When people hear the words “’80s cover band,” what often comes immediately to mind is big hair, gaudy outfits and some guy doing his best to sing like Journey’s Steve Perry (and failing miserably at it).
Nite Wave — a local ‘80s new wave cover band — has been touring throughout the Pacific Northwest for the past eight years. The band has opened for Billy Idol and played alongside Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s and ‘80s icon Tiffany.
Nite Wave is made up of five guys who just really love new wave.
Nite Wave first began as a Cure tribute band. Keyboardist and bassist Evan Galt said he grew up listening to the Cure, Duran Duran and Depeche Mode. With the Cure tribute band, he said, it was difficult to find venues to play. Eventually, Galt said he formed an original band and tried to have the Cure tribute band open for the original.
“It never really gelled right,” he said.
As the fate is with many bands, the Cure tribute band ended. However, Galt still wanted to play his favorite music.
A Craigslist ad then was placed for musicians to join an ‘80s new wave cover band. In 2011, Nite Wave formed.
Fronted by lead vocalist and rhythm guitar player Michael Henrichsen, the band is made up of Galt, Dave Dodge (lead guitar, bass, keys, vocals), Jim Simbe (keys, vocals, bass) and Jeff Mills (drums).
A band brought together through a Craigslist ad has gone strong for almost eight years. Galt said unlike previous bands he’s been in, the chemistry among the members is one of the keys to their success.
“We all love being together and playing music together,” he said. “We all have a great balance and chemistry with each other.”
One of the first turning points for the band was barely a year after they formed. Henrichsen, who is also the youngest in the group, campaigned to have Billy Idol play for his 26th birthday charity event.
Things have been up-hill since the momentous concert. Nite Wave has gone from playing maybe four shows a year in the Seattle area to playing more than 60 shows a year all across the state.
“There’s a built-in audience for bands like us,” Simbe said. “The music is so much fun and it tugs on everyone’s nostalgic heartstrings.”
For nearly everyone in the band, ‘80s new wave was a large part in their formative years.
“I spent a lot of time and energy playing in original bands and they all go the same way,” Dodge said. “Playing this music, the music that we love, makes us happy and makes other people happy.”
Nite Wave covers a wide range of ‘80s new wave classic bands such as Duran Duran, The Cure, INXS, The Cars, Prince, Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears and Billy Idol.
However, Nite Wave will never be heard playing “Don’t Stop Believing,” by Journey.
“We try to hit the popular songs that everyone knows and loves but we want to stand out,” Galt said. “That’s why you’ll never hear us play ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ because every other ‘80s cover band plays that song.”
Nite Wave stands out in other ways as well. For one, the band plays live.
“What you hear is all us,” Simbe said.
“We don’t do pre-recorded tracks. We try to play as live as possible,” Galt said.
“In fact, we try to play the songs better,” Henrichsen said. “We try to find ways to make it bigger, make the song fatter, but of course not changing the song from the original.”
As a way to get their “artistic fix,” the band finds ways to mix things up. Over the years, the band has performed themed concerts such as ‘80s homecoming dances and ‘80s prom nights in Bothell. Nite Wave has also developed side projects, such as the Duran Duran tribute “Tiger Tiger” and the Billy Idol tribute “Whiplash Smile.”
Aside from performing the songs they love, building relationships with fans who share their passions is just as rewarding as playing with their music icons.
“It’s so cool to make relationships with the audience and meet people that have the same passion for the music as you do,” Henrichsen said. “It’s also amazing to look out into a crowd of people react to us and what we’re doing.”
“We love what we do so much,” Simbe said. “The fact that we’ve been able to play with our icons is incredibly humbling.”
Although the band is in its eighth year of performing, Nite Wave has no plans of slowing down. With each year, the band plays more shows at more venues. In the future, the band would like to go national.
“There’s this stigma with cover bands that no one is going to go out and pay money to see them,” Henrichsen said. “I hope that we can change that and break the barriers for other great cover bands out there that just want to bring people together through the music they love.”
“We couldn’t have gotten this far without the support,” Simbe said.
Nite Wave has a list of tour dates throughout Seattle and the Eastside for the coming months, including an ‘80s prom night on May 17. To see upcoming tour dates, visit the band’s website (www.nitewaveparty.com). The band will also be having its eighth anniversary show in Seattle.