[Blog] On The Road With Night Demon – Part 3: Full Speed Ahead

By Andrew Bansal

IMG_0063 copySo, I ended the previous part of my ‘On The Road With Night Demon’ blog series with Dustin driving from New Orleans to Dallas through some intense fog. In this part I’ll take you through Night Demon’s adventures in Dallas, Houston, Little Rock, Austin, Midland and Las Cruces, and in an effort to avoid making this blog monotonous and repetitive, I’m going to lay greater focus and emphasis on the behind-the-scenes incidents and anecdotes from here on in. But before you get into this part, read Part 1 and Part 2.

Day 10 (10/08): Happy Birthday, Mr. John Gallagher

We arrived in Dallas in the early afternoon for the first of four Texas shows of this tour, and had our pre-show meal at a place called Twisted Root which was next to RBC, the venue for the show. ‘Our Burgers Are Sofa King Tasty’, said a sign inside the restaurant, and they sure were. The main agenda of this date was Raven frontman John Gallagher’s 56th birthday, and as soon as Raven’s class A RV motorhome (with a trailer bigger than the entire Night Demon van) arrived at the RBC, the Night Demon guys immediately relieved John of all the gear he usually loads in on a daily basis and did it for him instead. Mark Gallagher walked up to me at the merch table later on in the evening to inform me that it was John’s birthday, and when I told him I already knew and had greeted John, Mark said, “Good! I’m not going to wish him though, because he’s my brother.”

IMG_0601 copyDuring the gig itself, John was in an understandably good mood and it showed in his performance, and as for Night Demon, they decided to spontaneously change up their set list a tiny bit, replacing one of their unreleased tunes with a cover of Diamond Head’s ‘Lightning To The Nations’ as a special treat for the attendees, and they absolutely nailed it despite not having played it on stage in a long time. It came across as very heartfelt as a result. They handle some of the song selections in the set differently from night to night, but the Diamond Head cover has stayed in the set since the Dallas show for the most part, and rightly so.

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Day 11 (10/09): Houston Is Metal

For a change, we only had a four-hour drive and it enabled both bands to deliver an even better-than-usual show at the White Swan Live in Houston because the length of the drives between shows is certainly a huge factor, specially for bands like Raven and Night Demon driving their vehicles DIY style. The White Swan is a longstanding venue that has been in existence since 1937, I was told. The all-ages crowd in attendance here for this gig was excellent, making it an enjoyable event for all involved, and the efforts of local promoter Sally Pena are greatly appreciated. Patches and vinyl LPs were the most popular items sold at the Night Demon merch table and the band undoubtedly won over a lot of new fans, to the extent that they can headline this place on their next visit.

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IMG_0387 copyThe fun didn’t end at the show as we stayed overnight with Gregg Higgins, vocalist/guitarist of Houston’s finest metal band Venomous Maximus and it was entertaining to hang out with him and his pet, the snuggliest cat I’ve ever met in my life so far, in his man cave before we forced ourselves to about four hours of shuteye to prepare for the long drive to Little Rock.

Day 12 (10/10): Signed!

The Night Demon guys were reading printouts of their record deal with Century Media Records in Amos Rifkin’s dining room a week ago in Atlanta and were in constant negotiations with higher-ups at the label throughout the week. Finally, everything was set in stone for Night Demon to become Century Media’s newest signing, and the big official announcement came from one of the label’s publicists in the late afternoon just as we arrived for the show at Vino’s in Little Rock, Arkansas and devoured the seemingly unlimited pizza catered to us by the kind folks at the venue. The guys were extremely chuffed by all the congratulatory messages and posts pouring in on social media platforms and nothing was going to bring them down, neither the totally out-of-the-way commute to Little Rock from Houston with the next show in Austin nor the thunder, lightning and rain-ridden stormy weather we encountered on the way out after the show. This day was all about the signing, and the anticipation of a new chapter in the band’s life.

