Night Birds have taken the ingredients of those early Frontier Records bands (Adolescents, T.S.O.L., Circle Jerks and Rikk Agnew), mixed them in a blender, topped that cocktail with a layer of D.I. and mixed in East Bay Ray’s surf style guitar for good measure. Night Birds since its inception have been highly prolific. In 2011, the band put out one LP, The Other Side of Darkness and one EP, Midnight Movies. Now in 2013, Night Birds are set to follow in their own footsteps with the releases of Born To Die In Suburbia LP and the previously released Maimed For The Masses EP. In their own words, Night Birds are a “[s]peedy punk band with hooks and melody,” but really they are more than that. Night Birds have taken the essence of their influences and positioned themselves to be the Frontier style band of today.
Interview by Ed Stuart
Who’s answering the questions?
BRIAN GORSEGNER, sing of NIGHT BIRDS
Where is the band from?
Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Joe Keller - bass
Brian Gorsegner - vocals
Ryan McHale - drums
PJ Russo - guitar
How did the band start?
In 2009 Joe and I started the band. I was gonna play drums, and we had another guy singing and playing guitar. We wrote a couple of songs, and did some covers. We actually wrote "Paranoid Times" with that lineup. The band was sort of split with the sound we were going for, so it sort of fell apart, and then we recruited Mike to play guitar and our friend the Coastman to play drums. That lineup last a while until ending up with the lineup we have now, of PJ playing guitar, and Ryan playing drums.
Any particular bands that the band had in mind or was listening to on heavy rotation while writing the new LP Born To Die In Suburbia?
Naked Raygun, the Dwarves, Angry Samoans, the Damned, New Bomb Turks. Stuff like that. Speedy punk bands with hooks and melody. Same kind of stuff we've always dug. While recording BTDIS I listened to the Pixies "Bossanava" while driving to the studio every day. Not sure why. But recording was going really well, so after I had done it coincidentally the first 3 days I continued to do it for the other 8 or 9 because I got superstitious.
Following up this question on older releases, I hear a lot of D.I. influence. More the early stuff like Team Goon, Horse Bites Dog Cries and Ancient Artifacts. Are the bands fans of D.I.?
Of course, those records are great!
How did the band hook up with Fat Wreck? Any reason why the band chose to go with Grave Mistake again to release their new LP?
I heard that Chad, the guy who runs Fats day-to-day operation, was a fan of Night Birds. I sent him some demos, and he dug them. He sent them up the chain and everyone liked them. Younger kids who might not know who Night Birds are still check out Fat Wreck stuff, and I was really interested in trying to get our bands music out to younger kids. As much as I still love punk now, it was really important to me when I was 14 and had a huge impact. I wonder sometimes where I'd be now had I never discovered punk, and odds are I would not have liked the person I ended up being. As much as we appreciate anyone at any age digging our band, I think it's important to expose ourselves to young children... uhh... I mean... errr...
As far as doing our LP on Grave Mistake, we had all agreed on doing the album together a ways back. Alex has always really looked out for us and done everything in his power to make sure we were happy. He puts out our records, but he's also our friend. He's toured with us, booked us shows, put us up in his own home, stuff like that. As we grow as a band, Grave Mistake seems to grow as a label, and vice versa, so it's beneficial for both of us to work our butts off.
Faster and Louder described Night Birds in this way “These guys continue to draw inspiration from the surf-inflected punk/hardcore sounds of early '80’s California without sounding like copycats or second-raters. And like only the best punk bands can do, they create a sound that's true to a classic period yet still highly relevant to present times.” Do you feel this review is accurate? How does the band feel after reading a review like that?
I think Josh has written my favorite Night Birds reviews ever, and he always has really flattering stuff to say. I'd like to think it's true too. I don't think there is anything wrong with taking cues from the bands you love; it just gets boring when a band sounds exactly like another band. Truth be told, I was never a fan of Bl'ast! because I thought they just tried TOO hard to sound like Black Flag. It just sounds awkward to me. But when a band draws from a large pool of stuff and make it their own, the results can be cool.
In 2011, Night Birds “…played 60 shows and did 2 records [that] year,” Midnight Movies and The Other Side of Darkness. In 2013, the band has released one EP Maimed For The Masses this year and has a new LP coming out this summer, Born To Die In Suburbia. Is 2013 looking to be as busy or busier than 2011?
This year is looking more like 50 shows. My wife and I are expecting a baby in November so that will mean some sort of break from shows. We are trying to cram in as much now as we can. Had I not gone and pro created, we would have hit over 60 this year since we had a 2.5 European tour booked that I needed to postpone. We'll make it up though!
How was it playing Insubordination Fest?
Always fun. It's a pretty tight knit scene and we've made friends with lots of those pop punk weirdos through the years. Our past bands always played Insub Fest too... The Ergs, For Science, Psyched To Die... It's nice and close and people fly in from all over.
Night Birds got the ball rolling pretty quickly with having releases out with Dirtnap and No Way Records. In addition to the band’s songs being very good do you feel with Night Birds having members who were in known bands previously made it any easier getting shows/releasing records/getting press at the beginning of the band’s life? How did the band use its member’s prior experience in obtaining this goal?
Sure, if people dig a band they are always likely to check out what those members do next. The goal is to make sure to deliver something good right off the bat, since you've got that advantage, and I still think our demo and first couple of 7"’s hold up just as well as what we are releasing now. You can have a big head start but at the end of the day if your band sucks you are just going to suck in front of a larger audience.
If you had the choice which classic California label would you rather have put out a Night Birds release, Frontier or Posh Boy?
Frontier had "Group Sex", Adolescents "s/t", TSOL "dance with me", Rikk Agnew "all by myself", Suicidal Tendencies "s/t"... Posh Boy had the Rodney comps, the Beach Blvd comp, Agent Orange "living in darkness", and I want to say an early Social Distortion 7"? Maybe "1945"? Either way I'll go Frontier, though Posh Boy had the cooler logo.
I liked how the band put 3 exclusive B-sides on the Maimed For The Masses EP. A lot of bands put out a teaser EP and it just has a couple songs that will be featured on the upcoming LP. What made the band decide to the release this way?
We wrote as many songs as we could for the new album, and then cropped out what we didn't want, and were still left then more songs we wanted to put on the album, so we decided to do the single. Any of those songs could have just as easily ended up on the album but we tried to figure which ones went best together and split them between the "Maimed" EP and "BTDIS"...
Where can people hear Night Birds and what’s next for the band?Our record comes out in two weeks, and then we are doing a record release weekend with Omegas and Give, a short tour with Red Dons, and a short tour with Zero Boys! We'll be playing on a boat somewhere at some point too! Keep your eyes peeled. Thanks.