After years of firing up the local metal scene with Ramming Speed and Battlemaster, the members of Loud Night have a new LP for Richmond — and its first press sold out in a week.
Before relocating to Richmond from Boston in 2013, Ramming Speed’s Jonah Livingston, Ben Powell, and Kallen Bliss were longtime friends with Richmond’s Andy Horn, and always made sure to play with one of his bands in Richmond when they were on the road.
The Boston area has been known for its punk and hardcore scenes since the early 1980s. The scene has produced influential bands such as SSD, Have Heart, and Converge, but for Livingston and his bandmates in Ramming Speed, Boston changed as the 2000s went into the 2010s and large corporations like LiveNation took over the music scene.
“Every year it got worse and worse,” Livingston said. “Everything about the city was getting super shiny and corporatized, and the cops were shutting down everything cool about punk and the underground. It culminated with the cops showing up to our house with a photo of me because we were throwing house shows.”
This was when Livingston, Powell, and Bliss decided it was time for a change.
“The heat was on, so [Livingston] got on the horn and called me up to say, ‘Hey, things are getting pretty hot up here,’” Horn said. “I said, ‘Come on down here, lay low for a while. We can secretly gain our strength back and combine forces.’”
The three then packed up and moved from Allston, a neighborhood in Boston situated between Boston College and Harvard’s campuses, to the Texas Beach area of Richmond. For Livingston, who grew up in the city in Boston, it was his first time having a grassy backyard. After visiting Richmond so many times on tour, Livingston’s expectations were high, and he wasn’t disappointed.
“Everywhere you turn, it’s like the guy at the gas station is in a metal band, the guy at the pizza place runs a record label,” Livingston said. “Everyone is part of an awesome scene; it was exactly what we were looking for.”
Horn lived in the same neighborhood that Livingston, Powell, and Bliss moved to, and when the members of Ramming Speed decided to call it quits, the four began playing together as Loud Night.
“There’s nothing random about it. It was all fate, if you ask me,” Horn said. “We’ve been really good friends for a long time, and it was only a matter of time before we joined forces to create something new.”
Horn, who does vocals in Battlemaster and previously sang for Organ Donor and Cannabis Corpse, learned to play bass and sing at the same time for the band. The name “Loud Night” came from All Crusties Spending Loud Night, a collection of videos of Japanese hardcore punk shows from the 1990s and 2000s. That name was inspired by pioneering Japanese hardcore band Confuse, and their EP Spending Loud Night. In Richmond’s Loud Night, the band members wanted to capture the raw energy of Japanese hardcore, and combine it with classic metal sounds like Judas Priest.
The title of their new LP, Mindnumbing Pleasure, comes from one of the tracks on the album called “Skinflick.” The song is about the amount of violence shown on TV news.
“All sorts of things get censored these days, but there’s no shortage of grisly war footage and pointless combat,” Horn said. “Civilians, men, women, and children just ripped apart… It sucks, and it’s on TV every day. You can easily become desensitized to that stuff.”
All of the material for Mindnumbing Pleasure was written and tracked prior to the end of 2019, but on May 31 of this year — the same day Mayor Stoney announced there would be a curfew in Richmond in response to protests over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis — the band released a single titled “Curfew.” The revenue the release earned on Bandcamp went to the Richmond Community Bail Fund.
The band teamed up with Bobby Egger of Vinyl Conflict, a record store in Oregon Hill, and Blue Sprocket Pressing in Harrisonburg for the physical release of Mindnumbing Pleasure. The first pressing came as a yellow and black record. Since its release in late September, the first pressing has already sold out. According to Horn, Blue Sprocket described the color of their next pressing as “milky-white natural.”
Loud Night hasn’t been able to book a tour to support the release of Mindnumbing Pleasure because of COVID-19, but when the pandemic is over, they’re planning to hit the road. As soon as shows can take place safely in Richmond, Horn believes the scene will be as loud and as wild as ever.
“It’s like a massive bonfire. Even if the fire looks like it’s out from far away, the coals are always rippingly hot,” Horn said. “And there’s really no putting a fire like we have in Richmond out.”