Q&A: Night Birds On Pizza And Bagel Snobbery, Being Fed Steak In Belgium, And Their Favorite NYC Venues
New Jersey-via-Brooklyn-DIY-periphery act Night Birds have been hovering since about 2009, but they recently soared into a higher atmosphere, packing shows here and on the West Coast and garnering slobbering reviews for their debut LP The Other Side of Darkness (Grave Mistake) and recent singles (compiled on Fresh Kills Vol. 1 (Grave Mistake)). Their sound must've gone over well out in skate-punk land, since there is a bit of the old Posh Boy pep under their wingsbouncy bass, pissy harmonies, surf-y riffs. But in keeping with their working-class home base, Night Birds specializes in a trashy beer-braised bruising of the decidedly non-happy-go-halfpipe variety.
Having been around a few years now, you guys have played just about every NYC-area venue they'll let a punk band stumble into. What are your favorites? And which ones will you avoid from here on out?
Joe Keller (bass): I think I like Lulu's is the best, followed by Cake Shop. Most places in New York right now are really shit for sound, but who really cares about that?
Brian Gorsegner (vocals): I really like The Acheron. They recently tore a wall down and made it a little bigger. I think it's a good space, run by people who know what they are doing. I love Death By Audio too. Good stage, really good sound, perfect size.
You've been touring much more lately. Where'd you go, and what were some favorite shows?
BG: We got home last Sunday from a three-week West Coast tour. We did a bunch of shows in the L.A. area, the Bay Area, Vancouver, San Francisco, Victoria, Portland, and four shows in Hawaii. Hawaii ruled! They don't get a lot of bands touring through there, so everyone was really excited to have us. They had a big barbeque for us on the last day at North Shore, and there were big turtles on the beach. We ate a ton of food, a bunch of people dove off this big cliffIt was a great time!
Some rough shows/stories?
BG: We were in San Diego and this fancy guy in an SUV had his bike strapped to his roof standing straight up. He made a really quick turn into this parking lot with a really low overhang, and his bike was obliterated. There were like 100 young punk kids rolling on the ground laughing and yelling and pointing. It was hilarious. I shat on the side of the road for the first time in my touring career on an 11-hour drive from Portland to the Bay Area. That was eventful. Some shitty weirdo hopped in our van in Canada and it was one of those situations where we each thought someone else knew the guy, only to realize no one did. And then he got really drunk and told us he was going to steal our souls. Then we called a cab to come take him away.
Ryan McHale (drums): The only real low point of the west coast tour was getting shafted with a nine-hour delay coming back from Honolulu. The airline attendants kept fabricating details like that the meals for our flight were in the oven on another plane, which is such bullshit, because they only serve you crappy middle school style sandwiches. I had to sneak into weird parts of the terminal to smoke cigarettes. After about six hours of waiting around watching people flip out, we got $20 meal vouchers. PJ (Russo, guitar) and I spent all of ours at Burger King, which was disgusting and pathetic. After all that, our flight ended up having tons of turbulence, no lights and a screaming, smelly baby.
BG: I actually really enjoyed the delay. It got really funny watching people freak out. It turned into an episode of Boiling Points.
I find when you get out on the road, people have some, uh, interesting, stereotypical ideas about "New York" bands.
JK: Yeah, you get the same shtick from everyone about how New Yorkers supposedly talk and act. And although I should make it clear I am a lifelong Jersey resident, I get hit with the same things from people. I think all of my regional arguments stem from my pizza and bagel snobbery. New York and New Jersey are good at making both of these things (I can almost hear the collective scoff and guffaw of New Yorkers at my inclusion of New Jersey), and pretty much the rest of the country is not. In fact, they are almost always terrible at it. Free pizza is free pizza and I will eat it and thank people for it no matter where I am, but I am not going to tell you that it in any way compares to what I get back home.