Local band Hello Weekend works through lineup changes


Zach McCulley, vocalist for Hello Weekend, performs onstage during a show at The Foundry Concert Club in Lakewood, Ohio on July 31, 2016.

Jenna Kuczkowski

Long practices, crazy shows and lots of caffeine are some of the things that make local pop-punk band Hello Weekend tick.

Its high-energy performances have resonated Kent venues such as Euro Gyro, the Outpost Concert Club and the now-closed Stone Tavern.

Formed in 2012, the once five-piece band recently went through a lineup change that reduced them to a four-piece. Hello Weekend is made up of vocalist Zach McCulley, bassist Jonah Onuska, guitarist Jae Hamilton and drummer Ayo Oduwole. It was due to new job opportunities, McCulley said, that rhythm guitarist George Baran decided to part ways with the group.

Without Baran in the band, the rest of Hello Weekend is busy re-working songs to better fit the new lineup.

“Right now we’re trying to figure out which parts that George played that we need to keep in the song, that a single guitarist can play, while also sounding as close as we can get it to how it was,” McCulley said.

Despite the challenge of reconstructing the majority of their songs, all the band members agree that there are some upsides of the change.

“It’s been difficult but I think it allows us to focus on different aspects of the music we never thought about before,” Onuska said.

The band said they drew a lot of its early influence from bands like Green Day and Blink-182, but now say bands like Four Year Strong will influence their writing. McCulley said he has always thought of the band as being pop-punk while also having hardcore elements.

He believes that even without Baran, the style of the band won’t be altered.

“Obviously our sound will change a little bit since we don’t have that fifth creative mind in the band,” Oduwole said. “Wires will have to connect differently and we’ll have to find new ways to work around not having a rhythm guitarist.”

During its time as a band, all the members have had to face challenges not unlike this before with things like equipment getting stolen or damaged, or just finding time for the band with everyone’s different schedules. In the end though, the entire band said they feel it’s worth it because they love what they do.

“We’re not in this to get big, we play music and do all this because it’s fun and we like to,” McCulley said.

The band said show nights are especially fun for them not only because they get to perform, but because they also get a chance to hear new bands, catch up with friends and even meet some new people in the process, which is one reason Oduwole believes local music brings people together in a lot of ways.

Before each show, the band said that they agreed that while they are confident in their ability to put on a good show, they still will get pre-show jitters.

“Right before every show I’m always filled with adrenaline and I’ll even get the shakes sometimes,” Hamilton said. “But once I start playing everything just seems to flow.”

Typically, the band plays around Kent and Northeast Ohio, but Hamilton said they’ve traveled to places in Pennsylvania as well as New York to play.

While venue shows are fun for the band, McCulley said basement shows in houses shine in their own way.

“I really like basement shows and how intimate they are,” McCulley said. “And also because people are actually there to see local bands instead of there to just wait for the headlining band to play.”

McCulley said the only downside to basement shows is one aspect often taken for granted: head space. Considering how much the members of the band jump around, ample space is important.

Right now, the band is working on recording a new self-titled EP this March that will include three to four songs made up of mostly new material but also one or two re-worked old songs. After the EP, the band plans to release a full album later this year.

“We’ve been writing a lot lately and have two more songs nearly finished on top of the ones we wrote for the EP,” McCulley said.

Hello Weekend’s next show will be on Feb. 18 at The Foundry Concert Club in Lakewood with The City of Sirens, Settle Your Scores and many other bands.

Jenna Kuczkowski is the general assignment editor for the Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]