Nightbird Casino is experiencing a seismic, creative rebirth after coalescing its core quartet membership and singular post-punk art-rock sensibility. The Ashland, Oregon-based band’s reset comes after releasing two full-length albums in five years. Nightbird Casino ushers in this new era with a series of artistically epiphanic singles seeding a path to its third album.
“Early on, we didn’t know what kind of band we wanted to be when we grew up,” shares singer, lyricist, and guitarist James Moore. “We’re a bunch of music nerds that write songs as democratically as possible.”
Nightbird Casino features James and keyboardist Amanda Moore, who are married, and drummer Oliver Collins and multi-instrumentalist and bassist Landon Strine. Nightbird Casino sometimes augments its sound with other members to replicate its densely textured artistry. The band has evolved into an experimental post-punk band that blends traditional rock instrumentation with electronic music. Its songs often feature lyrical but hypnotic basslines; splashes of melodic and moody processed guitar; layers of ethereal synth textures; taut and cleverly intricate drum patterns; and richly expressive baritone lead vocals.
James’s lyrics mirror the band’s abstract creativity with a poetic sense for non-linear lyrics which often feature passages juxtaposed together to create mosaics of ideas, thoughts, and feelings. “The songs live in a subconscious, meditative state,” shares Landon. Nightbird Casino has been favorably compared to Interpol, Bauhaus, Sonic Youth, The National, and Radiohead.
Nightbird Casino started out as a duo project featuring James and drummer Kelly Hutchinson fresh out of the LA-based indie rock band I Lit a Fire. The twosome’s early freewheeling recordings found them exploring indie rock, modern classical, and full electronic music. Eventually, other musicians joined the fold, Kelly departed, and Nightbird Casino nurtured a cohesive, signature aesthetic.
The quartet version of the group made its live debut in December 2021, and released its first single and video, “Sunglasses After Sex,” shortly thereafter. “Sunglasses After Sex” represents a fresh start for the band. The track opens with a fluttery, delay pedal-drenched guitar riff, and then the song locks into a tight groove with Landon’s melodic bassline and Oliver’s artfully propulsive drums. Over this, Amanda weaves lush and sweeping soundscapes. “That song evolved from testing out a new delay pedal. This band has a psychological problem with pedals—our rehearsal space is crammed with like 70 pedals,” James says laughing. Amanda chimes in: “Poor Oliver, he has to sit there while we mess with each one.”
The single, “Radio Anxiety,” features slithering bass riffs, obtuse grooves, James’s commanding lowregister vocals, and Amanda’s ethereal synth wizardry. The song exudes a walls-are-closing-in sense of claustrophobia. James prefers listeners come to their own conclusions about his songs, but in a rare moment of disclosure he offers some insights. “That song is partly about the drudgery of day jobs,” he says. “You have to uphold a fake persona that is so different from who you are.” The starkly arty “Radio Anxiety” video exudes a striking tactile quality with the band playing among huge slabs of elegant marble in a warehouse. Their next single, “Gazelles,” is a fan favorite the band has been playing live for years. It’s a lushly-produced banger with stacks of guitars and synths, and a mesmerizing and militant bass and drums interlock.
Up next, Nightbird Casino is working on its third album which feels momentous and defining for the band. James says: “It feels like a debut album. The songs we’ve recorded and released have surpassed anything Nightbird Casino has done previously—it’s really exciting.”
Oliver Collins got his musical start when his mom got him playing the piano around age 6. “It was just super strict, you know? You play an hour a day or you don't do anything else. It was all classical, read your sheet music, don't write anything yourself ... that typical classical training.” Forging his musical background, he transitioned to the clarinet. Around 5th grade he heard Nirvana for the first time and thought “what the hell am I doing playing clarinet? (no offense to clarinet players)” The next thing he knew was he was listening to ska and found his passion for playing drums. Fast forward to 2021, he got in touch with James after a chance posting looking for a collaborator on craigslist. “We played together once and I thought, ok, this is what I'm looking for. And since then it's just been a blast.” Bringing influences of jazz, hip hop, and funk rock, he rounds out Nightbird Casino with rock solid groove and feel.
ondes martenot, synth, vocals
Amanda Moore got her start as a kid on her old family piano. Taking some lessons from her Grandmother, her love for playing was kindled but took some years to ignite. Working her way through musical theatre, she eventually moved to upstate New York where she met James. “James got this really amazing, beautiful instrument, the ondes martenot (an obscure 1930s electronic instrument, more recently brought into contemporary music by Johnny Greenwood and Daft Punk). He bought it for himself and then I commandeered it … it's just such a beautiful instrument. It’s like you dance with the sounds. I picked it up really quickly. It just resonated with me so deeply that I felt like I needed to play it” With that, her love for playing music was ignited. Amanda took a jump into synthesizers as well and brought the layers of atmospheric sound and ambience Nightbird Casino needed.