Two aspects leap from the story of this UK-based rock band before you even wrap your ears around the music. Founding member and guitarist/backing vocalist Ben Christo, who steps up to write most of the material on their stunning debut NxN album is known for his sterling performances with the titans of all things dark and foreboding – Sisters of Mercy. The other thing that is a head-turner in these modest days of Night by Night is the support from various corners of the universe of rock.
This is what bassist Rick Savage with Def Leppard had to say about them. “Night by Night are without doubt one of the best young bands out there today. Real songs with great riffs and vocal harmonies. Packing the best of the ’80s with a youthful, fresh enthusiasm.”
Regarding all things of a live nature, the band have achieved some impressive dates with the likes of Y&T, Europe, Warrior Soul and The Quireboys to name but a few. With two singles being unveiled over the past couple of years in the shapes of Time to Escape and The Moment, you would begin to wonder what the fuss is all about and who on earth these guys are.
Official video for The Moment:
With the release of NxN you’d be wrong in thinking they have just appeared out of nowhere. Their journey to this point has been a lengthy appointment with various obstacles and challenges, so why has it taken so long for an album to be released?
“I’d say there were three key reasons from the inception of the project to where we are now as to why a debut album can take so long.” Christo sets out his explanation. “One – finding the right people to be in the band; two – finding the right people to manage the band; three – finding the right songs to put on the album, and that’s kind of defining the sound.”
With all of these logistics prepared and sorted to a satisfactory stage, the founding member of Night by Night continues to explain what should be the case from now on. “These things take a lot of time, but they’re the things that once you’ve done the first album then they’re in place for you to keep developing. So what I’m hoping is the follow-up is going to be something that we’ll be looking at doing at the latest in 2016, but I’d like to have it out in 2015, or the latter part of 2015 just to keep the momentum going.”
If you can imagine a five-piece hard rock band with a smooth sound incorporating a three-way harmony in places, featuring a strong lead vocalist who used to be in a British heavy metal band called Voodoo Six, then you know your ears are in for a treat. Incidentally, the credentials of Voodoo Six are impressive due to the band being formed by a certain Richie Faulkner who now plays guitar for the metal legends Judas Priest; last month’s cover stars for this very magazine!
Joining Christo in Night by Night is lead vocalist Henry Rundell, bassist, quality controller and backing vocalist Jonny Thornton, Damien Diablo tackling the beats with fellow guitarist Tom Daniel rounding out what is a fine dynamic.
You wouldn’t be foolish to think the band had amassed a multitude of songs over the preceding years to reach this moment of their career, but according to Christo they have been very harsh with their quality control although he does add, “About a year ago I had this really prolific sort of two weeks where I just wrote loads and loads of riffs and chorus’ and ideas, and still got that to look back on so I’m quite excited and positive about the second album, I think it’s going to come together quite easily.”
After pointing out how the band over these earlier years had three different lead vocalists including at one time Christo himself handling such responsibilities, and then topics of how Night by Night didn’t want to saturate the use of the opening track from the NxN album called Time to Escape, the guitarist discusses the quotes they’ve shared from various bands who like what the band are doing.
“We needed everything we could get, so I kind of took the punt of thinking – what have we got to lose? You’ve got Facebook now and a lot of these musicians have personal profiles so they’re probably inundated with messages but I thought, well, I might as well. What’s the worst that could happen?”
His flow is tangible as he stands by his decision to contact these well-respected musicians. “In each of these cases you’ve got Kane Roberts, who played with Alice Cooper, you’ve got Bill Leverty from Firehouse and you’ve got Pete Lesperance from Harem Scarem and even Ted Poley from Danger Danger; I emailed the video to all those guys and all of them enthusing about how much they liked it and just seeming to be invigorated by the fact melodic hard rock was making a resurgence in a way that wasn’t a contrived pastiche.
In order to clarify the verdict, Christo elaborates. “Steel Panther are obviously a comedy band and is what they trade on, but there are a lot of other bands who have come out in the last few years that aren’t built up as comedic but are like a new band doing 80’s – and the only thing new about them is that they’re doing it now.”
He continues to share his thoughts. “Where as, what these artists said about us was that they liked the fact it sounded new and obviously influenced by the 80’s. There are bits on the album, like the opening of Can’t Walk Away; the first time I heard All She Wrote by Firehouse I said ‘we’ve got to have a song that opens just with three-part vocals.’ That is something that was directly influenced by their songwriting, the things that these guys have done.”
To summarise his explanation, Christo adds “Once we had those quotes it seemed like wow, we could try and connect with people who like these bands.”
Official video for A Thousand Lies:
Knowing the guitarist was mostly associated with Sisters of Mercy, you’d not be slapped for your curiosity in wondering why he is taking a different musical direction in conjunction with those other duties. “Before I joined the Sisters of Mercy, I was essentially trying to make the band Night by Night. There was an incarnation of Night by Night at the very end of 2005, and I joined the Sisters’ at the beginning of 2006. So at the end of 2005 I’d moved to London and was trying to get this band going. I’d come up with the name Night by Night and I was putting it together.”
“It was completely different back then and it was stylistically it was much more in the way of straight ahead hardcore metal but very melodic with three-part vocal harmonies. It was maybe a slightly more extreme version of what we’re doing now and it wasn’t really as song orientated.” The founding member then suggests a comparison. “So maybe it was a bit more like Avenged Sevenfold but obviously not with the sophistication that they have.”
“Obviously I love being in the Sisters’, its fantastic. It still doesn’t fulfil my need to write the kind of music I’ve always wanted to write. I think that’s the key thing about it, I’ve always wanted to write music that has this 80’s element to it mixed up with heavier riffs and draws on bands like Sevendust, Alter Bridge and Boy Sets Fire with heavier riffs. I’ve always wanted to combine that.”
Listening to songs like If Only and Everywhere Tonight with their slower tempo in conjunction with their insistent sense of melody and harmony, they hint at the real essence of the ballad without falling in to the territory of songs like Mr. Big and their commercial peak To Be With You, or Extreme delivering their crossover hit single More Than Words. So how far would Night by Night go to perhaps create a door-opening song that would reach a larger audience?
“Sometimes as a music fan you don’t necessarily always find it easy, or not even easy, it doesn’t cross your mind to make the distinction between something a band you like does that is commercial and something you like by them that isn’t.” Christo very briefly then tries to find the right words to explain his standpoint.
“I don’t think I’d find it very easy to purposefully go out and write something that was supposed to be more commercial and supposed to be more of a mainstream ballad. I think that’s something that we’d write a whole bunch of stuff and we genuinely felt – and I do feel that we would genuinely feel something that has that style that has more of a ballad-vibe because we all like acoustic music; I love Damn Yankees and they’re the kings of ballad; so there is that honest desire in us to produce music like that. I just feel it would have to be something we did through a series of a whole bunch of writing, some of which would fall in to that remit because we genuinely like that.”
As their profile grows around Europe and the UK thanks to an appealing, well-crafted and refined sound combining a muscular style of melodic rock and smooth harmonies, it feels like a matter of time before there is interest here in the U.S. for what some may possibly call the next Def Leppard. These are early days, and with their debut album finally being unearthed for all to hear, maybe the verdict will gain momentum as more people listen.
Whether it is the instant seduction of rockers like Time to Escape, Can’t Walk Away or The Moment, to the slower tempo tracks looming high on the radar like Everywhere Tonight and If Only, without overlooking such gems as Siren or Holding Onto Holding On, there’s certainly more than a hint of better things to come on the horizon for Night by Night.