INTERVIEW: Nashville’s NIGHTLY chats their first headlining run and their approach to releasing music
I first met up with the guys in Nashville’s NIGHTLY when they were in the intimidating position of opening up an arena tour. No sweat right? The group found themselves on their second national tour with rapper NF who was about to play a sold-out 7,200 capacity Agganis Arena here in Boston. That arena experience was actually what NIGHTLY needed though as it prepared them for an even more special tour. They were able to fine-tune their live sets and bring that performance to their first headlining run which the band just completed.
In our chat at Great Scott, an iconic venue for that first headlining run, the band chatted about how the tour went. Considering Boston was in the five last shows of the run, they had been able to see what songs caught on best, had some significant interactions with their fans and indeed took their first big step in the bands’ words. If the show later that night was any indication of what’s to come, the band is poised for the big leagues. The energy in the room that night was what I always wanted for bands of the past like Down with Webster and 2 AM Club, both who toured the states relentlessly before calling it a day. Find my chat with Joey Beretta, Jonathan Capeci and recently made official member Nick Sainato and keep your eyes peeled for much more from this talented trio!
So this is the first headlining run for Nightly?
Joey Beretta: Yeah! Absolutely. Our first one.
And including tonight, you only have five shows left. How has this tour been going? Did it meet expectations?
Joey: Honestly that’s a hard question because we didn’t know what to expect since it’s our first headlining tour. It’s been an amazing experience for us, and we have the most insane, awesome fans. Coming into it, we didn’t know if there’d be five people at every show. So it’s been amazing. We’ve had some incredible shows. We’re super excited; it’s just a really big first step for us in terms of being a headlining band.
Nick Sainato: Yeah. It’s been the most rewarding/hardest/best/everything tour. It just goes on. It was the first time we had to get there first, leave last. A lot different and a lot of extra work but we’re learning. So that’s a big stepping stone. A good time!
And you’ve played Boston before obviously. You’ve opened for NF multiple times here. You’ve even played this room before, correct?
Joey: Yeah I think it was The Night Game we played with here.
That was a big one, considering he’s a Boston guy, but I know for tonight there was at least a 100 in presale and that was from a week ago. It’s going to be a good crowd tonight; you’ve had sold out shows on this run. For these shows, are you taking this set from being in this arenas and being in these big rooms, translating it to smaller rooms? What were the preparations for coming into this tour?
Joey: Honestly I would say these feel like arenas to us because they are our fans. We didn’t come at it in any different way at all, other than like how can we step up from what we’ve been doing. It just feels like we’re playing in an arena every night even though there’s only 300 or 250 people or whatever because it’s purely our fans. We’ve never had that experience before. That’s probably the best way I could answer that.
Because it feels like you’re playing arenas still?
Joey: It feels bigger to me than those shows.
Because it’s purely Nightly fans.
Joey: It’s hard to equate it to anything. Would you rather play in front of 300 people who know every word to all your songs or like 5,000 people who don’t know any of the words? They’re both amazing experiences. It’s just different and very rewarding.
Nick: And when we’re opening, we don’t have a long time to play, so we’re trying to pick the songs being like what’s going to get the people’s attention? What’s going to show them who we are and it’s just a snippet of who we are. Headlining, we’re giving them everything. Just a little bit extra in all scenarios.
Now that you are in this headlining position, you don’t have to pick only a few songs. When you planned these sets, was it something where you’re playing the full catalog, are you road-testing new material? You guys have been active; you released a song just recently right at the beginning of this tour. You’ve played in bands for a long time together. How have you guys been approaching these sets?
Jon Capeci: Sorry I’m late, it’s good to see you by the way. Yeah, we play everything we have right now, well not everything we have, but everything that’s released. We’re playing a new song which comes out on Thursday at midnight so Friday technically. So for the first half of the tour we just played the ten or eleven songs that are out, then halfway through we started teasing the new ones. We’ll be playing them tonight probably.
So then how have those songs been going over? You talked about how you started doing it about halfway through this run. How have you seen the fans reacting?
Joey: It’s so weird to play a song like “Talk To Me” which we haven’t played live in like two years. People just react to that song every time. Before this tour we were like, ‘Should we even play that song?’ But that’s super surprising to me personally. People just know all the words to the songs. It blows my mind every single night. It’s just so crazy.
Nick: Definitely in each city, there’s like one or two songs, where it’s different every night. It’s like that’s the song everybody loves, there’s no way in billing it. We’ll play “No Vacancy” in the middle of the night in Iowa, and everybody’s so lit for that song, but in a different city, it might a be a different song. It seems like they all got together in a group and decided that this is the song we like the most.
Jon: There’s some kind of hidden Twitter account that we don’t know about.
Nick: Pretty much everyone knows all the words which is just crazy.
Now, you’re finishing up this tour; you’ve been writing music together for so long, you’ve had this slow release of music. That process of releasing has become a common thing lately. You are having a group of EP’s rather than a full length. Is it something where you think you’re coming up to that point of releasing a full-length record or is it something where you’re going to continue to do this EP route?
Jon: We’re going to do one more EP which you’ll have the second song of the EP on Friday. There will be a couple more songs and then we have a bunch of others that are already done. So I think hopefully after that it will be album time. That’s sort of where our head’s at right now. But one more EP at least.
I know from seeing it a lot more now, you have more people releasing an EP every few months versus that full length every two to three years.
Joey: Yeah people ingest music differently now. We’re super proud of all the songs we’ve put out, so we want to give each of those songs the best opportunity for people to hear them and be a focus for that time. It’s hard. I would love to put out an album. We will someday.
Nick: And sometimes you’re just ready to record a song, and you feel like you want to hear it right now. As opposed to getting every ready and packed in for an album in six or eight months. You know you want to release right now. Then at that point, you’re like I don’t know what it’s going to be part of, but we always want to release what we have currently.
Jon: That’s a good way to put it.
Then you’ve been on this tour for quite a while like we said before. Maybe focuses or goals for Nightly over these next few months?
Jon: We have a few things on the books for April/May. Then we have a few other things in the works which you’ll hear about after this tour. Then immediately when we get home, we have a couple of college shows, that festival, and some other spot dates. But we’ll be touring more this year, like full US stuff. We’re going to work on more music, finishing out this EP. Then just writing and recording new stuff. Now that we have a base of what our headline tour looks like, meeting our fans for the first time and not just at shows where we open. Just really getting a feel for who they are. That gives us a better grasp of it, or I guess more confidence in what we’re doing — knowing that these people exist so now it’s just doubling down on it. Serving them and giving them new music. It’s a little intangible when you’re an opener for so long. It just feels like this is the start of it now if that makes sense. It’s just given us a lot of confidence and excitement for where we’re going.
I can see that. You’re coming off these huge shows; our last interview is when you were at Agganis Arena (capacity of 7,200). It’s really hard for you to come out and meet fans in that situation. Yeah, you’re playing in a room like this, but it gives you the chance to meet those fans and make them have something special. They can say I saw them play Great Scott and as you guys progress into bigger rooms, they’re going to feel connected. It’s hard to stand outside of an arena and connect.
Joey: Which we did, we did do that. Every night. It wasn’t easy.
Nick: Especially if you were headlining, that would be impossible.