Q&A with Nocturnal Theory, winner of Dusk's Battle of the Bands
Five local bands competed in the Dusk Music Festival Battle of the Bands on Oct. 16 for the chance to earn their place among popular artists like Fitz and the Tantrums and Two Door Cinema Club.
The winners of the competition, Nocturnal Theory, describe themselves as an indie-pop band and take inspiration from musicians like Hozier and Frank Ocean. Their newest album, Sunset Collapse, is available on streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music.
The Daily Wildcat spoke to the lead singer, songwriter and producer of Nocturnal Theory, Dominic Rischard, to discuss his start in the music scene and the band’s upcoming DUSK performance.
Daily Wildcat: When did you start to get involved with music?
Dominic Rischard: I started when I was a kid, probably, like, 9 or 10 years old. One of my neighbors actually had a guitar and he let me jam around on it and I was pretty hooked on it after that. Ever since then, I was saving up all my money to buy new guitar pedals and recording equipment.
DW: What inspired you to create Nocturnal Theory?
DR: Right around the time that I was probably graduating high school — all the bands I had previously been in, I was only playing lead guitar. I never tried singing anything or writing any of my own solo music. All the bands I was in went our separate ways and I didn’t want to stop playing music, so it kind of pressured me to find my own voice. I was sort of over bands because it just kept not working out, so I wanted to try my own thing. I put a few songs out there and they were well received, so I started digging around town just as a solo artist, and then, probably a year and a half ago, I got my first really big gig at the Rialto [Theatre]. I had been recording all of these parts like the drums, the synths, the keyboards and the bass myself and I wanted to reach out to some of my friends to actually play the parts live. Some of my best friends joined in on the group and we needed a name, and the only time we could meet up was late at night, so decided to be Nocturnal Theory.
DW: Can you tell me a little about your new album Sunset Collapse? What was it like to make?
DR: All of the writing is through me, so I start with the guitar, since that’s my primary instrument, and I just pluck around with chords and I write off of that. Then, I start writing all of the other parts and I have my friends come in and either add a little bit to it or, if I can’t figure out a part, they will help me out. It’s my first album that I have ever written and there’s a lot I can say about it, but it’s self-written and self-produced. It’s an indie-pop record with a lot of Frank Ocean and Hoizer influences. It’s really moody and also has a lot of mellow electronic elements.
DW: What or who are your biggest musical inspirations?
DR: The artist that made me want to pick up a guitar was Jimi Hendrix. As a kid, I loved the way the guitar sounded and all the crazy effects he had. It really inspired me to play the guitar. More recently, I would say Hozier is a big influence, just with his incredible lyrics and the thoughtfulness he puts into every song. Frank Ocean is a huge influence, just with how unorthodox his flows are and his melodies. Again, he’s just a very intelligent artist and I respect that. Bon Iver is a huge influence too.
DW: How did you get involved with the Dusk Battle of the Bands?
DR: A friend actually sent me a link to the application, so I just filled it out. They selected us, we played and honestly, I wasn’t expecting to really win, but we did and I was blown away by the amount of people that came out to support us. It was really special to see that reaction.
DW: How did it feel when they announced Nocturnal Theory as the winner?
DR: The moment before they were about to announce it, I paused and I told myself it’s not us. When they did call Nocturnal Theory, I was shocked. I didn’t think it was real for a second, and then my band members started running on the stage to shake the Dusk owner’s hand and it set in and it felt real. It was unbelievable, honestly.
DW: What are you most excited for?
DR: This is our first festival, so to play our first festival is a milestone in itself. I would say more than that though, being able to be exposed to so many people that haven’t heard us and that I’ve wanted to connect with for a long time ever since I started this project. It’s been a goal to reach a larger audience and I feel like this is a huge opportunity to do that in Tucson, which is the place I’ve grown up. So it’s a really special feeling to be able to do that.
DW: Are there any musical acts you’re looking forward to seeing at Dusk?
DR: I’m dying to see Two Door Cinema Club because I listened to them all through high school. Anytime I had a party, they were playing in the back. So to be able to share the stage with a band like that is, again, unbelievable.
DW: Does Nocturnal Theory have any exciting future plans?
DR: We’re just going to continue doing what we’re doing. I think that in the same way that we weren’t expecting to be on Dusk, I feel that there will be other opportunities that will open up the more that we just keep writing. That’s really the plan — just to keep putting out genuine, heartfelt music that people are attached to.
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