Last night bands Nightmare of You and Even Thieves played at Double Door for Nightmare of You’s 10th anniversary show. The WNUR Media Team caught up with the two bands before the concert to learn more about their influences, sonic styles and more. Nightmare of You is an indie pop, new wave rock group from New York that draws its musical influences from bands like The Beatles, Squeeze and The Clash. Even Thieves is part new wave, part rock n’ roll. This six-member group draws their musical influences from bands like New Order and Nine Inch Nails.
WNUR: How’d you come up with the band name?
Adrian Day: There’s a song that has always stuck in my head. It was by a band called The Black Heart Procession, and they had a song called “Even Thieves Couldn’t Lie.” It was about a man of ill repute, if you will. The woman that he loves dies and he says, “Even thieves couldn’t lie.” He loved her so much that he couldn’t lie about it. When I was thinking of band names, I liked that you could say “Even thieves couldn’t lie” or “Even thieves,” like people were equals in a group.
Any thoughts on booking Double Door as a venue?
Day:To me, it’s kind of like the Metra. It’s like, I’m in a band in Chicago; I have to play at Double Door. It’s like a Chicago institution.
What has the past few months looked like?
Day: For us, starting to play shows was something that we really wanted to [perfect]. We don’t want to just be a band that’s figuring things out on stage. Once we had the full group, we took six months of just us as a band, writing things and creating a set. Hopefully, you get a sense of theatrics, and you get a starting point and an endpoint, a full experience.
What has been your favorite performance experience so far?
O.J. Garza: Adrian introduced Black English to me. I really liked them, so being able to play with a band that you have on your iPod or that you listen to was really awesome. The first song started off, and I was just shaking. I was so nervous because I hadn’t played a show for over a year, but once we started getting into it, it was a ton of fun.
Jeremy Atwood: I also liked the Black English show, because I was a big fan of theirs, so when we found out we were opening for them, it was pretty funny. We got to meet them and hang out with them and talk about stuff, so that was pretty awesome, and that being our first show too, that was definitely crazy.
Joe Chouinard: The last place that we played was at Burlington. When we went on, the place was packed. That was just so much fun, I just like that really personal feel, kind of dark and edgy, but really personal.
Tyler Leninger: I agree with Joe on everything he just said.
What influences your musical style?
Garza: I grew up listening to mainly pop punk, Green Day, Blink-182. When I came to look at these guys play, the style was really, really different, but I told myself that I need to be open-minded because I was super set on just playing for a pop punk band. But then, once I heard them play, I jumped on and played a few songs for them. I really got into it, so I’m glad that I kept myself open-minded, but punk is my roots.
Atwood: I like breaking down songs and figuring out interesting chord progressions, and combining everyone else’s influences into the songs we make. EvQen if it’s a totally different genre, maybe there’s a cool chord progression.
Leninger: I really like bands like Crosses, which is a side project of Deftones [and Far], and Nine Inch Nails, something that brings live instrumentation and electronic instrumentation, so that’s where I came from.
Day: Jeremy was an excellent piano player, who had some interest in synth stuff, and Tyler was an amazing drummer. We talked a lot about things like Nine Inch Nails, things where there was an electronic influence or there was a big live instrument thing. So when we first started writing, [what] influenced me was like the 80’s, like New Order, Joy Division, The Cure…All of them had that same live instruments, but also an electronic nature.
When you come and hear us, typically you’re not tied to, “oh, they sound like (insert someone here)”, whether it’s Alkaline Trio or Green Day or The Stone Age or Nine Inch Nails. I don’t think anyone can sit there and say, “Oh, this sounds just like them.” My hope is that there’s a darkness, a bit of dance, a bit of exuberance. You have got to get all of that, and blend that together.
Chouinard: Adrian and I both played in a punk band. I went to high school with a couple of guys from Fall Out Boy, including Joe Trohman and Pete Wentz. When I’d go to shows, I’d see Alkaline Trio play. I’d say, definitely for me, Chicago punk rock was a big influence on me and got me interested in playing music.
How excited are you to open for Nightmare of You performing the entirety of their debut album from start to finish?
Day: I remember being in the van, and listening to that album. Having it open up this world, where everyone in the van came from [hardcore music] that I grew up on, but they were also coming from the other stuff I grew up on, like The Smiths or New Order. All these bands that were really melodic and very literary in how they wrote.
Vinnie DePierro: I agree.
Q: What’s your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
Chouinard: Piece Pizza.
Day: Kitchen 17.
DePierro: Lula Café.
Leninger: Cobra Lounge. Every Monday, they’ve got half-price burgers, and they’re incredible. Love that place.
WNUR: What was it like playing a sold-out show in New York?
Brandon Reilly: The Bowery Ballroom show was the first show that we performed in six years, and it was the first time that we ever performed the first album in its entirety. The show went better than we could have imagined. We really didn’t know what to expect; we hadn’t played in so long. A lot of loyalty was still there. A lot of our fans, they stuck around, and the show sold out. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
How did it feel to play the first album again?
Reilly: In many ways, it feels the same, but it also feels different in just as many ways. We’ve all kind of matured a lot, we’re all better players, and there’s a little bit of focus, so we’re a little more serious about it. We’re not just partying and getting all screwed up. It’s now only about the music, and I think that was reflected at our show at Bowery. It was arguably our best performance ever, and I think that has a lot to do with growing up and getting focused on what the real priority is- the music. The thing that remains the same is that it’s the same guys with the same inside jokes.
How do you think your musical style has changed over the years?
Reilly: If you listen, all three releases sound completely different. That was something that Joe and myself strived for, something we wanted to do on purpose. A lot of bands say this, but we felt that we didn’t want to make that same record twice, even if the first record ended up being the best record we ever made. We always want to challenge ourselves and try different things sonically. That was more of a conscious effort on our part, and not so much to do with the changing of members.
Compare and contrast your musical style with that of your opener, Even Thieves.
Reilly: Something I’ve noticed about them is that, sonically, we don’t sound even remotely similar, but we are drawing influences from the same exact bands. We processed the same influences, but the output ended up being a lot different. It still falls under this ode to new wave and eighties bands, mixed with some very subtle seventies and Americana. [Adrian Day, of Even Thieves,] sent me some playlists he made on Spotify, and it’s funny, because these are playlists that I could have easily made down to every single song on there, so that was kind of a cool coincidence that we got hooked up together.
Thoughts on booking Double Door?
Reilly: Unlike a lot of venues and promoters, they are actively promoting these shows on the Internet all over the place. I’m constantly seeing them talking about it, and that’s something that I appreciate a lot. This is completely word of mouth, through social media and the internet.
Any word on future plans?
Reilly: In the spirit of just being as honest and transparent as possible, we don’t know. We’re just taking it as it comes. We all have way bigger lives now. We’re seeing what comes in, analyzing it and deciding if it’s something that makes sense from a logistical standpoint. The ten year anniversary conveniently lined up with wanting to play again with those guys, so it was just extra-intensive to make that happen, being that the first album was coming up on 10 years.