Locals: Night Family’s riff-tastic first album was worth the wait

By Columbus Alive
From the October 24, 2013 edition
  • Photo by Meghan Ralston

Night Family has existed in some form or another for nearly a decade, though the band only recently released its first studio album, a self-titled monolith of hard-rock riffage and ominous, doom-laden lyrics.

“We reached a point where we were like, ‘We should probably record,’” said singer Marcy Mays, who joins fellow Columbus music scene veterans Darrin Brown (guitar), Patrick Murphy (guitar), Jeff Plavcan (bass) and Geoff Ortlip (drums) for a record release show at Ace of Cups on Saturday, Oct. 26. “We also wanted to move on from this batch of songs. We don’t want to forget them, but we don’t want to play them anymore.”

Part of this desire to press onward can be attributed to the band’s slow-and-steady approach. Songs, like mountains or bipartisan political resolutions, tend to come together very deliberately, and the musicians will often spend months at a time crafting a single track.

“It seems counterintuitive for those of us who have been on labels and had deadlines,” Mays said. “But instead of saying, ‘Let’s get some songs together and play a set,’ we didn’t care if we ever played the songs out. It was more like, ‘Let’s make the song something we all enjoy.’”

The effort shows on the sharply realized Night Family, which moves from metallic dirges (“Stomp of Death March” perfectly describes the monster riff cutting its path of destruction through the tune) to slower, more menacing turns like “Dustbowl,” a song built around the theme of remaining steadfast against external forces that test one’s resolve.

“If you’re strong before the storm comes,” Mays sings, “There’s a slight chance you’ll survive.”

Other songs, like “Only Smoke,” explore the flipside of this equation, its lyrics (“There is no fire left in you/There’s only smoke”) referencing acquaintances of Mays who lost ongoing battles with drugs.

“At my age, and having played music as long as we have,” she said, “you know a lot of people in that category.”

Even though the music occasionally traverses these darker byways, the bandmates universally describe themselves as funny, fun-loving people (“We’re all responsible, and no one is a complete fuck up,” Mays said) who simply enjoy getting together each week to jam.

“We’re a bunch of old friends that like to hang out,” Brown said. “And we just happen to make music.”