By: Victoria Moorwood//
Born in Nashville, Nightly is rapidly climbing alternative pop charts and preparing for their No Vacancy tour, kicking off next month in Chicago. Spearheaded by two Philadelphian cousins, singer/songwriter Jonathan Capeci and guitarist Joey Beretta bought matching Fender Squier Stratocaster guitars when they were kids. With Beretta playing in bands since his early teens and Capeci developing his songwriting skills at 17, the two grew up knowing they wanted to be in a rock band together someday. Eventually, they formed Nightly, which means “night, love you” in text speak, and will be hopping on the road this spring. The duo released their honest EP last fall, including hit song “xo,” which accumulated over 4 million streams, quickly made its way onto Nashville’s ALT 98.3 playlist, and has recently been paired with their debut music video. I spoke with singer Jonathan Capeci about the short-lived college experience that led them to pursue their dreams as musicians, inspiration behind the emotionally-charged lyrics of “xo,” and what exciting performances lie ahead in the band’s future.
Let’s talk about your No Vacancy tour. How excited are you?
Band’s so excited. We started rehearsals a couple weeks ago and we’re trying out some new songs and stuff, so getting pretty excited for sure.
Awesome. I was wondering about your name, Nightly. So I know it’s short for “night, love you,” how did you guys think of that?
Man, I would like to say that we’re like super smart, but honestly there’s not like a ton of band names in this day and age. There are quite a lot of band names that are taken, so we just had to get creative. And actually the first song that we ever wrote as a band, is this song that’s not out yet, is called “The Night” and that’s kind of where we started. So we were like, maybe it should have something to do with night or nighttime because of this song that we wrote, and eventually we got to the ‘night, love you’ thing and shortened it to Nightly.
That’s the first song that you guys wrote together?
It’s the first song we wrote for this band. Joey and I—Joey’s the guitarist, he and I are cousins—we grew up together and we’ve written lots of songs prior, but this was the first song that felt really special and that’s kind of where we started the band. We wrote a couple songs and the first one was called, “The Night.” I’m sure we’ll probably release that song at some point, maybe on our full-length record or something.
Is that stressful? Coming up with a band name since a lot of them are taken?
It really is. Honestly, it took us quite a while. The thing that sucks is that you have it forever. With album names and stuff like that, once you make a new album at least you don’t have to be promoting the old one as much. There are so many band names that are like insane these days and, I don’t know, I can’t picture myself being like 35 and being called like, “The Butthole Surfers,” or something.
Yeah, that’s probably a good call.
It is tough; it’s a big decision. But honestly I really like our band name now. Even though we’ve been around for about a year with Nightly, it still feels cool.
What about starting in Nashville helped form your unique sound?
It’s super cool. So we grew up in the Philly area and Nashville is super based around music, which is crazy. Other industries have their cities; like San Francisco is like technology and stuff like that and L.A. is like a lot of movies, but Nashville is a city that’s pretty much founded on music. So it’s a very normal thing for people to be working in music for a job, which when you grow up somewhere like Philadelphia it’s not common at all. Like, if you want to do music or go to college for music it’s for teaching music or classical music. So when you go somewhere where all the people are doing what you want to do for a living, it’s super inspiring. But, because of that, the level of musicianship is so much higher. You can be walking down Broadway at like 2 p.m. and there will be a cover band playing, and like the guitarist in the cover band will be like one of the best you’ve ever heard, and they’ll be like one of the crappier ones of Nashville. I would say the way it influenced us directly was kind of forcing us to either be better or to stop doing it. Also, the people you meet there are also trying to do the same thing as you. So it’s cool to have somewhat of a group of people all trying to do the same thing.
The song, “xo,” where did that inspiration come from? Which one of you guys had the experience with the half-in-love thing?
Yeah, that was me. I do the lyrics. I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory, like based on the song. I came into the room with Joey and I had that line, and I was like, ‘I really wanna write a song where it says I love you but I gotta let go.’ It’s like when you’re in a relationship and you’re just half-in. Like, sometimes it’s cool; sometimes it’s not. And you’re kind of giving half of an effort and it just ends up hurting each other more. So it’s sort of like you need to either do this all the way or not do this at all.
Same with honest—as an EP and as an idea—where did the inspiration come for that one? Was that you too?
