Photo by Kristen Lauber
Jenna Fournier and Frank Maraldo started their musical relationship more so as a used car saleswoman and a guy that needed a van than writing partners who often tour internationally.
In late 2009, Maraldo was looking for a singer for a project then called “Nights” with one “i,” but he also needed some wheels. When he inquired about a van for sale, Fournier was on the other end. Her previous band had recently broken up, hence the van up for sale. Maraldo told her he was looking for a vocalist. A couple of months later, Niights took form.
Niights’ second full-length album, Hellebores, is slated for release on Japan’s 2670records Feb. 15, 2019. The album shifts between guitar-heavy atmospheric tracks, pop anthems, and the classic shoegaze one may expect from the band. All of these shifts are held together by Maraldo’s signature guitar layering and Fournier’s unique vocal harmonies.
“We didn’t really have a band when we started writing and recording Hellebores,” Maraldo says. The band’s rhythm section moved away between records, creating a new challenge of writing an album in studio without workshopping new material in front of a live crowd. This process was very kind to Niights. Hellebores is haunting and mesmerizing, and it’s very easy to lose yourself in the production subtleties and studio-based writing style of the album while still imagining the songs being played by a real live human band.
Fournier says Hellebores is “definitely cleaner sounding” in comparison to their first full-length album, Whispers, but also proudly states, “we’re not a band that says ‘here’s our songs, mix them however you want. We are very hands on.”
“We will work and rework songs almost to exhaustion in order to get it just right,” Maraldo adds.
With a tour starting late February with stripped-down pop duo Elvis Depressedly, Niights speaks with anticipation of the new live set.
“We never play the songs note for note like they are on the albums, they are always evolving and changing,” Maraldo says. ”The bands we are touring with are a little softer and more stripped down, so we tend to play to those strengths.”
After a three-week-long American tour which circles through Cleveland Feb. 27 at Mahall’s, Niights will head back over to Japan to tour on Hellebores. 2670records has come a long way since finding Niights on Bandcamp six years ago and now supports many large acts doing world tours. Niights was the label’s first international act and has served as the guinea pigs that have since launched a lot of careers. The label also released Fournier’s solo EP, only in Japan, which contained an early version of Hellebores’ lead single, “So Into You,” by far the poppiest song on the album.
As much as Fournier considers herself “an organic artist who prefers to work with her hands,” she and Maraldo know the importance of being highly searchable in today’s music business. That is the pure and simple reason for the on purpose misspelling of Niights. Although
the members of Niights come off as very humble and soft spoken, they may be a little more business savvy than they appear. Between an international record deal, tours of Japan and the U.S., changing the band’s name, and actively avoiding SXSW because “it doesn’t really make much sense unless someone is paying for you to be there” according to Maraldo, Niights seems one step ahead of most other bands in this city.
The members of Niights have their eye on a more distant horizon than your average Cleveland band. They are the only Niights in existence so it’s pretty easy to find the band. Give Hellebores a listen all the way through—it would be hard to not find something that scratches your itch on this album.