Punk Rock and Primordial Screams with Travis Hawley of Night Riots

Words by Nadia Dar

As #16 on Rolling Stone‘s top unsigned bands list, and part of Sirius XM’s top 18 Alt Nation bands, Night Riots have been generating quite the hype lately. Their new EP, Howl, was released in January, and judging by the response, their momentum won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Before the band headed to Austin for SXSW last week, we had the chance to talk with lead singer Travis Hawley about everything from the impact of social media to the release of their new EP.

First thing’s first, let’s talk influences. You guys mentioned that some of your inspiration actually comes from punk music. What is it about punk that you find influential and how does that translate into your music?

TH: Punk music is raw and full of energy. It also seems to me that it is a genre that is almost more about the live experience and the community/scene that surrounds it than a perfectly produced recording. So I think that when we say we are influenced by punk music it doesn’t really relate to our recorded material, but has manifested itself in how we treat our live shows. We strive to bring the energy, attitude and community of a punk concert to our live experience.

I noticed you guys are playing Big Guava and returning to SXSW this year. What are the challenges and privileges of playing a huge festival verses an intimate club show?

TH: The biggest privilege is being able to perform amongst some of the biggest bands in the world. I know that The Strokes are one band that we are particularly excited to play with. The challenge is that you have to adjust your performance to create a sense of intimacy with so many people in front of you. Often times a festival slot puts you in the middle of the day with a slew of people who have no idea who you are. It is your job to win each one of them over without having the intimacy of a club show.

The new EP, Howl, is six songs long, which is a little longer than the average EP. What was the decision behind deviating away from having the standard four tracks?

TH: I guess we didn’t even think about it. I feel like a lot of EPs that we’ve listened to in the past have been anywhere from four to six tracks. Four always seemed like too little and when it came time to putting this thing out we had enough great tracks to use six.

Where did the inspiration for the EP title come from?

TH: Some of our imagery might say otherwise, but we were imagining a banshee howl or a rebel yell — like a primordial scream of passion stating our place and intent.

Between Rolling Stone naming you one of the top 16 unsigned bands, Sirius XM Alt Nation putting you in their top 10 and reaching number 17 in Billboard’s Heatseeker’s Chart, it seems like you guys have been getting a lot of attention. Does all the hype make you feel pressure? And if so, how do you guys deal with it?

TH: Honestly, we are too busy to feel pressured. I think we’ve come to the conclusion that the only people we can please is ourselves. As long as we are proud of what we are creating and feel as if we are progressing our craft, then that is all we can do.

You guys are very active on social media. How do you manage to stay so engaged, and how has this contributed to your success?

TH: We live in a social media infused world. People spend more time looking at their phones than they do the world that surrounds them. Social media is our best way of informing and connecting with people who are interested in our music.

We’ve gotten a taste of two EPs, but the fans are still hungry for more. Is a full-length album anywhere in the near future? We’re crossing our fingers that it is.

TH: Truthfully, we could not be hungrier to get to putting together our full length. We have massive amounts of material to work with. It just sort of comes down to finding a period where we aren’t touring — to get into the studio to start putting it together. Fingers crossed we can finish it by the end of this year.

Catch Night Riots this April at these local shows:
Apr 15 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Apr 16 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Apr 17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer


TheWaster.com | Howl