Night Rally
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Night Rally

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Jul
30
Night Rally @ Flat Top Johnny's

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Jul
29
Night Rally @ Lit Lounge

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Night Rally
Ruining retro for everybody
Michael Brodeur

I often wonder what will happen when retro finally catches up with the present day. As VH-1 promotes their new special, I 'heart' The Past Two Weeks — I grow concerned. Could an approaching rush of nostalgia wipe out the here and now for good? What exactly does cultural feedback sound like?

Recent trends not only suggest that influences be worn on one’s sleeve, but that these sleeves be part of sassy matching vintage outfits. The members of Night Rally don’t really do the matching thing, in any regard (though their cumulative sass is discernibly above average). If we were to play a game of sounds-like, Night Rally’s Luke Kirkland and Farhad Ebrahimi comprise a rhythm section whose blocky long-form loops (the secret weapon of their debut The Elegant Look of New EP) have attracted a confusingly frequent comparison to Fugazi.

“I don’t even like Fugazi,” says Luke, scandalized. “There are maybe two or three songs I’d bother listening to!” Guitarist Devin King sums up his wild Rickenbacker delay-sprays as “ripping off the Edge left and right” — but meanwhile, his falsetto holla is like Dave Thomas (of Pere Ubu, not Wendy’s) after eating Craig Wedren (formerly of Shudder to Think).

Relatively recent Santa Fe transplants, the Rally fellows have about them that certain fresh air of arrival. In Boston, this newness can prove distinguishing: not only does it send the impression of them having some reason to be here, but it makes them the new kids in a school of fixtures, hobbyists and the chronically jaded. They counter this climate casually, with a mix of enthusiasm for their new digs and a daily curiosity toward the potential of a nascent new scene still under construction. In any case, they rock a kind of poise-sans-posture steez — they might as well walk around captioned “Good Band.”

Live, they demonstrate less a confluence of influences than a long overdue tying up of many scattered loose ends and trends. There are strands of Talking Heads spliced with frayed bits of Polvo, shards of young Unwound caught in strips of young Unrest — and yes, some straight-up U2. What is remarkable is that each of these points of comparison end up serving more as points of departure for Night Rally — their sound isn’t retro, it does not look back (nervously glances, maybe). If anything, they collect these echoes, hurl them forward and toss them away.

They do this very loudly.

Echoes are central to Night Rally’s music. In a Rally-related thread on the nefariously popular message board hosted by The Noise, one dissenting voice named Buckethead remarks, “it's pretty lame when guitar players hide behind effects.” First of all: having internet haters is awesome. Further: it takes one song at a Night Rally show to realize that little is left hidden. Devin plays behind an arc of pedals; delay patterns tumble and fan out as dispersing melodic dots in all directions; textures feed back, race ahead and suddenly ramp off — and though it’s all quite controlled, there’s a charge of uncertainty that fucks with the structure of each song in a way that keeps kids ghostfaced and slackjawed (the new headbang) or basking with their eyes closed (the new shoegaze).

Even their lyrics employ strategic echoes; phonetic schemes and phrasings alter forms from line to line. In “Humor is Non-Sequitur,” a mezzanine flip-flops into the mise-en-scene; a vacation sits precariously close to a vocation; and cheap seats for kiss and tell sneakily shifts into cheat sheets for rebel yell in “The Day Devin Pissed Blood.” It’s as though the songs have their own internal retro mechanism — a way by which the songs repeatedly make little copies of themselves, regenerating at the expense of clarity and screwing up irony in the process.

“I feel like over the last two years, a lot of local people who are doing really good things are finally finding each other,” says Farhad in reference to what truly does feel like a boom in young local bands with a bent for formal experimentation — Tristan da Cuhna, Piles, UV Protection, Ho-Ag, and Clickers comprise a decent sample. Thankfully, there is no cute name for this sect of the scene quite yet; no specific sound or period being aped; no certain aesthetic getting fellated. To be honest, they all have a touch of the mid-‘90s in them — but that was just a little while ago! If my fear of popular culture feeding back on itself isn’t paranoid and bonkers, it’s comforting to have Night Rally to make the collapse sound nice. - The Weekly Dig


Myths and local legends
Twisted tales from Fiery Furnaces, White Magic, and Night Rally
BY MIKE MILIARD

<snip>

THE SAME BILL that culminates with Fiery Furnaces begins promisingly as well, with Cambridge’s Night Rally warming up the crowd. Their debut EP, The Elegant Look of New, is expansive, energetic post-punk, alternately angular and elastic, recalling the textured starkness of Joy Division here, the danceable agit-pop of Gang of Four there.

