Monday Motivation: The Obsessives


If you’re anything like me, you probably started the day by recognizing that the start of a new work week had indeed arrived and then immediately began shaking your fists at the sky in anger. Monday is rarely anyone’s favorite day, and from what I have seen firsthand it feels safe to say it’s the one day of the week some people outright hate. I guess to them the arrival of the work week symbolizes the end of their quote/unquote freedom, and as a result they head into the office/factory/restaurant/store with a negative outlook already on their mind. This leads to bad attitudes, which only makes the experience of being at work worse, and for some reason it also seems to make time slow to a crawl. We’re not about that life, and we hope this post can do the same you that the song contained within it did for us.

There are a lot of things about life you might need to know as an adult that even the best parents or caretakers choose to not tell their children. The reason for this is not born out of some sick desire to see the next generation struggle, but rather to give them the freedom of an existence without the constant worry or stress that comes with fully grasping what it means to be alive. As many philosophers have said, to be fully conscious of one’s own existence is to be painfully aware that existence has an expiration date, and we can try whatever we wish to prevent that moment from coming, but it is coming nonetheless. I was twenty-six or twenty-seven when I first began to grapple with the idea of growing older, which is much later in life than many can claim to have made it before that little voice in the back of their head began panicking about its eventual end. To be fair, none of us know what comes after our time on this planet is over, but that is precisely why our subconscious has such a hard time coming to terms with the knowledge we will sometime reach that point and that we are completely unable to change course. We may live a life different than the one we always planned for ourselves, trying in desperation to find some new path to happiness, but we will still reach the same conclusion in time. It’s unavoidable.

I cannot begin to explain what it will feel like when your brain begins to panic over the fact you’re reaching the end of the ‘growth’ period in life and entering the ‘slow, yet constant decline’ era, but I can say that it will more than likely keep you up at night. While the rest of the world sleeps, you will be lying in bed dreading the same thing every person who has ever walked this planet has lost sleep over since the beginning of time, and that is only the beginning of your struggle. Soon you will start to question everything, from the food you eat, to the people you surround yourself with, and even how you spend your time day to day. The things that once seemed incredibly important to you, like music or art, will take a back seat to your own subconscious fight for survival. You will kick and scream, metaphorically or otherwise, hoping for some peace of mind so that you might return to a state where all that matters to you is living in the now because, honestly, it’s all any of us have. There is right now, the moment you are in when this sentence hits your field of vision, and there is nothing. Your next breath is not guaranteed.

For me, this routine of sleepless nights and worried filled days made up a good portion of my 2015 and almost all of 2016 up until a few weeks ago. It was then, just as I was beginning to plan blog content for May, that something incredible happened. My friend James Cassar told me a band on his record label called The Obsessives who would soon be releasing a 7” with material he hoped I would make time to hear. I love James, so even though I hadn’t felt much like listening to or promoting new music I decided to give the first single from the upcoming release a few moments of my time. I didn’t tell him this yet, but the several minutes that followed that brief conversation nearly made me forget the cloud that had hung over my head the six to eight months prior. For the better part of two and a half minutes I was free of the fear of death and fully focused on the moment I was experiencing, which was a sensation unlike any I had felt in quite some time. The cobwebs that had filled the creative corners of my mind while I was desperate for answers to existential quandaries was suddenly bursting with the desire to share with the world what I had heard. I was, for lack of a better word, alive for the first time in what felt like forever.

The song in question was called “Avocado,” and looking back it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly set my imagination on fire, but it hit within seconds of the song kicking off. Something about the way the music and vocals hit struck a cord deep down in my soul, but having heard The Obsessive before this shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. The duo, comprised of Nick Bairatchnyi (guitars, vocals) and Jackson Mansfield (Drums), has been building a steady following for their unique take on alternative indie rock since 2012, but it was their decision to join Near Mint Records nearly three years back that thrust them into the national spotlight. Their music is diverse and unexpected, bursting with riffs and hooks in equal measure that never feel forced or created with any goal other than to capture a feeling or moment to tape. To hear The Obsessives is to learn their story through their own words, and once you’ve heard one chapter you cannot resist demanding that they create more. The narrative captured across their catalog tells of wide-eyed young people with a soft spot for friends and marijuana doing their best to navigate the tricky waters of the modern world without losing their souls. Sometimes this leads to success, but other times it causes great emotional turmoil, and the band is able to convey both the highest highs and lowest lows with skills well beyond their years. “Avocado” is no exception to this idea, and if anything it points to an even more brilliant creative future on the horizon.

Death will come for all of us in the end, and all we can do is make the most of the time we have been given. To do this, we must shake the fear of death from our minds and forge ahead as if we will be able to do everything we have our hearts set on. Music, especially innovative material like the latest recordings from The Obsessives, help make this process easier by reminding us of the beauty of existence. There is such profound emotion and heart laced through every note and lyric The Obsessives lay to tape that when their music plays you cannot help becoming a just little overwhelmed by life in the best possible way. You hear their music and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that anything can happen and you can be whatever you want. Just keep moving. Just keep breathing. Just keep creating. We’re all here for a good time, not a long time, and great art makes the world a better place for everyone.

James Shotwell is the Digital Marketing Manager for Haulix and host of the Inside Music Podcast. He is also the Film Editor for Substream Magazine. When not working, James can be found in Minneapolis with his two fat cats, Paws Von Trier and Chub E. Chubs, watching old police procedurals and eating copious amounts of popcorn. You should follow him on Twitter.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.