Night Verses Interview

Steve Gerrard Photography

Night Verses have been causing quite a stir with their debut full length, Lift Your Existence. The album, released in mid-2013, has seen rave reviews across the board and, with the band themselves citing influences as diverse as Tool, Isis, Fiona Apple, At the Drive-In, Opeth, Björk, Deftones and DJ Shadow, they’ve created a sound which is somewhat unique. We caught up with bassist Reilly Herrera and drummer Aric Improta during their recent UK visit supporting Letlive. to find out how things are going for Night Verses.

BL – The album has been really well received in the press. Has the reaction surprised you or did you know when you recorded it that it gonna blow up?

NV – I wouldn’t say it was a surprise as such. When you make a record, or at least for us, we try and make it the best we can but the consistency of it was what was more impressive. You can get one good review and one bad review and feel like somebody gets it and somebody doesn’t but we did do some weird things on it. I mean making a 15 song album and kind of ignoring the fact that this generation has a shorter attention span, and the fact that people were willing to look past that and give the album more than one listen, that was the biggest surprise I think cos we did it the way we wanted to and didn’t really care if people got it or not. We just knew that was what we wanted to do.

BL – The album has 15 tracks on it and they’re not exactly short songs either. Did you not feel like you wanted to hold some music back for future releases?

NV – We went into the recording process with close to 60 instrumentals and half of those even had vocals so we had a huge repertoire to choose from. So it was just a cutting down process. We just needed to find the best parts of what we had and condense it. I think that was the bare minimum and it would have felt unnatural to put less than those 15 on there. 15 seems like a lot to a lot of people but, when you’re inside the actual circle, 15 was pretty hard to cut down to because there were so many.

Coming back to what you said about holding stuff back for later, we’re very artistically in specific phases as we go, so we’d spent the three years writing for this CD, so it just felt like once this was done we wanted to start with all fresh material. We just crammed all the ideas we had to make the best songs for the record and get it all out. And there’s also the fact that we plan on touring this for around 2 years and it means we get to switch the setlist from night to night rather than having to play the same ten songs over and over again.

BL – So you’re obviously setting your standards pretty high. Will you be writing while your on tour for the next record?

NV – Definitely. Aric already has a list of different ideas that we wanna apply to the next album so, because of the way we write being a long process, we’re already getting the base ideas and the core skeletons together so that when we actually sit in a room we can start banging ’em out. I find that it’s better when we have a general idea of what we want rather than just going in and trying to create from nothing and, going back to what you said about standards, I feel like even though we all have our separate influences, our common influences all ten to gravitate towards the same more tasteful bands that have really long records; bands like Tool and Isis and The Mars Volta. We look at what they did and almost feel a sort of responsibility to put in that time and that effort because we have such a great open text book to work from. Not like we’re copying these bands but just looking at conceptually what they were doing with their songs and how they draw the listener in and how the tension built.

BL – I think maybe one thing that caught people by surprise was that, even though it’s your debut album, it doesn’t sound like you’re still finding your feet, it feels like you’re already there. There’s a lot of layers to what you do and it’s obviously very technical. It feels like you’ve been a band for a long time! Do you think that that’s come largely from what you did before and that you’ve brought elements of that into this new band?

NV – Definitely. Between Nick, Aric and I we’ve been playing together for the better part of ten years in different bands so now, with Doug coming in, we’re just more of the type of band that we wanna be I guess. We practice like 5 days a week at home anyway, at least for the past 5 years or so, and it was just a case of getting everyone in line, with the same artistic vision, and out of all 30 or so singers that we tried out, Doug was the only one who seemed to completely see what we were going for. The EP was the beginning of us trying to figure it out but the album was, I think, the first time all four of us felt completely focussed and in the same mind set for the record. I feel like when Doug joined it just kinda refined what we were actually going for and we started focussing on the songs that suited him better.

Steve Gerrard Photography

BL – The album has a lot of complexity to the sound and you’re already getting a reputation as a formidable live band, and not exactly restrained, so when you’re writing these songs do you ever worry that it might be difficult to play the songs live as well as adding that live energy to them?

NV – I think we benefit from the fact that we do all of our writing in a room. We work together and build everything in a room and it’s coming from different muscle memories and different practices that we’ve already had so I feel that when we have a song that energy just naturally comes out. In live shows there’s always some imperfections, especially when you’re adding emotion. I feel like you kinda have to let that calculation go to really feel what you’re doing. Practicing five days a week allows us to be more free when we’re on stage rather than having to stare at our instruments the whole time.

BL – You’ve toured with some bands who have a reputation for amazing live shows, such as The Chariot and Letlive. Is that rubbing off on you when you play? Is there almost a competition to outdo each other?

NV – I don’t think so. I don’t really think you can outdo a band like Letlive. or The Chariot. It’s cool to see though cos they’re genuine about it. You come across a lot of bands that competition sense and they’re like, what’s the next thing I can do to make me seem crazier, but those bands are for real and it’s an amazing thing to watch. I think with us it’s just a natural thing that comes out because of what we grew up on but I still think we have to stay focussed and make sure we deliver with all of the sounds and all of the dynamics that we put on the CD. That’s still a priority. It’s very important to us. But when we get the chance to play an easier part and let loose we definitely wanna do that.

Night Verses return to the UK in April 2014 as support to Norma Jean. That will be a gig not to miss!

Interview & Photos – Steve Gerrard

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