The band — bassist Farhad Ebrahimi, guitarist Devin King, and drummer Luke Kirkland — moved here about a year ago from Santa Fe. They live together in an Inman Square house and practice in the basement, and in their equal-opportunity song structures, there’s a sense of familiar ease that surfaces when they intertwine their instruments. "We’re very democratic," says Ebrahimi. "Or very anarchist. I’m not sure."

His bass is high in the mix, more or less on a equal footing with King’s textured, delay-heavy guitar and Kirkland’s tricky drumming. Which means, Ebrahimi says, "It’s really easy for us to have a lot of clarity, so we’re not stepping on each other’s toes." "South Pacific, Pt. II" is a knotty workout, all probing bass and staccato guitars dissipating into white noise, kept in motion with loose yet on-the-mark drumming. "Humor Is Non Sequitur" melds jangly guitars to an elastic bass line with a few hoo-hoo-hoos tossed in. "A Birthday Party," with its echoing, pealing guitars and emotive call and response vocals, evokes the controlled fury of Fugazi.

"One of the things I love about Fugazi its that every member is doing something unique with his instrument," says Ebrahimi. "They’re all doing different things, but every instrument is important." He concedes, though, that not every member of the band would say the same. "We’re sometimes jokingly critical of each other’s musical tastes. Someone will be like, ‘We all listen to Fugazi!’ And then someone else will say, ‘Actually, no. I’m not that into Fugazi.’ "

One musician the three do agree on — though their exploratory music doesn’t much sound like his tightly wound tunes — is Elvis Costello. They take their name from one of his song titles. "When we were tossing names around, I threw that out because I just like the notion of a night rally," says Ebrahimi. "Not in the fascist sense — just a bunch of people getting together for a cause, making a statement all with one voice." - The Boston Phoenix


CANCER TO THE STARS, NIGHT RALLY, ANTI-LOVE PROJECT
The Middle East
3/28/04

<snip>

Night Rally gets quite an impressive crowd for a Sunday night. Their songs are weird, rhythmically complicated, and hard to pin down, but always very engaging. All three of them sing, though almost never together; they use their very different voices to give diverse feels to different songs or parts of songs. (Devin's sweet, pretty falsetto, coming from a big guy with a Snidely Whiplash mustache, is wonderfully jarring.) The complex, melodic bass lines sort of drive the tunes, while the guitar, high and chiming and drenched in delay most of the time, is more atmospheric. Their stage patter is bizarre. They make a bunch of new fans tonight.

<snip>

(Steve Gisselbrecht) - The Noise


NIGHT RALLY, STEEL PONIES, POLSKI FIAT
Skybar
2/18/04

<snip>

Night Rally could have my grateful allegiance just by playing in rhythm. In fact, their rhythm section is excellent, with freaky, complicated drum patterns and bass lines and lots of stops, starts, and sudden turns. The guitarist plays a lot of odd, effects-laden, repetitive guitar lines which don't really hold my interest by themselves, but make a great backdrop for the bizarre vocals. All three band members sing, and together they make one great vocalist. The drummer has a rich baritone, which would get too smooth after a while, but the bassist provides semi-spoken declamations and the guitarist handles Devo/ Pere Ubu-style wack-job screaming, ironic falsetto, and stage presence. In one song, he leaves the stage and inexplicably sings a chorus into one of Steel Ponies' cymbals. It works for me. (Steve Gisselbrecht) - The Noise


Night Rally
Words by Wally Cassotto

TO HEAR THEM PLAY, YOU'D REALLY NEVER SUSPECT that the band's name was swiped from an Elvis Costello song. Sonically they conjure a controlled chaos that erupts in irregular figures and does its best to burst any stylistic restrictions that are placed on it. As Night Rally's Farhad Ebrahimi says, "Conceptually speaking, however, we just liked the notion of any kind of rally, where people gather for a common cause and with a common voice. Plus it's at night, so tiki torches might be involved."

