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Columbus’ Own: Engineers find time for music with The Week Knights

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The Week Knights perform at The Garden Theater in the Short North. Credit: Courtesy of Dan Mitchell

The Week Knights perform at The Garden Theater in the Short North. Credit: Courtesy of Dan Mitchell

It might seem like a faux-Beatles shtick at first when Columbus-based band The Week Knights take the stage in matching suits — but there is more to the story.

The four Ohio State engineering students who make up the group play off their expected future careers with how they dress for performances. They said the suits pay tribute to typical office dress codes, while the name references a regular work schedule.

“In a way, The Week Knights is kind of emblematic of us,” said drummer Jack Morrison, a third-year in materials science and engineering. “It’s kind of the idea that all of us are in fields which will require us to do 9-to-5’s.”

The members did not all meet through the engineering program, but have bonded over the similar experiences it creates.

“We fit the stereotype and try to break the (engineering) stereotype,” said vocalist and rhythm guitarist Mike Ciccone, a fourth-year in mechanical engineering.

Lead guitarist Billy Van der Laar, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering, and bassist and backup vocalist Jesse Keckler, a fourth-year in biomedical engineering, complete the four-piece group. All the members describe balancing school and music as a challenge.

Since Ciccone and Van Der Laar came together to start a band about three years ago in their freshman year, The Week Knights has only played six shows. But that doesn’t bother the members.

“That kind of fits in with our engineering background,” Ciccone said. “We don’t have a lot of time.”

In addition to engineering, the members hold a variety of other commitments, including positions as club leaders, teaching assistants and graders.

Morrison said the band creates obstacles for schoolwork, but has become a more rewarding experience as the group has progressed.

“During my first year, I definitely had times where I would kind of resent the time I had to take for band practice because of how busy I was,” he said. “I think the real turning point was when we started adding original songs.”

The band began as a cover-focused acoustic guitar-driven group but has come to rely on original music and electric guitars.

The band members personally called and booked their first show at the Royer Activity Center, a campus facility torn down during the North Campus Residential District construction. The show featured no openers and an hour-and-a-half set.

Looking back, the band describes it as a learning experience. At that show, and at all others, Morrison said the group has tried to gain insights into ways to improve the band.

“Every show we do kind of teaches us something new,” Morrison said.

Ciccone said The Week Knights began with modest aspirations, and the members value the progress they have made thus far.

“There was one point in time where Billy’s goal was to get enough people together to actually play maybe even a cover,” Ciccone said. “And now it’s just snowballed.”

The band is currently preparing to record a four-song EP to release as soon as possible.

While the members would ideally like to continue to play music, they try to keep practical expectations.

“I have engineering as sort of my backup, if you could call it a backup,” Van Der Laar said. “I’m ready to fall back on it.”

The Week Knights will compete in Operation Smiles’ charity battle of the bands on Friday Nov. 18 in the Ohio Union Performance Hall. The free event will use audience donations as votes to crown a winning artist.

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