Indieterria meets The Novus

Dear Readers!

It`s Valentines! What`s a better way to celebrate the day than interviewing a band we have fallen in love with? Let us tell you about this particular bunch of talented friends who are shaking up entire indie scene in West Midlands and turn heads wherever they go. Despite their young age – they are determined and focused, they relentlessly play up and down the country, including gigs in London, they gathered themselves invitation from This Feeling and a mention in NME by Alan McGee himself.  They are more than ready to leave their mark on the scene and follow the likes of The Blinders, False Heads or Avalanche Party to bigger things and bigger stages.  We won`t be surprised to  see them going to SXSW next year.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the independent music circuit – please meet The Novus. We had pleasure and privilege to sit down with vocalist Connor Hill to speak about their upcoming tour,  Birmingham music scene ad recording with Wizard of Wolverhampton.

The Novus

Tom Rhodes (guitar)
Tyla Challenger (bass)
Euan Woodman (drums)
Connor Hill (vox)

 

The word “Novus” means “new” in Latin. What does it mean to you? A new beginning? A new chapter in your lives? New music? Or maybe the explanation is very simple and it just sounded like a good name for a band?

Connor Hill: The Novus does mean new in Latin. Not many people know that initially (laughs)! It also does mean a new beginning I guess – myself Tom and Tyla were in a band before and wanted something new and more us – but ‘The New’ sounded quite boring. We went through loads of names, but The Novus for us sounded like it fitted well; and no one else had the name.

You come from Stourbridge and Birmingham, the second biggest city in the UK. Brum has a powerful musical scene: from indie to metal, grime and rap. Tell us about your beginnings. How did you meet and when did you know you wanted to play music together?

Connor Hill:  Myself, Tom and Tyla (guitarist and bassist) met at school when we were 11. We were all in bands throughout school together and we only initially connected with music so I guess we knew we were wanting to play together. Tom and Tyla asked me if I wanted to be part of this new band they were creating and that was that! We met Euan (drummer) at a gig he was playing at and managed to poach him and that’s how the band formed.

The new kids on the indie scene

No rest for the indie band

The Novus has been compared to The Clash meets Kings of Leon (half way) with a bit of Joy Division, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath thrown into the mix. Would you agree with being squeezed into the new garage/psychedelia genre alongside IDLES, The Blinders, Avalanche Party and Shame? We have to admit that your music is more melodic and blues-y at times. There’s definitely The Doors and Jimi Hendrix hidden somewhere under all those distorted guitars.

Connor Hill: To be compared to the names mentioned is mad for us, we love all the bands mentioned and the garage/psych scene is an amazing one to even be considered to be a part of. We do take a big inspiration from Jimi Hendrix as well but we listen to such a wide range of music, we have lots of little inspirations from different places. Every review of us someone hears something slightly different, which is good for us to see where people think we fit.

On 2nd of November 2018, Raw Sound TV filmed your concert at O2 Institute 2 in Birmingham. The show received very positive reviews. Connor you were described as “teenage Mike Hucknall joining Pearl Jam or Rage Against the Machine”. We don’t see any likeness to the Simply Red singer (maybe the hair do?) but the resemblance to Eddie Vedder and Zach De la Rocha is quite convincing. During performances you jump into the crowd, run from one end of the stage to the other, command the crowd to come closer. Would you agree with this description?

Connor Hill:  (bursts into laughter) Hucknall is definitely to do with the hair- wish I did look like him!! I guess I would agree to an extent, but for me, my stage presence is more of an alter ego than me personally – which is what I love so much about performing. For me, I don’t really take that much of an inspiration from people to do with my stage presence but more just go with what my head thinks I should do and roll with it.

One of the bands of 2019? Why not!

This is not a drill – this is rock and roll

Despite forming in early 2017, you shared stages with Karkosa, Velvet Tides, Riscas, Ivory Wave and Pale White to name just a few. You have a strong following in your home town and now you are off to pastures anew to conquer other parts of the UK. Is the tour with This Feeling helping? How many shows have you played with them already?

Connor Hill:  We aren’t doing a tour with This Feeling right now. Not yet anyway, but we have played a few shows in Birmingham with them. It’s always a good night and we get a good few cans of Red Stripe out of it so that’s enough to win me over!

At the end of last year, several zines and promoters put you on their list to watch for 2019. On 29th of January you played alongside Young Garbo, Chris Grant, Nadia Sheik and Christian Pattemore at Social in London. Was this your debut in L-Town or have you played there before?

Connor Hill:  We’ve played London a couple of times before but we do have plenty planned for the capital in the future. It`s always a warm reception and we love playing there!

The Novus are known for their incredible performances.

