“Los Angeles & Berlin-based, darkwave & post-punk band, Night Nail, formed in 2013, and released a self-titled EP which received attention from press, college & radio, & blogs throughout the US, Europe, South America, and Australia; They recently released their newest album “LA Demons” in July 2018”on Cleopatra Records.
Brandon Robert – Vocals/Guitar
Michael Carpenter Jr. – Guitar
David Cluff – Bass Guitar
Justin Deaktivere – Keyboards/Programming
Bryan Panzeri – Drums
- Hello Brandon, thank you for taking the time to speak with Marble Orchard and Absolution NYC, how have things been with the album release?
(Brandon Robert) It’s been a killer year for Night Nail! Since we released the “LA Demons” album with Cleopatra Records, everything has gotten more interesting and more alive. The gothic, darkwave, & post-punk communities from Berlin, Germany to LA to Miami, Florida to Portland, Oregon all have been receptive & supportive. We just got back from our US West Coast Tour from July/Aug where played with some great new darkwave bands such as Creux Lies, Charlatan, Eyes Like Ice, Mannequin, Echolust, Xibling, Solve, to name just a few. Night Nail added a new bass player, David Cluff (Autosex, Egrets on Ergot) & made fresh alliances, comrades, friends & fans!
- I read that you guys have worked with the Gitane Demone Quartet and David J, how did those collaborations come about and do you continue ongoing partnerships with them or was it a one off deal with both? I imagine it’s more likely for a regular pairing with Gitane due to her location.
(Brandon Robert) We like Gitane Demone and Rikk Aknew. We love their band the Gitane Demone Quartet and their prior work in Christian Death. We only did one LA show with them, so far. It was mind blowing to share the stage with that caliber of talent. It was both exciting and humbling. It’s safe to expect more Night Nail collaboration with them in the future. Night Nail had our second show ever with David J and his band. We were nervous. I guess we pulled it off because David J gave us a ‘thumbs up,’ after the show. David is a talented and cool guy to say nothing of his important contributions to Tones on Tail, Love and Rockets, and of course, Bauhaus.
- Moving onto lyrics and songwriting, I do hear talk of romance and consequences of fateful decisions in the lyrics but perhaps with deeper observations of the aforementioned topics, how do you and your bandmates choose to channel your own views into the music and eventually the finished “product” as songs?
(Brandon Robert) You definitely got some of the themes we talk about in our lyrics. We all read books, hang-out together, share music with each other, and after that a dark, synergy takes over. “Wall Collapse” was inspired by the book “T
he Seven That Were Hanged” by Russian novelist L. Andreev. For me, that novel is a beautiful expression of total loss and despair. The “LA Demons” album title comes from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s seriously dope, novel “Demons.” Post-punk music and Russian existentialist literature have share a mystical connection; fated bed fellows, forever.
- Given that the “scene” has changed so much over several decades and there’s about a hundred different subgenres that came out from under the punk umbrella then eventually the post punk/goth/darkwave/deathrock, how do you as a front man and your bandmates handle bookings? I know some promoters are sticklers for sticking to format but it’s still a group decision as a band where and when you’ll do a gig.
(Brandon Robert) Booking own shows is a hard labor of love. It can be painful or fun or both. The point is that booking our own shows gives us the power to hand-pick bands (curation) we like and hand-pick the people we want to work with. I usually initiate a booking then run it by the band and then we decide as a collective. Booking agencies and promoters all have their own different ways of doing things and we have built relationships with clubs and promoters over the years. At our current level, as long as we can still book our own shows AND play with great bands at the same time, our preference is doing it ourselves. Europe is a different story. After playing bass for and doing a successful UK tour this summer with the band, VV & the Void, who supported Chameleons Vox, I see the benefits of having a booking agent who really knows the local scenes better than I. Having a booking agent, though, won’t detract us from picking great bands and people to work with, in the future. No matter what successes happen for us, we remain diligent, conscientious, underground artists & musicians, first.
- I see that for Night Nail, you are based in two countries, both the U.S. and Germany, hardly an unusual situation for a lot of darker tinged acts but how is the arrangement for yourself and your bandmates?
(Michael Carpenter Jr.) Booking with a band that lives on two different continents can be tough. A nine hour time difference creates a small window of opportunity to have direct contact and not bounce back and forth through emails. The planning process is taken very seriously and many months out. This includes rehearsals. I think it has made us all much more transparent and blunt with each other. Definitely, it has made us closer!
- The band has gotten a lot of buzz from the indie press, Brandon, have you ever found yourself in a situation having to explain what the band is about or have you had the writers try to do something silly i.e. if they wear black, let’s make up the most bizarre assumptions possible about them without asking any actual questions, I’ve seen this happen a few times, haha.
(Justin Deaktivere) I started wearing black in protest when the Bush administration invaded Iraq and never stopped. That’s not to say I don’t like it as fashion, as well. In many ways it remains an active statement, much like the way Crass wore plain black clothes in protest of what they considered fashion punks of their era. But, for me it is ultimately a display of protest of a society plagued by angst (both in the English and German senses of the word) over the false dichotomies created by global capitalism in crisis. People can jump to conclusions that it is about personal anguish or what not, but I’m actually a pretty healthy person both emotionally and spiritually.
- I saw in LA a while back there was a big fuss about the Cloak and Dagger Festival and it’s tentative ties to the scene out west, what are your thoughts about that? I saw a lot of bickering back and forth about that on social media.
(Brandon Robert) We are not connected to that particular scene. We did hear some noise & drama from that corner. We just try to do own thing and forge our own path. We realized it makes very little sense in getting into the mix of a controversy. The world of music is really BIG and needs further exploration. LA, Berlin, Paris, London, NYC, Portland, Seattle, etc are great but, ultimately, they are tiny worlds in a vast macro-universe!
- Let’s talk about the “Little Armenia” video and “Walls Collapse”, a lot of post punk or goth acts are finally getting music videos out now, how did those two come about? The production quality on both really shows.
(Brandon Robert) Thanks, Kris. We shot the video for “Little Armenia” in a very cold and romantic Soviet Memorial at a place called Treptower Park in Berlin, Germany. It was snowing and 15 degrees Fahrenheit, that day. Nevertheless, after the shooting, we saw that a warmth in the song juxtaposed well enough against the imagery of the statues of Stalin, Communist-era Germany, and the cold, grey light. The director Alonso Gomez and editor, Jean De Oliveira, both, did unconventionally, killer, “layered” work on this video; making sense of our initial concept. “Walls Collapse” was filmed in a abandoned Stasi-era, Communist ballroom on the river Spree in Berlin, Germany. As with “Little Aremenia,” it was an ‘icy’ day and set in a dangerous place to for a “guerilla-style” music video. I first climbed in through a broken window and found every the room filled with asbestos, debris, broken glass, sharp nails, and a torn-up piano on stage. It was haunting and perfectly macabre for the visuals of the song. After I got my shots, I ran out of that place completely freaked-out! Almost killed myself running away from the many years of ghosts collecting there in that ballroom and maybe some of my own. Berlin is rife with these abandoned places. Our next video for the song “Hollow Day,” is premiering next month and will be equally haunting, though, it was little less dangerous to shoot!
- Most of your shows are limited to the west coast for the time being, not to ask tired questions but do you have any plans to play other parts of the U.S., Texas is blowing up for shows and it’s a cheap place to tour.
(Brandon Robert) We are planning both US & UK tours next summer, as we speak! Thanks for the heads-up on Texas, it is def on our radar.
- To wrap things up, any last parting words for readers out there?
(Brandon Robert) Vielen dank, Auf wiedersehen, Liebchen.