"I can't afford smashing guitars. I don't know why I do it," says Danny Lee Blackwell, guitarist and singer for psychedelic garage band the Night Beats. "You're supposed to wait until you can afford guitars before you smash 'em."
In under 24 hours, the Night Beats went from smashing guitars and toppling the barriers separating the minors from the drinkers at Portland's Wonder Ballroom, to taking MDMA in their hotel room at 5:00 a.m., to eating breakfast at a notorious Portland strip club known as much for its steak as its dancers. Today they're going on a couple hours of sleep, with frizzy hair almost as wild as their eyes, sitting in their friend's tiny Capitol Hill studio drinking warm PBR and listening to Beggars Banquet. It's just another day for the Night Beats. Founded three years ago by the 22-year-old Blackwell, soon after he landed in Seattle from Dallas, the lineup now includes 23-year-old drummer James Traeger, whom Blackwell has known since high school, and 25-year-old bassist Tarek Wegner.
"There isn't any excuse to not write a good pop song, because you have the ability to hear anything throughout time," says Blackwell, who displays impressive technical, experimental, and instinctual guitar playing and shell-shocked songwriting. "There's no excuse to have a shitty band." The sentiment shows in the new album Night Beats, an excellent culmination of the band's more apparent influences, ranging from '60s garage (think 13th Floor Elevators and the Count Five) to the raw pop of Ty Segall and the Strange Boys, who went to high school with Blackwell and taught him about Texas garage-rock history. It's an atomic display of sound, filled with Blackwell's reverberated whoops and electrifying fret work and Wegner and Traeger's precise, driven rhythms.
Blackwell's tenacity also means relentless touring, from crowded house parties in the rural Midwest to the main stage at the annual Austin Psych Fest. Yet while they're out reaching every pocket of America, here in Seattle only intrepid visionaries like Portable Shrines—who included the Night Beats on the compilation Portable Shrines Magic Sound Theatre Vol. 1—are taking notice of the band. Night Beats is likely to change all that, as long as their gear can survive the attack.