We turned on to Portland quartet Night Mechanic early this fall, after seeing the act was sharing a record release show with Clicky Clicky faves Lubec. It took us a while to get back to and plug into the record, Night Mechanic's third, but we're glad we did. Day Surgery touts an engaging, jittery and melodic sound reminiscent of Keep It Like A Secret-vintage Built To Spill, Wolf Parade and even Michigan-based, MySpace-era also-rans Rain Is Wet. We suppose the band is unusual in the sense that its primary singer and lyricist is its drummer, Andre Coberly, who delivers emotionally charged sentiments over top of persistent new wave beats. The angular guitar melody of the verse and totally-going-for-it chorus of opener "Plywood Association of Nuts & Bolts" was enough to sell us on the whole package, which stretches out into territory both epic and majestic by the time the moving closer "Petite Bronze" winds down. All of the above prompted us to check in with Night Mechanic for our periodic Show Us Yours feature. Guitarist and keys wrangler Patrick Bayliss was kind enough to show us around the band's practice space, give us a feel for its particular environment, and to entertain our questions about what the street-level scene is like in the band's heavily touted hometown. We thank Mr. Bayliss for his time, and encourage you to click play on Day Surgery and listen along as you read about where Night Mechanic makes the rock. The band is already hard at work on a planned fourth set, so we expect this is not the last you'll hear from these guys.
Clicky Clicky: So why do you use this practice space?Night Mechanic: Interzizzles | Facebook | Soundcloud
Patrick Bayliss: It's a 24/7 access space. Due to our schedules, we normally aren't able to get together until 9 at night, so being able to play until midnight or 1 a.m. on a Tuesday is really important. We used to take turns practicing in each other's basements but we didn't get as much time as we wanted to keep playing. We also wore our poor roommates' patience thin. My old house getting burgled didn't help with keeping it in the basement (luckily no gear was stolen). We needed to move into a space and they're tough to come by out here -- it was actually a pain in the ass trying to nail one down. Luckily, we found this one, [and] we've been here for a few years now.
CC: Is there an idiosyncrasy or quirk to the space that has affected the sound of one of your songs, or even the overall Night Mechanic sound?
PB: It's a fucked-up old warehouse (a weird Frankensteined/Lego kind of building) in an industrial part of Northwest Portland -- really weird structure. That alone jives with Andre's crazy lyrics. It's a pretty gritty building, which isn't a bad thing for a rock and roll band, so I think that atmosphere contributes to us banging it out and not being distracted, so we focus on the music -- playing loud and hard. Those elements kind of fit with our "working late" rock vibe. Our actual space in the building sounds pretty good, which is our favorite aspect about it. It must be something about the weird cork-board walls and the old carpet that absorbs the sound nicely... but it also gets hot as balls in there when we get going. We kinda like that, though. That sweaty environment helps make for a basement show vibe while we practice, which is great since our shows are about energy and feel (and for better or worse, volume).
CC: You walk into your space. What's the first thing you smell?
PB: Man musk, stale beer, old wood, amp tolex. One time there was some fruit in there that no one claimed, so it stuck around for a while. Glad we finally got rid of that shit. Some buddies of ours practice in a spot a couple doors down -- sometimes it smells like them... [LOL -- Ed.]
CC: Portland was heavily hyped at the tail-end of the last decade as having a very vibrant creative community and being very band-friendly. As with everything, public interest waxes and wanes and moves on to the next thing. Is it just the interest that has waned, though, or do you all perceive a difference between Portland today and the Portland of, say, 2010, in terms of being a place that nurtures bands? Feel free to lie if you are tired of bands moving to town...
PB: A bit of both. Maybe people got tired of hearing about it. It's a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's really great having so many creative people and so many great bands -- who doesn't like having a lot of awesome shit to go check out? On the other hand, it can be tough to rise above the noise because there's so much of it. There's always some hot new thing that can grab anyone's attention that seems like it just started last month and now it's huge.
Without trying to sound like an asshole, the quantity grew so the quality may not seem as rich as it did before -- but that's just because it isn't as obvious, since it's grown exponentially. Sometimes you have to look harder for the really sweet stuff, and the hype you mentioned doesn't have time for that. There are so many great fucking bands in this town, but on the other side of that coin, sometimes I feel like "the scene" lapped itself or can't keep up with itself all the time. Since there are so many goddamn bands out here, perhaps the sheer volume of it diluted or kind of cannibalized that special vibe/feeling you mentioned and described as waning. That's no one's fault, since everyone is contributing, but since it continued and grew for so long the feeling is bound to change or kind of blend in together a bit. Who knows. At least here in town I feel like maybe people are just getting tired of hearing their friends talk about one of the six bands they're in ("man, i saw you play on Wednesday and Saturday this week -- and you really want me to go see you on Monday, too?").
It's possible that people came out chasing/trying to have that "Portland" sound, and perhaps focused on that too much rather than just trying to do something they think is cool for it's own sake, you know? Whatever that produces would be easy to move away from. But due to the volume of bands and cool contributions, there are a lot more different kinds of sounds now than there used to be, so maybe that consciousness (or that "Portland sound") changed because it can't be recognized as the same thing since it changed -- and since it changed, the attention moved away because it wasn't as easily distinguishable. The city itself doesn't physically grow or expand enough to keep up with the influx of people who move here so that probably is the same for the music -- so perhaps the mother's milk ran a little dry... she just had too many pups and couldn't keep up with them all. But, despite that long tangent, there still is a ton of awesome music happening out here right now, and probably always will be.
CC: What do the next six months look like for Night Mechanic? Are there plans for getting out of town and touring to support Day Surgery?
PB: Right now we're having fun writing and practicing. We have a handful of new [songs] that we're tweaking and are currently throwing more on the pile. We're just having a good time and trying to write as much as possible between Blazer games. We did have to cancel some Seattle stuff in September when the record came out, so hopefully we'll be able to make that up and get back up there to play some shows -- maybe play around the Northwest some -- but no serious touring. We're looking forward to coming up with new songs and doing the next record.
Previous Show Us Yours episodes:
Shapes And Sizes | Dirty On Purpose | Relay | Mobius Band | Frightened Rabbit | Assembly Now | Meneguar | Okay Paddy | Charmparticles | Calories | Sun Airway | It Hugs Back | Lubec | A Giant Dog | Bent Shapes | Krill | Golden Gurls | Earthquake Party! | Hallelujah The Hills | Seeds Of Doubt | The Cherry Wave | Coaches