LA progressive rockers Night Verses’ new album From the Gallery of Sleep has finally arrived on June 29th via Equal Vision Records. Music for this record was composed between 2014 and 2017 and it is the next step for the group as an instrumental trio since vocalist Douglas Robinson officially parted ways last Fall. The band are currently touring across the United States in support of the new album and despite their busy schedule, we were lucky to catch up with drummer Aric Improta to discuss their instrumental direction, goals for the future, and more.
Can you elaborate on how you parted ways with Douglas Robinson?
Honestly, it was a pretty mutual move. Doug is still a good friend and we love the music we made with him, but he got to a point in his life when he rightfully needed to prioritize other things and we wanted to continue on. I wish there was a more interesting version of that story to tell, but it was really just the right move for all of us at the time.
When you decided to become an instrumental band, how did you think your fans would react to it?
We weren’t super concerned with how people would react. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, I just mean we’ve always tried to put out music that showcased every member of the band equally and although it would be completely understandable for a older fan to be less interested in the idea of an instrumental release, we still felt like if 3/4 of the group are involved, then its worth continuing. On top of that, we were an instrumental act on and off for 10 years, before Doug entered the band and we always wrote the music first, before he would add his contributions. So the idea of moving forward without a vocalist felt very natural to us. With that being said, we’ve always appreciated bands that did what came most naturally to them, as opposed to trend-hoping or forcing any sort of contrived version of themselves, so we figured working this way would be the most honest place for us to deliver from and would probably generate the best result.
From the Gallery of Sleep is a mix of say Russian Circles meets Brian Eno, what was it like to incorporate such distinct sounds together?
Thank you for that comparison. Seriously. We’ve definitely looked up to both of those artists and it’s cool to hear you get those vibes from the album. As far as the incorporation sonically, again, it was very natural. We all have an eclectic set of individual influences and at the same time possess a very unified vision on what we want this band to sound like. In my experience, the key to respectfully blending those influences is by diluting them with your musical personalities. Both Reilly and Nick have very distinct approaches to their instruments, so if I bring a beat or general pace to a song that is purposefully reminiscent of an artist like Bonobo or Tycho, then we do our best to make sure they compliment the material without abandoning their instinctual approaches. When you approach it that way, you are adding elements that the initial influence would never incorporate into their material. We are all pretty big on making sure we don’t copy anything directly and that we create new ways to reach our goals. One my biggest pet peeves is working with an artist that directly steals musical concepts and justifies it by saying, ‘Everything has already been done before.’ That is absolutely not true and Brian Eno is a direct example of my point. So for those of you reading this who think otherwise, feel free to research him and his work, it’s all the proof you need.
Would you ever consider having someone on guest vocals later on?
Definitely. We actually did have our friend Jesse Classen of Foreign Air sing on the end of the track “No Moon.” The idea of working exclusively with one singer is no longer a goal with this band. Moving forward, want the majority of our future material to remain instrumental. However, we are not opposed to collaborating with other vocalists when it feels right for the song.
Which post-rock/post metal bands inspire you?
Within that world, we dig Cult of Luna, Maserati, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Isis, Russian Circles, Lite, Silver Snakes and Palms. I know there are a handful of others I can’t think of right now, but those are the ones that generally keep our interest. I feel like the concepts, vibes and artwork that come with those two genres are great, but there are definitely some boring bands that stem from it as well, so we get stoked to find the artists that really know how to navigate within that musical space.
Aside from no vocals, how was the recording process compared to your prior efforts?
It was amazing. Will Putney is great to work with because he has a thorough understanding of how to fully utilize modern recording technology without losing the organic tone and feel of a band. He also grew up on a lot of the same artists we did, so when we’d reference specific albums from Portishead or Pink Floyd, he was on the same page with us and was easy to communicate with artistically. I’ve loved all of our studio experiences in the past. Both Ross Robinson and Kris Crummett were phenomenal collaborators for different reasons and taught us a lot about songwriting and recording. However, given the types of details this record needed emphasized, I truly believe Will Putney was the perfect fit.
What future goals/plans do you have for Night Verses?
I think the ultimate goal is to create as much as possible, whether that be songs, artwork, videos or anything else within that spectrum. We definitely enjoy playing live and getting to travel, but I think our favorite portion of the cycle is when we get to create something new. We’ve had phases with non-stop touring and multiple years without it, but the excitement that comes from making new music still remains unmatched.
Was there a time earlier on when you wanted to be more of an instrumental band?
We definitely discussed doing an instrumental side project while Doug was in the band, just because we always have a ton of extra material. Like I said in the prior question, we love the writing process and obviously the instrumental route allows for a little more freedom creatively because their is more open space to ration between the 3 of us.
You recently touched this subject with Noisey, about the album’s theme being about how we operate around our dreams. Have you ever experienced an overpowering dream that once controlled your waking life or overall mood, and have you used some of these emotions to write From the Gallery of Sleep?
I definitely have and it was a huge influence on the material. However, I don’t usually give out the specific details because I like the idea that the listener’s interpretation can lead them to a greater personal experience, when finding how the songs best correlate with their own lives. I think the most important part about us using that theme was to add a relatable human element to the music. A lot of instrumental bands focus their efforts solely on the technicality behind their playing, and although that can be great (when done right), we’ve always leaned towards music that speaks both emotionally and creatively. So we included those themes and samples to bring in that human element and generate something more relatable to our listeners.
Is there anything else you want to add or say to your fans?
If you have the time, listen to this record start to finish while driving, skating or riding your bike at night. I think you’ll get the most out of it that way.
If you haven’t yet, order From the Gallery of Sleep here.