Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
They’re all over your social media feeds, your cell phone contains copious amounts of them, and Kim Kardashian even put out a book of them. Of course, I’m talking about selfies, and with their latest single, “#selfiequeen,” Austin-based 10 piece band The Nightowls have put a soulful spin on the act of holding out your phone and saying cheese.
A big, brassy, jam that will get you moving, “#selfiequeen” is off of The Nightowls’ recently released album, We Are The Nightowls.
Wanting to know more about The Nightowls, and their “#selfiequeen,” I caught up with frontman Ryan Harkrider to ask him about the song, their live show, and the challenge of fitting 10 people on some indie venue stages.
First off, how on earth did you bring so much soul to something that many folks consider soulless – the act of taking a selfie.
Is taking a selfie soulless? Man, that seems a little harsh. I suppose I understand how people could say it’s a bit narcissistic, but for me, I know a lot of people who take and post selfies, and they are, for the most part, well-adjusted and down to earth people. So I guess this song is just my attempt to enjoy this moment in time, and enjoy this rapidly changing world that we live in.
Cheers to all the selfie takers out there!
A selfie is actually taken by a member of the band during the video for “#selfiequeen.” Was that planned, or an awesome moment of improvisation?
An “awesome moment,” you say? I thought selfies were soulless??? Just kidding. It was definitely improvised.
Speaking of improvisation, how much improvisation are fans treated to during a Nightowls live show?
We play about 250+ shows a year, so our show is a pretty well-oiled machine. That said, we know that each city and each show is unique, and feel that in order to communicate with the audience we’ve got to leave some things open and unscripted. There are several solo sections, song lengths, etc., that we improvise each night. It’s a nice way to keep the band on their toes, too.
As a 10-piece band I have to imagine that on more than a few occasions you’ve arrived at a venue and seen a stage that’s made you say, “How are we gonna make THIS work?” Give me your best story about adapting to a smaller stage, and still bringing the full Nightowls vibe.
While it doesn’t happen as often as it used to in the early days, we’re still pretty accustomed to those small stages. The venue that comes to mind was in Cambridge, MA. I forget the (name of the) venue, but it was like trying to cram 10 musicians into a hallway closet. We ended up having to put the keys player off the stage in front of the entrance to the kitchen. Rock and roll, baby.
Soul music can oftentimes be an aphrodisiac. How often have you noticed a couple get closer during one of your shows, and have you ever REALLY wanted to know how someone’s night ended based on what you saw during your set?
There’s usually a couple or two at each show, and no, we never want the play-by-play. Ha!
With 10 people you have 10 distinct personalities, and 10 sets of likes and dislikes. This seems like it could be a potential minefield on the road, but I’m guessing you guys have figured out how to make it all work. What are some of your secrets to success for staying calm, cool, and collected as a group while on tour?
First, we try to be as organized and prepared as possible so we can anticipate as much of the headache in advance. We’ve been touring together for about four years so most of us have a bit of experience under our belts.
I also wrote out a Touring Handbook with stuff like “Who sleeps where,” “What to bring,” “Driver rotation,” etc. It just makes things as clear as possible.
You recently released a full length album, We Are The Nightowls, which was two years in the making. What went on during those two years that helped shape the music, and the album?
Letting go of the past and re-learning how to write and record with a large group of people.
It’s always a challenge working with a bunch of creative people, so finding the band’s “process” is important.
We also wanted to give ourselves the time and freedom to write without a deadline. This allowed us to write songs, record, re-write, re-record, start over in some cases, throw ideas out, and ultimately choose the songs and the music that we felt best represented us as an ensemble.
Finally, are there any Nightowls that are actually morning people? With 10 people in the band, I feel like at least one has to like watching the sunrise.
Several of our band members have young children and are permanently on that early morning kid routine. It’s tough because when we’re on the road you sometimes don’t get to sleep until 3, or 4am, and those guys seem to always still wake up at 7am. Ew.