After learning musical instruments together in a San Luis Obispo high school, four friends pieced together a band which became the alt-rock sound of Night Riots.
Dark and energetic, Night Riots incorporates elements of New Wave, Gothic pop, and indie rock into their music. The end result is a distinctive yet recognizable sound, comparable to some of their biggest creative influences: AFI, Thursday, The Cure, and INXS.
Consisting of lead singer Travis Hawley, guitarists Nick Fotinakes and Matt DePauw, bassist Mikel Van Kranenburg and drummer Rico Rodriguez, the Californian rockers grew from humble roots; progressing from performing at high schools and college campuses, to now playing at festivals alongside Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lana del Rey.
On the verge of launching a full-length record and an extensive tour to follow, the band credits their success to their close-knit friendship, their undying work ethic and band member Mikel’s magnificent hair.
We talked to the band about their origins, rise to fame and upcoming work.
Matt describes Night Riots’ music as “catchy rock ‘n roll with a bit of pop and a bit of darkness”. What was the creative process behind developing and arriving at this distinct yet recognizable sound?
Our sound is something that we just naturally grew into. It is the culmination of our personalities, creative minds, and different musical influences all stirred together. We just create the kind of music that we want to hear but there certainly has been an evolution in our sound as we grow up and grow together as artists.
From Into the Roaring to Howl, how would you describe the changes and evolution of the band’s style?
In our newer music, we like to take the listener on a journey that explores many different climates and feelings. Every song we make is its own beast with it’s own personality and tones, which is much different from early in the bands career. I hate to listen to a record and hear the same thing over and over again. I think that we do a good job of activating various emotions in the listener rather than just pushing forward the same monotone energy.
What can we expect from the new album due later in the year? What can you tell us about it?
Since the new record is a full length we have been able to explore even more territory sonically than ever before. The idea of “taking the listener on a journey” that I described in my last answer has been taken to greater heights with this new album. I am very excited for everyone to hear the new music.
You stressed the importance of “not letting anything get in [your] way”. Have there been a few adverse obstacles that the band has overcome?
Being in a band is a lot of fun but also extremely challenging. There are always obstacles to overcome but we have been unstoppable thus far and it is because of the high level of character in each of my comrades in the band. These guys are the best dudes out there and extremely hard working. It doesn’t really matter what you throw at us. Bring it, we will win.
What effect does this hustle have on the band’s work ethic, and how has it shaped your success?
The music that we make is only partially responsible for any success we have enjoyed thus far. The backbone of our success is our unyielding work ethic and the solid foundation of the friendships in our band members. I guess you could say that our work ethic is the reason for our success. Well, that and Mikel’s glorious locks of dazzling brown hair!
The dedication certainly shows in the band’s story. From your early days of playing high schools to now hitting the road with The Mowglis and performing at Vans and Honda, how would you describe the journey thus far?
That was a very long time ago but I remember early in our career when we used to play a lot of high schools. We had no money for hotel rooms (or food), so during these tours when we played at schools we would often just sleep in the van outside of campus the night before. In the morning we would zombie crawl out of the van, bottles and food wrappers flooding out of the door when it swung open, and walk blurry eyed into a high school with a bunch of teenagers staring fearfully. Those were weird times! We have definitely come a long way.
What’s been a real highlight for you?
There have been a lot of really great experiences but recently we played at the Osheaga music festival in Montreal, Canada along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Lana Del Rey, The Last Shadow Puppets, etc. – that was rad!
What can we expect next from Night Riots?
Be on the lookout for our full length record, Love Gloom, to release near the end of October, and then a tour following shortly after.
Follow Night Riots on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Check out Night Riots’ latest album, Love Gloom. On October 14, the band is kicking off a tour across the United States and Canada, beginning at Popscene in San Francisco. More details are available on Night Riots’ official website.