The Watch Out stage at Groezrock probably holds the biggest potential for witnessing an up and coming band that is bound to become the audience's favorite soon. This year Night Birds had the honour of playing the open air stage and proving their worth watching out for. RMP Magazine had a talk with vocalist and madman Brian regarding Night Birds and the struggle of combining a touring band with family and jobs.
Welcome to Groezrock. First time here?
Today is the last show of the Euro tour. Your bass player had to return last week due to something in the family. How has it been so far?
It's actually been really great. Well, not really great, it's a shitty circumstance and it's the first show we had to play without Joe. Joe's wife's mother passed away, so he had to go home for the funeral and all that stuff. She's been sick for a while so we knew it was a possibility. So before he left the tour we had a guy named Jason Draper playing bass, he used to be in the band Lemuria and now he's in a band called Cheap Girls and a band called Orations. Joe our bassplayers started showing him some of the bass parts assuming that at some point he might have to go home early. In the back of the van they would work stuff out. And then we had a couple of ferry roads to and from the UK and they tried to work everything out. It was a little bumpy at first but i think this is like our sixth show with Jason today and i think we are going to pull it off.
The band members all have day jobs next to Night Birds. So this tour is more of a vacation away from work. What do you do in daily life?
I work in a hardwood floors store. It was my grandfathers and then it belonged to my father. We sand and refinish existing hardwoord floors and then we reinstall new ones. It's close to my house, we have health insurance, which is very difficult to get in America. So it pays for health insurance for my family. I make enough money to keep a roof over our head and clothes on everybody and keep everybody fed. And it's convenient with my touring schedule. They're cool with me doing this.
So this is what i do for fun, that's what i do for work and then i have my family which is the bulk of my life, the bulk of my time.
Is it hard to juggle the job and the tours?
It's very hard. Fortunately for me, my wife is super supportive. When we had a baby we kind of went into it knowing that we wanted to continue doing what we were passionate about. Add the baby to our lives, not stop doing everything we love and just become parents. We want to be the best parents we possibly can but at the same time we need to keep ourselves sane and do what makes us happy. It's a little bit hard trying to juggle everything but it's really rewarding when you can make it happen. When i can go on tour for three weeks with Night Birds and my wife can hold shit down on the homefront. I come home, i'm totally recharged. I'm ready to be a kick ass dad and do everything i have to do. And then my wife will go away for a week or two. Last year she went on vacation with her brother. Kind of clears her head. It's important to kind of work that out. If you have a good signifcant other i think you can make that shit work . We have a good thing going.
On Facebook you gave some tips for touring bands. Like exchanging foreign currency with other touring bands from other countries. Anymore of those handy tips you are willing to share?
That's a big one.
My biggest thing on tour that i learned over the past 15 years. Is…not sure how to put it. basically don't be a dick. You're in a van, you're living with other people, you're eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, you're sleeping on top of one another. You're in a van all day, every day. Just don't be a dick.
Be nice, everybody is in the same boat. Everybody is going to get sick of each other. You're all going to be do little things that are going to get on each other's nerves. But instead of being an asshole and snapping at your friends. And then making it difficult to live together. Just put on headphones, shut the fuck up and try to enjoy yourself. Any of us are lucky to be doing what we do. I'm in fucking Belgium right now playing a show at no cost to me. The least i can do is just soak it in, enjoy it and let my friends enjoy it as well. Just try to coexist, you're going to get on each others nerves. Just don't be a dick. That's it.
Last year you released your third album Mutiny On Muscle Beach on Fat Wreck Chords. The surfpunk of Night Birds is a bit off from the typical Fat sound. How did you hook up with Fat?
Chad, i don't know what his official position is. I think he runs some of the day to day operations. He was a fan of the band and i sent him some demos. So we ended up doing the Maimed For The Masses 7” with them. And we played Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas a couple of years ago. Fat Mike came up to me and introduced himself. Asked why we hadn't done the Born To Die In Suburbia album with Fat. And it was because we already had agreed on doing it with the label Grave Mistake Records, who did our first album. Who are also really good friends of ours who put in a lot of work and effort into our band. He asked if he could do the next record. That's how it kicked off.
Those guys love the style that we play, Mike loves D.I. and The Adolescents and shit like that. That's not so far from what we do. Really it's kind of surprising that they don't have more bands on the label that sound like us. Because it kind of seems that's what got a lot of those dudes into punk in the beginning. At this point they have their signature kind of sound and those are a lot of the band on the label. So it's fun to be doing something a little bit different on Fat.
Being into surfpunk Agent Orange is mostly one of the names that springs up, but what other bands are of huge influence to Night Birds?
We love the 70's and 80's punkrock and hardcore. But i have always been a sucker for melodies.
Bands like Naked Raygun or The Damned's Machine Gun Etiquette, i think that's a perfect album. Bands that aren't affraid to show that they actually know how to play their instruments. They're not affraid to write a melody or a hook. Basically taking the mentality of writing a popsong but making it a punkrock popsong. I like songs with hooks, i like catchy songs. That's really kind of a formula that we use. We like all the Westcoast stuff, Circle Jerks, D.I., Adolescents, Agent Orange, Dead Kennedy's and all that shit… we also love The Big Boys and The Dicks from Texas, We love The Necro's and Negative Approach from the Mid West, Minor Threat and S.O.A. From D.C.
The most noticeable logo with Night Birds must be The Dagger. What does the dagger represent for the band?
It means nothing. We stole it from a comic book called Thrilling Murder. And then we wrote a song called Thrilling Murder. Basically we combined. They had the dagger on the comic, we stole that and then we did our own version. There's another band called Agent Orange, we kind of ripped of their logo and put the dagger in there as the tee. We kind of put it on a shirt and then on buttons. Before we knew it there was a hundred people with dagger tattoos.
Any last words or tips?
This is kind of funny. This is kind of the end of our plans after like seven years being a band. After seven years of planning. There's always like kind of a next step. There was like a planning, now we're going to do a demo, now we're going to a 7”, now we're going to do an album, now we're going to tour Europe, America and Canada. We always knew what was coming next. There was always a next step. This is kind of the end of our original plan. So i think, now we'll just see what happens. We're not going to go out of our way to plan anything. Everybody needs a little break to do family shit. I haven't been away with my wife or my daughter since she's been alive. I think next year we're going to go to like Disneyworld or do something fun like that. Usually, anytime we have of from work, we tour. Now that my daughter is two and a half i want to take a little bit of time to do that. I don't know. We still want to get to Australia, still want to get to Japan and Brazil. Everytime we come to Europe it just gets better and better, touring America is always fun.We'll just kind of see what happens. This is kind of the end of a very long string of plans that we always made.
Photo by Jurriaan Hodzelmans
Interview by David Marote