Chicago’s NightFreak certainly has found the right prescription for those who need a quick rock and roll fix. On their 5-track EP ‘Speed Trials‘ they blast out raw-edged garage punk with aggressive vocals and nasty metal riffage. They make a hell of a lot of noise for a trio. ‘Speed Trials‘ is out on Detroit’s cassette label Painter’s Tapes.
We connected for a quick little Q&A.
I’ve seen names like Nashville Pussy, Jay Reatard and Black Flag mentioned when describing NightFreak, but also Saxon, Motorhead, and even Riot. You guys have also played as a KISS tribute band. How do you incorporate metal into the NightFreak sound?
Steve (guitar & vocals): For me, that stuff is just part of the DNA. We never set out to incorporate it, it’s just kinda there. I was played that stuff in the womb so I think it naturally creeps in. Truthfully, I don’t even really see that stuff as metal, I file it under “shit that rocks”! If anything, we take a really proactive approach to try and not make it sound super metal. I usually bring in the skeletons of songs and then Dan and Art really pick them apart and we change all of the parts that sound like Metallica, hahaha. I always wanted to hear a band that sounded like Thin Lizzy meets Motörhead meets the Dead Kennedys, definitely on the harder spectrum with tons of speed but none of that super-macho aggro metal shit. That stuff is for posers.
Dan (bass): Yeah we all have a super broad range of tastes. A lot of times we have kind of a Pepsi & Coke thing where we like stuff from the same category but have different preferences. I love Jesus Lizard, Steve loves At the Drive-In. Steve loves Dead Moon, I love Billy Childish. And even there we cross over, I love Dead Moon and like ATDI, but it’s just little permutations of our focus. I have a bit more of the budget-rock / Estrus Records / Goner Records sounds in my background, so I do usually help pump the brakes on the highest levels of weedly-weee on guitar and bring it down to something in line with something like Zeke or Baseball Furies. Basically, the OD Pedal comes back two notches and the solos are two bars long instead of eight lol.
How have the past two years of pandemic life been for NightFreak, and is the Chicago scene getting back to normal?
Steve: Pandemic life was honestly great aside from no-shows and limited practicing. I wrote a mountain of riffs and smoked my way through the slumber, Dan had a baby and kept his label alive, and Art restored an old house with his parents.
Dan: First-year sucked ass for me. I worked more than 200 hours of overtime in 8 months when my company laid off a bunch of people to protect their quarterly numbers, despite demand for our products (construction-related products) shooting through the roof. I was able to get a job at the Chicago record press plant Smashed Plastic in 2021. My wife is immunocompromised so there was then and now a degree of concern and some isolation. Throw the birth of my son in March 2021 on top of that. Still, we rehearsed through most of 2020 and 2021, started playing out again in autumn 2021, and managed to bang out a good 6-8 quick shows through the winter until March ’22. We took another tiny break so Art could get used to his own new first kiddo, but we managed to do some recording in the meantime. Chicago is largely out and about and back at the gig. I’m one of the last guys masking at a lot of shows. It’s not uncommon for a band to drop off a show because they’re sick but whaddya gonna do, we all got a couple hundred bucks from the government one time two years ago and that was the extent of the help & leadership.
What’s up for 2022?
Steve: We recently recorded five tracks that will hopefully come out on two separate releases this year or early 2023. They are really exciting to us and expand on the current sound quite a bit. You never know with all of the vinyl delays when they will see the light of day though. While we are putting together logistics on that we are working out material for a full length which we hope to record this winter or early 2023 to be released later that year.
Dan: I even work at a pressing plant and I’ve had stress getting stuff out on time LOL. For NightFreak, I’d definitely like to be playing out more. I used to play a lot of drunk lazy garage-punk, and this is a little more involved. If I have to learn it, you bet your ass I want to show it off 2-3 times a month, plus a weekender around the Midwest every other month or so. See our friends Road Soda in the Quad Cities, our pals Mr. Clit in Indy and Kids Born Wrong in Louisville, The Stools in Detroit, and The Wirms in Memphis. Everything flows from playing more; more fans, more notoriety, more good shows. More chance that someone outside of ourselves wants to help press our records.
Steve: Yeah we need to be playing out as much as possible and trying to hit the road asap, churning riffs and smoking spliffs. See you out there.