By: Marlon Saucedo
Roughly a year ago, I decided to go out to a free showcase that UT Campus Events & Entertainment organized next to the University’s Union building. Local acts Major Major Major and Night Drive were playing.
After Major Major Major’s set, Night Drive members, Rodney Connell and Brandon Duhon came on stage. Through their cool demeanor and slick style they produced an intriguing aura that made the two seem out-of-place in the college campus scenario. Soon after their set began, I was up on my feet and uncontrollably grooving. Every set I’ve seen them perform since then has been as electrifying as the first.
I was excited to receive the chance to contact the band a few days before their performance at the inaugural Sound on Sound Festival.
SMEAR: In your Facebook band page your “Story” states, “Night Drive co-founders, Rodney Connell and Brandon Duhon met after a young woman they were both unknowingly dating was killed in a car crash. The tragic event bonded the two, and shortly afterwards they began a musical collaboration.” Is that a true story?
Night Drive: Yes it is.
S: Is the story of the young woman the reason for your band name decision?
ND: Yes that is part of the reason for our choice of the band name, we ended up becoming friends from that situation and discovered that we liked much of the same music.
S: I’ve heard you two covering acts like Radiohead, without sounding anything like the band. Some of your songs also have a sort of post-punk Joy Division-y sound. A lot of influences going on in your music. What are some of your main influences?
ND: We are about 50/50 old and modern influences. Some of the older influences are pretty apparent I would guess. Some of the more modern influences would be rhythm-heavy artists like LCD Soundsystem and more dreamy chillwave artists like Toro Y Moi. Our music is also really inspired by synth-heavy atmospheric artists like Steve Moore.
S: Do you two identify the project with any music genre?
ND:We call our genre “future wave” but we aren't aiming for a particular genre, initially we just got together to see if we could make something we both enjoyed.
S: Do you guys aim to recreate certain sounds or reinvent them?
ND: I’d say neither, the aim is just to make sounds that capture a certain feeling or mood for us. There isn’t really an aim to recapture a certain era or reinvent a sound, we really just want to make something that we both connect to emotionally.
S: I remember the first time I saw you two play was at a UT event, in which, Rodney got pretty frustrated at the students for not standing up and grooving to your jams. I think that says a lot about your live shows and what you two wish from your audiences, what do you two think?
ND: Well, after you play a few dozen shows where everyone is dancing, you kind of come to expect it. Plus, we give a lot in our live shows, and for the magic to work the audience needs to get on board for the ride.
S: Has your touring been met with more hype from your audiences?
ND: Yes, especially on the west coast. That’s been our favorite place to tour so far.
S: What is the songwriting process like for you two?
ND: Generally Brandon kicks it off with an instrumental piece. If Rodney is feeling the vibe, then he composes vocal melodies for it. Once the two pieces have been put together it is like mixing chemicals, the song can really go in any direction from there since both are very involved in the arranging and mixing process.
S: You two are playing Sound on Sound on the Nov. 6th, how do you two feel about performing for festival audiences?
ND: Festivals are great, we have a chance to get as big and elaborate as we like and the audience at festivals are always enthusiastic.
S: What is the next step for Night Drive?
ND:We’re releasing a single in November and our first full-length album on vinyl in January of next year. After that, we plan to build a bass player out of spare electronics around the studio.