The Novus

You are working on new music and we heard that you have chosen The Wizard of Wolverhampton himself – Gavin Monaghan (The Pagans SOH, Editors, The Sherlocks, The Blinders) as producer. Are you able to tell us anything? Will you be recording at his Magic Garden studios or somewhere else? Is it going to be an EP or a full fledged debut album?

Connor Hill:  We are going into recording with Gavin in the next couple of months and recording a few tracks, nothing confirmed as to yet but we have some good plans lined up for them. Gavin is a genius and we connect with him and Joe at Magic Garden so well. He isn’t just a producer, he is someone who helps you think about further development of your music to make it the best you can be and that man knows everyone! They are great people to be around and the vibe at Magic Garden Studios is great, we love making music there. All I can say I guess is stay tuned for what’s to come because we are really excited about it.

It’s only February but your calendar is getting busier and busier. Where can we see you later this year? Any booked festivals or gigs we need to attend?

Connor Hill:  So far we have the following dates:

15th February – Actress and Bishop (TF), Birmingham (supporting Gertz)
Event Page    Tickets

28th February – The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham (supporting Willie J Healey)
Event Page    Tickets

8th March – The Tin Can, Coventry (supporting FEET)
Event Page    Tickets

23rd March – The Snug Coffee House, Atherton (supporting Honeyspider)
Event Page    Tickets

13th April – Camden Assembly, London (Youth Music charity gig)
Event Page    donations welcomed

These are just the ones that are confirmed, we do have quite a few in the pipeline!

To truly appreciate this band – you need to see them live

The Novus live

Live and kicking

Last question are always fun at Indieterria. Let’s pretend that you were invited to any party in the world and you can take two rock and roll legends with you. Where are you going and who’s coming with you?

Connor Hill:  Jimi Hendrix and Flea from RHCP would probably be my choice. Flea I imagine would be a laugh, Jimi would just be the guy that gets us into everywhere because everyone knows him. I would probably go to somewhere like Vegas with them – would be jokes. If you want to find out about the other boys, catch them at a gig and they’ll be happy to have a conversation. Big love.

You can follow the band on social media at the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/thenovusband
https://twitter.com/TheNovusBand
https://www.instagram.com/thenovusband/
https://soundcloud.com/thenovusband
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCRt2uOIvTYDQ8vYaoPEX-w
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3mPpz1sdOXNi3vLokDVbHm?si=JvlBswE-QYap-6PJ7emuww

We don`t usually link to entire gigs, but you need to see The Novus live and RawSoundTV recorded their performance at the end of last year – and it is a jaw dropper. If you have 30 minutes to spare – see the footage and then book yourself a ticket for the real experience. You will not regret. Believe your friendly A&Rs on this – we know talent when we hear it. And The Novus are pure talent.

We will be reporting back on The Novus on this blog. Not only because we are very curious what they have created with Gavin & Joe at the Magic Garden Studios (by the way – Happy 30th Anniversary  guys! What would the local and national music scene do without you?), but because we simply want to follow their journey to bigger, better things.  There is so much promise and so much passion in this band – and more importantly – so much love for music and art. How can we resist? How can anyone resist?

Till the next time,
Mal+Rita

 

Indieterria meets TommyandMary

Dear Readers,

Band logo

Since we are already in July and the days are longer, we will have a double (or maybe even a triple) portion of Indieterria this month. So much music to listen to and great bands to tell you about. This episode is all about Thomas and Mary Yaman, known professionally as TommyandMary.  This is our pleasure and privilege to introduce you dear readers to punk rock duo that is building themselves a cult following in London. Based in Brixton, they work hard, play even harder and have won their fans not only by the strength of their music, but also because of the affection and respect they show each other.

We have sat down with Tommy and Mary to speak about their new album, busking, being  independent artists and song writing.

Forget about Sid and Nancy, we have got better couple in town! And they rock!

The Angels of Brixton

The Angels of Brixton

You are described as British answer to The White Stripes. Like Jack and Meg White, you are married and until recently, you have played exclusively with each other. You also divide band duties in similar way as Mary plays drums whilst Tommy concentrates on guitars and vocals. Do you consider comparisons to The White Stripes to be a badge of honour, lazy journalism or perhaps you  just don’t care?

Tommy: I think people will always compare us to The White Stripes and many other duos. I personally don’t think we sound like The White Stripes at all. I grew up  when The Strokes, Kings of Leon and The Libertines and off course The White Stripes all came out at the same time. But Jack and Meg were never my cup of tea. Mary didn`t even know who they were until someone mentioned them to her while we were busking.

Can you remember the moment when you two decided to form a band together?

Tommy: Yes, very well. We were outside my old apartment where Mary and I lived for a while. The band I was in at the time and Mary joined had split. I wanted to play solo as I found it difficult to cope with all 5 personalities I had to play with at the time. And Mary thought it would be cool if we played just us two and carried on our musical journey together.

The fondness you show for each other is unparalleled on the indie scene. Band bio says “TommyandMary are one word because we are that close”. You wear matching attires (“I prefer the drummer” – Tommy, “Unavailable” – Mary) and then there is “Angels” – powerful love song  about yourselves released as a single. We have to say – it is incredible to witness such affection.

Mary posing in her signature “Unavailable” tee

Matching attires.

Tommy wearing his “I prefer the drummer” shirt

Mary: Music is a very sensitive and fragile form of art and the fact that we are married and are in a band together just makes it even more personal. We grow together as individuals and as musicians and the love that we have for each other makes everything seem possible. I hope it shows in our music!

Another thing that sets you apart from other acts is your working ethics. For the last two years you have combined regular gigs with extensive busking. It seems the life on an independent artist is pretty intensive.

Tommy: We’ve stopped busking for now. We couldn’t stand it anymore (laughs) but I think we learnt a lot from it. It built our confidence.

Your busking escapades quickly turned into a permanent residency at the Oxford Circus attracting hundreds of people each time you played. Can you tell us how does it feels to be playing on Britain’s busiest street?

Tommy: Busking gave us an opportunity to meet some amazing people from all over the world and acquire some professional contracts. Mary got sponsored by Underground and we both got sponsored by company called W.S.Studio. Not to mention that we had once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record our latest album “Authority” at Rupert Cobb’s Gun Hill Studios with the AMAZING Gary Wallis. So I think the goods outweighs the amounts of times we were harassed by the public and judged for being beggars by some clothing companies that had no idea about our passion for performing and playing music.

Tommy at The 100 Club

Mary posing for the Underground brand

Is it safe to be a busker in London? And  a question that must follow the first one – is it profitable  in the times of everlasting rush and gripping austerity?

Tommy:  I think anything is profitable when your passion for something is bigger than the price. And  to be honest, no it isn’t safe. Especially when there is still a minority of crazy, ignorant people in the world and as a busker you are exposed to it.

Your regular gigs took you to some of capital`s most celebrated venues. Among many 100 Club, Nambucca, Camden Assembly and now 229. How is club circuit responding to independent acts?

Tommy: We’ve definitely been to some amazing venues like 100 Club and 93 Feet East. It gave us a chance to meet some bands and musicians that have been in the game for a while longer than us. It’s inspiring but also feels overwhelming.

Mary at The 100 Club

TommyandMary supported number of prolific artists, most recently The Telescopes. How do you recall that particular show?

Tommy: Having been on the same stage as some legendary acts, we both felt like we really had to step up and not let our ancestors down.

Mary, you are known for very technical and powerful style of drumming despite downsizing your kit to bare essentials. Something similar was practiced by Palmolive  (original sticks woman of the punk heroines The Slits). What inspired you to hit things for a living?

Mary:  I can’t agree with saying that my drumming is technical at all. In fact loads of drummers criticised me about the way I sit, hold sticks and set up my drum kit. But yeah, I prefer aggressive style of drumming as it allows me to feel the songs and it is just boring otherwise. Tommy suggested busking one day and I just went with it.

As a band`s chief tunesmith, you don’t shy from tacking contemporary topics such as corporate/precarious work (“My manager is a prick”), obsession with celebrities (“Rich acting Rich For The Poor”) or going though existential crisis (“Red”). Do you believe that it is important for artists to be socially and politically active?

Tommy: I believe if an artist is only writing about ego or their own spoilt opinions, he or she is avoiding the honesty that lays in each person’s heart. Whether this is political or not, the truth is that we are all in this journey together and being ignorant, self indulgent or judgmental isn’t something that I encourage. But being empathetic to both worlds, the ego and the selflessness give me an insight into what lays in-between inaction and people’s willingness to ensemble, and this is something worth writing about. Contradiction is something that is often reflected in my thoughts and actions and I want to learn more about psychological and philosophical aspects of writing. So I don’t think politics is really my strength.

The band is on their third independent release. “Authority” was debuted earlier this year and was recorded at Gun Hill Studios in London. It is a significant change in sound compared to “The Things we love” (2015) and “Smoke Break -Side A” (2016). Your songs are layered, elaborate even. Are you satisfied with this new direction?

Sleeve to debut release Together We Love

Smoke Break -Side A – collage and pins, this record is in our musical archives and is signed!

