Healing All Wounds; An interview with Goodnight Goodnight

Dayton, Ohio’s dark and ambient indie band Goodnight Goodnight formed as a sort of music therapy for its members. Assembling in late February 2015 after a member of the band lost his son to suicide the members decided that they’d write and record music for the simple joy of fellowship and camaraderie.  After a few months, they resolved to play their music in front of people. And after 30+ shows the band is seeing an upward trajectory and attention they’d never imagined. Goodnight Goodnight release their debut EP and are currently in the process of writing and recording a full-length.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with the band’s Gary Thornton to discuss their therapeutic roots, their accomplishments and future.

I heard that the band came together as a sort of therapy for a loss.  What happened?

Yeah, we started playing together with no expectations of anything other than work through some personal issues in our lives. We lost a former bandmate named Jason Dryden a few years ago to heroin.  I think after that tragedy, we lost contact with each other. A couple of years after that we lost another former bandmate and our best friend to the world. His name is Nick Aycock. He was involved in an ATV accident. Fortunately for all of us, he survived for two and a half years.  This gave us time to see him, talk to him, let him know that we loved him. He passed away after his last surgery. It just wasn’t successful.

The tipping point for us all, especially Todd Herbert, was the passing of his son, Nigel Herbert. Nigel committed suicide.  So, we were just dealing with so much loss in such a short time span. We needed hope. We needed some type of closure.  We all felt and continue to feel that music helps with all of that.

We were all out at a bar Todd’s birthday. He wasn’t doing very well, so I suggested that we start playing.  It took a few weeks to schedule time to get together, but in late February 2015 we started. For the first couple of months, it was just Todd, Duane and I just jamming at my house. Eventually we asked my wife, Amanda, to start putting melodies and lyrics to the music. We really wanted to do something with a lot of harmonies; something in the vain of Sunny Day Real Estate.  We found a very talented singer named Marcie to do backing vocals live, but the direction wasn’t quite what we had in mind ultimately.

How long did you write material before deciding to play in front of people?

Our first show was in July for a one year memorial for Nigel.  I really don’t know if we even had a name prior to deciding to do the memorial. Todd came up with the name Goodnight Goodnight around that time. It is a reference to what he posted on Facebook when a friend or family member passed. He would just post “Goodnight” on their page.  It seemed more fitting than “goodbye.”  Our first paid gig was in Dayton with Somersault, Bribing Senators and The Story Changes on September 5, 2015. So it was about six or so months of writing before we got out there.

The band has managed to accomplish quite a bit in just a year.  What have your favorite accomplishments been?

Probably the things that we are most proud of are raising awareness to suicide prevention. We donate a portion of sales to suicide prevention through Boys Club of America. I think the other thing that we are most proud of is being part of a really supportive scene.  Dayton musicians seem to get it. We are here for each other and the community.

What material have you released so far?  When did you write it and where did you record it?

We started writing our EP early on as a way to find a drummer. Holding an iPhone out to capture music wasn’t conducive to finding a drummer. The person had to be able to hear what each instrument was doing. After a month or so of working on things, we kind of stopped looking. We recorded all of it ourselves at home.  We went to my friend, Moe Beats for mastering at Razdabar.  We got our CDs back from the disc manufacturer two days before the first Dayton Is For Lovers show with Hawthorne Heights.

What kind of response have you gotten to your EP?

So far the response has been pretty good for Don’t Fade Out.  The main story line on the EP is hope.  Some of the songs may sound depressing at times, but if you listen to the lyrics,  it is about hope and love. We have had play on W937, WYSO, WUDR as well as play on Australian radio.  I am not sure how we ended up on Australian radio since we didn’t market any foreign countries, but we have sales in Europe, Asia and India as well.

What touring have you done to support the EP?

We just finished a five state tour including MI, OH, NY, VA and TN to support the EP. It was a pretty fun tour.  We met a ton of awesome people and hung and played with a lot of old friends as well.

You are in the process of recording an LP, right?  How is that going?

We are getting ready to put out an LP this year.  We have started basic tracking on a few songs.  We are still in the writing process though. We want to put something that is cohesive front to back.  We aren’t doing a concept album.  We just want a certain messages conveyed to the listener.

What else are you hoping to accomplish yet in 2016?

Since September, we have played out a lot, locally and regionally. We are playing Dayton Is For Lovers again this year.  It’s going to be a fun show with an awesome lineup. We are very excited to be a part of that. We plan on slowing down a little bit locally and focusing on the LP.  We plan on doing some more light touring, possibly bringing some of our friends’ bands with us.   Most importantly to us is to continually heal emotionally from the things that brought us together in the first place.  To some it may seem a bit morbid.  To us, it is therapeutic.

(Visit Goodnight Goodnight at www.goodnightgoodnightmusic.com.)

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