Photo by Jenny Rohde
One Night Stand in North Dakota are an acoustic two-piece outfit made up of Daniel Ellis and Nathan Griffin from County Durham, and part of a thriving North-East scene, that is eagerly awaiting discovery. Titular concerns aside, they remain the only all-male act I would unequivocally recommend any Ladyfest organiser: tackling many a gender inequality, sincerely and intelligently, in their strikingly catchy repertoire.
LH: What do you make of this recent phenomenon of ‘celebrity-endorsed carbon offsetting?’
N: There is a strong whiff of shit about the whole thing, but I think there’s a tendency for people to criticise any effort not significant enough. I guess it’s a move in the right direction but there’s a lot of posturing and political bandwagoning. There’s a comedian who said he was a serial killer, but it was okay because he’d got a load of other people pregnant. Offsetting your carbon footprint seems similar.
LH: How did you both hook-up?
N: We’re both from Pity Me, and were born on the same street.
D: Talking about carbon offsetting, we lived in a street called ‘The Orchard’ which was full of exotic trees that were bulldozed down for our housing estate.
LH: Where did your band’s name come from?
N: I’ve got mixed feelings about the name. I think a lot of people see it and think, ‘What the hell?’ A lot of people shorten it to ‘One Night Stand,’ which makes us sound like a cock-rock band! Essentially, we were reading an article about South Dakota, where there had been moves to make abortion illegal; to actually override Roe vs. Wade in the State, which would have huge political implications. As a footnote, the article had said, in neighbouring North Dakota, there isn’t a single abortionist, and it struck me that the law is only one aspect. We have a very feminist strand to everything we do. A one night stand in North Dakota? It might not be illegal to have an abortion but you still can’t get one.
LH: Looking at your lyrics, its obvious politics feature highly on your agenda. Whilst some of your lyrics, like those pertaining to gender inequality, for example, could be described as somewhat accessible, there are others that broach quite difficult subjects, like domestic violence. How would you describe the way you approach such topics, lyrically?
N: I’ve always tried to ask questions that I can’t necessarily answer, in songs. I like to try and identify my own shortcomings, or at least play on that a bit. We’re all sexist, and we’re all hypocrites, no matter what. It’s the way things are, but it’s important that we try to be better.
LH: Take ‘Gardez La France Propre Contaminez L’Angleterre’ as an example of a song with lyrics that don’t appear instantly accessible; what would you say that song was about?
N: God. It’s a conventional heartbreak song, but I’ve tried to frame it differently. I was going through a hard time, and I wanted to exorcise some shit. They always say ‘write a song, channel it into something,’ and it just wasn’t adequate. It skips around a lot, that song.
LH: What’s it like gigging as an acoustic two-piece?
N: We’ve been really lucky. We’ve had loads of really good opportunities since we started, which I don’t think either of us have experienced in prior bands. We seem to go down well on bills with punk and hardcore bands. We’ve played with Tackleberry from Germany, and for some reason it worked. People do respond to it. We’ve also played with Neva Denova. They did a split with Bright Eyes back in the day, and it was a very hip gig to be at. I did feel, that night, we were articulating some ideas people hadn’t been exposed to. It’s always more of a buzz to play to people who start off looking at you like ‘what the hell are these guys doing?’
D: I like it when you get parents, or older folk coming up to you and saying that they like what you were singing about.
N: Dads and Mams tend to really be into it. I don’t know why. The best place to play is a party with your mates, where everyone can sing along, and there’s no doorman and bar. That was one of the main reasons we wanted to do something where we could take our guitars anywhere with us.
LH: Have either of you been ‘Redwatched’ yet?
N: No. I contemplated sending a photo, but I was advised against it.
LH: I remember having a chat with Andy Shocker when he was tutoring at Durham, a few days after he heard he’d been ‘Redwatched’ (www.redwatch.co.uk/nereds.html). He was obviously worried, but told me he’d spoken to Billy Bragg about it, who said he should think of it as a ‘badge of honour.’
N: He actually advised me against sending my photo in. He said it’s not worth it, like. Not Billy Bragg I mean. I don’t have regular contact with Billy, though I have spoken to him on the phone. My Dad knows him from the Miner’s Strike, and he played the 20th anniversary of the Miner’s Gala in Durham. I was away at the time, and was gutted to miss it, but I got a phone call, and it was Billy Bragg.
LH: What did he say?
N: He’s really sound. There’s a photo kicking about from the time of the strike where Billy Bragg’s holding me as a baby. He made some joke about how it was a shame I wasn’t there, as we could have recreated the picture.
LH: Have you put out any records to date?
D: The one demo [which is available, in its entirety, as a free download from the website]
N: A friend of ours is starting a label called ‘Discount Horse,’ so we’re doing a split 7” with Short Term Effect, who is a pretty amazing Elliott Smith-esque singer-songwriter from Consett. It’s taking a while to get sorted, but we’re really looking forward to it. We’re going to put all our music, whatever we do, online. I don’t think that will be a major financial risk. It’s not my main source of income, but we want to make it worthwhile for someone to pay for a tangible record. As a music collector, if I buy a CD and the liner notes are just a picture of the band looking ‘pouty’ I feel very short-changed, and I think this is why we were keen to get involved with this 7”. It’ll be up for download, so anyone who doesn’t care about vinyl can get the tracks, but having something tangible that is posted with a letter from us, or from J.C., means a lot. If anyone says we’ll record you for nowt, we say ‘yes please,’ and try and get it sorted. We’re skint. There’s also a live recording of a gig we played in Durham over the summer, with Ukulele Bomb, High Risk Existence, Jim Sorrow, and Jonny One Lung, coming out soon.