That common voice pops up a lot during their performances as the band is apt to digress between songs into banter that is wholly unselfconscious and interacts with their audience. "Breaking the fourth wall might have been irreverent in 19th century theater, but what we do could hardly be considered to be offensive or crass or confrontational or sensationalist. We're just being ourselves on stage, really," bassist Ebrahimi admits. "Our personalities are just as much a part of this band as is our musicianship.

Along with guitarist Devin King and drummer Luke Kirkland, Night Rally lets all three voices ring out and every idea they stumble across seems to make it into their songs. While the musical complexities the band can play might seem to require an intricate score to follow, the truth is that the songs flow in a far more organic fashion. "We used to experiment with a variety of song/part writing techniques, but we've found that we're happiest when we write music together, all in the same room, just sort of making stuff up, making suggestions to each other, trying different things out, and so on, and so forth." The results may wind up "rather loud" but "playing music makes us happy."

After a slew of shows that the band has played with merely an EP under their belt (and one that was intended as a demo at that), Night Rally is on the verge of releasing a split 12" with Clickers as part of the first wave of records from promoter cum label Honeypump. "When the Night Rally/Clickers split was initially conceived, Honeypump Records was but a gleam in the eye of our good friend Ben Sisto," Ebrahimi, who has since partnered with Sisto to run the label says. "As for packaging and marketing, the main thing that we're doing differently with the Night Rally/Clickers split is taking these things seriously for the first time. We are pleased to announce the the split will be on 12" vinyl with album art and national distribution through Lumberjack. CD-Rs will be lovingly tucked into each record sleeve, for those without regular access to a turntable." After having a pair of tours fall apart in the past six months, plans are in the works for a late summer jaunt with the band on the other side of their record.

While vinyl releases may seem archaic for many bands these days, Night Rally is not a bunch of Luddites, they understand the way many people listen to music these days and have adapted for those inevitabilities as well. "We're all quite comfortable with the fact that our music is going to be shared no matter what we do," Ebrahimi says, "and as a result we're planning on putting the entire split online in mp3 form as soon as it's released; we figure that if people are going to be getting our music for free, they may as well get it clearly labeled and properly encoded." Maybe an attitude like this does have more to with why Elvis Costello quit his day job and turned to making records than you first suspect. - Northeast Performer


By Steve Gisselbrecht

Night Rally and Clickers are actually two different bands, but you could be forgiven for failing to realize that. They can pretty reliably be found at each other’s shows, when they’re not on the same bills. Some of them live together, they record together, and this month they have a split coming out, the first release on the new Honeypump Records.

This is all the more remarkable because the bands don’t really sound all that similar. Night Rally (Farhad Ebrahimi - bass/vocals, Devin King - guitar/vocals, and Luke Kirkland - drums/vocals) is more tuneful, with pretty, shimmering guitar swimming in delay and the bass providing most of the melodic element and driving the songs forward. They have radically different vocal styles which add up to a fantastic expressive range, and Luke’s drumming is so fluid and dynamically sensitive that he makes the slinkiest jazzy beat and the weirdest odd-time break go down equally smoothly. Clickers (Ross Farley - bass, Mike Gintz - guitar/vocals, Doug Harry - guitar/vocals, and Matt Rogers - drums/vocals) are a much more abrasive experience. The more incisive guitars permeate a sound with a sharper edge, and all three vocalists shout at least as often as sing, but the star of every Clickers song for me is the structure, which tends to jump from one crazy rhythm to another, occasionally alighting on a lovely guitar figure just long enough to catch your breath before picking up and moving on. So I was interested in exploring their commonalities when I sat down with both bands in the house where much of Clickers live, practice, and record.

Noise: Why do you guys like each other so much?

Doug: It’s the backrubs.

Mike: Devin gives great backrubs.

Farhad: I disagree.

