Nothing Too Personal: An Interview with Night Riots

[Photo courtesy of Sumerian Records]

Night Riots is a five-piece alternative rock band from San Luis Obispo, California. Consisting of Travis Hawley, Nick Fotinakes, Matt DePauw, Rico Rodriguez, and Mikel van Kranenburg, the quintet started playing together while still in high school, and have since embarked on many tours across the United States. Signed to Sumerian Records, Night Riots recently released their first full length album, Love Gloom. The group’s high-energy shows are consistently solid. I had the opportunity to connect with the lead singer, Travis Hawley, to talk about some things regarding Love Gloom, and about what it takes to be in a band that’s been around since their high school days. 

CK: How has touring with Atlas Genius and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness been like so far? Have you noticed any differences from this tour compared to the others you all have done?

TH: I feel as if our whole career has been a constant growing experience. Every tour we do is bigger than the one before it and this tour is the biggest tour we have done to date. Not only are a majority of the venues several thousand people but most of them are sold out, as well. The audiences have been hugely participatory and incredibly easy to engage with. I think the thing that stands out the most for me on this tour is that I sometimes can’t even see the back of the room. 

CK: You do a ton of touring, it seems. What do you enjoy doing during your time on the road?

TH: Honestly the thing I enjoy most is hanging out with the guys in my band and traveling the world. We get to experience a life very few people get to live and we are soaking it up while it is in front of us. 

CK: What’s it like to see the band that you guys started in high school continually become more and more successful?

TH: Most of the time, I am just focusing on the next project or the next show or the next song. However, every once in awhile I make myself stop and review everything that has lead up to the moment we are in right now. I feel incredibly proud of how far we have come and all the challenges we have overcome.

CK: What are some of the challenges you guys have faced since starting the band, and how have you overcome them?

TH: I think the biggest challenge in being in a band is keeping your focus and keeping your confidence. It’s a scary path to take. There are no colleges or degrees for being in a band. There is no Being in a Band: For Dummies that actually applies because every group of people creating art together has a different experience. Sometimes you wake up and ask yourself if you’re on the right path as it can be scary charging forward into the dark. I feel as if I have a great team behind me so we sort of push each other.

CK: 2016 was quite the year for you all, with the release of your debut album, playing several festivals, and continuous touring. What are your hopes for 2017?

TH: Just to continue growing as artists and to create and release as much material as possible. I want to give everyone out there a chance to see us live and to get to know and understand our world.

CK: Your album, Love Gloom, is very diverse in terms of the types of songs on it (in comparison to your previous releases). What was the thinking behind having such a variety on Love Gloom?

TH: I don’t think there was ever a plan. I think albums are just a snapshot of a certain time in a band’s development. It just so happens that at that time the more diverse songs were pouring out of us. I think we are too A.D.D. to just continue writing the same song over and over. 

CK: Your song “Breaking Free” has gotten quite a bit of attention from fans since its release. What was the track’s inspiration?

TH: “Breaking Free” is a song that rings really close to home for me. It is the emotional thunderstorm that hails down in the aftermath of a tumultuous relationship. It is the excuses and the searching to numb yourself from heartbreak and the eventual peace you eventually make. I think it can be applied to personal relationships or people escaping from any sort of unhealthy obsessions.

CK: It’s that time of year where festival lineups are being announced one after another. If you had the opportunity to create your own festival lineup, what artists would be must-haves?

TH: Oh man, this is a difficult one. I’d probably do something really strange and weird so I could just go watch the madness. Oingo Boingo, Lil Yachty, Carrot Top would do standup, Elvis would headline, ICP, 50 Cent, GWAR, Children of Bodem and…Justin Timberlake.

CK: Thank you for your time and I hope the rest of tour goes well for you guys! Is there anything you’d like to say to fans, or maybe even those who will be seeing you for the first time?
Just want to say thank you all for your support and for sharing your energy and lives with us. Come say hi at shows, and let’s hang.

Check out Night Riots opening for Andrew Mcmahon and the Wilderness on May 10, 2017 at The Neptune! You can buy tickets here. 

Keep up with Night Riots: Facebook | Website | Twitter

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