Alternative Rock In The Heart, Gloomy Pop In The Soul


The Night Riots are rising up in the music world

Central California-based alternative rock band, Night Riots are on the rise to stardom as they spread their dark and gloomy pop music on their tour around the globe. Originating in Templeton, California in 2010, the band consists of Travis Hawley (lead vocalist), Nick Fotinakes (Guitarist), Matt DePauw (Guitarist), Mikel van Kranenburg (Bassist), and Rico Rodriguez (Drummer). All of the members grew up together and played music in one form or another but decided back in 2010 to quit school and to start playing music more seriously.

In the process of forming the band, it was undecided what genre they would focus on. With punk and rock influences, they integrated these influences and continued to evolve their individual style while in the early stages of producing their original music. What remains constant is, “this hint of darkness but also uplifting feeling that runs through our music, but we like to push ourselves to try new styles and new sounds. Lately we’ve been into trying to be more minimalistic and make songs feel great with as little as possible,” says Fotinakes. Creating an uplifting, yet dark sound that the band describes as “gloomy pop.”

The name “Night Riots” sparked out of the band’s mutual belief that, “Our music can be dark and gloomy and our live shows are energetic. ‘Night Riots’ seemed to fit that feeling well.” Says guitarist, Nick Fotinakes. An alternative name for the group that Fotinakes liked was ‘Scottish Mist’ that was created by other guitarist and fellow member, Matt DePauw.

Instead of automatically signing on a record label, Night Riots decided to build their brand by touring regularly and performing multiple shows within California. Which included appearances in high schools that contributed to the growth of their following and made them local legends.

Within the same year of forming a group, they released their self-produced album “Into The Roaring” under the name of PK. Two years following the release of their debut LP, they released the EP “Lost Boy Sessions” under their official name Night Riots. In 2015, Night Riots released their third studio EP “Howl” and after the EP released, the band began to do interviews and were increasing the amount of publicity as it contributed to the expansion of their music. In the following year, their official debut album “Love Gloom” under Sumerian Records featuring singles “Nothing Personal” and “Fangs” that reached Billboard’s Heatseekers chart.

With the more music they release, it’s evident that Night Riots mainly draw influences from other genres such as Electronic, Rock, and Pop. Lyrically, meaningful messages are being communicated in a somber tone, yet the light-hearted instrumentals balance the emotions throughout their songs.

With the song writing process, Fotinakes explains, “It’s different for every song.  Some songs start with just guitar chords and a vocal melody.  Sometimes we’ll just have like a really cool drumbeat we like and maybe it inspires a riff or a lyrical idea.  Each song sorta has it’s own life and own way it develops.”

Fotinakes shares that when it comes to getting inspired for their music, “We get inspiration from everything really. Traveling and everyday life situations and struggles always play a big part.”

Artists that inspire the gloomy pop genre for the Night Riots include the band Vacationer, whom they express great love for. Fotinakes also admits for his fellow members to be recently listening to rapper J. Cole’s new album “K.O.D” which came out last month in April.

With such an impressive body of work Night Riots has created over the past eight years, “Ultimately we want to make music that makes people feel something or helps them to relate [or] escape. Music that makes people feel less alone. And also just make music that we personally like and is cathartic to us.”  Says Fotinakes; Who also voices that if Travis, Matt, Mikel, Rico, and himself were not in a band, “I’d probably be a janitor. The rest of the guys would be race car drivers.”

As Night Riots continue to release more music, it’s evident that influences are also drawn from other genres such as Electronic, Rock, and Pop. Lyrically, meaningful messages are being communicated in a somber and mysterious tone, yet the light-hearted instrumentals balance the dark and the light margins throughout their songs. This technique is evident in the song “All For You” from their latest album “Love Gloom.” As a personal favorite for Fotinakes to perform he explains, “It always feels really good to play and I like how it connects with people.”

With traveling and performing, Fotinakes shares, “It’s just awesome to be able to travel the world with my friends and to play music. We recently went all over Europe. We got to play shows, be tourists in famous cities and connect with people on the other side of the world. Those things are what I remember most.”




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