Luke: Yeah, I disagree too.

Farhad: Maybe he gives great backrubs to Clickers, but not to his bandmates.

Noise: Oh, I thought you were disagreeing that you liked each other.

Farhad: Oh, no. I think basically Clickers was the first other band that we made contact with where we had a good rapport. Regardless of what our bands sound like, I think we appreciate a lot of the same things in terms of what we listen to, but also in terms of the way we go about being a band. Obviously I really like their music a lot, but I think also just looking at the fact that they’re really approaching it the same way and that we’ve been working with them for as long as we have—we’ve since met a lot of other people that we also have a lot in common with but they were the first.

Mike: Yeah, I’d say it’s really similar to that for us, too, because it’s really nice to just have support for the way we do stuff, like giving CDs away for free or charging very little for them and making it all ourselves. ‘Cause when it comes down to it our music doesn’t really sound all that much alike for bands that play together all the time. And also, we just really, really like the music. I heard their music before I knew them really very well as people. Our mutual friend Liz told me about them, so I just went online and downloaded their MP3s, ‘cause you know they have them all up for free, and I listened to them for like a good week, and I played them for everybody else and we decided that we’d really want to have something to do with them, and Farhad offered to record our first EP for us.

Noise: And you recorded the split together. How was that?

Doug: It was a long process.

Mike: Yeah, it was hard, because we did it differently than we usually do—I mean, for the two EPs—we all get in the same room and we play the instrumentals at the same time as each other and then we overdub vocals later. And that kinda caused us some problems on the EPs, in the sense that we’d have to go for the perfect take where nobody messed up. And it also made things really difficult to mix, because we don’t work in a studio. We were just here in the basement both times.

Doug: And each instrument doesn’t necessarily sound as good if it’s not isolated. You can just get a much more rich and clear tone on each individual instrument if nothing else is going on while you’re recording it.

Farhad: As for Night Rally’s recording background, we’d done the live recording without the benefit of a studio so you have all the crazy bleed and you don’t get a nice, rich, environmental sound from the room. And then we’ve done the individual tracking which of course the disadvantage there is that everybody has to act like they’re having fun playing with a bunch of other people when actually all they have is headphones. Of course, what people do at real studios is they have isolation booths and all those kind of things that we don’t have which allow them to all play at the same time and have that energy but also have that acoustic separation. But I think things came through; I think every recording I’ve done with Clickers has sounded better than the last.

Luke: I would say the same thing about us, too, probably.

Farhad: That’s all we ask for.

Mike: I think the Night Rally side sounds phenomenal. I’m really excited about it. I think you did a really good job on the guitars.

Noise: The transition from the first to the second song is really smooth and beautiful.

Farhad: Transitions are all that boy right there. [pointing to Luke]

Luke: Devin, uh...

Devin: Focused.

Luke: He focused my efforts there.

Mike: See how they pass the credit around like that. See, that’s what we like.

Luke: The recording for me was really weird because all my drums were done in like July or August...

Farhad: Oh yeah, should we talk about the history of this?

Luke: And so it was just like listening to lots of guitars really loud, over and over, for a really long time for me.

Farhad: Night Rally set out to record all that we had in the summer, and for various reasons, most of them being that I’m stubborn, we didn’t really get around to finishing those recordings. I did bass, I think, in the late summer, and then just between shows and people being in and out of town we just kinda sat on those tracks for a while until Ben Sisto came to us with the idea of doing a split with Clickers. And so we chose the triptych out of those nine songs to finish.

Noise: So the split was Ben’s idea?

Mike: Yeah, he came up to me one night and he said, “Hey listen. I’d really like to book a tour for you guys and put out a split with Night Rally.”

Noise: Was there a Honeypump Records at the time?

Mike: No. And I was just, like, Dude, what are you talking about? Are you sure? And he grabbed me by the shoulders and he said, “Listen. There are two things that I like in this world. One is going on tour, and the other is planning elaborate events for other people.” So I said, well all right, if we’re gonna make you happy, okay, sure.

Noise: One of the few things common to both bands is that most of the band sings lead at various times. So what determines who’s singing at any given moment?

