When Plague Vendor were about make their new album By Night, singer Brandon Blaine didn’t exactly know what he wanted it to sound like, but he did know what he wanted it to look like. “A house that’s falling apart but lit up like crazy,” he says now, six months after finishing a record that captures that exact feeling of ruin and regeneration, of charisma and catastrophe and of slashing at the night with nothing but pure electricity. Where 2016’s BLOODSWEAT ended with a to-be-continued moment and Blaine shouting “Romance!” into the silence, By Night ends with a second of feedback and noise. It's a perfectly spent finish to an adrenaline rush of a record that asks, “What just happened?”
Plague Vendor are already used to making nothing into something. It’s a place where the only way things happen is if you make them happen. A fearless our-way-is-the-hard-way work ethic and famously physical live shows won the band a ferocious fan base, a flash-bang debut album and place of pride on the Epitaph Records roster. When they called that album BLOODSWEAT they might’ve just been explaining what it took to make it. (Or they could’ve just been talking about those live shows.) And when they stepped back into the studio in the late summer of 2018, they were ready again to do something new.
They spent eleven days locked in at Hollywood’s legendary EastWest Studios (Brian Wilson, Ozzy Osbourne, Iggy Pop) with St Vincent/Chelsea Wolfe producer John Congleton, with all visitors banned and all distraction eliminated. (Well, one blood relative has was allowed once.) They had the instinct to delay the sessions until they knew they could get Congleton, and when they met, they connected intensely and instantly, more like co-conspirators than colleagues. They would even complete each other’s sentences, says drummer Luke Perine. With Congleton’s precision production, they found their own way between the powerful-but-too-polished sound of right now and the engaging-but-aging reinterpretations of classic punk/rock albums of the 60s and 70. And with Congleton’s limitless encouragement, they did things Plague Vendor never did before: chorused bass in endless waves, lightning-strike flashes of synth, motorik man-machine drums that sound inhuman and human at once and even a string section that’ll be a surprise if they ever do it live.