Earlier this week we promised you something different out of San Louis Obispo, "gloom-pop" band Night Riots. The darkness that hovers in the spooked-out synths, thumping beats, and festival-ready hooks overwhelms the band's acoustic performance in our session. The keyboards and drum pads were left in the van. Instead, the band re-imagines 3 songs from their new EP Howl with rusty picks of banjo, campfire kicks on a cajon, swells of eerie accordion, and singer Travis Hawley's anguished lead vocals.
When talking about the session, guitarist/banjo specialist Nick Fotinakes told us, "It's a chance to be creative and weird and different, so we just run with it". Here, the band trades in the anthemic, 80s soundtrack aura of Howl for a surprising, post-apocalyptic folk feel. It's completely different, but utterly true to who Night Riots are. "We always have an aesthetic," explains Hawley. "It's that Halloween thing. It's Tim Burton. In my head, it's black and orange and white and it's Fall." Watch our session. Pretty sure that's exactly what you'll imagine as it plays through.
That's what we like about our favorite pieces of art, movies, anything, you know? The best time I've had is when I'm at a movie and I'm transported and I'm out of the real world. It's that, it's that Halloween thing, it's the Tim Burton, in my head it's black and orange and white and it's fall. And so when we were kind of putting together ideas for acoustic sets, Michael had an old accordion that was his granddad's, and we kind of played around with the idea of him picking up and learning it. And it started off kind of low-key but we liked it, so we kind of kept pushing it further and further. - Yeah, if we're going to do it acoustic you know it's not like, "I don't want to just do this song how it is. Let's make it its whole new, you know, unique thing that someone can watch, and it's a chance to be creative and weird and different, too, and so we kind of just run with it. I am no one's fault. I am contagious, I am plagued with lies. Flesh of our fathers, I am no one's fault. Let go, don't be so vain. All the masses, all the names. Look out and into the sky. Full of light, full of life. I am contagious, I am breaking down. I am nothing, I am no one's fault. - Contagious was, we would do these things where we'd write in hours, like a song in an hour basically. And that was one, we were just like really late, we got together, we were in, like Travis' tiny bedroom at some point, and we're like, "Let's just pump out a song. " And we wrote it in an hour, and that's what came out late at night. And then we took it to the studio, and were messing around with samples again, you could probably talk about that. - We just kept developing it, adding little things, adding layers, getting to know the song, like we talked about earlier, kind of creating the soundscape. And, um, I think somewhere along the way we came up with the Yoshi sound in the beginning and that was just a, a sample of my voice and then just warped, and then played on a keyboard with the melody. And, I mean, that one to me is just kind of about the, the message and the passion behind it. I am contagious, I am breaking down. I am nothing, I am no one's fault. I am contagious, I am plagued with lies. Flesh of our fathers, I am no one's fault. - We've been saying "gloom pop" lately when we're asked to describe the sound. It's kind of a silly name but I think it kind of fits us well because we, at heart we're an alternative rock band or pop music. Uh, but there's always this vein of darkness that kind of runs through, and it's a little bit of this gloom kind of thing. - Uh, "Back To Your Love. " That's actually from our EP before this one we put out called "Young Lore. " And it was uh, it's the fun track we did off of that. That one gets a lot of '80s reference too, but it kind of has that feel about that song. - We did a music video for it in an abandoned mall, so you can check that out. - Yeah, uh, a director we were working with had this idea of, sort of a mannequin that you don't know if it's alive or what's going on and we found an abandoned mall and had a fun time, like, just making a weird video out of it. He like, he had all these places, like, "I found this abandoned mannequin warehouse. " It was like super-creepy, like all these mannequin dolls, "and an abandoned mall that we can rent out, " and something else, and we're like, "How did you find this?" Silent as we drive, worn down, tongue tied, I can't. I can't get it right. You say that you love me, you're tired and lonely. This don't. This don't feel the same. Take me back to your love, I never say it loud enough for you. Take me back to your tears, before you calmed your fears. I know Stand in the doorway, act like we're okay. Why can't, This feel the same? Hands down, control, darling is this what we both want? It don't feel right. Take me back to your love, I never say it loud enough for you. Take me back to your tears, before