Night Court – Nervous Birds Too (Q&A)

‘… there’s a strong current of 90’s Halifax scene pop running through this album, the combination of Sonic-Youth-ey noise guitar and Beatlesque pop reminding me keenly of Peppermint EP era Sloan, but there’s also a vibe reminiscent of old-school 70’s East Coast bands, particularly the Mass Ave power pop of Boston groups such as The Neighborhoods (“Shitty Confidential”), as well as some of the low-fi sensibilities of early Guided By Voices (“Titanic” especially feels like it could have been pulled from Vampire on Titus) and shades of the early 2000’s garage rock revival. So, basically all kinds of good shit for people that like no frills, catchy tunes full of great guitar hooks wrapped in a scrappy, lo-fi aesthetic.’, writes Cups & Cakes.

I don’t have much to add to that but DAVE, Jiffy and Emily have.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

DAVE: The very first song I sent to Jiffy was the music for Shitty Confidential – and as soon as I heard him sing, “I wanted to be a poet…”, I knew something very cool was going on.

Jiffy: Ya, I’m not sure why this one is different from the other five bands Dave and I have been in together but it is for some reason. Maybe maturity mixed with a kick-ass drummer?

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

DAVE: Success is a difficult thing to define – not only is it subjective, but we work in an industry where a major form of payment comes in the form of cultural capital. That said, we’ve been fortunate enough to have had some great reviews – and, truly, there are few better feelings than hearing someone tell you that they sincerely love the songs you poured yourself into – so, continuing in that direction would suit me fine. But I don’t think any of us would complain if ‘success’ included a little bit of regular capital, as well 😉

How great is the urge to stay creative?  To keep writing songs and lyrics?

Jiffy: Definitely an uncontrollable urge!

DAVE: Since starting the band, it’s not so much an urge as trying to control the beast! I hadn’t really written any songs for years and once the floodgates opened, I couldn’t stop them from coming out – they were waking me up in the middle of the night! Now we have almost too many songs and not enough time to refine and record them…not a bad problem to have, really, but sometimes you have to get IN creativity’s way in order to clear the backlog of previous creativity!

As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

Emily: One of the biggest compliments for me is when someone tells me I’m believable on stage. On two different occasions I have found out a friend passed away within an hour or two before a gig and have had no choice but to mourn publically. I am comfortable with the spectacle of emotion, I find it compelling and one of the things that enriches the human experience. 

Jiffy: Too old to give a fuck! We’re emo, deal with it.

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

Jiffy: Three is too many, let’s just go with John Reis. Why? Because he’s Speedo, nuff said, but we did just recently learn/realize he produced Superchunk’s On the Mouth which seems like a sign? Like if we were to ever work with an outside producer that puts him at the top of the list, maybe the only person on the list!?

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

DAVE: Our first gig at Leeside skate park last summer was amazing. It was the first time any of us had been at a show since the OG covid lockdowns, and Emily had only been in the band for like a month, and she fucking destroyed it! At that moment it was clear that we were meant to make beautiful rock together.

Lyrics are too often taken for granted.  What is the line of text or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember?  And why?

DAVE: I’m more a student of the Mutt Lange/Max Martin school of thought that is more concerned with the way the words sound over a melody than the words themselves, so you won’t hear me gushing over anything I wrote. But Jiffy’s a different story – writing clever lyrics for Fractions, about his wife being too clever, was very clever, indeed! I would also highlight Johnnny Rocket – it’s a true stroy about a coworker Jiffy and I had at a (locally) famous car wash in Calgary and Jiffy’s lyrics capture the scene perfectly.

Jiffy: Only a deep Night Court fan will get this reference but we laughed pretty long and hard about “megalomanic narcissistic doctors”!

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

DAVE: What’s the last song we wrote? Just kidding/good joke!!! Sometimes people (generously) tell us ‘Song X is a hit!’ but Song X is always different…so maybe we’re doing a good job of covering the spread? I remember thinking Brighten the Corner might sound TOO radio hit-y but then we recorded it and now it sounds nicely shitty!

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

Emily: Sweat. It’s about embracing sweat.   

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

DAVE: One of our axioms for writing and recording is to not be “too precious” with the songs – we try to get out of their way and let them speak for themselves in as few takes as possible. That said, we do sometimes spend a lot of time on specific details that we believe are important to the song’s final form…it could be a single snare hit or the repetition (or non-repetition) of a hook.

Obviously, all bands do this in some way or another, but Night Court, in my experience, has the weirdest (in a cool way) disparity between “good enough” and “let’s get it right” of any bands I’ve been in. 

What compliment you once received will you never forget?

Emily: Gibby Haynes after a few too many screwdrivers telling me I rocked after a show in Victoria years ago. 

What place do you occupy in the music industry?

Emily: A waiting area by the elevators. 

Jiffy: Oh, that’s pretty good! I was gonna say we’re the people who collect other people’s empties.

If you could pick three singers to sing harmony vocals on your next record, who would you ask?

Emily: Neko Case  

The record is done, the music is out.  Is the best fun done now or is it just beginning? 

DAVE: Fun is both the fuel and the finished product for this band so plenty more to come!

Emily: I’m a total road dog. I love being on tour. Playing live has always been my motivator. Needless to say, I’m hungry after the last few years! 

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