Cleveland indie rock band Niights has spent three years perfecting the follow-up to its debut album. Lead singer and guitarist Jenna Fournier says they decided to release 'Hellebores' in two parts -- half dream pop, half metal.
Niights has been a staple in Cleveland’s music scene for much of the last decade. Fournier wrote most of the band’s debut album, 2013’s 'Whisper'. After two international tours, Niights signed with Tragic Hero Records and re-released Whisper in 2015. Nearly four years later, the group is releasing 'Hellebores'.
Fournier says making the new album was a more collaborative and challenging process.
"We had sent the files and scratch tracks to our bandmates who were living in different states. And they wrote their parts and then we flew them in and they tracked in the studio having never played the songs with us live." The other members of the band are Frankie Maraldo, Jake Chandler and Jeremy Dodge.
Fournier says the band spent lots of time texturing the songs. She compares the process to painting.
"Instead of drawing a sketch and filling in the lines we have this approach where we lay down 20 layers of paint and then scrape back what we don’t want."
Fournier is also a visual artist and combines her art with her music.
"I’ve been dabbling in animation and making videos and content clips. I like to try to have an aesthetic for the band that’s a little bit of fantasy and dreamy, shoe gaze look that’s been around for a while but make it unique to us with our artwork as well."
The band describes its sound as shoe gaze and dream pop, drawing on influences from bands like Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine.
"With dream pop, you’re going to have a lot of layers of washy-affected guitars and a lot of the time it’s going to be louder in the mix. And the same thing with shoe gaze. It’s a textural wall of sound. And the vocals might be a little more buried than what you’re used to in traditional radio rock."
Niights' new album is being released in two parts. The first half of the album has a more pop sound, including the catchy single, "So Into You."
"That song had been released for this solo EP that I did exclusively for Japan," Fournier said. "I wrote that as this little acoustic thing, and [I said] what if we put some big guitars and turned it into a Niights song? I love how it turned out."
The second half of the album is heavier with loud guitar riffs.
"About five years ago I started getting more interested in pedals and effects and the noise and the music side of things instead of the words and the storytelling side of things," Fournier said. "And as you grow as a technical musician, you kind of want to show that off a little bit."
The band has seen success with audiences in Japan, where shoe gaze music is very popular. Fournier says the band got the attention of Japan's 2670 Records which signed them to a distribution deal. This August, Niights will return for its fourth tour to Japan.