A Clunk chat with Andy Hopkins of Nightjrrs.

It’s been a long wait for the Nightjrrs members. The record was due for release at the start of 2020. Eighteen months later it’s finally out, as a local Record Store Day release in Carlisle’s Vinyl Café, on the Matchbox Classics label. Clunk caught up with band member Andy Hopkins. Andy explains the timeline of the band and the recording. ‘We recorded it in 2019, the original thing that we pulled together for was one gig in 2018 and we just thought that we’d capture this.’

You may have noticed, as you read this, that the name of the band, Nightjrrs, is not spelt as one might expect. You may be thinking of sending off a swift (Clunk contribution to the bird theme) email to Clunk HQ to point this out. Well, just hold your horses for a moment, it’s not our fault. I tackled Andy on the subject. ‘Some of the sounds I sampled quite early were wild bird noises. Someone said to me that I should try getting a nightjar sample because it has a kind of an eerie sound. I liked the word, I googled it and there happened to be 4 or 5 other bands with that name. I happened to misspell it once as I was typing. I looked at it and because Sonic Youth had a thing where they would misspell words I liked it. It was an accident’.

So far, all was going well. I wondered what might happen if I suggested that Nightjrs might be a bit ‘Prog Rock’. After all, some people get a bit sniffy about ‘Prog Rock’, a dirty word. Well two words, unless it’s just the ‘Prog’ bit that some folks get sniffy over. Anyway…..Andy says ’More of the influences on the sound of the band were more early 90’s post rock where you’ve got things like Flying Saucer Attack , Tortoise and Disco Inferno and bands like that. They were using samples, they were using guitar noise but also using acoustic instruments as well. This isn’t dub!’.

There is a definite bird theme going on. What with the name and the bird noise samples, why so? ‘’My dad was a bit of a naturalist’’ explains Andy, ‘’so I grew up knowing birds and birdsong, it was part of the natural world to me. Different birds represent different things, not in a mythological way but, for example, the house martin’s chirrup in their nest signifies happiness and family. Some are more alarming and unpleasant. The first piece ‘Dabbin House’ came about when were asked to do a piece by the Goethe Institute who funded a performance in Carlisle and just asked loads of people to get involved. A friend of mine, Nick Pemberton, asked if I had any musical ideas. The last time I had picked up a guitar in public was for the Matchbox Classics evening nearly 9 years ago. I suggested this idea that we have noises of places and weave them together. So, the birds come and go to a place and the places are The Solway and land use and post-industrial Carlisle.’’

What about the other track ‘Goose Barnacle Goose’? More bird association? ‘’That comes from a memory of seeing a Goose Barnacle in a rockpool and being told that a Barnacle Goose turned into one of these in the summer and that’s why you couldn’t see them. That always stuck with me, it explained why things just disappeared. It transformed into something else. It was much easier to understand than it flies several thousand miles to a different continent’’.

This record is released on Matchbox Classics. I asked whether Nightjrrs had signed a multi album, multi £million deal with the label. That’s not the case. Andy did have this to say ‘’I have to say I wouldn’t have had the courage to do it without Chris (Mr. Matchbox Classics). His belief and his know-how. It was Chris who would talk to the people making the press, it was his idea to have the etching of some of the words on the vinyl. It was Chris that showed us that we could do it’’

On that happy note the interview came to an end. Thanks Andy.

Nighjrrs are

Nicci Reed: Keyboards and vocals

Andy Hopkins: Guitars, sonics, loops and vocals

John Chambers: Guitars and vocals