It’s all in the work. When Night Verses’ firebrand isn’t touring the world, he and his bandmates are holed away for hours and hours, refining, improving, refining, improving…
When we spoke with Aric Improta, his band, Night Verses, had just come off the month-long Wrongdoers tour of Europe with Norma Jean, Liferuiner, and Branson Hollis. The group was beginning the writing stage for the follow-up to its highly regarded 2013 debut full-length album, Lift Your Existence, and was in the midst of shooting a mini documentary. “We asked diff erent people around the world what they listen for in music,” Improta says. “Some people say lyrics, some people say beats. There really is no right answer.”
Perhaps not, but passion and precision must certainly be at the top of the list for many of the post-hardcore band’s fans. Few acts embrace these two pillars of contemporary rock as fully as Night Verses does, and live and on record, Improta is the evercharged battery at the core of the band’s impassioned yet meticulous music.
Night Verses seemingly jumped into the spotlight overnight, following the addition in 2012 of vocalist Douglas Robinson, previously a member of the popular East Coast band the Sleeping and the missing ingredient to Improta and his mates’ rock ’n’ roll dreams. Aric, bassist Reilly Herrera, and guitarist Nick DePirro had been sweating it out in the drummer’s childhood bedroom since they were in middle school together, under the moniker the Sound Archives. “We’d been through four different lineups, with us as the core of the band,” Improta explains. “As you continue on, the people who still want to do this with their lives kind of surface, and everyone else moves on to becoming adults and getting jobs. After playing together for as long as we did, you begin to think, When is this going to kick in? And then all of a sudden this one piece joins the group and everything makes sense to everybody.”
The same year that Night Verses debuted, Improta turned heads as a finalist in Guitar Center’s national Drum-Off competition. Now the twenty-five-year-old Fullerton, California, native is an official Meinl cymbal endorser, with international tours with the likes of Intervals, Letlive, Norma Jean, and Protest the Hero, among others, under his belt. All the while, Night Verses has never stopped composing new material—and lots of it.
“We’re so into writing,” Improta confirms. “It’s really our favorite thing. We write fifty to sixty songs for our albums and then cut them down. And the songs are all equally detailed—it’s not us just anything that pulls us away from that, even touring. We love touring, and the performance part is fun, but there’s this constant underlying effort to remember all these ideas. As soon as we get home, we have to go back in my room, put all this stuff together, and then get it out there.”
Working feverishly nearly every day, Improta and his fellow instrumentalists obsessively craft new material before presenting it to Robinson. “[Writing] usually starts between Nick and me,” Aric says. “We’ll come up with two or more sections at first, and most of the time it either starts with a riff or I have a rhythmic idea that I haven’t heard within our genre. So it’s usually just two sections, and then, at the next practice, Reilly comes in and helps us figure out where it should go to tie it all together. Then we work on the song for maybe a month while we’re also working on other songs, usually rewriting it four or five times. Once we’re all happy with it, we send it to Douglas and he records his ideas, and then we meet up and finish it. So the process takes two or three months.”
Improta began to take drumming seriously after participating in band programs throughout elementary and middle school. “My parents both played in a cover band for fun along with their day jobs,” Aric recalls. “They loved to sing whenever they could, and both played guitar. I had drumsets growing up, but as a kid I had such a short attention span that I’d grab two Lego towers and jump on the kit for five minutes and then not touch it again for a week. But once I started playing in bands and being inspired by the musicians around me, even at that basic level, that’s what really made me want to do it. I also had an amazing teacher from seventh to twelfth grade, Jorgen Ingmar Alofs, who totally opened my eyes and made me realize that you don’t just need to do double kick and play as fast as you can. Having those two things—friends to play with over the years and that teacher—really made it all make sense to me.”
Today Improta still practices an average of five hours a day, in addition to attending writing sessions with his bandmates, and continues to draw inspiration from the drummers he’s toured with in the two years since Night Verses began. “When you meet somebody as nice as Anup Sastry [Intervals, Skyharbor] or Joe Arrington [A Lot Like Birds], you think they’re just regular people, because that’s how you meet them. Then, when you see them play, you realize that there’s no possible way they could be doing this without [putting in] hours and hours of practice. It’s an interesting quirk to all of these people’s personalities.”
Employing a one-up, two-down five-piece drumkit configuration plus his trusted Roland SPD-30 Octapad, Improta does his part to help make Night Verses “sound like a bigger band than we are,” weaving samples and melodic parts into his drumming to fill out the sonic texture of the band, which features a spartan drums/bass/guitar instrumentation. Insisting on performing without backing tracks or even a click, Improta says, “We play every single part of our songs live. We make sure that we can re-create everything that’s on the CD live, because that’s what all of our favorite bands do. We grew up with Thrice, Tool, and Deftones, and that’s just what we’re used to. We found enjoyment in trying to solve the challenge of making everything sound full. For us, it’s like, if it sounds empty, let’s find a way to fix it that other people wouldn’t think of. A big thing for us is trying to create what we haven’t heard or seen.”
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Improta plays a Thrust custom kit with maple shells, including a 6.5×14 snare, a 10×12 rack tom, 15×14 and 16×16 floor toms, and a 22×24 bass drum. His Meinl cymbals include 14″ Byzance hi-hats, a 20″ Mb10 crash (occasionally a 19″ model as well), a 10″ Byzance splash, and a 22″ Soundcaster Fusion Powerful ride. He uses a DW 5000 series hi-hat stand, double bass drum pedal, and cymbal stands, and either Vater or Promark 5B sticks. His drumheads are Remo, including a Coated Controlled Sound Reverse Dot snare batter, Coated Ambassador tom batters and Clear Ambassador bottoms, and a Clear Powerstroke 3 bass drum batter. His electronics include Roland SPD-20 and SPD-30 Octapads and an SPD-SX multipad controller, along with a Line 6 DL4 digital modeling delay pedal (with the SPD-20).
ARIC ON TUNING
“I tune my toms fairly low and my snare super-bright. I love having as much depth and fullness as possible when it comes to toms, but my snare needs to pick up every minute detail and always cut through whatever else I’m playing. I like the kick tight as well, so the 24″ gives me a happy medium between picking up detail and still sounding super-low and satisfying.”