Artist Spotlight: California rock band Night Riots

Today’s artist spotlight is on California rock band Night Riots.

With a haunting sound and a pop-alternative outfit, Night Riots has been up to big things on the music scene. With a honed sound and image, the band has been on the rise over the past couple years since their debut EP, “Young Lore.”

The band consists of Travis Hawley on vocals, Nick Fotinakes on guitar, Mikel Van Kranenburg on bass, Matt Depauw on guitar and Rico Rodriguez on drums. 

According to their website, Hawley grew up in England for five years until he moved to a small community in California with only one street light. Here, he met Fotinakes, DePauw, Kranenburg and Rodriguez, which was the essential catalyst for the group’s beginning. 

Fans of The Killers, U2 and Walk The Moon will especially enjoy Night Riots’ music. They have a modern sound, yet off-kilter pop production and undeniably unique vocals. They do a lot of vocal-patch sampling, growling bass lines and roughly textured drum sounds. Sifting through their discography is like listening to a colorful rock concert during a Halloween evening. It’s fun, danceable, introspective and carries themes of youth. 

They released their debut EP, “Young Lore,” July 30, 2013 and then their second EP “Howl” on Jan. 20, 2015. After the success of the independently released, “Young Lore,” their new record “Howl” made it to No. 17 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and contains songs that hit No. 1 on SiriusXM Alt Nation’s Alt 18 Countdown, according to their website. The record’s single, “Contagious,” also broke into top 25 on the Billboard Alternative Radio Charts. 

Notable tracks by Night Riots are “Young Lore,” “Shine,” and“Contagious.” You can get both their EPs on iTunes and Spotify or listen to them on their website. They’ve been featured or reviewed by music media legends such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, MTV, FUSE, KROQ, among other reputable outlets, according to their website.

Without even releasing a full-length record yet and starting from the ground up, Night Riots has made a name for themselves sharing the stage with The Strokes, Death Cab for Cutie, Cage The Elephant, Walk The Moon, Hozier, Passion Pit and many other artists, according to their website. They also did a full run on the 2015 Vans Warped Tour. 

A huge defining factor for the band’s success has been touring around the country, playing live for fans. You can hear the live energy in their recordings as an indicator of their real show. 

In an interview with Property of Zack, when asked about what he looks for in a show, Hawley said, “Energy. I mean I think that’s probably the most common answer. We’re an indie-pop band, but we grew up on more punk music, so we used to go to punk shows all the time and that’s what it was all about. It’s about community and it’s about energy. So when we have a good show where people are jumping around, moshing – well, not moshing, but crowd surfing and stuff like that – it’s pretty fun.”

Night Riots might still be making more noise in the underground, but these indie rockers know how to climb the charts well enough to make their mark on the industry.


Brett Steinberg is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brett.steinberg@uconn.edu. He tweets @OfficialBrett.