Over the past few years, Night Riots has toured relentlessly; from supporting the likes of The Maine and Andrew McMahon to their own headline runs, it seems like the five piece is constantly up on stage, engaging crowds in cities across the country. Night Riots’ discography showcases a wide range of different musical styles, but their contagiously catchy melodies remain consistent, as does lead singer Travis Hawley’s signature vocals, which have drawn frequent comparisons to The Cure’s Robert Smith. Hawley’s timeless vocals translate even more powerfully when he’s up on the stage, charismatically commanding the room’s attention with his magnetic stage presence and bond with the entire band. While their recorded music has this quality that makes it instantly like-able, Night Riots’ live show only amplifies that quality, making their concerts a must see.
If you still haven’t found your way to one of their gigs, make sure you change that this month as they tour nationwide with Silent Rival and courtship. The tour swings through Chicago on Friday, June 22nd, but before they hit the Subterranean stage, get to know them as they discuss their ideal companion in an elevator outage, their favorite Ewoks, how they stay entertained on the road and more.
You’ve been on tour with courtship and Silent Rival since the start of the month. What’s your favorite part of touring with each of these bands?
It’s been awesome to be with bands that are good people. It’s not always the case that you get along with everyone you tour with but both bands are awesome and really talented.
Speaking of tour, you’ll be in Chicago again on June 22nd, and you’ve played in Chicago several times in the past. What are some of your favorite things to do here?
We try to make a point to stop by the Chicago Music Exchange. That place is amazing…has so many guitars and synths and just rad music gear. Also always gotta hit up a Pequod’s Pizza for that deep dish.
How would you describe your live show on this tour in 3 words?
Energetic, theatrical and transportive.
Your song “Breaking Free” was recently featured in the show 13 Reasons Why...If you could pick any other TV show to have your music on, what show would you pick and why?
I’d want to go back in time and get a song on Star Trek TNG. Maybe even have us be like a holodeck band or something.
You’ve had a couple new singles out this year, which are both great! What other plans for new releases do you have this year?
We’ve kinda been releasing unconventionally. We aren’t necessarily releasing songs as legit singles. We just want to get new music out there…maybe we will compile it into an album this year.
What are some of your favorite songs or albums from this year so far?
J. Cole’s new album KOD is rad. Vacationer is putting out an album we are stoked for. The new Kid Cudi/Kanye West album that just dropped is pretty tight too.
I saw your tweet the other day about the Gunslinger Series by Stephen King. What are some other books you’ve been into recently?
The Dark Tower series has been one of the best series I’ve read in a long time. The scope and storytelling in it is remarkable. I think almost the whole band has read it at this point. I just read The Stranger by Camus. I felt weird for a week.
Even though it seems like you’re constantly on tour and consistently working on new material, you guys are still really great with engaging fans on social media. What are some tips you have for managing your time with crazy tour schedules and how do you make sure to prioritize fan interaction?
At the end of the day the only reason we can continue what we do is because of the fans. So I think it’s important to remember that. You need to be true to yourself and make art that is real but you also need to remember why you do it. It’s fun and another way to be creative and think of new interesting ways to engage, entertain and help transport people out of their everyday lives… at least for a minute. Sticking to a schedule and consistency is key.
If you were stuck in an elevator with someone for a few hours, who would you want to be stuck with and why? (It could be anyone in the world.)
Probably Shaq because 1) He’d probably cradle you like a baby and calm you down 2) He could just rip the doors off and save you and 3) If it all goes to shit and you’re stuck, you could live off eating his body for like 6 months.
What’s one thing you’ve never been asked in an interview, but you’ve always wanted to talk about?
Who my five favorite Ewoks are. Not in particular order they are: Chief Chirpa, Paploo, Teebo, Wicket, and Logray.
Hailing from Novia Scotia, Mauno combines relaxed tones and soothing, harmonious vocals with melodies that’ll keep you on your toes on their latest album Tuning. The sophomore record, which follows up 2016’s Rough Master, threads 14 tracks together in one succinct package; each track existing in its own pocket, but working best when listened through in order. Following Tuning‘s October release date, Mauno are gearing up to hit the road this Spring, stopping by Chicago to play Schubas en route to SXSW. In advance of tonight’s show, we chatted with Nick Everett of the band to talk tour, SXSW, the process behind their recordand more. Tune in below to our chat with Mauno!
Starting off, how did you all meet and decide to form Mauno?
