Ian Maleney caught up with Toronto-via-Wicklow indie rockers Nightbox ahead of their first Irish headline shows in Dublin & Galway this week & their appearance on The Cosby Stage at The Electric Picnic this weekend.
Described by Nialler9 as the next Two Door Cinema Club, Nightbox are a Toronto-based five-piece who spent their formative years in an Irish boarding school. Like their Northern counterparts, they were featured on a recent Kitsuné Maison compilation with ‘Pyramids’, the lead single from their debut EP. With a UK and Ireland tour underway, including a show in Dublin’s Academy 2 tomorrow night, as well as a slot at this years Electric Picnic, things are looking up for the Canadians.
What are you guys up to the moment? Nick: We’re down in Newtown at the moment, we’re rehearsing and getting ready for this tour that starts next week. Myself and Jake just got back to Ireland last week and we’ve just been rehearsing and getting all set. This is our first ever tour actually so we don’t really know what to expect. We’re starting in Wales and then doing a few shows across the UK, including Reading and Leeds and then back to Ireland for a few days. It’s about 12 days or so, it should be quite fun.
Jake: We’re looking forward to it anyway, hopefully we won’t want to kill each other by the end of it. We’re all great friends anyway so we should be grand.
All the guys in the band go back a long way. Can you tell us how you came together? Nick: We’re kind of from all over. Myself and Jake are originally from Toronto and our synth player is from the States. We all moved to Ireland about twelve years ago and we met in secondary school here so that’s where the music started between the five of us. Then we kind of went our separate ways but when we were finishing up school, we decided to get the band back together and so we moved to Toronto where it all started happening, where we’re currently situated.
And why did you chose to move back to Toronto after school? Nick: Jake and I are originally from Toronto. It’s a great place with a fantastic music scene so when it was time to get the band back together and we were thinking about coming back to Ireland to do the band there or Toronto. We decided on Toronto just because it has such a strong music scene. The great thing about it is that pretty much any day of the week you can go out in Toronto to any one of fifty venues and see great local acts. I’m not really sure there’s the same kind of opportunities for bands to do that in Ireland, in Toronto there’s plenty more opportunities in general for a band who are just starting off.
How did you first get started on the Toronto scene? Jake: Essentially we just went out and put the word out to a few different venues in Toronto and after we got a couple of shows like that, everything else just kind of came from word of mouth. Different promoters that were at those first shows would see us and ask us to play their shows. It all kind of grew from that, people talking about us, promoters seeing us and asking us to play more shows. So at the very start it was us going out and trying to book our own shows and fortunately after that it was other people coming to us. It worked out quite well.
You recorded your EP with AL-P and Sebastien Grainger (from MSTRKRFT and Death From Above 1979 respectively), how did that relationship come about? Nick: Well with the EP, we’d been told by people that we were working with that we needed to put something down on record and that that should be the next step for us. We had these four tracks that we were really happy with and we wanted to get down on record and we decided that it was the right time to go into the studio and record them and make the EP. We were fortunate enough to be able to work with Seb and Al and that came about from our relationship with Last Gang records. Both of them, through their bands and acts, are affiliated with Last Gang. Last Gang basically asked us to put together a sort of dream producer list of local people we’d like to work with. Seb and Al were two of the top guys for us and I guess they listened to our tracks, liked what they heard and wanted to work with us, we wanted to work with them and that’s kind of how it happened.
Was it important for you to have something concrete to put out there? Nick: Yeah we realised that you do need something physical. Like, I guess the way to judge it now is by your Facebook profile views and plays and all that stuff. Before that, we weren’t really getting anywhere but once we released the EP, we noticed a real difference. We were getting people talking about us and it all seemed a lot more real once we actually had the EP out. It proved that you do need something physical to get out there to the people.
Jake: Once you have something you can actually push and promote you can do a lot more. For example, we released the EP and then we were able to go and film a music video. We sent the EP to Kitsuné and they wanted to use our single, ‘Pyramids’ on their latest Kitsuné Maison compilation. So I guess it’s just the right type of people showing interest in it and then things kind of build everything else.
Did you release it physically as well as digitally? Nick: It was available to buy on iTunes and we also got something like a thousand physical copies made on CD that we just gave out for free at our gigs and stuff. So anyone who has been coming out to our shows in Toronto, we’ve been giving them copies. We’ve got them over here with us now so anyone who comes to our UK and Ireland shows will get a freebie. At this stage, we just want as many people as possible to be able to hear our music. We’re not necessarily trying to make money at this point so we figured why not just give the CDs away to people?
What is the plan for after the tour? Jake: Go back to Toronto pretty and hope this tour created a little buzz over on this side of the ocean. I guess we’ll work on new songs and start recording again because we have some new songs that we feel are a lot stronger and we want to get those down. We’d like to keep pushing at it, keep working hard.
What is the next step for the band then, career-wise? Nick: I guess the next step for us is to be able to actually call music our careers. All of us, at the moment, we still have our day jobs. Three of us are bus boys at restaurants, one of us is a barista and myself, I am unemployed as of a month ago. By choice though! It would be great if we would be able to quit those day jobs and focus on music full time. I guess that’s the next step.
Nightbox play The Academy 2 in Dublin on Tuesday, followed by the Roisin Dubh in Galway on Thursday (September 1st) before an appearance on The Cosby Stage on Saturday at this weekend’s Electric Picnic.