Matt: It’s mostly whoever’s coming up with a solid part on their instrument first gets to start fucking around with vocals and might come up with an idea or might not.

Doug: It’s whenever inspiration hits, too, you know? At practice when we’re working on new stuff we don’t usually—’cause nobody writes a song and brings it to the band.

Noise: Really?

Doug: It’s all the process of jamming, we take snips, and somehow it becomes a song. But throughout that process somebody’ll just start singing. It took us a while to reach the point where we were comfortable enough with each other and where we could understand, for everybody, it was okay to just sing. If we’re jamming on something and you have an idea, or you just feel like singing, you know, do it. I mean, almost every song that ever gets finished had completely different vocals at some point in time. Or whole different sections that never ended up in the song. So it’s all just this weird process that takes a series of practices with people trying stuff out.

Mike: But because the music is the structure that the lyrics and the vocals are based on, the music usually comes first, and lately Matt started doing—Matt didn’t originally do vocals in the band. He didn’t do that until our second EP. Which was really great, because it was another texture. And it’s cool because Ross has a really great voice, too, but he just won’t sing.

Noise: He won’t even speak.

Mike: But yeah, the way that the vocals happen now, now that we’re comfortable singing gibberish in front of each other—which is really awkward at first, just to belt out something. You don’t even know what you’re gonna sing, and you just start babbling notes that don’t fit, and it’s really embarrassing.

Matt: It’s gotten a lot easier to just be really stupid in front of each other.

Mike: Yeah. I think lately we’ve been passing the vocals around a little bit more consciously because we’ve been in situations where sometimes we play parts we just aren’t comfortable singing over. But occasionally we’ve come into situations now where Doug’s been, like, I’ve got this good vocal idea for the section, and I’m perfectly comfortable taking that, whereas we didn’t usually—we still primarily don’t but it’s just happening a little bit more—we don’t write each other’s parts. Lyrically, we make sure that we’re all singing about the same thing. Me and Doug’ll usually sit and piece lyrics together. But we don’t put lyrics in each other’s mouths

Doug: Nobody ever tells anybody to do anything. And even if you’re like, Hey, try this, it’s completely understood that you can take that and go wherever the hell you want with it. There is no band leader. And in fact it’s extremely important to all of us, I think, that everybody does get a sense of themselves in what they’re doing, and has equal stake.

Luke: Basically, everything they said applies to us, too. - The Noise


Discography

"The Elegant Look of New" -- A self-released four song demo/EP with radio airplay here in Boston/Cambridge area, most notably on WFNX, WMBR, WERS, WZBC, and WMFO. Available only on CD-R.

Clickers/Night Rally Split -- A split record with our good friends in a band called Clickers, available through Honeypump Records on 12" vinyl with a free CD-R. We're still waiting to receive all of our copies from the pressing plant, but we expect greater radio exposure than what we've seen for The Elegant Look of New.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Living next to an emergency rooms comes easily to Night Rally. With all the ambulances tearing in and out, the Cambridge three-piece blends in perfectly; each song is an accident that's already happened. Amidst blaring horns and howling sirens, flashing headlamps and spinning lights, guitarist Devin King clings to life with sharp cries and belted melodies, jagged chords and swirling, effect-laden guitar lines. Barking out the patient's condition from the back of the bus, bassist Farhad Ebrahimi dopes I.V.s and dubs R&B 45s to 33 1/3, his left fingers on the pulse and his right hand on the defibrillator. As the metal wagon's shuddering chassis charges through busy intersections, drummer Luke Kirkland gives a limb to the wheel and to the gearshift, to the clutch and to the gas, pushes each to their limits and sings softly along with the stereo for a semblance of calm.

Night Rally's energetic live shows play toward these comparisons as well—teetering on the verge of catastrophe, yet not quite harbored from injury—and, charged by their free four-song demo, Boston has enthusiastically welcomed them into its company with critical and popular acclaim. In the end, their fans' allegiance doesn't need much explanation; for Night Rally, this isn't just a band... this is an emergency vehicle.

THIS JUST IN: Night Rally was nominated for "Best New Act (Local)" in the 17th annual Boston Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll.