intro by Leigh Bezezekoff
interview by Jim Beckmann
photos by Doron Gild
Seattle’s Black Nite Crash draws heavily on their shoegazer, new wave and sixties garage rock influences creating their own brand of noise pop infused with fuzzy guitars and rousing melodies. Recently signed to Virginia’s Custom Made Records, BNC is finally starting to get the attention they deserve since their inception in 2002. The writing and recording of the band’s full-length debut, Array, actually began in 2004 but due to several line-up changes, the release was delayed until this summer. For most bands this would have been the end, but BNC’s Jim Biggs and Joel Bergstrom persevered, building a whole new rhythm section and bringing stability back into the endeavor. The result is a group of cohesive musicians who create a powerful and emotional live set. KEXP is pleased to share their music with listeners in NYC and beyond during their live performance at CMJ on Monday October 20th at 1pm.
After their set, Jim from KEXP talked with Jim from Black Nite Crash, along with Joel, Jamie (bass), Heather (keyboards), and Randall (drums) from the band, and Dave from Custom Made Records, their Virginia Beach based label, which specializes in pressing vinyl.
Jim (KEXP): How did a Seattle band like you get hooked up with a Virginia label like Custom Made Music?
Joel: That’s a good question. It was Myspace. We decided we were going to put it out as a vinyl record and I posted a comment on [Dave’s] page. He was releasing Skywave.
Dave: Skywave was around earlier and had broken up in the early 2000’s, but they had a single that was recorded but was put on the back burner. And when I started the label, we had released their work. It was in the genre of what’s going on, the common theme of a lot of the band I’m releasing. A lot of people were a fans of that. We got some responses from a lot of different bands. And that’s where I came across them and was like, “Hey, this stuff has got to come out.” And we had a common interest in wanting to make a vinyl record. Which is kinda hard to find these days. Besides, the songs and the production were amazing. I told them I had to have my hand in this.
Joel: We were both fans of vinyl. Yea for vinyl! It just really came out of that.
Dave: After that we were on a mission to push the vinyl. The actual LP will come with the CD.
Joel: It’s just an acknowledgment of the digital age. We know the majority of people are going to rip it to their computer anyway and saves them to have to find a way to rip the record.
Jim (KEXP): Did you record the album intending it to be on vinyl?
Jim (BNC): Absolutely not. We never recorded it with any intentions other than we needed to get the songs done right and that’s why it took so long. Primarily, we put out an EP, and we were cool with that, but we had these songs that we were gigging out for a while and we came across this guy, Dave. We had been in this disastrous recording session and so the end process result was to release it. We’re songwriters, so we wanted to put these songs out right.
Joel: It was always about the sounds. The original EP we did when we did just because we felt like we needed a product. We were ready to go into the studio, but we weren’t prepared to record. We didn’t know what we were doing. By the time we got to where we were with these songs, we had an idea, a vision, and all of that. Dave Hillis was really instrumental there and he helped us sound like we wanted to sounds and we got it all done.
Jim (BNC): We mastered it then on Prairie Cat Records. He does nothing but lacquered masters on vinyl.
Jim (KEXP): Did you go back in the studio after that so called disastrous recording process?
Jim (BNC): We did. We tracked 17 songs, but it was bad mojo everywhere. We actually got some good takes, but the sessions were chaotic and in the midst of all this is when we ran into Dave (Hillis) and he took us back up to London Bridge and we retracked four songs, and then we gave Dave everything we had done from the previous sessions and he had managed salvage a bunch of stuff. His mixing skills were key there. We thought it was 17 wasted songs. He actually managed to salvage them, and in the end it came out very much like we hoped it would,
Joel: We didn’t credit Dave’s house [on the album] as we should have. We did some extra vocal stuff there.
Jim (KEXP): But obviously you are happy with the way it sounds now.
