After three years of writing, recording, tracking and producing, Bay Area native Jacob Lauing has released his first album as The Night Prior, bookending a journey that has helped him hone in on his own sound.
The Night Prior’s sound lies on a spectrum between ambient, instrumental post-rock and mid-2000s pop-punk—genres with which Lauing said he can find a connection. His album, From Age, encompasses that with a moody and emotional flare, as Lauing tells the stories of past events and experiences that left a dent on his life somewhere in the mix.
“It’s a style of music that isn’t necessarily relevant in the mainstream right now,” he said. “It’s really emotional music, really personal music for me—a lot of really personal situations that in the past I really wouldn’t be as explicit about.”
Lauing, a drummer, began with his middle school band The Wonderlife, with a group of friends. The members ended up playing with different bands throughout high school, but got the band back together in college.
After graduating in 2016, as The Wonderlife was recording a new EP, he realized that there was something more that he needed to do.
During that time, each member produced at least one song. When Lauing’s turn came to do that, the song he brought to the table ran askew from the band’s sound.
“In the past I hadn’t really felt confident in my own abilities,” Lauing said. “But it was in writing that song from start to finish and playing every instrument that I kind of realized I could probably do this on my own if I wanted to.”
When he finally dove into The Night Prior, Lauing’s initial goal was to discover more of his own abilities as a songwriter. But once he found his project taking off, the vision of an album came into focus. Many mornings, Lauing would wake up at 6 a.m., squeezing in as much time as possible to write, track and record in chunks of two or three hours before heading for his day job as an editor with an L.A.-based media company.
Though Lauing looked to get help from a couple of close friends to co-produce, mix and master From Age, he took full control of The Night Prior, playing all instruments and singing on the album.
“It’s crazy to me that it’s technically been three years since I started working on this album,” Lauing said. “There are so many moments where I thought people were never going to hear it. So to think about people actually reacting to it and experiencing it is really exciting to me.”
From Age, released on Dec. 6, includes 11 songs that are layered with a mix of intense pop-punk riffs. The opening title track focuses primarily on instrumentation before he dives into storytelling.
Lauing said out of all the songs he made for From Age, he finds the most personal connection with the holiday-inspired “Christmas Eve,” which comes halfway into the album and presents the theme of cultural barriers. He describes taking a walk in his neighborhood one night before Christmas, peering to see fellow residents celebrate with favorite traditions. For Lauing, who’s Jewish, it was an experience he had never known.
“It was really interesting for me to just walk around my neighborhood at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve and look into all these suburban homes with people celebrating and rejoicing, and not really having that experience,” Lauing said. “So (the song) kind of depicts what’s going on (during) that walk.”
Lauing said that for him, making a solo album was more complicated—not because it was more time-consuming, but because he wrote about experiences and feelings that may not entirely apply to his life once the music finally came out.
“Just by nature of it being such a long process, those songs are now permanent in this moment, but I haven’t really felt those things in a few years,” Lauing said. “I think that’s important to know; that these things (I’m) not really associated with anymore are just now coming out in real time.”
Now, he’s focusing on getting From Age out into the world before diving into the next mission.
“I would like to just add more songs to my discography and continue to put out singles, maybe an EP, and be able to make music, record it and put it out in a short amount of time, instead of taking three years,” he said.
Follow writer Amelia Parreira at Twitter.com/AmeliaParreira.