Night Verses: Punk’s Not Dead. It Just Evolved.

By Jameson Ketchum By | August 19, 2016 at 1:00 PM
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Photo Credit: Kara Smarsh

The foundation of punk was not necessarily a style but a mindset. Exploring other art forms in the hopes of inspiring and informing your music, pushing your artistry to unfathomable new heights, breaking your back (and the bank) to tour as much as humanly possible; these are the tenants of punk rock. When Night Verses stepped into the studio with legendary producer Ross Robinson (Korn, At The Drive-In), the blossoming band had no idea what would be pulled from them, let alone what they would leave with.

“I see it as what you give to the earth, it gives back. I learned so much of that with Ross. Sometimes I’m negative in life then you go make a record with someone like him and he teaches you to open up and embrace things, even the negative.”

“You gravitate to who you respect. You don’t want to associate yourself with a band you don’t appreciate or respect, I don’t mean that in a negative way but everybody risks their lives to tour and you want to be with people you learn from and you can call your peers. When it’s honest and genuine, that’s when it’s important to us.”

If you’ve jammed Night Verses, you’ve no doubt recognized Douglas Robinson’s desperate and guttural growls as a far cry from his former band, The Sleeping. Though it’s nothing new to see front men change their style when joining a new outfit, Robinson deserves ample credit for being, what we like to call, a renaissance artist. The guy cut his teeth with the Victory Records rock act for over a decade before forming Night Verses, a band with an LA work ethic and decidedly different vibe. When you’ve already gone through the rigmarole of breaking your band, things tend to mellow and balance out to a comfortable resting place. At the same time, Robinson is fully aware of the momentum that surrounds Night Verses.

“We just don’t care and I think it’s helping us a lot. We took a year and half off to write this record. We knew we had a lot of excitement behind our name, but we don’t want to just ride that wave.”

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Photo credit: Natalie Bisignano

Though Robinson has been around the block and back, the rest of Night Verses (Nick DePirro, Reilly Herrera, Aric Improta) spent the last several years simultaneously watching their pals in letlive. make it big. Robinson speaks very highly of his tour mates, “They’re a band who does what they want to do and they are really good at it”. Robinson even cites the act as one of the few bands who still care about the music as deeply as the fans do.

“You gravitate to who you respect. You don’t want to associate yourself with a band you don’t appreciate or respect, I don’t mean that in a negative way but everybody risks their lives to tour and you want to be with people you learn from and you can call your peers. When it’s honest and genuine, that’s when it’s important to us. People expect one thing from them and they do want they want. We appreciate bands like that. We care about it, not many people do anymore.”

“Of course I want people to like our record but I want people to like it in a way that they can’t listen to anything else.”

Into the Vanishing Light, Night Verses’ thrashy/vibey/soulful offering doesn’t seem to have many detractors. Just one scroll through YouTube comments proves that in a consistently pessimistic musical landscape, positivity is hard to come by, especially for “new” bands. Night Verses has thus far seen an overwhelming amount of support for the record. Some even going as far as saying that one day we’ll look back and mark the band as “ahead of their time”. This is a bold statement to make at such an early stage, but one that the frontman seems to wholeheartedly embrace.    

“That record could change people’s lives at some point. Our record is a grower, we don’t want instant gratification, who wants that? People just want to know the end game right away. We are not like that. People just need to be in the spotlight right off the bat. Of course I want people to like our record but I want people to like it in a way that they can’t listen to anything else. When I first heard At the Drive-In’s Relationship of Command, I didn’t know what to feel. After like five listens, it’s my all-time favorite album.”

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Photo credit: Natalie Bisignano

As cliché as it can sound, producer Ross Robinson really was the fifth member of Night Verses. It’s clear after only a few minutes of speaking with the frontman that something magical happened in that studio in California. The legend was pushy, he was intense and he got the best out of the four. Douglas Robinson speaks rapidly and excitedly when the producer is mentioned, almost as if they brought the madmen out in one another.

“We don’t try to sound like anyone but just ourselves going where the music takes us.”

“The first couple days we didn’t even know if it was working out. Ross was just not feeling anything we were doing. Not sonically because he told us that he would not have brought us there if he didn’t’ see something in us. He said ‘This music didn’t move me at all’. We were not used to playing live the way Ross made us play live. We played our hearts out, we showed him 24 songs and he goes ‘Okay have a good night’. We woke up the next day, I called my wife like ‘I don’t know if he likes what we’re doing. I don’t need a pat on the back’. Ross said ‘I felt nothing in that room last night, I felt sick to my stomach, we need to take all that away and make shit happen’. Maybe a week or two into the record Ross said ‘I haven’t felt this way in years, I’m digging this. I haven’t felt like this since I did Glassjaw.” For Ross to say that is crazy.

It’s clear that Night Verses entered the studio one band and emerged a completely different one, both musically and spiritually. “I’ve always been spiritual for sure but Ross took it to another level. He helped me relax on some things and helped me intensify on some things. He did that to everyone. He made everyone a different player, through their minds, not just their talents. He channeled your instrumentation through your body and mind.”

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Photo credit: Natalie Bisignano

Though the show at the Bossanova Ballroom in Portland, Oregon was not as packed out as the tour expected, there was something so perfect permeating the venue. Night Verses took the stage while the sun still peeked through the curtains behind the stage and concert goers filtered in slowly, grabbing a drink to check out the opening act. Robinson paced the stage in a hooded sweatshirt, crying out his songs with as much fire as if he were performing to an over capacity arena. The frontman seems aware they are still the new guys, still the band proving themselves with each show, each tour and each song, but Night Verses is okay with that. Hard work has never scared them.

“We’re writing or drawing or I’m taking photos and I think people are gravitating toward the fact that we’re hard workers. We don’t try to sound like anyone but just ourselves going where the music takes us. I would never shit talk any bands but I think right now in this realm a lot of bands don’t really try to step out of their box. Teams that are making money off them don’t step out of the box either.”

When the interview wraps, Robinson is ready to explore the city with his wife and friends. Camera in hand, he talks about how he’s working on a book of photos from the road, something else to keep his creative juices flowing and the music inspired. This is where the term “Renaissance man” begins to take shape in Robinson’s personality. His speech is rapid fire and always elated as he talks about his various artistic avenues. He just wants to connect, he just wants to produce, he just wants everyone to feel something.

“Our records are vibey and we all believe in energy and things like that. We really want to set a mood for a song. Even if it’s not a spiritual thing for everyone, it’s a connection.”

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