Jim (BNC): We ran into some personnel problems, but in the end we sat back a few months later and said, “this record is great.” We love this record, and we think other people might like it too. We needed to get this record together, we needed to get it out, and we needed to move forward.
Jim (KEXP): [indicating all members in the room] You weren’t all involved the recording process, right? Since the rest of you came on, how has the sound changed?
Jaime: I have only been in the band for a year, so a lot of the stuff I play was recorded to by Larry Brady, their old bass player. It’s only the newer stuff that has been able to be tweaked.
Jim (BNC): You should give yourself credit there. Iat sounds different when we play now. Larry was a punk rock bass player, but Jaime understands we’re a sex band! Jaime gets that vibe. We’re a little bit aggressive, but we like to have that groove, that rhythm, and Jaime brings a lot to that process.
Joel: And we did not record with a keyboardist.
Jim (BNC): We’ve always wanted a keyboard player in the band but the aforementioned personnel problems had precluded that from lasting any lengthy period of time. Heather has been exactly what we were looking for. Also, Randal, our new drummer, has been with us for several months. He has been the thing that has tied it all together. Without Randal we would be floating aimlessly.
Joel: I don’t think things would have gotten to this point if he hadn’t come along.
Jim (KEXP): Wow, that’s some compliment.
Randal: (while pretending to wave away the praise) Go on, tell me more.
Jim (KEXP): How do you think it will be different the next time you go into the studio? I assume it won’t take as long.
Joel: We’ve already been in the studio. We recorded a new single.
Jim (BNC): The second song we did today [live on KEXP] will be our new single.
Joel: We mastered it the night before we left, but unfortunately the duplicator locked the CD-R, so I can’t play it for anybody.
Dave: There’s only one playable copy. It’s going to be a spilt single with a band from London called The Tamborines, who are kinda doing the same thing and are in a similar mindset. They’re gonna come over here for a few months.
Joel: The reason we recorded that new single was to record it on vinyl in the UK with The Tamborines.
Dave: And the song will be downloadable online.
Jim (BNC): Plus it was also, for the five of us, the first thing we recorded in our current incarnation, and certainly not the last. We felt, once the five of us were together even for a really short time, that we needed to get something captured, now.
Joel: We are going to record a new record next year.
Jim (BNC): We’re not going to wait four years to put our next record out.
Jim (KEXP): When does the new single come out?
Dave: It should be out sometime in mid November.
Joel: We’re going to try to have a CD release party in Seattle, and do something in Portland.
Jim (BNC): We’ll hit the Northwest. The goal is to have the new record finished, recorded though not released, but finished by March, by the time SXSW rolls around.
Jim (KEXP): How has response been so far?
Jim (BNC): For the new single, everyone from the UK who has heard Array has said, “You all seem to know what is going on in America. We wish the UK could catch up.” It’s like the people in the UK feel that there is a resurgence going on here. There are a bunch of American bands that know what’s going on. But The Tamborines are really one of those UK bands that are something to watch. Putting our two bands together is certainly a good combination.
Jim (KEXP): How about CMJ? Is this your first time here?
Jim (BNC): This is actually our first tour, the first time we have left the Northwest to play, really.
Jim (KEXP): But you have played a lot in Seattle.
Jim (BNC): Yes, yes we have. We had that hiatus, but we do play a lot in Seattle.
Joel: Every gig that we should and every gig that we shouldn’t have played.
Jim (KEXP): Do you know where are you playing for CMJ?
Jim (BNC): We’re playing at Good Bye Blue Monday on Monday, it’s an official CMJ thing. We’re playing at the Vanishing Point In Brooklyn on Thursday. I don’t think it’s officially CMJ. It’s a Japanese label showcase. We’re not on that label, but we’re playing anyway.
Dave: The guys that put on the Vanishing Point show have followed the new record and when they heard we were coming out, they were like, “Hey, we got this new venue open in Brooklyn and we want to do a show with them.” They put this show together because they were fans.
Joel: Four shows — two in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn.