Northern Transmissions caught up with Dave Hartley from ‘Nightlands. He and his band are just about to hit the road with Efterklang. Nightland’s new album ‘Oak Island’ is available now on Secretly Canadian.
NT: Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind ‘Oak Island’. The album cover features you painted completely in silver, standing in a forest.
DH: There are many inspirations on the Album. The photo just felt really right. In a broad sense, the vocals on the Album are quite robotic. The instruments are really organic, so I wanted to put a robot in the woods. I hired a photographer, we painted me silver and did the shot. I was also really inspired by the ‘Robot Series’ from Isaac Asimov. There is also a record by Harald Grosslkopf called ‘Synthesist‘ which to this day has been a major influence on me. On that cover he’s painted silver too, but not in an organic setting. I was pretty bummed because that album went missing after I DJ-ed one night.
NT: Are you very curious about Robotics and Artificial Intelligence?
DH: I do have a loose understanding of it, but I would say, I’m pretty interested. I think I’m more interested from a musical point of view. I really tried to make the vocals into a complete wash of Robotic effects. I really wanted to challenge the listener, by producing an androgynous voice. I really wanted in the end to make it impossible for the listener to find the lead voice. At the end of the day, basicly my interest really stems from a fictional point of view.
NT: You play in ‘The War On Drugs’ as well, who have had quite a bit of success. Did it take you a long time to get the Nightlands’ Album out?
DH: It did. I’m not the type of person that can go into the studio and come out two weeks later with an Album. I’m really meticulous, but I really enjoy it so much. My favourite thing in the world is to go into the Studio and record by myself. It’s like an addiction to me. When I finished the Album, Secretly Canadian wanted to put it out. ‘The War On Drugs’ toured for nearly two years. When the band would come off the road for a week, I would hit the studio for four or five days. It was really a nice way to adjust from touring. Don’t get me wrong, I love touring with ‘The War On Drugs’. Those guys are like my best friends. It’s been so much fun seeing the band grow. It really is a nice contrast: when I’m recording, I miss touring and vice-versa.
NT: Are you excited about getting the songs out in a live setting?
DH: Ya, I’m heading out with some really great players. It’s fun, because I write and record the songs, then I kind of have to re-learn them. Also buried under all these productions, are songs that I wrote and they are actually really fun to perform live. I used to be quite terrified of playing live, because it’s not in my nature to be a frontman, but it’s become more enjoyable over the years. I’m also really lucky that I have such a talented group of guys that are willing to play with me.
NT: For the folks out there who don’t know, you write a Basketball column as well. Is this something you would like to pursue further?
DH: I write about basketball when I can, I don’t really do it on a regular basis. I don’t want to get to carried away with it, at this point I really want to concentrate on my music. It’s kind of ironic that I get more press writing about Basketball (lol). It’s also a stress release at times. I get quite a bit of enjoyment watching games. It’s a pleasurable distraction. I also don’t really have a team I root for. Basically, I write from an outsider’s point of view, and that’s why it’s interesting to me as well.
NT: Five records that continue to move you?
DH: Harald Grosslkopf – Synthesist
ELO – Time
Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends
Beach Boys – Today
John Maus – We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves