Photo by Erin Smith, courtesy of Night Moves.
Night Moves Band
John Pelant, with his messy brown hair and wool-trimmed bomber, exudes that effortlessly cool boy-band vibe, looking straight out of the 70s. What else would you expect from Night Moves front man? The Minneapolis group, which came together in 2009, formed from a high school friendship between Pelant and bassist Micky Alfano—whose vintage sparkly turtlenecks make the MPLS hipster girls swoon. The Southwest grads first knew each other as skateboarding buddies and fellow music enthusiasts, but at first played in different bands.
College brought Pelant to UW-Milwaukee, but he stayed in touch with Alfano.
“We figured we should keep this band thing going,” Pelant said, nonchalantly.
They worked across state lines for awhile, but Pelant ultimately moved home—he grew up around 35-S and Diamond Lake—to finish their first album, Colored Emotions. Initially put out on Bandcamp, it caught the ears of producers at Domino Records, and was re-released through the label. Pennied Days, their second full length, came out last year, resulting in the UK tour they’d always dreamed of this January.
Pelant and Alfano are the steady core, with Mark Ritsema conducting instrumentals. Their sound is unique from much of the Twin Cities scene—it’s synthy but folky, described as ‘cosmic country’ or ‘freak-folk’ by many music writers. Whatever you want to call them, they play a damn good show, and lucky for us, they’re sticking around for awhile. After fiddling with the merch table, Pelant answered a few of my questions before their sold-out Turf Club show on March 24.
How was the UK/Euro Tour?
JP: “It was interesting, it was cool. We had been trying to make it happen for a long time, and asked like, ‘why haven’t we done this yet?’ because there’s sort of a cycle for these things, like ‘the alum has been out for eight months, we better just do this now.’’ I tried not to get too caught up in the idea of ‘oh, this is a tour, and there’s a ton of money going into it,’ and it was stressful on the business end, but when you see people coming out to the shows, when you’ve never even been to that country, don’t know anyone there, well, that’s cool. . .the highlight was just being able to do that at all. We didn’t do much touristy stuff, just played fun shows every night.”
Any difference in UK vs. US audiences?
JP: “Oh, you know, there are crazies everywhere, but still so fun to play those shows.”
How does being from here (MSP) influence your music and process?
JP: “I feel like winter is a really good time to write. The winter is so long that it’s always been good for me. I like when it’s gloomy and cold and rainy; I don’t feel like I’m missing out if I’m working on stuff. When it’s summer though, it’s hard to be in a dark room. So I would say mostly in a geographical sense. But also, Spider John Koerner.”
What’s it like playing a hometown show?
JP: “It’s weird, because you always see people you know. It’s like playing in front of family, so it’s almost more nerve wracking. I just have this weight on my shoulders, like, ‘Shit, I’m really nervous, even though I’ve done this so many times. . .’ Just because these are people you see so often–most people, I think, would rather play in front of people they’re never gonna see again. But also, playing here is really fun, because everyone is really pumped.”
What places do you guys like to frequent when you’re home for awhile?
JP: “Hm, First Ave. is always great, but that’s a no brainer. The Turf Club is awesome of course, Icehouse and Little Tijuana’s. . . I live in Whittier, close to Nightingale and all that; sometimes it’s nice to get out. We like to go to Elsie’s, Memory Lanes are both fun… The Char Bar, East Lake Brewery, and the Buffalo Wild Wings at the Southdale Mall.”
What’s next and upcoming for Night Moves?
JP: “We’re writing a ton of new stuff, and should be coming out with a new album really soon. . . we’ll likely record it this summer, the new songs, but damn. . . I don’t know when it’d come out, though!”
We’ll be patiently awaiting that news.