“From Rubber Dollies to Rainbows” – Exclusive Night By Night interview
At 18:45 on a Wednesday evening in May, Night By Night play to a very respectable crowd at The Borderline. They’re first on the bill at this sold-out show, and it’s not often that the first warm-up act gets such a good turn out. Not that it is in any way unjust – quite the contrary, in fact. This band is something a bit special; swooping melodies, striking harmonies and anthemic hooks combine to create the most delicious slice of metal majesty. After their set, amidst the buzzing joviality of The Borderline, guitarist Ben Christo, singer Dan Rossall and I find a quiet(ish) area backstage for a chat…
“The band started in 2008…” Ben explains, “before Dan was in the band. We were a four piece and I was the singer. We had a vision that we wanted to do lots of three-part harmonies live and have big choruses, like a lot of bands in the 80s; we wanted to bring it back and do it live. So, we worked quite hard on the band with me as the singer for about a year and a half / two years, did an EP, released it… But that didn’t really do anything because we didn’t know back then how to release it – we just thought we’d put it on a website and people would just find it. But we’d fulfilled the vision we’d had…” At this point, Dan lets out a burst of laughter, my surprised reaction to which warrants the explanation that Dan can’t take anything seriously, not least Ben’s eloquent portrayal of the band’s history!
It may be wise to point out at this stage that many subsequent interjections of silliness including a range of fake accents feature in this interview, mostly from Dan’s general direction, and it is to this transcribed article’s detriment that those interjections cannot be accurately represented or heard. However, onwards and upwards, Ben continues his articulation of the band’s history; “We’d done what we set out to do in the first place, but a few people suggested we’d really benefit from getting a lead singer which would add a lot more versatility, and would bring a charisma and presence on stage, as I was stuck behind my guitar and am quite an introverted person anyway. So we started to search for a vocalist! We found this man [gestures toward Dan] and everything changed! I phoned him up one day and we had a nice long chat whilst I was on a National Express bus, and he was brilliant, a character, a nice guy. We very quickly got on really well. That was around April 2010. We then went to Finland and did our very first gig with Dan in Helsinki at Trashfest, and it was such brilliant fun; the gig itself and all the surrounding hilarity. So we came back and re-recorded one of our original tracks with Dan singing. We spent the summer writing the rest of the album, then recorded it from September through to January, in very short spaces of time so if you put them all together we probably spent about 14 days recording the entire album. And now we’re in a position where we’re looking at how to release it.” Asked if he had anything to add, Lancashire boy Dan dons a thick cockney accent and explains; “I just like to sing fo’ me suppa, that’s all.”
I asked the guys what their ideal process / master plan would be for releasing the album.
Dan: A label.
Ben: Yeah, a label. Our master plan would be to release this album in September/October and tour it around that time for about 6 months, then over the summer we’d work on the second album, so that we could start recording it somewhere around the middle of next year. As a new band we’d want to keep the momentum going and keep the interest up…
“It’s all about supply and demand” Dan adds, with an air of feigned wisdom and an almost indefinable fake accent, “supermarket industry, because that’s what we’re in now.”
“See, when you’re transcribing my stuff” Ben grins, “you won’t have to put a little ‘description of accent’ before each phrase!”
Entertaining alter-egos aside, the Night By Night boys seem to know what they want and how they want to get it.
Dan: [American accent] We got the drive, we got the passion, we got things that a lotta bands don’t have; everything’s live, baby! Everything’s fuckin’ live, from A to B to C to D…
“Well, he’s got a point” Ben interjects “because there are a lot of bands these days using backing tracks and we’ve never done that. We’ve always prided ourselves on being a band who can do it live.”
“Otherwise it would be like going to bed with a rubber dolly, wouldn’t it?”
Whilst I’m left to grope for potential meanings to Dan’s last statement, Ben exclaims that it is actually quite a good metaphor. “The point is” Dan explains, “it’s not real. At the end of the day, it’s all about live. If you can’t do it live, what are you really doing? It’s an art form, isn’t it?”
Ben: We work really hard on our vocals. We actually have practices where we just do vocals. So it’s nice when we get really good feedback about the harmonies because we spend a lot of time writing and practicing them as well.”
Dan: At the end of the day, the rainbow would be really boring if it were just red or blue. It’s a variety of colours and that’s what our chorus is like.
Louise: That was beautiful.
“From ‘rubber dollies’ to ‘rainbows’!” Ben laughs.
Talk moves on to the band’s video for the recently released single ‘Time To Escape’…
Dan: There’s no bullshit in that video. It’s just mimicking a live representation of us. There’s no birds bending over in thongs or any silliness like that, it’s all about the music. It’s not about anything else.”
The ‘Time To Escape’ video, at the time of writing, has had 17,871 views since it was posted on YouTube two months ago; an impressive feat. “We did actually work quite hard online promoting it” says Ben “but it’s had so many views in such a short amount of time, without out any PR campaign, it’s just us and people who then like us and share it, which is really promising.”
Dan: We want more videos! Let’s bring it back!
As a frontman, Dan cites David Lee Roth & Freddie Mercury amongst his idols, for their showmanship and flagrant love of being on stage. “If you can’t get on stage and talk to the audience, what are you there for? It’s like theatre, it’s all for entertainment, it makes people feel things… The guy sees the alpha male on stage having control over the audience and getting them to make noise, and he wants to be that guy. The girl sees it and gets off on it. We’ve all been there.” Ben agrees, “Yeah, for certain kinds of music you need that kind of entertainment, for others you don’t, but for our melodic, anthemic hard rock, which we like to call what we do, you really do need that”.
Asked for their final thoughts and/or pearls of wisdom, Dan gets pragmatic; “In this day and age, music has become quite disposable to a lot of people. We just want to encourage people, if you like our music, to come down and see us whenever we’re playing, just get behind us because it’s the only way – without the people, we don’t have a career.”
Ben: Yeah, if you like us, come see us. And just always like the music that you like. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should and shouldn’t like. You feel a lot of pressure from people around you to like certain things, but you should like the things that really mean something to you, no matter where it’s from or what it’s like.
It was a pleasure to chat with these guys, not just because their music is pretty close to perfect in my eyes, but also because they’re just genuine guys fuelled by a passion for music and are truly appreciative of any support they get. I urge you to support them too!
If you haven’t witnessed its splendour yet, you can find the ‘Time To Escape’ video.
All words and live images by Louise Delahunty.