LEEDS-based grunge duo, NIGHT OWLS, took to the BBC Introducing stage at Leeds Festival 2016, and Abi White caught up with the band shortly after their debut appearance at the Festival…
“It was amazing!” the duo blurted out moments after coming off stage. “Especially because we’re both from Leeds – it’s been a great way to do our first festival!
“We’ve been to Leeds Festival a few times before, we probably first started coming to the festival when we were about 14 and we came about four years in a row.
“We’ve hired a Fiat RV thing this year, it’s a lot better than camping!”
However, this is the first time the band have visited as an artist as opposed to a festival goer, which must have felt like a proud moment in their career.
“We were a bit nervous in case no-one stopped and watched us,” they admitted. “But it was really great and we’re really looking forward to Reading after that too!”
With their EP release back in June, ‘In Formaldehyde’ the band opened up as to where the inspiration for the name came from.
“So, you know the Damien Hirst exhibition that was in Leeds,” they explained, “well, there was a sheep ‘in formaldehyde’ so we made it a play on words, kind of like informal.”
Given the well-named EP, it only felt logical to ask the inspiration behind the duo’s name: Night Owls.
“We aren’t really night owls at all,” they laughed.
“I think I was just looking at Diamond Eyes cover by Deaftones and it had an owl on it which looked a bit like a night owl.”
Forming close to a year ago, the band explained that their first gig was only around nine months ago.
With a fairy unique two-piece set up, how did they land on life as a duo…
“We’ve both been in bands before this, but we decided to be a two-piece because we couldn’t find people who were reliable enough,” they said. “It’s just really hard to find people on the same page as you and want to do it.
“We’ve known each other since we were 11, so eight years now,” they continued.
“The duo works perfectly because if we don’t like something we can tell each other.
“We’re quite in sync really, if one of us doesn’t like something, 99 per cent of the time the other won’t so it’s easy in that respect.”
Being able to work well as a two-piece with regards to musical ideas, the fascination lay with whether they had seen themselves develop since the concept first got off the ground.
“I’d say that Death from Above 1979 really inspired the two-piece idea. When we first started we sounded a bit like them but we don’t anymore.
“Originally we had a bass instead of a guitar, but when we went into studio, the producer said it sounded to similar to another duo – that was when we decided to make the switch.”
However, the switch to guitar proved to have a positive impact, with the band commenting that it added different dynamics to their sound.
“I don’t think it sounds like there’s only two of us at all,” they told.
“We once played a gig with Dilly Dally and their bassist came out from backstage and couldn’t believe there was only two of us playing – I think that was a good sign that our set-up was working.”
Playing gigs with the likes of Dilly Dally in the past was an invaluable learning experience but in terms of personal highlights…could they look beyond the set at Leeds?
“It’s got to be that one we just played! (Leeds Festival)” they excitably exclaimed.
“Other than that though, we’ve had some great ones in Leeds – the one with Dilly Dally in Brudenell was good and we’ve had a really fun and memorable night in Mylos bar in Leeds too!
“Sometimes it’s the really small gigs are the best ones.”
The same could be said for when to duo took the time to go and watch one of their favourite bands, Biffy Clyro, play the iTunes Roundhouse.
“Their warm-up show they did at the Roundhouse was so good, it was so intimate and we were so close – I think I cried, they played ‘God and Satan’ and I may have shed a tear.”
It came as no surprise when the band told me that they were most looking forward to seeing Biffy Clyro headline Leeds Festival later that night.
“We also might try and catch Eagles later and The Magic Gang, maybe Savages and Cage the Elephant too,” they added.
Following Reading and Leeds Festival, the band spoke of their plans for the near future and hinted at a few possible gigs to follow their slot on the BBC Introducing stage.
“Our first official next performance is October 1 at South Sea Festival in Portsmouth, but we are really hoping to get a few things sorted in-between.”
By Abi White