Eliza and I met in the spring of 2014 and quickly started play music together, she on cello and me on guitar. We both nerded out about our love of The Books, but then the music we started playing asked to be taken in anther direction entirely, no matter what we wanted it to be. We expanded the sound when we brought in a drummer, Eliza moved to bass, and then we did a much needed lineup change to be where we’re at now with Adam and Scott on guitar and drums. They’re good guys who’ve been playing together for almost decades with an s.
Can you talk a little bit about the process behind your album Tuning? What was the writing and recording process like for the band?
We just try to make the noises. We try not to think about what it sounds like, so much as what the sounds are and what they need to be, to be more themselves. We don’t come at it from a musicological perspective, so the usual references don’t jive. The balance is a lot more pop-oriented than Rough Master, much more carefully crafted (we recorded the whole thing twice), and a lot more cohesive. Rough Master was about conflict and the clash of opposing ideas, and this one is much more about talking through the problems that arise in any creative project and then working together to make a whole. I think it sounds a lot more mature, but then I’ve listened to it about 10 thousand fucking times so I don’t know anything about it anymore.
Who and what are some musical and non-musical influences that inspire your writing? What about influences on your stage presence?
Definitely the work of R. Murray Schafer changed my life (Nick) and relationship to sound over the past couple of years. I read Soundscapes and moving through the world has never quite been the same since. The title is a reference to the subtitle of that book (The Tuning of the World). The background of the record is full of soundscapes, pieces from around Halifax, from around the house we recorded in there, and a couple Eliza recorded in Heidelberg and Berlin while she was living there last summer. They are little pieces of the places we lived in that have had an enormous effect on our sonic understanding and our sonic relationship to our environments. The collage of soundscapes on the record encapsulates this theme, as well as displacement– ideas of associating home with aural landscapes and the cyclical return to them. There’s a whole second soundscape record buried in there somewhere.
Other than that, the world of Christopher Small, especially Musicking has been really influential in the way we’ve talked about playing together and our relationship with the other people in the room while we’re playing. To not think of music as a thing in itself, as not actually existing, but rather a series of dance steps– an action performed in a room-has been really liberating.
As for stage presence, we just try to listen and look like a group of people listening.
What do you hope that an audience takes away from your live show?
Which cities on your upcoming tour are you looking forward to playing in and visiting the most?
I have no idea! We’ve never traveled or played in the states, so we have no expectations. Excited to be in Chicago! We’ve driven by it a few times on our way to western Canada. American cities hold a huge place in our imaginations for sure.
What are three things you have to have with you on tour?
Instant coffee, free wifi, extra strings.
You guys will also be down at SXSW next month…what are some of your best music festival survival tips?
Oh my god, skip whatever you think you need to go to and go to bed instead. Take care of yourself — you’ve only got one.
Are there any other bands you’re hoping to catch a show from while you’re down at SXSW?
Yes definitely! Look Vibrant and Girl Ray and Fenster are good pals who rule.
What else is on the horizon for Mauno in 2018?
Making a new record and more horizons.
Mauno will be at Schubas on tonight, March 6th and the show is FREE. Check out details here
At first listen, up and coming Elmhurst trio Engine Summer resonates rock music like that of Parquet Courts, Omni, and their biggest inspiration – Wire.
With a name that appears to have come from a mad lib, it turns out that the band got their name from a novel titled Engine Summer. As Jeremy Marsan, guitarist and vocalist, read the book in college and was fascinated by the plot line of society 3,000 years into the future – it’s no wonder he chose a band name that emphasizes the importance of time and motion.
Engine Summer’s most recent lineup consists of Jeremy (mentioned above) with Ben Kostecki on bass and Ryan Ohm on drums. Being friends since high school with the possibility of being MySpace enemies at one point or another, they’ve all grown closer over the past few years. While Jeremy makes fun at Ben for his hands being “too small” to play bass way back when to simply goofing off with one another, the guys are more than ecstatic to be in a band together.
The group formed collectively after having had jammed for a while and narrowed down members to be the trio they are today. Starting to have played plenty of shows in 2014 and having had played 30-40 shows to date, they finally decided it’s time to make a record together as Engine Summer – titled Trophy Kids and self-engineered by Jeremy.
While garnering influence from bands like Creedence Clearwater, Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Spoon, and any other krautrock bands – Jeremy, Ben, and Ryan bring some of those stylistic elements when composing songs. Recording the bass and drums together for their upcoming album release ensured that the rhythm carrying each track would bring adrenaline to any listener.
