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Interview With:: Night Riots

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Kara Kokinos, a new addition to the LOL team, had the opportunity to sit down with Nick Fotinakes, Travis Hawley, and Mikel Van Kranenburg of Night Riots this past Sunday (3/8/15) at the Brighton Music Hall during the East Coast leg of their tour with Draemings. The CA gentlemen, previously known as PK, released their “Howl” EP this January and have been featured on Sirius XM Alt Nation and placed on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

Catch up on the band’s recent signing with Sumerian Records, Kickstarter, and SXSW and be sure to follow their socials for upcoming tour dates!

LOL: Hi guys! First off, I want to congratulate you guys on the release of the “Howl” EP! So how has the reception to that been so far?
Travis Hawley: It’s been great!
Nick Fotinakes: Yeah, it’s going surprisingly pretty well. Well, not surprisingly, but you never know what to expect. It’s been received super well and all these shows we’ve been playing have been really great, people are responding to the new stuff. So better than anticipated.

LOL: Very nice! You guys premiere the first single, ‘Contagious’, a while back and did a video for that. Can you tell me a little bit about that process?
Travis Hawley: Yeah, I mean we have a certain aesthetic that definitely follows us, it’s just how we like to see the world in general. But we’ve been working with a music video director named Chris Buongiorno and he has kind of captured that for us and it’s really helping realize that. We’re discussing different ideas, we had some really elaborate plans before and then, with the label, we wanted to put a simple, solid performance video out first before we got into the crazy stuff, that’s for the future.

LOL: You guys are a newer Sumerian Records signing, how’s that been going?
Travis Hawley: It’s been amazing, it’s been a platform for us and we’ve been surprised how many people have been greeting us with open arms. Especially because we’re an alternative band on a metal label, it’s very different. But it’s cool, we’re not the black sheep, we’re set apart and we stand out, which is very cool.

LOL: You guys actually crowdfunded the last EP you did before signing to Sumerian, “Young Lore”, how was that process for you guys? Did you enjoy it or was it more of a struggle?
Travis Hawley: I think that the decision to do it was a little bit of a struggle. Just because it’s hard to ask people who have always supported you and they’ve already given so much coming to your shows so it’s hard to say, “Would you give us money?” We really tried to give cool, unique rewards out. We tried to make it worthwhile for everybody and put everything we could into it. We figured that’s the only way people would give back to us. And they did! It was huge, we didn’t want to be one of those bands that starts a Kickstarter and then gets halfway through and then just dies. So for us it was amazing because we got our goal really fast. And it wasn’t even a rich aunt or uncle that came in and was like, “Hey, here’s five grand. We’re gonna give it to you.” It was just a bunch of little purchases all over the United States. All over the world, really. So that was really cool.

LOL: Have you guys seen a lot of those people who donated when you’ve come through on tour?
Travis Hawley: We’ve seen the shirts and sweatshirts!
Nick Fotinakes: Part of the rewards for it was doing a string of acoustic, private shows so it was a good chunk of those people that we see at shows all the times and have become friends with too. We basically went over to their house and played and ate dinner with them.

LOL: Very nice, how is this tour going?
Nick Fotinakes: Good! It’s been cold.
Travis Hawley: Best tour.
Nick Fotinakes: Yeah, that’s for sure.
Mikel VK: I like it, it’s a nice change of pace.

LOL: Well you guys are going back down to SXSW next week-
Nick Fotinakes: Is it that close?
Travis Hawley: Yeah, and that’s usually hot and humid. But last year it wasn’t too bad.
Nick Fotinakes: It was pretty cool.

LOL: How was your experience there last year?
Nick Fotinakes: It was good! We weren’t there for too long, it was a pretty quick trip.
Travis Hawley: It was perfect. We played really good shows and that’s actually where we met Sumerian for the first time. They came to a show and we had some perfectly packed performances.
Nick Fotinakes: We were there for three days, we weren’t there for the whole time. So we came in, played a couple cool shows. We had a hotel right down town and we got to come in and get out of there really easily. Got to get out of there before all the bands and before we got too tired so that was the perfect SXSW experience.