Authority – third release

Tommy:  For our  first album “Together We Love”, I had written all the songs and Mary didn’t have much of a say or creative input. But as we grew musically together, we began to think collaboratively on our sound and direction. Our experiences started to reflect in our music and we really started to learn more about our sound and what we wanted to write about.

“Authority” is accompanied by three promotional videos (“Angels”, “Authority”, “The Rich acting Rich For The Poor”) and an alternative DIY video to “The Rich…” directed by the band, a fan documentary and a video interview. That’s an enormous amount of work put into promoting the album. Do you enjoy collaborating with others?

Tommy:  We have made a lot of friends from our music and we absolutely love spending time with them. The DIY videos that we made are all about the collaboration that we can have with our friends and using their talents to make things happen. But also it is important for us to have a great time making something together.

We heard though a grapevine that you are planning to introduce a new guitarist  to the fold.

Tommy:  A lot of bands add members after a while to create a wider range of sounds. We decided that this isn’t the direction we want to take. We want to keep it as it is. We don’t want to change. Although we were thinking of  bringing a friend in for our next show  as he is an amazing guitarist and writer. I know for sure that he will be very successful with his music in the long run. But no, we won’t be adding another band member.

Random. Last. Question. If you could travel to the golden years of rock music with whom would you tour?

Tommy: The Clash did a lot of busking in their days. So I would have liked to play a few shows with them.  I think Mary’s drums would have been a huge factor in pushing boundaries in the late 70s (laughs). Or perhaps I could be in New York playing a few shows at CBGB`s with The Dead Boys, that would have been amazing, having been given the opportunity.

Mary: I would have played with The Rolling Stones and Queen.

TommyandMary: One Word

You can follow TommyandMary here:

https://www.tommyandmary.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/tommyandmary/
https://twitter.com/tommyandmary
https://www.instagram.com/tommyandmary_punkduo/

**** Update 28/07/2017****

Poster for the Absent Kelly indie night on 7th July 2017

TommyandMary played a very well received gig at 229 Venue in London on 7th July 2017 as part of Absent Kelly`s indie night series. So good was the night in fact, that they were given a rave review in Louder Than War magazine and  photographer Marcus Jamieson-Pond dedicated them a whole gallery on his website!

Louder Than War review in full, 16th July 2017

You can see the kick ass review online at Louder Than War (which happens to be this blog`s fav music mag!)

http://louderthanwar.com/absent-kelly-presents-bexatron-live-review/

And the image gallery can be found here:

https://www.tommy-and-mary-229.jampondphotography.com/album

 

See ya

Rita+Mal

****Update 03.09.2017****

Folks, we`d love to tell you to hang onto your seats, but you will be floored anyway, so find yourself a comfortable spot and listen up. Tommy and Mary had just finished headlining gig last night at The Cellar/The Finborough Arms in Kensington and were so generous to share with us a very cool collection of their concert posters. Exclusive for the blog! We are very lucky. Eye candy those posters are but also serve as a proof that the band played a string of cult venues in half a year: The 100 Club, Nambucca, 93 Feet East, Camden Assembly and The Cellar. All those years of playing and busking and persistence certainly paid off. Nothing builds a brand for a band like doing their own thing and pushing at the boundaries.

Poster for The 100 Club gig on 25.01.2017 while supporting legendary The Telescopes

Poster for the gig at Camden Assembly on 25th March 2017

Poster for gig at Nambucca on May 3rd 2017

Poster for the gig at 93 Feet East gig on 11.08.2017

Poster for a gig at The Cellar/ Finborough Arms in Kensington on 2nd September 2017

Another achievement of the band is even better than playing all the venues in the capital. Tommy and Mary debuted on BBC 6 Music on 18th August 2017 as part of 6 Music Recommends. Picked by the legendary DJ and broadcaster Steve Lamacq himself, they were hailed for being “nicely uncompromising” and  tacking a myriad of topics from having annoying housemates to precarious work.  If you don’t know who Lammo is, let us tell you this much – he is recognized as one of handful other DJs (with Mary Ann Hobbs and Jo Whitley) to fill the gap left by John Peel and is often regarded as a trend setter. Being on his show is a stamp of good quality and a sign that band is on the right way.

Personally what we found exciting is that Tommy and Mary`s Insecurities were played right after Paul Draper`s new single (yes, the man from Mansun!) and received the same amount of introduction on air.

Here is a screenshot of the BBC website

Screengrab from BBC 6 website

And here`s a (very) bad quality recording of the song and what Steve said:

https://vocaroo.com/i/s0bj1xgiKKAb

We hope you like it,

We are so excited for the band, we really are. Surely  more good things to come from them!

Laters,

Mal/Rita