‘Great Black Night‘ released the amazing ‘Smoke Is Rising EP‘ to the masses back in December 2014. An instant classic to us here on The Primal Music Blog, it’s immense gazing tendencies got us really excited at just what this band could achieve going forward. In one of our our most anticipated interviews yet, Steve Dee, the bands songwriter/guitarist, gave us an insight into what makes them tick! – Celebrating excesses and restraint within the sounds of rock and roll, ‘Great Black Night‘ aim to give you the night of your lives. Great Black Night explores love and rebellion through soulful tender vocals, piercing guitars, lush strings, and driving rhythms. Great Black Night are your band. They sing songs for you and with you. Look up and gaze – The Great Black Night is a wondrous place.
1) WHO ARE YOU? TELL US ABOUT THE FORMATION OF THE BAND & IT’S HISTORY?
Some of us are old friends who’ve been playing together for quite awhile now. Some we seemed to pick up along the way and just couldn’t shake. At first we did a lot of quieter and clean stuff to highlight the harmonies Angel and I were playing around with. That got us compared to Low quite a bit. When Andy and Matthew came in with bass and drums respectively, we naturally got louder and decided to dirty up the sound a bit. It all started feeling so reminiscent of the stuff I (Steve Dee) obsessed over starting in college when all my Canadian roommates lent me their records from all these UK bands. The fuzzier it got, the more I started going back to my old records and remembering some dreams I used to have of being in a really great shoegaze band.
2) WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES?
I suppose since I write the songs, my influences are quite pronounced. Obviously everyone’s particular tastes inform the final result of a song I bring to rehearsal, but it’s fair to say the biggies are (and have been since I started loving this music) Adorable, Ride, Catherine Wheel, Spiritualized, Slowdive, Verve. Out of that list, Adorable is probably what changed my life. From the opening riff of “Sunshine Smile” all the way through to the end, I just fly. I dream of writing a song that beautiful.
3) DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND?
I hope we come off as thoughtful. We’re often loud and laden with effects, energetic, sweet, soulful, catchy, and hopefully absent of pretense…which is hard when Andy is around.
4) WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START MAKING MUSIC?
When I was a kid, the only lawn mowing job I could get paid $8.00. Every Saturday when I was finished with the job, my mom would take me to the record store and I’d buy a cassette. I would get home, lock my door, rip of the shrink wrap…and as I’d press play on my stereo I would take the deepest breath of that new cassette smell. The sounds, touch, and smell of that experience are forever cemented in my bones. I thought to myself every time – “I want someone to do this with an album I made some day” And that was it. That feeling I would get on Saturdays inspired me. Matthew does it to get popular on Instagram.
5) WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT SHOEGAZE?
The beautiful thing about shoegaze etc is that essentially the songs are really simple. I could sing any My Bloody Valentine song to my kid as a lullaby. I hope the same could be said of our songs, and I hope that the investigation into texture and volume so apparent in any MBV song is also apparent in ours. But there is a mystique with these shoegazer bands that has always fascinated me. Maybe that’s because when I came into it, we didn’t have the Internet in the same way we do today. My exposure to shoegaze bands were posters, the actual album, and NME whenever I could scrape together enough cash to buy a copy of NME (expensive in the States). There was mystery because most of these bands weren’t playing regularly where I lived in the States. The whole thing was an adventure and the actual songs these bands played sounded so heavenly and unlike anything I’d imagined before. And at the end of the day, because the individuals in the bands weren’t accessible like they are now, it was all about how rad the songs were. And you have to admit, as indulgent as shoegaze is, you have to laud it for what it has done. If you look at the way this genre has influenced people since those early days, even people who don’t realize it, you just know that there are still depths to be plumbed and we are grateful we’ve got some time to join in and contribute to that work.
6) WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR THE WORLD TO HEAR YOUR MUSIC? WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH INTERNATIONAL LISTENERS?
More important than anyone hearing our particular band is the need to be inclusive. We’re not a band that’s all too interested in inventing a “new” shoegazer sound or something. “We hope the community builds and we want to cheer those in the scene who are pouring all they’ve got into creating beauty for music fans”. I think we’re a band that aims to write classic melodies and allows people to come to a show and sing their guts out. We want to have the time of our lives each and every time. That’s why our band is important…because we want to give someone a memory and then a memorable song to take with you. Our band is about the moment you experience it. Our goal is to promote and support bands that care about the artistry so abundant in our particular genre. So, that will likely trump any aspirations we have as a unique ensemble. But we’re pretty stoked about our tunes though, so buy them up and tell your friends!
7) WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE BANDS & ALBUMS?
First of all, and this isn’t shoegazer, but I was absolutely blown away by Alabama Shakes on SNL this past week. There’s a certain soul residing in their tunes that will be of benefit to everyone. ‘Flyying Colours‘ is the best band in the world right now that wasn’t born in the 90’s. If the Slowdive show I saw this year is any indication, Slowdive has yet to give us their best years. That’s so exciting. Spiritualized will forever be credited with some of my favorite life memories (hopped a plane from Amsterdam to London in ‘98 with a friend because we saw Spiritualized was playing the Astoria. It was sold out. We scalped tickets. Suicide joined them on stage for 2 songs, and then we went and slept in Heathrow so we could fly to the states the next day. Like I said, good memories.) Ladies and Gentlemen when it came out was a game changer. Overly Polite Tornadoes from Kalamazoo Michigan is intensely sweet and disturbing. Jack Reid is frighteningly brilliant. And if you need your (North American style) indie fix: Shotgun Jimmie is your man.
8) MUSICALLY, WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS OVER THE NEXT YEAR?
We’ve got a really exciting follow up to ‘Smoke Is Rising‘ coming. Our rehearsal video for the tune ‘Stalker‘ will give you an idea of how that will sound. We’ve got some tougher sounding stuff, but it is peppered liberally with our love for pop bliss. I hope those who liked our first release will love this. It’s just a continuation of what excites us about shoegazer. Lots of distortion, reverb, simple melodies, playful drums, and lots of opportunity to just stretch out and stare at the stars. Other than that…we’d love to do an in studio on Primal Radio. So, there’s always that.
A massive thank you to Steve Dee from the band for taking the time to answer our questions! We completely agree with him when he said that ‘Spiritualized – Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’ was a game changer! Immense album! You can find out more about ‘Great Black Night’ & their brilliantly emotive music by following the links below to their relevant social media outlets! You can also get the immense ‘Smoke Is Rising EP’ by heading over to their band camp page – gbnlovesyou.bandcamp.com .
Del Chaney – The Primal Music Blog – March 2015 – Dublin, Ireland.