Interview: Night Riots & Silent Rival Hit Chicago Tomorrow

In a sea of never-ending indie rock acts trying to make a name for themselves, it can be hard to stand out. For LA based band Night Riots, their infectious stadium rock anthems reminiscent of The Killers and Muse has put them at the forefront of the genre, touring with the likes of Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, K.Flay, The Maine (one of my favorite bands as a teenager) and The Mowgli’s.

After growing up as childhood friends, bandmates Travis Hawley (lead vocals), Nick Fotinakes (guitar), Matt DePauw (guitar), Mikel van Kranenburg (Bass) and drummer Rico Rodriguez became so immersed in their passion for their music that it stopped them from attending college.

“We came from a place where there wasn’t anything to do so if you weren’t creative you were bored all day.  Music was our outlet.” – Travis 

Turns out that dipping out of college resulted in great things for the band. After a self-released debut album in 2010, the band started making waves large enough to crowd-fund their next EP – which raised $12,000. The EP, Young Lore, was released in 2013. After the success of their single “Contagious” caught MTV’s eye, they were signed to Sumerian Records, an independent music label based in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.

Touring as a young band can cause stress, exhaustion and downright turmoil for bands just starting out, especially as an opening act and trying to make connections on the road with new fans. For Night Riots, touring has given them unforgettable experiences and opportunities to grow as a band and learning how to adapt to life on the road as artists. Thanks to these experiences opening up for other artists, Night Riots is fully prepared to start their first headlining tour, making an appearance at the Subterranean tomorrow in Wicker Park.

“There’s something you can take from every performer and apply it to yourself to improve. We’ve been lucky enough to tour with so many great bands and artists so that knowledge is invaluable.  As an opener you are limited in some ways in what you can do and have to be adaptable to the situation.”  – Travis

Frontman Travis Hawley has found inspiration in big names like Prince and Freddie Mercury, whose unparalleled energy as frontmen have clearly translated well for Hawley, who has been praised as “charming, suave” and with a “winning smile.” With some of the biggest musicians in history as some of his idols, it’s clear that their impact is working for the band.

What’s down the road for Night Riots? The band is nearing the end of their first headlining tour and will be heading back into the studio to record new music once it’s over.

Tour dates below:


Three countries come together to form Silent Rival, an alternative rock band based in LA featuring members Sara Coda (lead vocals), Joz Ramirez (guitar) and Yukata Sao (bass), all hail from the US, Mexico and Japan, respectively. After all three bandmates were members of the music scene in Los Angeles, their paths crossed and they were able to create a sound uniquely their own almost two years ago.


The band’s first album, The Kindness of Strangers, was released independently in 2017 and was inspired by the handful of people they met along the way who understood the band’s artistic direction. While all three members of Silent Rival tend to gravitate towards similar influences in rock music, they also find personal inspiration from individual artists.

“Joz is still influenced by T. Rex, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix, and I [Sara] am still influenced by the Beatles, Gladys Night, and Steven Tyler.” – Sara

As an independent artist, it can be tough being able to release music that’s true to an artist’s vision, but Sara has faith that the band will continue to be able to release music that’s authentic to them, even though being independent means you don’t have the same resources available as you would if you were signed to a major label.

“We have almost complete control over the creative side. I say ALMOST complete control because no one has complete control. Once you start a song, it takes on a life of its own, and as much as you want to influence it, it will be what it wants to be.”

Like I hinted at earlier on, it’s no easy feat to tour as an opening act in a world where an audience member’s attention span is a good three seconds, but these facts isn’t putting a damper on the band’s excitement as one of the opening acts for Night Riots.

“I just hope the audience has a good time and get pumped up for Night Riots. Outside of that, they can take whatever they need. We  get so much more out of it than anyone else. I wouldn’t want to make any demands on top of what an audience gives me that they should take away.” – Sara

Sara has the vocal style reminiscent of great female musicians like Karen O. and the power of Florence Welsh, and I’m hoping to hear more of these characteristics off of their next album, which they are currently working on. With help from producer Alain Johanes (who has worked with big names like Queens Of The Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Jimmy Eat World), I’m sure the follow-up album will pack quite a punch.

Click here to purchase tickets to see Night Riots and Silent Rival in Chicago tomorrow.

– Kristin

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