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Day 13 (10/11): Music Town

We were really looking forward to the show at Red 7 in the music town of Austin TX, and it lived up to our expectations in every way imaginable. The venue has two stages, one indoor and the other outdoor, and the local promoters placed our gig outdoors which was an interesting proposition and made for a nice, chilled-out evening for bands and fans. This was the first and only venue on the tour so far where I got a proper booth to perform Night Demon merch duty out of, and everything about the show was just so legit, one could almost smell the music-minded vibe of this town in its air. It was also good to finally get some press interest with some of the good people at Metal Rules coming down to check out the show. Besides, in the form of Austin-based stoner rock band Sweat Lodge, this show treated us with the best local opener we’ve seen on this tour thus far and their sweet and simple heavy jams were very enjoyable from start to finish. Night Demon garnered a fantastic response from this great Austin crowd which included a group of old-school metalheads who said they saw Raven’s tour with Metallica in 1983, and Jarvis was particularly excited to be able to meet and play for them. The crowd specially enjoyed Night Demon’s cover of Riot’s ‘Road Racin’, and we were told Riot apparently has their biggest American following in the state of Texas.

IMG_0159 copyIMG_0171 copyAfter the show we had a very comfortable overnight stay with Sean Weingartner of Austin-based band Eternal Champion. For me it’s been heartwarming to observe the support Night Demon has received from other bands in the metal community throughout the area of the country we’ve already covered, with the likes of Exmortus, Death Of Kings, Venomous Maximus and Eternal Champion hooking us up, and this kind of camaraderie definitely makes touring life easier, enabling bands to avoid sleeping in the their vehicles every single night of tour. I would encourage bands not only in the States but all across the world to carry the same ethic when it comes to their attitude towards other bands.

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Night Demon with Sean Weingartner (Eternal Champion)

Day 14 (10/12): Middle Of Nowhere

After breakfast at a Mexican restaurant called Taco More which further ascertained popular belief that Mexican food outside California is not the same, we set out on a seven-hour drive to Midland TX, which is a place that definitely lives up to its name. While driving through small Texas towns, speed traps and beautiful countryside which we got to see in the daytime for a change as opposed to the overnight Texas drives we’ve been doing so far, I was the co-pilot and indulged in another epic music geek-out with Jarvis in the driver’s seat. For the bands he loves, this dude has every rare version of every song you could imagine, and oftentimes he plays stuff I’ve never heard before in my life, which is exactly what happened on this trip as I got to hear a hilariously terrible demo version of Metallica’s ‘Until It Sleeps’ with Hetfield sounding as bad as modern-day Glenn Danzig. On the other side of the spectrum there was a mind-blowingly amazing early days live version of Iron Maiden’s ‘Remember Tomorrow’, with Dickinson on vocals. Besides the music, it was entertaining to pass Raven’s RV along the way, with Mark Gallagher’s middle finger held high in the driver’s window.

IMG_0693 copyAs for the show itself, we really didn’t know what to expect from Midland, and our eyebrows were raised further in suspicion when we arrived at this venue called Kegler’s Lounge, absolutely in the middle of nowhere, a tiny concert room having a zero-elevation ‘stage’ and located in an establishment that held a tattoo shop and a closed-down bowling alley. When John Gallagher and Joe Hasselvander walked in, the expression on their faces was totally priceless, almost as priceless as the look on Jarvis’ face when he discovered that he was unknowingly using my snot rag to wipe his face off after the Night Demon set at every show. But, the show actually turned out to be awesome as people came in to have a good time and with money to spend, buying a ton of Night Demon merch. We were carrying a new item at the merch table starting with this show, the Night Demon chalice beer koozies, and the guys themselves drank from the chalice.

IMG_0710 copyIMG_0719 copyBy now, with all the food I’ve been eating, whether it be catered by the venue or paid for by the band, and not undergoing any great physical activity aside from lifting a few merch boxes and a little bit of the band’s gear every day and taking a few photos while they’re on stage, I had to figure out some kind of fitness plan and these past few shows I’ve been carrying it out by singing along to the Night Demon set at the top of my voice while standing behind the merch table. It’s just the perfect workout. I know all the lyrics and no one can hear me. Doing this is also rekindling my love for this band’s music on a nightly basis which is absolutely crucial when you’re committed to spending two months of your life with them. It’s quite clear that I wouldn’t even be on this tour if I wasn’t already the band’s biggest fan to be able to tolerate hearing the same songs every night for two months, and no amount of money or perks would change that. Outside of Night Demon if I ever go on any other similar tours, the band (s) would have to meet the same criteria.

