Every Nightly song is a snapshot of their own lives, a sometimes-painfully real recollection of love and loss. Guitar-driven but electronically adorned, each track unfolds with such detail and sincerity, the emotional distance between artist and audience all but dissolves. As shown on their recent single “Miss You Like Hell” and their 2016 breakthrough hit “xo,” the result is a moody and melodic brand of alt-pop that feels both deeply intimate and powerfully cinematic.
Pennsylvania-bred cousins now based in Nashville, singer Jonathan Capeci and guitarist Joey Beretta founded Nightly as a duo in 2015, and later looped in drummer Nicholas Sainato and keyboardist Stevie Cunsolo to round out their live set. Since the 2016 release of their debut EP honest, the band’s brought their mesmerizing live show to venues across the continent, supporting such artists as The Night Game, The Struts, and K.Flay and completing their first-ever headlining tour.
All that time on the road has expanded and sharpened their sound, inspiring Nightly to infuse their new material with the raw energy of their live performance. Released in February and produced by their longtime collaborator Keith Varon, “Miss You Like Hell” channels the vitality of Nightly’s live show with its pounding drums, buzzing guitar riffs, and dizzying synth. As Capeci offers up an impassioned but nuanced vocal performance, the track transforms desperation and heartbreak into a brightly charged anthem, interlacing organic and electronic elements to brilliant effect.
Written in L.A. and produced by Busbee (Gwen Stefani, P!nk), follow-up single “Holding On” presents a more wistful reflection on broken romance. With its slow-burning urgency, the track’s stripped-back verse builds to a chorus that gracefully fuses distorted vocals and intricate guitar lines. Laced with delicately sculpted beats and trembling synth lines, “Holding On” also perfectly captures the anguish of sleepless nights in Capeci’s heart-on-sleeve lyrics and soul-stirring delivery.
Along with amping up the live component in their new tracks, Nightly have honed their artistry and carved out a more finely crafted sound. “Instead of painting with like 300 colors, we’re painting with just a few colors but in a way that makes the songs so much more solid,” says Capeci. In that process, the band’s made a point of showcasing Beretta’s singular guitar work with subtle finesse. “For me the ideal way to use the guitar is to create an interesting base for the song, something that expresses the same emotion as what’s happening in the lyrics,” says Beretta. “Doing what’s right for the song is a lot more important than trying to rip some crazy 10-minute guitar solo.”
Guitar has always been a fascination for Capeci and Beretta, who bought matching Fender Squier Stratocasters as kids. The two cousins eventually moved to Nashville, where they formed Nightly with a vision of bringing an urban feel to the rock-band dynamic. With their name translating as ’night, love you in textspeak, Capeci and Beretta quickly came up with “xo” and uploaded the bittersweet breakup anthem to their SoundCloud page. “We figured that, as a no-name band putting something out on our own, it would be a huge feat to get 100,000 plays in a month,” Capeci recalls. Instead, “xo” surpassed that number nearly overnight and hit a million plays within weeks. In addition to earning massive attention online, the song made its way into rotation on Nashville’s ALT 98.3, and ultimately led to Nightly’s signing with Interscope Records.
With honest arriving in fall 2016, Nightly soon landed appearances at major festivals like Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits. In their live show, the band has revealed another key facet of the Nightly experience: a close attention to the highly visual nature of their output, extending from the detailed storytelling of their lyrics to their self-designed cover art, merch, and stage production. “Whether it’s through listening to a song or looking at a piece of our artwork or coming out to a show, we want to create a dynamic experience for people, and just pull them into our universe as much as possible,” says Capeci.
Known for their intense and immersive performances, Nightly have found that the live show has greatly deepened their connection to their following—an aspect that’s especially meaningful for the band, who gratefully note that “without the fans, the music we make would never leave the garage.” Having met a number of particularly loyal fans who’ve traveled up to 10 hours to see them live, Capeci and Beretta make it a top priority to connect with crowd members after each show. “We feel really lucky to have such a passionate fanbase, where people do really sweet things like bring us flowers at shows,” says Capeci. “But the thing that means the most to us is when they tell us that our songs have helped them get through a breakup or some other difficult time. What we want more than anything is to be part of the soundtrack to people’s lives.”