The Nights Below
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The Nights Below

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"Keeping the punk credo"

Named after an award-winning Canadian novel, Nights Below go a little deeper with their four chords and catchy melodies

January 20, 2010
By Jason Schneider

s the Sex Pistols’s Johnny Rotten has always maintained, punk rock was never about wearing the right clothes or having the right hairstyle. It was about being yourself and interpreting the world around you as honestly as possible. That’s the rationale of The Nights Below, a quartet of K-W punk scene veterans, brought together by singer/songwriter Tomas Baldasaro.

While living in Berlin a couple of years ago, Baldasaro decided to take his music in an acoustic direction, without losing any of its fury. Once back home he laid out his plan to guitarist Joel Mieske and bassist (Anvil) Bastarde, and The Nights Below quickly gelled around this fresh approach. Their brand new self-titled four-song EP was recorded as a trio, but with newly recruited drummer Steve Banks now installed, the band is looking forward to a productive year ahead.

“I’d written an entire solo album while I was in Berlin, but I didn’t have the confidence to record it on my own,” Baldasaro says. “I’d known Joel and Anvil for years, so I asked them more as a favour to help me work these songs out, and the next thing we knew, we were a band. We wanted to have a drummer from the start, but couldn’t find the right guy. Sure enough, Steve came along just as we finished the EP as a three-piece, but we decided to run with it anyway. We’re planning on recording a full-length album in June.”

Baldasaro says the EP is an accurate representation of the band’s sound, even without drums, and adds that after years of playing in punk bands, this project is the first time he’s felt he’s made music with any real integrity. “What really inspired me was seeing guys in punk bands I grew up listening to getting into solo projects that seemed more suited to their age.

“I mean, I’m only 26, but I think you always have to face that question of, am I too old be playing this music anymore? I think the other guys were in the same boat, and we all found common ground with the idea of a singer/songwriter doing something completely different from the kinds of bands he’d always played in.”

Although The Nights Below haven’t played live that extensively, most of their gigs so far have been significant. In fact, word of mouth led to an invitation to open for highly touted UK folk-punk singer Frank Turner at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on Jan. 26. Baldasaro says that show has forced the band to tighten up, although he believes it’s hard to go wrong with four chords, catchy melodies, and the truth.

It’s fair to say that gritty realism runs in Baldasaro’s family, since his uncle is acclaimed author David Adams Richards. The band’s name is cribbed from his Governor General’s Award-winning novel Nights Below Station Street. “There was something about several characters in that book that pulled some weird heartstrings in me,” Baldasaro says. “A lot of things surrounding our first summer as a band seemed to reflect that book, so it was a pretty easy choice for a name.”

LIVE: The Nights Below with Sex Dwarf / Maxwell’s Music House, Waterloo /

Thursday, Jan. 21, 9 p.m. / 519-498-5705

http://news.therecord.com/arts/NightLife/article/658458 - therecord.com


Discography

The Nights Below EP (2010)

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Bio

Formed in the spring of 2009 in Kitchener Ontario, The Nights Below hit the ground running when after their first show, opening for William F Gibbs, they were offered a residency at the Victoria Park Boathouse.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Tomas Baldasaro had only recently returned to the country, anxious to start performing new material written during his time living and working in Berlin. He was quick to recruit guitarist Joel Mieske, a fellow veteran of the KW punk scene, and bassist “Anvil” Bastarde, an ex-punker hailing from London, England.

The band began performing as an acoustic trio to learn and flesh out those songs, intending to add a drummer to the mix later on, but early trials of the formula proved successful despite the absence of percussion. This musical venture soon showed itself to be greater than the sum of its parts. With their four song EP, released January 2010, the band showcases their unique fusion of folky acoustic guitar, blues tinged lead guitar and wandering, countrified bass lines. Lyrics revolve around honest depictions of soul searching in bad times and good, of love lost and found.

The band is currently preparing to record its debut full length album, with funding awarded by the Waterloo Arts Council.

Already having shows under their belts with the UK’s Frank Turner (at the Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto) and with White Cowbell Oklahoma in Guelph, it’s looking like The Nights Below have bright lights on the horizon.