Attending concerts regularly and being active in the local scene is important for the suburban group. With their favorite local bands including Luke Henry, Twin Peaks, and Knox Fortune – it’s obvious that their taste delves into more than just rock music.
When asked what their ideal lineup would be, throwing names like Wire,Van Halen, Iggy Pop, and Ben’s dad performing slam poetry were no hesitation to the guys. While some merch they have coming out will include Elmhurst’s tree, you’ll see Engine Summer in the city more than you’d expect.
With a top-secret release show followed by a benefit show at Tonic Room the same weekend, Engine Summer is bringing a limited run to their show Sunday, October 29. You can buy tickets here and who knows – maybe a record or two will end up at Shuga.
If Ben’s dad loves Engine Summer more than any of the other groups he’s been in, I’m pretty sure you’ll love ‘em too.
Alicia Maciel is a junior at DePaul University studying marketing, music business, public relations, and advertising. Immersing in photography, promotion, interviews, interning at Metro and Notion Presents, managing The Chicago Vibe, curating live music, and plenty more – she hopes to bring innovation to the music scene. “A Chicagoan gal making music personnel personal.”
If you’re at all familiar with the Chicago music scene, you’ve undoubtedly seen White Mystery out and about over the years. The sibling duo of Alex and Francis White still manage to pack a serious punch with all of their live performances, despite only being a two-piece band. In addition to developing a full live show between the two of them, Alex and Francis have remained completely hands on with all aspects of the band, from management to booking tours to sending press releases…they do it all. In between all of that hustle, the pair still find time to put out an album every year on April 20th. Their latest, Fuck Your Mouth Shut, marks their eighth studio album, and their ninth is on the way in 2018. In the midst of working on new music, playing shows, and gearing up for tour, the duo developed their own TV show called (you guessed it)… White Mystery TV! The show has featured artists from all corners of the local Chicago scene and just wrapped its first season (but more on that later). Before White Mystery start their tour along the east coast and midwest Friday, September 1st, we chatted with Miss Alex White after their set at The Slippery Slope Anniversary party last weekend. Here are six things you need to know to get caught up with White Mystery!
THEIR INFLUENCES PROVIDED “PERMISSION BY EXAMPLE”
While strolling down memory lane trying to pinpoint what first inspired her to pick up an instrument, Alex White describes two distinct childhood memories. “When I was pretty young, my mom would take me to the dollar store, called Amazing Savings. And they had discount tape cassettes of oldies music. Like all the great one hit wonders from the 60’s, and I really really loved those songs,” Alex recalls. She continues describing her journey to rock ‘n’roll, saying, “As far as the moment that inspired me to start playing rock ‘n’ roll….And I’ve said this a couple times too because it was just that distinct of a moment that I remember… I was in fourth grade, and my parents were repurchasing their old record collections on CDs ’cause CDs were like a new invention, you know? I heard The Who for the first time, and the album was Who’s Next by The Who. It’s the classic song “Baba O’Riley,” which is like [singing] ‘Teenage Wasteland…’ And that song just really connected with me. Where I was like I need to play guitar, this is so cool!”
The inspiration continued through Alex’s teen years, where she found influence in other bands. “If you flash forward a little bit…Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. I heard Sonic Youth and I was like I can do this! This is so great, this is so powerful. It’s a female singer, she’s playing guitar, it’s experimental…I really believe in permission by example. You see something and you’re like oh yeah, I could do that! Maybe better, or differently. And Sonic Youth really did that for me when I was about 14 or 15,” Alex says. She also reveals that some of her artistic and musical talent stems from somewhere down her family tree. “My mom played piano as a very young person, but her job is being a photographer. My grandfather, who passed away when I was like 5, really young, he played mandolin. So he never showed me how to play, and I don’t even have memories of him playing…But, I’m convinced that I’m genetically predisposed to having really fast fingers and that kind of thing. So while I didn’t know him very well and he never taught me, I feel that the heritage lended to it,” she says.
THEY’RE ALWAYS UP FOR THE DIY HUSTLE
In addition to rocking the stage all by themselves, Alex and Francis White know how to work the DIY system as a band…and man do they work hard! Talking about the benefits and challenges that they face being an independent band, taking on multiple roles, Alex says, “Well like anything there’s pros and cons to being DIY. The biggest pro is that when you take on multiple roles, like when you become the management, the licensing agent, the booking agent, and the art director… and the the creative force, you can make a career out of it.” She continues to give major props to her brother Francis, saying it’s very much a partnership. For any struggling musicians or music industry professionals, just remember Alex’s “permission by example” principle and look at how she has earned a living with White Mystery.
