Brian Gorsegner feels like he was hit by a train. Not a literal train, but the thundering locomotive that is parenthood. He sleeps less now, and his free time isnâ€™t exactly his own anymore. But unlike many who cite parenthood as a mellowing force, Gorsegner hasnâ€™t gone soft. In fact, the Night Birds frontman thinks becoming a father has had the opposite effect on his songwriting, and itâ€™s hard to argue after spinning the bandâ€™s new Fat Wreck Chords LP, Mutiny At Muscle Beach . The album is 25 minutes of tense, frantic punk rock, with the overtones of surf punk and â€˜80s hardcore that have always marked the bandâ€™s sound. In advance of the recordâ€™s release, Punknews editor Adam Eisenberg caught up with Gorsegner to talk about Night Birdsâ€™ move to Fat Wreck Chords, the bandâ€™s upcoming appearance at Fest 14 and the magical effects of coffee on the human body.
Night Birds jumped to Fat Wreck Chords for the release of Mutiny at Muscle Beach. How did you land there?
I found out that some of the people who worked at the label were fans. I thought, â€œthatâ€™s pretty cool,â€ that a label with such a profile even knows who we are. I thought it was cool that someone at that label, their ear was close enough to the ground where they would hear about us. In my opinion, weâ€™re certainly not a new band anymore, but weâ€™re a pretty small band. We donâ€™t do super high profile stuff.
So we did the Maimed for the Masses 7-inch and after that we played Punk Rock Bowling last year. I was upstairs writing out set lists and Mike walked up and introduced himself and point blank asked me why he didnâ€™t do our last album. I said, â€œone, the offer was never really on the table,â€ noobdy ever came to us and outright asked us, and even if it had been, Grave Mistake did our first album, The Other Side of Darkness, and he totally busted his ass with it, went way above and beyond, and his label and our band felt like were kind of growing at the same rate at the same time, and we were helping each other out and learning how to do shit together. We became super-tight with Alex (DiMattesa), and he would come out on the road with us and we would stay at his place and, you know, we were friends. Doing the second album with him just seemed right after he did so much to help us, and we thought he did a fucking great job with it. Thatâ€™s basically what I told Mike. He could totally appreciate that, but he said â€œwhat about your third record?â€
Whatâ€™s cool is that Fat still has such a built-in audience, and an audience that, I think, is kind of unaware of other bands like Night Birds or other labels that we work with, so we thought that was the best move to reach a new, wider audience. This was a step up for us and we thought it would be a cool thing for Fat Wreck Chords to put out in 2015.
Night Birds, I think, falls into the same category as bands like No Problem, Red Dons and Nervosas, among others. Do you think being on Fat will help expose that audience to bands like that?
Isnâ€™t that a nice thought? I donâ€™t know if the world of punk rock still works that way, but in my twisted mind it does. When I got into punk it was reading thank you lists and looking at the t-shirts the guys were wearing on the back cover of records and hearing songs they covered, and it spider-webbed from there. Does it still work like that? I donâ€™t know. I hope so, I would love for Fat to put out our record, and someone sees P.J. (Russo) on the back cover wearing a Nervosas shirt and says â€œhmm, whatâ€™s Nervosas?â€ and look it up and hear this fucking great record that you didnâ€™t know existed. Itâ€™s such a beautiful concept.
I very much came up that way, but Iâ€™m also not sure it still happens like that.
I would at least like to think that some peopleâ€¦ Who knows? Thereâ€™s so much cool shit out there and we play with so many rad bands and become friends with all these bands and theyâ€™re better than us, so people should be checking them out.
You worked with a producer for the first time on the new record. What was that like?
