Rap-rock powerhouse Nightbeast is one of the most popular bands on the local scene. However, the fun-loving group, releasing a new EP at Canal Public House on Friday, was on the verge of folding in 2011.
Frontman Nick Testa sat down recently in South Park Tavern to discuss Nightbeast, which started as a solo rap project in 2002 and has developed into one of the most engaging live acts in the region.
“It started as a joke,” Testa said. “I wrote some funny songs to make my friends and me laugh. I didn’t even have a name, and one day (Motel Beds guitarist) Tommy Cooper called me Nightbeast. I thought it was funny, and it kind of stuck as a nickname. I never thought 12 years later I’d still be saying that word 20 times a day, but it really has evolved as a music project. I’m really happy with the way it’s going.”
In 2011, Nightbeast expanded to its current high-octane, full-band state with the addition of members of acts such as Astro Fang, Electric Banana, God Bless & Asher Jones and Okay Lindon.
“Before the band, I was going to stop,” Testa said. “I was going to hang it up and be like, ‘All right, that was fun. I had a good time doing it.’ I was tired of doing it by myself. Having the five guys with me made a huge difference. I don’t have to be the whole show anymore, and I really like that. If it was up to me, I’d play bass and be in the back. Nobody would ever see me, and I’d be OK with being in the shadows.”
Testa doesn’t have to do all the songwriting anymore, often collaborating with his bandmates before fine-tuning the band’s party anthems with producer Tyler Smyth of the Danger Kids.
“Tyler’s very talented at song structure, production and knowing what sounds good together,” Testa said. “He and I wrote these songs together with the band. Tyler had a very integral part of the song structure and how these songs actually came together.”
Friday night’s show not only celebrates the Nightbeast release but also a split CD from local acts Duderus and DipSpit. The $10 admission includes copies of both releases.
“We wanted to make it a big community thing as much as possible so you get something when you walk in,” Testa said. “I sound like Bono or someone, but I want to give back. I want people to have the CD if they’re going to come. If they pay $10 we’re going to give them something so they leave with more than beer on their shirt.”
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