“This has been my job full time for 7 years. It’s a very bohemian lifestyle. I work really fucking hard and all day long, but in the comfort of my own home or on tour with a laptop,” Alex continues, vouching for the DIY lifestyle. However, she does also recognize the potential downfalls. “The disadvantage is that it can be very challenging to penetrate these very established systems. Something like Lollpalooza…While we play big ass shows in Chicago, we played in Japan, we’ve been in Sundance Film Festival movies. We’ve played with Patti Smith and The Stooges many times. We played Riot Fest…for some reason it’s been damn near impossible to get into Lolla, while we’ve put 8 albums out,” Alex continues. She still manages to see the positive side of the situation and brace herself for the challenges, adding, “So there’s certain things, but I try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, and I just kind of stick to my vision, and good things always happen when you do that. You’re gonna have challenges. Be prepared for the challenges.”
VIDEO GAMES INSPIRED WHITE MYSTERY TV
Well kind of…For the past month, White Mystery have invited different artists and musicians around Chicago over to talk, play music, and play video games. All while broadcasting live; hence the name White Mystery TV. Talking about the origin of this clever concept, Alex says, ” I have to give my brother Francis credit for it. He plays a lot of video games, and there’s this network called Twitch. It seems like a lot of people in the rock scene aren’t very familiar with it…It’s the second largest streaming service on planet earth. World wide.” Alex continues on to say that there’s been times on tour where she and Francis wished they could share their view with friends and family back home. “Before Facebook Live and Instagram Live…it was more like us driving through the Swiss Alps thinking this is so crazy and so beautiful, I wish we could show people back home what this looks like,” she says.
The inspiration to launch WTV also stemmed from their past work on a White Mystery film, called “That Was Awesome.” Alex says their past work on that film coupled with their desire to share their experiences beyond their live concerts helped push the project forward. “We’re realizing wow, our worldwide audience is able to watch us. So while there might be 100 people at the show, there might be 1000 people watching,” she continued. Talking more about the show itself, Alex says, “It took a long time to develop it because of the technology required to make the infrastructure. It’s not like ‘Hey I have an iPhone..” let me hold it up to something. It’s a little more sophisticated. So when people are watching they’re getting a little more of the Wayne’s World basement thing, but what we’ve done is bring all of our favorite musicians on. So people are like wow, that’s so great you have so many cool local musicians. Like The Orwells…Mario [Cuomo] was one episode one. Twin Peaks are freakin’ huge!” The show has also had rappers like ShowYouSuck, Joseph Chilliams, Mykele Deville, as well as newer buzzy bands like Bunny and Post Animal. “We’ve been trying to represent the city of Chicago so that we can share what’s going on here with our audience in like Germany and Japan. It’s been a really cool thing and they’re all archived on YouTube so you can watch them again. They’re like each 3 hours long,” Alex concluded. Make sure you tune into Season 2 when it starts!
THEY’VE WITNESSED THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF THE CHICAGO SCENE
Speaking of representing the local Chicago scene on White Mystery TV, Alex and I also discussed some of her favorite parts of the scene at the moment, and how it has gone through cycles. “Chicago is a very special place. I’m born and raised here in the city. Having gone to New York and LA and San Francisco…Chicago is a very supportive, cooperative scene. There’s a lot of idea exchange and support,” Alex says.
“I guess what I love most is the mutual support people give each other, and that goes across the arts. That goes to comedians. DJs. Actors and Actresses. Everybody is like ‘I’d love to help you with that.’ It’s not this cut throat thing. There’s friendly competition where we push each other higher. But the community is full of support,” she continued.
This principle of helping each other out and lifting each other up can be seen just on White Mystery TV alone, when genres are mixed and collaborations extend to poets and performing artists, not just musicians. It’s also demonstrated in Lollapalooza performances here, like when Joey Purp showed up for a song with Whitney. “It’s genre bending,” Alex says before shouting out her favorite venues in the city. “I love the Empty Bottle. The DIY scene is very, very strong. There’s a new one every time. I’m kind of older than a lot of people in the scene. So how you were saying ‘Wow, Chicago’s really popping right now…” I’ve seen several cycles take place. There was a point when I was younger when a place like The Empty Bottle would not book rock shows. They would only book very kind of indie stuff. I’ve seen it with highs and lows. And it’s always good, and there’s always stuff happening, but there’s definitely times where it’s thriving and that’s cool to watch,” she says.
THEY STAY ENTERTAINED ON THE ROAD BY READING WIKIPEDIA PAGES
Since they’re gearing up for tour (starting tonight), Alex and Francis discussed how they stay entertained on the road and what they’re looking forward to on this particular run. Although Francis had been loading out for most of the interview with Alex, he jumped in for this question.
“Reading Wikipedias is a very interesting way to observe a story of a person or place or event,” Francis chimed in about their road trip habits. Off the back of that, Alex says, “I read books to him for hours at a time. I recently read the entire Mount Everest Into Thin Air book to him. I read the whole thing. We read Wikipedias…He drives, and I’ll read. Hours will go by. We’ll be like oh my gosh, you know that was 3 hours. Sometimes you read these biographies of like James Brown and you’re like crying at the end. You’ve started with the moment they were born and gone through their whole life, to the moment they died. It’s very emotional to go on that trek.”
Although they educate themselves on the road by reading, the biggest lesson from touring and playing music is unrelated to Wikipedia and books. “I never really had to learn this lesson, it was just something we knew, but don’t leave your guitar or money in the car. Don’t leave your passports. Or the stuff you need. Ever,” Francis says. Alex and Francis both emphasized the importance of knowing when to stick together and not splitting up while on the road.
As far as where they’re most excited to play on this run? “Meltasia,” both of them said in unison when I asked. “I’m looking forward to Meltasia, but I’m mostly looking forward to the drive into Meltasia cause for my sister and I, it’s always a really special drive where we blast Led Zeppelin…we’re going deep into the woods, further and further and further away. Usually all we have is a case of beer and that’s it. No tents, no water, and we just know we’re gonna hang as long as we can, and shotgun as many beers as we can. The build up to it is one of my favorite feelings throughout the whole year,” Francis elaborated. “It’s the anticipation of getting there. It’s the journey. A lot of people have told that to me in my life, and now I really, really believe that,” Alex chimed in.
DESPITE HER VINTAGE STYLE, ALEX ADMITS SHE’S BAD AT THRIFTING
Again, if you’ve seen White Mystery around, chances are you’ve noticed Miss Alex White’s incredible retro inspired style, and no one pulls it off as well as she does! Fortunately for Alex, she’s able to acquire most of her clothes, she says, admitting that she’s not actually that great at thrifting. “Alot of my stuff just comes from my friends. I get a lot of custom made clothing now. When I went to The Grammys I had this amazing custom made jumpsuit. I was the Vice President of the Recording Academy for the Midwest. So I’d go to the Grammys and get to walk the red carpet with all these cool clothes,” Alex reveals.
Alex also gave her mom props for being a great thrifter, even though that didn’t pass down to Alex. “What I love shopping for is shoes. These shoes, they’re just really practical and comfy, just wood platforms…I’ve had so many versions of this kind of shoe. We were in Beverly Hills and we played on late night television, The Carson Daly Show. After we were walking around Beverly Hills. I was like oh, a shoe store, cool! I go in there and find these, they’re made in Portugal, I was like oh, I like ‘em…once in awhile treat yourself. So I bought these shoes, I left the store, and I look at the storefront and see this is like an old lady shoe store. I just bought shoes from like an orthopedic shoe store,” she recalled.
Alex’s once last piece of style advice? “I don’t buy vintage shoes…vintage clothes, but never vintage shoes. I was crossing the street once in a vintage pair of shoes, and my heel broke, and I wiped out on the street. I was like never again!”
Check out all of White Mystery’s tour dates below and keep up with them on social media.
09/01/17 Experimental Procedures Chelsea, MI Details 09/02/17 Happy Dog Euclid Tavern Cleveland, OH Details 09/03/17 Arsenal Lanes Pittsburgh, PA Details 09/04/17 The Pharmacy Philadelphia, PA Details 09/07/17 St. Vitus Brooklyn, NY Details 09/10/17 Meltasia Fest East Durham, NY Details 09/11/17 Bug Jar Rochester, NY Details 09/13/17 State Street Pub Indianapolis, IN Details 09/15/17 Trumpet Blossom Iowa City, IA Details 09/16/17 Farnam Fest Omaha, NE Details 09/22/17 Ingenuity Fest Cleveland, OH Details
Also- Listen to White Mystery’s 8th album Fuck Your Mouth Shut below or grab your own copy from the Shuga webstore here. (You can also scoop one up at the shop!)