but now I can ask, “what should go here?”, and they’ll respond, “this guitar part”, and I’ll be like, “oh, that’s way better than I could’ve come up with. I’ll use that”. Do it, and do it with friends.

Me: Have friends.

Connor: Step one is make friends.

Me: And then you can continue. Would you like to say anything to the students of Dakota?

Connor: ‘Sup players. I have always heard about Dakota, and I went to Stevenson High School. I have to be honest I have no idea what Dakota looks like, or where it is, or what the vibe of Dakota is. It is a foreign country to me. You could tell me anything and I’d believe it. But I’m told that Dakota is, um…keep on, keep going strong. Eat your scallions, and play guitar hero. We’ll see you next time.

Me: Well, one more. Finally, Taylor Swift just released Red (Taylor’s Version). First, have you listened to it?

Connor: I’ve listened to one song.

Me: All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)?

Connor: Yes.

Me: What’s your favorite Taylor Swift song? I want a detailed explanation.

Connor: I actually have two. My favorite is Out of the Woods. I love it. *starts singing it* It’s just so good. Like production wise, and it just *continues to sing* it’s just a wildly singable song. I love that song. I don’t remember the other one.

Me: Well, thank you for answering questions. Thanks for your time. This was great.

Connor: I’ve got a lot of it, time. So glad to share just a little piece of it. A little sprinkle of it for the Dakota Planet. Where is the Dakota Planet, like, in reference to the sun? Is it close to the sun?

Me: I think it’s cold. I don’t know. It has rings I think.

Connor: It’s a gas giant?

Me: Wait, does that mean it’s warm?

Connor: No, because Pluto.

Me: Pluto isn’t a planet.

Connor: I don’t buy it.

Me: Justice for Pluto! Yeah, the Dakota Planet is behind the Earth somewhere.

Connor: Just go to the Earth, then go backwards, that’s the Dakota Planet. Thank you very much. 

Me: Thank you, bye.