I donâ€™t know what an actual producer does or is supposed to do. Itâ€™s our friend Chris Pierce, he recorded The Other Side of Darkness in his basement, he recorded the Midnight Movies 7-inch in his basement, he recorded the Monster Surf 7-inch, The Ergs recorded Dorkrockcorkrod with him, I was in a band called For Science that recorded with him. All of my bands had recorded with him over the years. He plays guitar, he plays drums and heâ€™s a master when it comes to analog recording. We being the band, our job is to write the songs, and the engineerâ€™s job is to record and know how to work his boards, but itâ€™s nice to have somebody in between who knows both worlds, just to help tweak certain things. We thought he would be this great bridge to fill that gap, and thatâ€™s exactly how it worked out. We want as much control as possible over the final product with anything and everything we put our name on, so getting somebody else involved could be tricky, but this was exactly what I wanted it to be.
You became a father between the last LP and this one. A lot of people cite parenthood as changing their outlook on things. How did it impact your songwriting?
It made me feel a lot crazier overall. Everybodyâ€™s experience is different, but for me, having a child was something that hit me like a fucking train. I did not see coming what came. Itâ€™s the first time that I literally feel like Iâ€™m burning the candle at both ends 24 hours a day. I feel like itâ€™s been two years since Iâ€™ve had a break, and after a while I started to get off on that. Thereâ€™s something about totally destroying myself and thinking, â€œIâ€™ll be back to my brain in a couple of years,â€ that now I sort of enjoy. Around that time I was writing a lot and playing guitar a lot, and I wrote a third, maybe a little bit more, of the record, so I canâ€™t speak for the whole vibe, but my share of stuff is naturally more manic because thatâ€™s the state that Iâ€™ve been in. I also, shortly after having the baby, got really into coffee, which Iâ€™ve never drank before, which was a real gamechanger.
So itâ€™s a combination of the coffee and the lack of sleep thatâ€™s driving the mania?
I think the caffeine may have played a larger role overall than me having a baby, but they both are involved.
You have some upcoming record release shows with Dillinger Four. Howâ€™d that come together?
We just suckered our way onto the bills. No, thatâ€™s not even true. I got in touch with their booking agent because I wanted to see if there was any way to twist D4â€™s arm into coming out here when the record came out to do a couple of shows with us. I mentioned it to Paddy last year at D4th of July and he said, â€œSure!â€ but he was just being polite. It just so happened that they were planning to be in Brooklyn and Philly, and it just kind of worked from there.
Youâ€™ll also be performing at Fest 14. What keeps bringing you back to Gainesville?
Probably the same shit that everybody else likes about it. Itâ€™s super well-organized, you know youâ€™re going to get to play a fun show, you know youâ€™re going to see a ton of friends. The organizers of it treat the bands super fucking well. Itâ€™s really a no-brainer. Plus, itâ€™s the end of October when everything starting to get cold everywhere else. Bands stop touring because nobody likes to tour in the winter and itâ€™s just the perfect time to have a festival. That and Fun Fun Fun Fest really close the year out, thereâ€™s not to much going on after that. In New Jersey we just hibernate until February.
Is there anything specific youâ€™re looking forward to at Fest?
It would be Chris Gethard, except for The Fest purposely put him on at the same time weâ€™re going on so I canâ€™t see the one thing I want to see the most.
Going back to the Maimed for the Masses 7-inchâ€¦ On the title track you paid tribute to wrestling legend Mick Foley. Did you ever hear anything from him about the song?
He got in touch with us via the worst possible way to get in touch with someone social media-wise. He sent us a message on Twitter saying he heard the tune and he really enjoyed it. It turned out we have mutual friends. His daughter works for my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law took a copy of the record and Mick signed it for me and wrote a message and weâ€™ve had a little back and forth since then. My brother-in-law works for the largest wrestling toy distributor on the east coast.
We are approaching the end of the year, and that means people are going to start scrambling to get their year-end lists together. What records stood out to you in 2015?
Iâ€™ve been meaning to mentally buckle down and figure this outâ€¦ The new Nervosas came out this year, I like that a lot. I think the new Red Dons record is officially out. Screaming Females new record, if that came out this year, I like that, if not, that was a great record from last year. The toyGuitar record, that record I love. Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s a ton more, but honestly Iâ€™m so bad at this shit.