Minneapolis band Night Moves has a uniquely soulful, psychedelic, true-country sound that band members refer to as “bombastic.”
The band is comprised of old high school friends John Pelant (guitar, vocals) and Micky Alfano (bass) along with Charles Murlowski (guitar) and Jared Isabella (drums).
Night Moves headlined FernsonFest, a music festival hosted by Fernson Brewing Company on the north end of Sioux Falls on Saturday night.
Here’s what the band had to say about their history, expansive sound and touring adventures.
Morgan Matzen: Let’s start off with how you all met and started as a band.
Micky Alfano: John and I went to high school together and we’d been skateboarding and enjoying the same types of music. We were both in different bands that would play together occasionally and then people started dropping off and doing their own thing, so we decided to keep going and do something together. As Night Moves was getting started, we were playing shows with Charles’ band Red Daughters so we’ve known him for probably eight years now. We needed somebody to fill in on the guitar so we decided he would be a good choice.
MM: What were the first few shows you started playing as Night Moves?
John Pelant: We played at this place called Honey on Tuesday nights and we would also play at the Kitty Cat Klub on Wednesday nights. House shows, too.
MM: Have you toured around a lot?
MA: We did the U.K. and Europe and we’ve done the whole country probably four or five times now.
MM: What’s been the best show experience you’ve ever had?
MA: Playing New York is always incredible, LA is always incredible, Chicago is tons of fun — the big cities.
JP: There was this one street festival we played a long time ago in Minneapolis and I was just so comfortable on stage. I felt the most together. It was also just a great performance, it was entertaining and we performed really well. It was fun. I feel like everyone had a really good time. It was early on in the band.
MA: Everyone was excited to be playing a big outdoor street fest. We were headlining.
MM: How did you go about writing your first record “Colored Emotions” and what was that experience like? Was it on your own or was that with Domino Record Company?
JP: We wrote it on our own and then they picked it up. We recorded it in the span of two and a half years, just booking a day or two every month and we just kept recording and pruning and editing. We narrowed down the sound in the studio, but it took a really long time. That was the first record so it wasn’t like anybody was waiting around for anything, so we could take our time. We put it out for free at first. We were pretty meticulous about it and what we wanted it to sound like. I think for me at least, in a lot of those high school bands you make a CD and you get embarrassed by it months later. We just got older and figure out what we are actually trying to do here.
MM: How do you write a song like “Carl Sagan” and how do you write these epic songs? How do you craft your sound and make something really beautiful out of it?
JP: Oh, thank you. It usually starts with a little melody or two here and there, and that one started out on this old organ we have and it was really fast at first. It was the same tempo but it was a little more bombastic with a drum machine and keyboards. It was supposed to go on the “Colored Emotions” record but that had already been finished so we left it off and put it on the next one. Then we shelved it for like six years or whatever. That one was really easily written. It just came out. I keep layering (sounds) until I’m satisfied.
MM: I’m curious about the video for “Colored Emotions.” Was that some sort of dream?
JP: I think we had an amalgam of all these things we wanted it to be, like a trashy John Waters meets a rap video meets “Saturday Night Fever” meets a dreamscape. We just did it and it worked.
MM: How do you make the choice of both a drum machine and a live drummer?
Jared Isabella: It makes it more bombastic to get those really big punching bass sounds and those computer snare notes. You get the live aspect of it and then you get the punchiness and clearness of the computer beats and stuff and make it more expansive, louder and bigger.
MM: Jared, I think I’ve seen you drumming at Total Drag for some different bands?
JI: I play with Pleasure Horse who’s also from South Dakota and I drum for Suzie. He used to be in Night Moves and he started doing his own project and I play for him in Suzie, a couple other bands from Minneapolis. I’ve got nothing else to do, so.
MM: How do you balance all of that?
JI: Scheduling is a little crazy sometimes, just double booking shows. There have been some nights I’ve had triple headers, three shows, three different bands, three different venues and that is insane. It gets a little hectic. Usually there’s ebb and flows where some bands will be doing things, other bands will be chilling out and writing so not all the bands are playing a bunch of shows at the same time.
MM: Do you have any fun stories to tell?
JI: In Seattle we couldn’t find a place to stay so we just slept in the van outside the venue.
JP: It was so funny because it was the first sold-out show on the second leg of the tour but we ended up outside the venue just sleeping in the van. It was a bombastic show and it was after our van broke down and we felt like we were back in business, but nope. We were back in the bottom again.
MM: Do you have a favorite venue to play at?
MA: Schubas in Chicago is really cool.
JI: 9:30 Club in DC is incredible. They make you cupcakes in the greenroom.
JP: The Mainroom at First Avenue is my favorite.
CM: When we play in college towns, they are happy to share that we made their chill smoking playlist.
MM: Are you flattered by that?
CM: Yeah, we’re down with that.
MM: One last question, who is Denise?
JP: No comment!
MA: A special someone, but she’s trouble.