Every album, each sound, invokes a variety of feelings in the listener, be it anger, sadness, or the outbreak of rebellion. The Greeks knew the power of musical influence, even going so far as to establish censorship on music. Imagine that, ancient maturity ratings on sound. I’m sure you can relate. I bet your teenage self remembers those stickers on albums dictating what you hear.
I would strongly urge against censoring Late Night Fights. Well, if you speak Swedish, and you’re a bit sensitive, pull out the earmuffs for the comedy interludes. Other than those brief reprieves, Renal 911 brings emotion to the forefront. So, what happens when you find an album that moves through moods? You put on your swim-trunks and ride the wave; but, what about if you find another of these rarities? You recognize the artist behind the music.
That is why speaking with Ryan Guanzon had me biting my nails and pacing a worn trail into my carpet. Am I a fan? Oh, yes. More than that, as a product of a music-driven family, I was awed.
Just like the records, the conversation with Ryan moved through emotions and left an impact I analyzed for the next week.
An affected artist answered my call, torn over the news of Chris Cornell’s death and rebounding from an already rough week. Take a tree falling on Ryan’s car a few days prior as a gauge to his current life’s struggles. Nonetheless, he pulled through the stress of his day to talk the variety stance of his album Jousthouse to the more thematic release of Renal 911. It was here that Ryan dropped the bomb: Late Night Fights made this new album in approximately two weeks, not including mixing time.
There was a couple different unique things that we did. Definitely a lot different than the first record. The first record there was a lot of guess playing, and I played drums on most of it. I went from playing drums and switching over playing the guitars. This one, we recorded the rhythm tracks live and I went back and did the vocals after the fact. I think you can probably tell the difference. It sounds like a band performing rather than a record that’s getting produced to sound like a record.
Renal 911 has a darkness to it that Jousthouse does not, though Jousthouse had it’s moments as well. Yet, the comedy driven drop-ins throughout the album break up the darkness. Cell-phone recordings of a Swedish girl speaking profanities injects hilarity into the album and a breath of fun into the breaks. Ryan laughed through the story of how his Canadian beer was given a nickname of Boontang, as the monitor-tech Pat Boon dubbed it.
We gave these girls some Boontang. They were stoked. I asked one to say something ridiculous. That’s what the sample is, the story of that.
After that little detour of band-life we came back to the album. The break-free undertow of the record roared through the style changes from track to track. Even the album cover depicts an exorcism.
I think it has a lot to do with the guys, what we talk about, and how we relate to things, just the side of life that we dwell on. One of the things that Late Night Fights has always meant to me was an evil and good thing. An exorcism typically being a late night battle between good and evil, and the demon that’s possessed someone, fighting to release it.
The transition from the diversity-thick Jousthouse to Renal 911‘s branded-style surprised me. Yet, the calling card of Late Night Fights variety still sings through the musical choices; but, this time it doesn’t sit in the front audio, it lives in the deeper parts of the songs. The diversity signature is buried in the dark sounds, but it exists. We talked about that darkness exemplified in the track “Failure.”
That one is a lot of being pissed off at everybody I’m surrounded by. It’s giving up on humanity, trying to tell them to open their fucking eyes. People’s heads are so far up their asses. There was so many things adding up that led to that song; which, I guess is the same as a lot of my angry songs. We jammed those riffs for a while. That one is really fun to play live because we get to thrash around. It’s super aggressive. It’s definitely a lot different than the other songs.
Here’s the switch, where the Late Night Fights variety that I boast about comes into play. “In Your Hands” has a sweetness embodied in desperation. It’s lonely, yet heart-warming. I had to know how Ryan did it. How did Late Night Fights discover this contradiction, record it, and understand it? Maybe, those thoughts are more clear through music, at least when it’s done right.
It’s definitely a desperate sound. It comes from the standpoint of someone who is really ready to give into someone and be there for them through anything they need. It’s submitting and saying, ‘Look I’m right here and I’ll do anything for you.” All you’ve got to say is, ‘I’m sick of my monotonous life and everything I keep repeating, and complaining about. All I have to do is make up my mind. But, it doesn’t necessarily ever get anywhere. It’s more of a “Look here I am, notice me. I’m the solution to all the problems you’re experiencing, that you have.”
Album talk ended with the cloud of recent tragedy hanging over the day. Though Ryan’s music is far from Chris Cornell’s style, the impact on artists like Ryan has shaped the legacy. It’s a relief to hear an output like Renal 911, as it pays homage, not with style, but with rawness.
I’m not trying to compare myself to Soundgarden or Chris Cornell, or anything like that; but, it’s definitely something that is the reason why I think people sacrifice so much to make music. That’s to influence people, have them react, and grasp onto things, and reflect, regardless if it’s not even close to what the original intentions were when you write a song. I owe Chris Cornell everything. Him and Layne Staley, I owe so much just from everything that they’ve done that I’ve latched onto, getting into music, ever. Forever I will be indebted to the way they influenced my life with their music. I can only strive to make them happy, to not let them down. Even Kurt Cobain, bands that I would listen to that I have the utmost respect to their artistry. I’ve written some cheesy-ass shit in my day. The last thing I want to do is have them rolling around in their grave because of something I wrote.
It’s an ode to the pioneers of rock music when an artists offers truth in their compositions. When the music is vulnerable it becomes relatable. As Ryan spoke, I realized why I’ve developed the intense love for Late Night Fights’ music. They offer who they are within each track. It’s unapologetic, yet sorrowful. It can be upbeat, but it will also be twisted. It’s human nature in all it’s confusion. Late Night Fights plays in the grey, instead of the black and white.
You’ve got to have fun once in a while, and mix it up, and talk about stupid shit. As long as people are having fun and you’re not trying to hurt people, and you don’t suck, then you should be good.
We joked about the levels of ‘suckiness’ and whether there is leeway. It was here Ryan’s charismatic personality peeked out once again.
It’s true. You can suck. As long as you suck in a really cool way, a really interesting way.
Late Night Fights is music therapy. From song to song, emotion to reaction, these artists have the track that you are needing. Why? Because they felt the same and have found a way to show it.
It’s weird when you are making a record and trying to make sure it’s right. You listen to it over and over again, the pieces, and whatnot. When we got home from New York, I listened to it; at the gym, biking, whatever, I listened to it on repeat and just nitpicked it. Personally, I felt, especially from the last record which I loved creating, there was something different about this one with the chemistry the three of us had, that collaboration from the beginning to the end. I have to give a shout-out to my producer, Fluff, and Dan Korneff who engineered and mixed it, because without them it wouldn’t be anything. They kick ass. They totally embraced our idea of doing pre-pro for a couple of days, going to New York, doing all the tracks live, quickly, efficiently, and just popping it out.
That is Late Night Fights in a nutshell. Throwing out an album at light-speed, but also agonizing over the details, playing opposing emotions, yet making it cohesive, having a thirty minute conversation that insights laughter, as well as a touching on the shared personal connections to our grandfathers in the track “Ode to Ode” from Jousthouse.
You cannot predict Late Night Fights, but you sure can relate.