IMG_0418 copyIMG_0508 copyDay 15 (10/13): Bongman

We slept in the van in a Denny’s parking lot after the Midland show and did the five-hour drive in the morning/afternoon to arrive at the Green Room in Las Cruces, New Mexico for the final one of this run of seven consecutive shows. We were all used to the load-in, merch set up and load-out process by this point and it was like clockwork. Over these past two weeks I’ve noticed the band’s unmatched levels of professionalism and that’s been the most admirable thing about them, rarely seen in other bands of the same stature. For a band that started actively less than 2 years ago, Night Demon is already as professional as the biggest bands on the planet, with the manner in which they handle every aspect of their tour life, musical and non-musical. The gear, the stage setup, the merch designs, stage clothing, set list, the performance, taking a full-time journalist on tour with them – everything is precise and calculated. Small/young bands can put egos aside and learn a lot from the way Night Demon conduct themselves. The “rock ‘n roll spirit” is often mistakenly associated with unprofessional work ethics, but these guys are showing how to be a professional rock ‘n roll band. That being said, there is certainly no shortage of fun in the Night Demon tour van, with Jarvis proving himself to be quite the artist at mimicking voices and accents, his impressions of Joe Hasselvander and Lars Ulrich standing out as the best of the lot.

IMG_0747 copyIMG_0749 copyIMG_0752 copyThe show itself in Las Cruces was put on by a local promoter who goes by the name ‘Bongman’, and it ended up being a tremendously fun gig, as the crowd head-banged and moshed during Night Demon’s set, gave Raven a deservedly great response too, and flocked around the Night Demon guys to get autographs and photos after their set, which has been happening at every show so far. Smoking the greens was allowed inside the venue, alcohol was BYOB only, and with the likes of Exmortus and Abysmal Dawn having played the exact same venue during the past week, this town’s metal scene seemed worthy of hosting this Raven/Night Demon gig. The guys had a blast at the show, and it was the perfect way to end this part of the tour.

IMG_0756 copyIMG_0757 copyOn our way out after the show, we had to cross a border patrol check point, and even though my status in this country is completely legal and I was never worried, I’m glad we were able to move through it swiftly because the last thing I’d want to do is to slow the band down at these junctures. We parked in a rest stop somewhere between Las Cruces and Phoenix and slept in the van again before resuming the drive to Phoenix for a welcome off-day. Now as I write this, it’s early morning of Day 17, we’re in the Pacific Time Zone for the next three weeks, and stoked for the in-store signing with Raven at Asylum Records in Mesa AZ today, the show at Club Red tonight, and the upcoming California/Vegas leg of the tour.

[Read Part 4 here]

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Remaining tour dates:
10/15: Mesa, AZ @ Asylum Records (in-store signing with both bands, 6 to 8 PM)
10/15: Mesa, AZ @ Club Red
10/17: San Marcos, CA @ Jumping Turtle
10/18: Santa Barbara, CA @ Biko House
10/19: Las Vegas, NV @ Cheyenne Saloon
10/20: Los Angeles, CA @ Whisky A Go Go
10/22: San Bernardino, CA @ Black Flame Collective
10/23: Fullerton, CA @ Slidebar
10/24: Ventura, CA @ Bombay
10/25: Los Osos, CA @ Sweet Springs Saloon
10/26: Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
10/27: San Francisco, CA @ The Elbo Room
10/28: Sparks, NV @ The Alley
10/29: Ashland, OR @ Club 66
10/30: Portland, OR @ Tonic Lounge
10/31: Spokane, WA @ The Hop!
11/01: Vancouver, BC @ Media Club
11/02: Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
11/03: Boise, ID @ The Shredder
11/04: Salt Lake City, UT @ The Lo-Fi Cafe
11/05: Denver, CO @ 3 Kings Tavern
11/07: St Louis, MO  @ Fubar
11/09: Columbus, OH @ Shrunken Head
11/11: Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
11/13: Indianapolis, IN @ Headquarters
11/14: Akron, OH @ Empire Rock Club
11/15: Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck
11/16: Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
11/17: Fort Wayne, IN @ The Brass Rail
11/18: Detroit, MI @ Token Lounge
11/19: Syracuse, NY @ Macs Bad Art Bar
11/20: Pittsburgh, PA @ Dead Horse
11/21: Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus
11/22: Philadelphia, PA @ Dobbs
11/23: Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
11/24: Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
11/25: Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood