White Night Play Their Pop Punk Proudly. Deal With It, Critics

White Night Play Their Pop Punk Proudly. Deal With It, CriticsEXPAND
Courtesy Burger Records

Though they toiled in the local hardcore scene for a few years, Frank Agnew, Jon Rains and Mike Gonzales made a firm decision that ultimately altered their music. Seeing how hardcore flooding was Orange County, the trio decided to adapt with the times and form a pop punk band. Granted in 2008 this wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking decision, but the trio had ulterior motives on top of seeing a hole in the marketplace. Calling themselves White Night, the band had simple goals when they first started.

“It started off as a joke,” Rains says of the band’s origins. “The name is a joke too, but we wanted to get to girlfriends and pop punk stuff was in at the time. But something clicked with our songwriting and kind of drifted from pop punk into something else. We wanted to sound like everyone else before we realized we should be ourselves.”

Within weeks of their formation, the trio did indeed meet the girlfriends they initially sought, but
as the trio navigated the area’s punk landscape, their sound evolved from those simple pop punk beginnings. Incorporating elements of surf pop and garage rock, the trio experimented with their sound and went against what was going on in the hardcore scene at the time.

After releasing a 7 and 10-inch, White Night released their debut album that was absolutely slammed by Maximum Rock N’ Roll magazine. The horrible review was humorous to the band then, but even more so now. The trio used the contentious words that described their EP to promote shows on their flyers, and used it to garner publicity, even if they agreed with the review’s general sentiment.

“The Immortal album was the one that they didn’t like,” Agnew says of the magazine’s criticism.

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“The person said that we weren’t the Agnews, and we were like, ‘Well we have an Agnew in our band jackass,’” Rains adds. “It was obvious that she (the writer) didn’t know what she was talking about. But other than that, we didn’t really like that album anyway.”

Rains notes that the band served as an outlet for him to channel his internal frustrations and depression into song that he says “aren’t shitty.”

“I wrote about what I was going through and it was how I released my stress and depression,” the bassist explains. “Journaling and making songs out of it allowed us to add elements to our sound and help put us in the direction we’re headed today.”

That includes adding members — a guitarist and keyboard player — in order to help harness their growth. Over the past two years, the now quintet spent time recording what’s become their third album Weird Night. Released through Burger Records, Weird Night is the band’s most complete effort to date. Mixing aggressive punk with fuzzy, ‘60s era pop, White Night’s initial sad lyrics are now purposely glossed over.

Due to distance constraints and a rigorous daily lives, the band isn’t able to tour as much as they’d like. But when they do, like any rock band, the Fullerton-natives manage to channel the high energy demonstrated on their EP unto the crowd. Their sound may not be grounded in the pop punk they intended on creating, but White Night is ready to keep pushing forward in a direction they know will be challenging and exhilarating.

“We want to keep writing records and touring because we feel cooped up otherwise with our stressful daily lives,” Rains says. “Even though this album has been out only a few months, we’re already halfway done with our next one and can’t wait to see what happens with that.”

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