you calmed your fears, I know. I want you, I want you only, for your highs, for your lows. I want you, and I want you only. All your highs, all your lows. I want the truth, when you're lonely. All your highs, all your lows. Take me back to your love, I never say it loud enough for you. Take me back to your tears, before you calmed your fears, I know. Take me back to your love, I never say it loud enough for you Take me back to your tears, before you calmed your fears I know. . . - Howl is our, I guess it's our debut on our label Sumerian that we recently signed with. And you know it's the first time that we got to put together, um, a compilation of a snapshot of time that we were really proud of the music. It was the first time that everything kind of came together. Every track's unique, but it just kind of came out exactly how we wanted the EP to sound and it's not necessarily ever been quite that way, that you know, there's always some stuff like, "I wish these songs were a little bit different or something, like blended together," and I think it's the first piece of work we're really proud of. And it's made us just excited to want to put out a full-length album. We're like, we just wanna get writing more and get back into the studio. - We were listening to a combination of The Cure and Nicki Minaj, so. . . - Yeah. - That's where it came from. - Yeah I guess to be real, that's what we were sitting in the studio. It, cuz, "All My Heart" started out as a completely different song that we had, and when we came in the studio, we just took the sample that you hear in the song, and we were just messing around with other stuff like that, like we heard a weird, like Nicki Minaj beat, like, I mean you can be inspired by anything but we heard that, we heard The Cure, and then we just were messing around and that's what came out and we're like, "It sounds pretty rad. " - And cutting together things, we've been messing a lot with sampling, and beats, and getting rhythms, and so I think that might have been a little, Phantogram? There's some INXS in there, Billy Idol. There's just like a bunch of things, just get thrown into a pot and then blended up and then a song comes out. - And then when we do it acoustic we really like to, we wanted to slow it down and kind of change the whole vibe of it, so that's how that came about. Oh my heart, oh my heart, could it be right? You heaven, my heaven. For your love, for your love, in the moonlight. You heaven, my heaven. So close I feel you breathe in, My kingdom come I am undone. Your eyes speak candid passions. My kingdom come I am undone. Two in a crowd, I feel your desire. Two in a crowd, I feel your desire. Two in a crowd, I feel your desire. Two in a crowd, I feel you feed my desire. Oh my heart, oh my heart, could it be right? You heaven, my heaven, For your love, for your love, in the moonlight. You heaven, my heaven. Brush my skin, oh sensation, a quiet kiss. She danced for me, her eyes closed. My kingdom come I am undone. Two in a crowd. I feel your desire, two in a crowd, I feel your desire, Two in a crowd, I feel your desire. Two in a crowd, I feel you feed my desire. Oh my heart, oh my heart, could it be right? You heaven, my heaven. For your love, for your love, in the moonlight, You heaven, my heaven. Two in a crowd, I feel your desire, Two in a crowd, I feel your desire, Two in a crowd, I feel your desire. Two in a crowd, I feel you feed my desire.
NIGHT RIOTS is setting the alternative underworld ablaze as swift and smartly as their brooding, melody rich and timeless songs have already endeared them to critics. The California based band shimmers with the downbeat romantic flair of new wave, '80s movie soundtracks and the gentlemanly courting of aloof ladies.
Generations, both new and old, hip to intelligent, transcendent pop music like The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, Oingo Boingo, Siouxsie & The Banshees and early U2 embrace Night Riots knack for melodic sensibility, which is delivered with a unique stamp both modern and timeless.
Frontman Travis Hawley spent five years in England before moving to a small coastal town (with one street light!) where he met guitarists Nick Fotinakes and Matt DePauw, bassist Mikel Van Kranenburg and drummer Rico Rodriguez. Heralded as one of the best unsigned bands in North America by Rolling Stone, Night Riots earned their stripes on the road supporting a diverse group of bands, including Angels & Airwaves, The Script, Shiny Toy Guns, Wild Cub and the newly reunited Saosin. A residency at L.A.s Hemingways followed buzz-making shows at celebrated clubs like The Troubadour.
Tastemaker rock station KROQ threw their support behind the band via their Locals Only events, with early praise coming from the likes of MTV, Fuse and Nylon Guys. The impressive creative heft of the Spiders single and Young Lore EP was just the warm-up. Its time for the music world to make a place at the table for NIGHT RIOTS.