February 7, 2018 | by Jocelyn Hoppa photo by Andrew Gibson
There’s nothing quite like the budding societal alienation that takes root in the teenage years. The first lashes of a few letdowns, lasting marks that sorta let you know, “This is how it is, kid. Sometimes people kind of suck.” Countless teenage-borne bands have slithered out from this punk rock Petri dish, which brings us to Datenight, a Nashville jangle punk trio fresh out of the demoralizing halls of high school.
Although Datenight (Grayton Green, Thomas Borrelli, and Isaac Talbott) have only been a band for a few years — with many of their song lyrics written during class — they aren’t just playing a bunch of chaotic noise to annoy their adult authority figures (although, they most certainly can). Tracks off of their upcoming LP Comin Atcha' 100MPH (2/23) are catchy and immediately accessible, even though these songs are packaged in near-two-minute lo-fi scuzzy, noisy punk song.
Drawing from such influences as Jay Reatard and underground 80s punk bands, they easily transition from direct, minimal tracks into experimental flourishes. And even if the subject matter is a bummer, the hooks and melodies are high energy and upbeat, a extremely effective counterpoint move anyone of any age likely needs reminded of periodically.
I caught up with guitarist/singer Grayton Green over email to learn more about Datenight and their upcoming album release. Check it.
NO RECESS!: How did you all meet each other and what were some common musical bonds that lead to you to form Datenight?
GRAYTON GREEN: We all first met in high school and the Nashville scene at the time had a big impact on us. So we really got to know each other by going to the same shows — bands like Jeff the Brotherhood and Pujol and a few high school bands at the time. Seeing bands like that play around town really made us want to do the same sort of thing.
NR!: Since ya’ll are just out of high school, how long did you play together before you had a sound you wanted to take to the public?
GREEN: During our last year of school is when we really started to record and play as many shows in and out of town as possible. So after about a year of being together, I’d say.
NR!: Given you all grew up in Nashville, how much of an influence was Jay Reatard on the band?
GREEN: Memphis and Nashville don’t really have much of an impact on each other, which is weird considering their relatively close. Both towns just do their own thing for the most part it seems. We were definitely really into The Reatards and The Oblivians, but I don’t think it was because they were from Memphis or from Tennessee it was just because they were both great bands.The bands coming from Memphis probably influenced our sound more, but the bands from Nashville made us want to start the band.
NR!: One of the more endearing aspects of your bio is that many of the lyrics were written during class in high school. How much did high school influence these songs? (Personally, I kind of hated high school.)
GREEN: Yeah, high school was not fun. None of us were really interested in what was going on so we focused more on coming up with songs and lyrics because we were mostly focused on playing music. But I don’t think high school exactly informed what the songs were about, it was just where some of them were thought up.
NR!: Some songs here are fast, one-minute punk songs, while other employ jangle pop and stretch a bit. Inherently, they are all upbeat, even as they deal with themes of societal alienation. When developing songs, do you know what type of treatment they’ll get?
GREEN: I think the lyrics are the most consistent part of all the songs because musically we don’t try to force a certain sound. The music just happens naturally. And yeah, many of the lyrics deal with feeling alienated and the anger that comes with that feeling. We just try to tell a story or describe a feeling in a way that’s interesting and honest.
NR!: In a relatively short period of time, you’ve already toured with the likes of Tyvek, White Reaper, Chain and the Gang, and Death. Can you tell us a bit about what it’s been like having support from these bands and how you’ve been received by their audiences?
GREEN: It’s been great playing with all those bands and trying to learn as much as we can from them. Like playing with Chain and the Gang was great and seeing how well Ian connected with the audience was really cool. And we definitely enjoy playing to other people’s audience. It can be a fun challenge to try and win them over. And I think it makes us play a better set for sure.
NR!: Where did you record Comin Atcha' 100MPH? How dedicated are you to the lo-fi approach? I’m curious as much from the standpoint of philosophy as much as aesthetically.
GREEN: One of our friends has a good amount of recording equipment so we did it mostly with him. And all the rest was done in a basement with some equipment we took from our school. So yeah, unintentionally the songs have a lo-fi feel to them just because we were working with what we had at the time but it wasn’t something we were really striving for. But there are a few lo-fi bands we really are into like The Mummies and The RipOffs — those records sound amazing.
NR!: You all seem comfortable going in different directions, straying from garage rock to proto-punk and stuff that’s keenly melodic. It really breaks the album up in a way that’s really satisfying. Do you think your sound is constantly evolving or do you just have fun and go where the music takes you?
GREEN: I think it’s both. Our songs definitely evolve as we continue to write more and we don’t have a problem with that. It’s really fun to have some songs come out a little different because it makes for a more interesting album and live show. We just like trying new things with our songs so they all come out in a unique way.
NR!: For new fans who want to dig back prior to the release of Comin Atcha' 100MPH, can you point us in the direction music you’ve released?
GREEN: We have two EP’s out called Sonic Youth 18 Years on Earth and Datenight Does Dallas. We also have a split 7-inch with a local Nashville band and a live 7-inch on Third Man Records. All of these are available online as well.
NR!: What’s next for the band? Are you going on tour to support your new record?
GREEN: Yeah, we are on tour right now for most of January and we’ll definitely be touring in February when the record is out and as much as we can in 2018. We’ll also be recording whenever we can, so we can keep releasing stuff.
You can pre-order Comin Atcha' 100MPH at Bandcamp.