Also in town last week for the Nintendo Fusion tour was Canadian sextet Boys Night Out. I had a chance to speak with their guitarist ,Jeff Davis, about their recent line-up change as well as their new record, which has been getting some great reviews.
The Concordian: How has adding a girl to the line-up changed the band?
Davis: As far as musically and playing live it has [changed] because it adds a new dynamic and layers to our music with synthesizers and keyboards. Also, vocally, she does a lot of cool harmonies that we could never really do before because we were limited. Definitely live she adds a lot of cool stuff. Warped Tour was her first tour with us and now this tour, so it’s been interesting. Fun as hell, but she definitely gets picked on a lot. All in good fun though, all completely harmless. It’s a toughening up process.
The Concordian: Did you guys get criticism when you first added Kara to the band?
Davis: If anything it’s from young kids, like 14 or 15-year-old boys on our Myspace page saying like “It’s BOYS Night Out you idiots, it’s not GIRLS Night Out. Lose the chick, get some more screaming.” But you can’t make everyone happy.
The Concordian: Whenever bands undergo line-up changes, there’s usually a re-adjustment period. How important is it for you all to get along and have the same goal in the band?
Davis: We are all very easy going and to keep us all happy at the same time is pretty simple, as long as we are touring and playing shows. We always get along really well, there’s never been any inner band conflict and even with new members, there’s always a positive dynamic. It’s never like, “Oh no, here’s this person”.
The Concordian: How has bringing new members in the band influenced Trainwreck?
Davis: When we started writing the record, there were just the four of us. But we knew when we were writing the concept and when we had the storyline that we were going to need a female vocalist for a couple of songs, and we knew ahead of time that we wanted to get more involved with adding more keyboards. Brian knows Kara because they are both from Detroit and they’ve been in bands before, so he recommended her. She came up for a week and in that week we wrote five or six songs for the record. The five of us worked together really well: That definitely affected the writing process.
The Concordian: There was a lot of anticipation for this record; did you feel any pressure before its release?
Davis: No, not at all. We knew there was pressure there. From the get-go, it was something that we were doing for us and something that we needed to do to make us happy, just to rekindle our love for music writing and playing. If we would have made a record just to make everyone happy it would have made us pretty miserable. We knew going into it that we’d lose fans, we hoped we’d gain a lot more. We definitely have lost some fans or bummed some kids out. They are like “It’s not as heavy, you guys are wusses and you just want to sound like Fall Out Boy.” And all that’s a big bummer because none of it is true. We definitely can’t make everyone happy.
The Concordian: Sophomore records can make or break a band’s career. Is that something you thought about?
Davis: Not really. Seriously with us, as long as we’re enjoying the music that we’re writing and that we’re having fun and we’re proud of it, then we’re really not concerned with whether the record is going to make us or break us. We were really confident with it. Sure it was really ambitious of us to jump from what we did before to this, but we never stopped for a second and thought “We have to make sure we do it right because it’s our sophomore record and we have to make people happy and make an impression.” If it goes over well it goes over well and if it doesn’t, we’ll get jobs.
The Concordian: Your record is very interesting, whether it’s the musical arrangements, the lyrics or the storyline. How important is it for Boys Night Out’s music to be art?
Davis: Very! That was one of the ideas that we had from the very beginning. We wanted to make an album that had the full package: Something that was art. You could listen to the music but you could also sit and read all the lyrics and look at the imagery inside; it’s a piece of work that you can sit and enjoy in more than one way. Challenge yourself to get into the story: That’s one thing that we told our producer right away and he was really into it. There used to be albums and records that you could get really into and we just find that that’s kind of lacking. Music is lacking in substance and effort or even passion. Not music in general, but the scene we are involved in; the screamo thing. We were really bummed out about it, so we really wanted to maintain some kind of artistic integrity.
The Concordian: Do you think that will separate you from the rest of the screamo bands out there at the moment?
Davis: I hope so. I am not trying to say that we broke out of the genre, because obviously there is some screaming on the record and it can fit into that genre. It’s pop punk, it’s catchy at times and screaming at times. I just hope that people realize that there is some substance and effort there; there’s thought and passion put into the music. It’s not just been shat out. I don’t want to say any names, but I find that a lot of music out there is really bland.
The Concordian: A couple of you are from Ontario, what do you think of your international success? Is it important for you guys to maintain a good presence here in Canada?
Davis: Absolutely. It’s been weird with us in the beginning because we got our start in the States before we got our start in Canada. It was like that for a while because our record label and management, publicist, everything was in the States. All the tours we did were in the States, so there was a big push there. We’ve only done two cross-Canada tours and we’ve done a dozen U.S. tours, but it’s hard. It’s the nature of the beast. That’s what this music is. It’s hard to be touring in Canada all the time and make a living off of it, and to try to keep the States happy and be a Canadian band. We are definitely focusing on it more now that we can take some time and pick what we want to do. It’s definitely a very big priority to be playing more Canadian shows, and we have been. Next year we plan on doing a couple of cross-Canadian tours.
The Concordian: There are a lot of bands from the greater Toronto area that have been doing really well. Why do you think that is?
Davis: I think that for a lot of bands that are big now, one influence was the Burlington band Grade. They definitely had an impact on a lot of Burlington kids in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Also, Burlington has always been a good place for music. Bands would go on tour and skip Toronto and come to Burlington. There’s always been a really good scene, always really supportive. At local shows, there are like a thousand kids: It’s really rare for a suburb town to have that kind of support. It breeds inspiration to continue. Obviously the internet’s been a big help to get the word out internationally about local bands.
The Concordian: Where would you like to see yourself in a couple of years?
Davis: As long as we can keep doing what we are doing now and take time to write music, we’re all having fun still, we haven’t made any compromises either musically or whatever and can make enough money to live, that’s it.