ACL Interview: The Nightowls

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Interview with vocalist, Ryan Harkrider 

How did the band come together?

I’m the only one originally from Austin; everyone else came from all over pretty specifically to play soul. So we kind of built our band out of another soul band here in Austin called the Matchmaker Band. I used to be in that band and several other members of Nightowls used to be in that band. I’m a songwriter, and I wanted to create our own project, so it’s just an offshoot of that band.

Where did the name “Nightowls” come from?

I thought of the name. It was a name that I had used it as a singer/songwriter (Ryan Harkrider and The Nightowls). I don’t really know where it came from, I like owls, we all wear suits when we perform and it seemed to go better with the soul.

Where did the inspiration for your sound come from?

60s and 70s soul, pretty specifically that genre, that era. All of us grew up listening to our parents’ record collections and lots of us had the same inspiration

How would you say your recording sessions with Fame Studies has helped form the band? 

About a year ago before we started sessions with Fame, the personnel of the band solidified. We’ve basically been the same 10, 11, 12 people for the last 12 months. We knew we had found the right people as well, so we are always trying to challenge ourselves and do better what we’re doing. We thought it would be a good idea to do it [record the album] short period of time: write a bunch of songs, go to “the mecca of soul music”–a pilgrimage if you will–so we kind of got the first album out of the way. For this one, we wanted it to be a timeless thing that was inspired by the space, something that the entire band collaborated on, and something that was more of expression, not only of our band but of (something that) was clearly inspired by the place and the style that we love and modeled ourselves on.

What’s one of your favorite venues to play?

Outdoor shows are a lot of fun. We played the Moody theatre here in Austin, and that’s always fun. We love Nashville. We just did a month long tour, where we played Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis. We felt really at home at all of those cities. We went to Alabama, you know there’s such a rich history of music.

How was playing ACL?

It’s great. We were on the lineup last year on weekend two, and there’s a weekend two curse, actually–maybe I shouldn’t say that because it’s been great so far–but last year we were playing Saturday and we got rained out. Just like 2-3 bands that cancelled, we were one of them and so we here we are a year later and it feels very good to finally be playing ACL. Also we’re from Austin and so it’s a big accomplishment for us not only as a band, but it’s validation for our fans, our friends and family that have supported us for 3-4 years and come out on … you know, Monday nights to see us. Now we get to share this experience with people that have supported us for long so it’s very special.

Any new music/albums in the works?

Well it looks like we’re going to Memphis in December. We’re going to do something similar to what we did in Fame Studios, but we’re going to go to Royal Studios which is where Al Green most famously recorded and maybe do 4-5 songs. As for a full length album, I would say maybe May or June.

Tiffany is HTX based freelance contributing writer previously featured on PILAR Poetry & Short Stories and The Young Houston Magazine. She is a two time Poetic Power winner. Her writing specializes in music, art, city life, film & TV and pop culture. She is currently a Freshman at the University of Houston studying Communications and Mexican American Studies.

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