LOL: What does this year’s SXSW look like for you guys?
Travis Hawley: I think it’ll be a good one.
Nick Fotinakes: Pretty similar, we’re only there for two or three days.
Travis Hawley: You know what I think it is? I think that everybody in the industry is so pumped on SXSW. Everybody is, except, and I can’t say this for all bands, but I will say that for our band, we’re not super pumped on it. This thing is that it is amazing, you get to see a lot of great artists but it is so overwhelming. And we do this all the time, we’re on tour living that lifestyle, the party atmosphere, all the time. So for us it’s just another one of those except to the tenth degree.
Nick Fotinakes: Yeah, times one hundred.

LOL: And you guys just did CMJ.
Travis Hawley: That was different though, that was cool cuz it’s kind of spread out over the city, which I thought was cool.
Nick Fotinakes: SXSW is that whole party crammed into that one street so it’s just like a Mardi Gras for bands and no one cares that you’re playing music because everyone’s i  a band there so it’s like, “’Oh, I’m playing a show, you should co- oh shut up.”
Travis Hawley: Well how we did it last and year and how we’ll do it this year is really fun if you come in there and you’ve got a place to stay. We went the year before and we stayed in our van, we had bunks in the back, and we were about two miles out.
Nick Fotinakes: {groans} It was really hot.
Travis Hawley: So we would park outside of the downtown and just hike.
Nick Fotinakes: About a mile out.
Travis Hawley: We would carry all of our gear, it was humid and hot. You would wake up and you’re drenched in sweat and then you have to load in gear. We were playing shows at around ten in the morning at a bar on the outskirts and there would be nobody there.

LOL: Looks like it paid off though!
{all agree}
Travis Hawley: I was just about to say that.
Mikel VK: It’s not to say that SXSW is a terrible place, there are upsides to it as well.
Travis Hawley: There are so many rad bands.
Mikel VK: You get to see awesome bands, there are awesome people, you make tons of connections, and we’re super grateful for the showcases that we do have this year, they’re going to be awesome. It goes both ways.
Nick Fotinakes: Yeah, I think it’s about how you go into it. That first year we had no idea what to expect so we did it completely wrong so now that we’re going into it knowing things –
Mikel VK: That first one just put a sour taste in our mouths.
Nick Fotinakes: But we have good showcases, we get to see a lot of friends. We get to see bands that we never cross paths with and hang out. We saw some cool people last year like The 1975, CeeLo, Young The Giant, it’s great.
Travis: I really liked CeeLo.

LOL: Is there anything you want to tease after the end of festival season?
Nick Fotinakes: Aww man, is there anything we want to tease?
Travis Hawley: Do a little tease.
Nick Fotinakes: I don’t know if we have anything teasable, we’re playing a couple of festivals, one in FL after this, doing something in NY too. Hopefully maybe some UK stuff, that’s a tease.
Travis Hawley: We’re also at South By So What.
Nick Fotinakes: Oh yeah, that’s at the end of SXSW for us, we go there. I guess the only tease is that we’re going to be touring all of the time, you won’t be able to get rid of us. We’re going to be in your backyard all of the time, in your ear like a little bird chirping.
Travis Hawley: It’s true.

LOL: Sounds great, thanks guys! Anything you want to leave us off with, social plugs?
Nick Fotinakes: Oh yeah, follow us on Facebook.com/nightriots. Instagram is @nightriots. Twitter is @nightriots. The website is nightriots.com. It’s really easy.
Travis Hawley: Night Riots across the board
Nick Fotinakes: You can follow Mikel’s personal account as well.
Mikel VK: Oh yeahhhh.
Travis Hawley: You can also find that @nightriots 😉

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