Yeah, for sure. I mean, we had a bunch of songs where we were trying to decide which ones should be on the EP and “Honest” kind of felt like the most different of all four. But to me, it seemed like a good start for a band called Night Love You, because it’s all sort of personal things. We called the EP honest because each song is actual situations or actual things we’ve experienced. That’s why we decided to call it honest.
You described your songwriting as a conversational tone and wanting to stay true to real emotions, and I really like that and I bet a lot of your fans connect with that. Can you tell me more about that?
Yeah, I think there’s a couple of different ways that different bands write songs and some people are really good at writing stuff that you don’t really know what it means but it sounds good and it makes you feel good. I’m just not good at writing like that. If I write like that it just sounds like I’m writing like a Dr. Seuss book or something, you know? So for us, I kind of have to write from, you know, even if it’s not something that happened to me directly, where it’s like about a situation that either Joey’s been in or some other friends have gone through. It’s always in some way personal because that’s just how I write best. Like, I love bands like Coldplay, but if I ever tried to write like that I would just sound ridiculous.
Well that’s good that you know your strength.
Yeah, well I think it has to mean something to me in order for it to ever mean something for somebody else. Because if I’m just like, ‘Oh yeah, that song’s not about anything, it’s just made-up gibberish,’ then I don’t know why anyone else would think that it was meaningful to them.
That makes perfect sense. So you guys are cousins and you started playing together when you were young. I saw somewhere that you used to have shows in your garage?
We’ve done a lot of different things. So, we grew up together and we got our first guitars when we were like 10 or 11, and then I moved away from our hometown. We always sort of knew that when we grew up we wanted to move back to the same town and be in a band. So we did that a few years later, and we played every crappy show you could possibly imagine. But yeah, I’ve played in garages, obviously practiced in garages, and things like that. We’ve been in a couple of bands; this is our third band we’ve been in together and started. If there’s been a crappy show, we’ve played it. We’ve played in like bowling alleys, all kinds of terrible stuff.
But it worked! You’re here now.
Yeah for sure. I think it’s kind of like you’ve got to just do stuff to get better. Like obviously I wish I was just like born with amazing talent already, but it definitely takes more time to develop and practice.
Putting in the time, it’s like getting good karma back or something.
When you went to college—did you go to college or did Joey?
We both did, for a very short period.
Ok, so when you left to pursue this dream, did your family and friends think you were crazy? Did they support you? How did you guys feel?
They didn’t think we were crazy. I mean, we had kind of been doing stuff for a while. Honestly, they were very supportive of us pursuing music and I think they just wanted us to have some kind of plan—and we didn’t have any kind of plan. They were definitely open to the idea. Well, at first, it was like take a semester off. I wasn’t like, ‘Oh I wanna drop out.’ I was like, ‘I wanna take a semester off and see what’s up with this.’ One of our earlier bands actually did have the opportunity to play [Vans] Warped Tour, so we did have some stuff going on. It wasn’t like we just quit for no reason. But yeah, we were like we can kind of go down to Nashville and sort of check this out, and leave this semester and just see what happens. It was never like any massive break, obviously, because that was like six years ago. It was one little step after another. But they honestly had been pretty supportive, even though I’m sure there were times they were like, ‘Good God, what are these boys doing.’
After this tour, what are some goals you hope to achieve? A festival or place you’d love to perform at, or one artist you’d love to collaborate with?
We have so many cool things coming up and a lot of them we haven’t announced yet. So, a lot of our goals from last year are already coming true. I mean, we’re playing Bonnaroo and it’s the same day as U2, and that’s an insane thing to be able to say. There’s so many amazing artists; we love The Killers. So, with The Killers or something would be sick.
Do you have any idea of a date for when your album will be coming out? Or is it just being planned right now?
No, not yet. With the release of the music video, we’re focusing on promoting the EP for a little while. We’re definitely working on the album. We’re actually out in Los Angeles right now for a couple weeks, just writing and recording. We’re working on it all the time; when we’re not on the road, and even when we are on the road we’re working on it. So we’re not totally sure yet when we’ll put it out.
Great! Just to end on a good note, what is your message to your fans?
Dang dude, that’s a big one! For me, we’re just thankful for anybody who listens to our songs. When you do something like write a song or be in a band, you’re kind of putting yourself out there. So whenever people do connect to what we’re saying, it’s a compliment. So we’re very thankful for that, and we hope to be able to meet everybody when we go out on this tour and in future tours.
To any San Diego fans, Nightly performed at The Casbah in October. Jonathan said it was a super small and super fun venue, and he’s sure they’ll be back.