Night Beats is the name under which Danny Lee Blackwell releases music. Blackwell, a native Texan, formed it in 2009 in Seattle, Washington. Night Beats are an American psychedelic/garage rock band, formed in 2009 in Seattle, Washington. Danny Lee Blackwell is the only permanent member. Early member drummer James Traeger has only played intermittently with the band since 2016, and bassist Jakob Bowden left the band in early-mid 2018.
The band incorporate elements of early R&B, Texas psychedelic rock, English blues rock, folk and soul and have toured with the likes of The Black Angels (in the UK, Europe and U.S.), Roky Erickson, The Zombies, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Strange Boys, Ronnie Spector, Black Lips and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Danny "Lee Blackwell" Rajan Billingsley had previously fronted various bands in his hometown of Dallas, Texas including The Old Explosives, White Light Fever and Medicine God Box. With White Light Fever, who were initially called Japanese Auto Clinic, he released debut album Heavy Knife Blues in 2007 and the band were reportedly courted by Columbia Records. A second album Count All Your Father's Wealth was seemingly abandoned. He also worked with The Tempers, playing live with the band and contributing a guitar solo to one track on their debut album Vol. 1.
Raised Catholic and Hindu, Blackwell moved to Seattle to study comparative religion at the University of Washington. Leaving Dallas, which he saw as "a wasteland of music", he founded Night Beats in 2009. Named after the Sam Cooke album 'Night Beat', Blackwell self-recorded Street (Atomic) EP and had it released that year via Holy Twist Records. After trying out a couple of different lineups, he asked high school friend and former B.B Mercy drummer James Traeger who was studying in Austin, Texas to move to Seattle to join him. After playing as a duo for a while, they recruited bassist Tarek Wegner in January 2010. Wegner, originally from Tacoma, Washington, had previously played with The Drug Purse and Paris Spleen.
Night Beats toured extensively early on, completing multiple North American tours during 2010 and were signed within weeks of self-releasing the H-Bomb EP. Picked up by Chicago's Trouble in Mind Records (Ty Segall, Fresh and Only's, Hex Dispensers, etc.). The re-release of the EP topped several college radio charts competing with other artists' full-length efforts. (September 6, 2010)
In 2011, the band released a split EP with The Black Angels as The UFO Club on the Austin label The Reverberation Appreciation Society. On June 28, 2011 they released their self-titled debut album via Trouble In Mind. A split single with TRMRS was released in June 2012 via Volcom Vinyl Club.
On September 24, 2013, the band released their second album Sonic Bloom via The Reverberation Appreciation Society. They toured North America, Europe, Israel, South Africa and Australia in support of the album.
In 2015, the band signed to London-based label Heavenly Recordings and released their third album Who Sold My Generation in January 2016. The album featured Black Rebel Motorcycle Club member Robert Levon Been on bass, who also co-produced the album. The band recruited Jakob Bowden to tour the album.
In September 2016, the band embarked on a UK/EU tour without drummer James Traeger. Throughout 2017, drummer Evan Snyder toured with the band. Through a US tour supporting Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 2018, Jonah Swilley played drums with the band. In May 2018, the band embarked on a tour of Spain and France, with Evan Snyder again replacing James Traeger on drums. Bassist Jakob Bowden was also not present. In July 2018, the band (Blackwell and drummer Jonah Swilley) performed as a duo at the Social in London, England.
On 24 September 2018, it was announced that the band's fourth album Myth Of A Man was due for release on January 28, 2019. The album was recorded by Blackwell with producer and Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach. For the sessions, Blackwell was backed by a cast of old time session musicians who had worked with the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin.