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Project 214 takes Legends stage

Alexandra Kilpatrick | Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Project 214 front man and Notre Dame junior Mike “OB” O’Brien made it clear from the start that Project 214 is not so much a musical group as a musical endeavor he began two years ago.

“Project 214 is [not] a band,” O’Brien said. “If it were a band, it would be called Band 214.”

After playing in a musical group in high school, O’Brien said he wanted to form a student band at Notre Dame. He started Project 214 in 2010 after discovering students did not have time to devote to a full throttle band.

“At that point, Project 214 was focused on recording and writing songs, but not necessarily the performance aspect,” O’Brien said. “Then we did some Acousticafe, some other things and finally, we played at the Battle of the Bands [at Legends] last April. Part of the concept … is that there is no lineup of Project 214.”

Project 214’s bassist junior Mike “Mac T” Thompson says the project is composed of O’Brien and whoever wants to come with him to perform.

“Mike [Thompson], (junior) David [Pratt] and I have been pretty consistent through, but other people have come and gone as have been available and necessitated,” O’Brien said. “They’ve helped us record [songs] or played at shows. It’s a strange concept, but works better than you [would] think it does.”

“It’s a band with the understanding that it’s a group of people playing music, but the group of people keeps changing,” Project 214’s drummer junior Brian Gilder said.

O’Brien, Thompson, Gilder and Pratt are the current core members of the musical project, but Gilder said this lineup could change at any moment.

O’Brien named the project after his dorm room sophomore year, where he, Thompson and Pratt frequently played music.

“It was my room number from last year, where David and I lived together,” O’Brien says. “I live there now with Brian. [The name] had a nice ring and it made sense, especially because Mike lived down the hall last year [and this year], but Mike would come down and we would all be in Room 214 and write stuff and jam and whatever.

“That’s where a lot of the [songs] came from. It was a very fitting name.”

Although Project 214 does not yet have a cohesive lineup, they have recorded some of their music with the intention of eventually releasing an EP or full-length album entitled “Thug Aim.”

“We have eight songs [recorded],” O’Brien said. “Some of them are fully recorded, some of them are kind of halfway done. It was this trade off between spending time preparing for concerts and spending time recording. You can’t really do both at the same time, and we’re all busy people.”

Since Project 214’s lineup is constantly changing and its various members have differing musical interests and influences, Gilder said their music reflects the structure of the band itself.

O’Brien said Dream Theater, King Crimson, the Styx and other ‘70s progressive rock bands influence Project 214’s music.

“Everyone brings their own influences into the equation, but there [is] also already some non-negotiable, then everyone else kind of has the freedom to add within the limits,” O’Brien said. “We’ve even chopped up parts of [songs]. This past week, we were practicing, and then we decided we should just chop parts out and throw extra stuff into the songs.”

This Thursday evening will not be the first time Project 214 has taken the Legends stage. O’Brien, Thompson and Pratt performed at Legends’ Battle of the Bands last April.

“Last year, at Battle of the Bands, we performed ‘Friday’ by Rebecca Black, but the verses were done in a reggae style and the chorus was done in death metal style,” O’Brien said.

“You can’t say we’re a 100 percent non-serious band, because a non-serious band would not change time signatures every measure, but there [is] a certain degree of non-seriousness that needs to exist for us to be sane. There just has to be some fun.”

Project 214 will take the stage at Legends with fellow student band Rednight Thursday at 10 p.m.