Indieterria meets Gavin Monaghan

Dear Readers,

Living in West Midlands may seem less exciting than living in London or in a Greater Manchester area. Many of the smaller villages have few buses running in the evenings and trains are expensive – which obviously has an impact on access to entertainment. But our neck of woods produces amazing music and we have some real hidden gems close to us. We want to shine a light on those assets in our blogs. Not so long ago we had interviewed RawSound TV – an incredible service for local acts. Now we had a privilege to speak to Gavin Monaghan – prominent record producer and owner of famous Magic Garden Studios in Wolverhampton. On May 3rd 2019, Magic Garden will host a fundraiser for Musicians Against Homelessness in Birmingham and the line up is just unbelievable. So read on and grab yourself a ticket while they are still available.

Meeting Gavin is a marvellous experience – he is kind, soft spoken and welcoming. He produced some of the best records we have heard and his stories will leave you mesmerised. Thank you so much for sparing some time for us.

The Wizard of Wolverhampton – photo by Lisette Rex

You have earned the title of The Wizard of Wolverhampton by musicians you worked with. Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Gavin Monaghan: Hello Indieterra readers! I’m Gavin, my Studio is called Magic Garden, and I’m very pleased to meet you.

You are a producer and owner of Magic Garden Recording Studios that have been going for thirty years. Can you tell us something about the studio and its rich history? Did it change over the years?

Gavin Monaghan:  I’ve been working out of Magic Garden for 30 years in the West Midlands.  I’m currently in my third and hopefully final location. It’s been a wonderful journey so far, and I’m enjoying every minute of it!

We know that Magic Garden is expanding. What new features are you planning to add to the studio?

Gavin Monaghan:  Joe, Liam and I are working with all sorts of inspiring artists in every genre, and my ambition is simply to keep doing more of the same, while practising Kai Zen (The Art of  continuous self-improvement).  I’m constantly adding new (and old) pieces of equipment and software to push things forward. We have recently finished construction on a dedicated mix and overdub room next door, which is now fully operational. It’s quite hard to contain my excitement! I look at Magic Garden as a piece of art in itself, which will hopefully never be finished.

In 2016 in interview with Louder than War you mentioned that you planned to start a record label with your colleague Mark Evans. What happened to those plans? Are they on hold or is the label up and running somewhere in the shadows?

Gavin Monaghan:  Mark and I are always looking for interesting artists to work with, and develop. We’ve currently put out three releases in single vinyl 45 format. Please feel free to send music. It’s a tiny concern designed to champion new music or help people who are already planning a release with strategies so we don’t release that much.

Magic Garden Vinyl was conceived as an idea from two old friends before The Brexit Con was perpetrated by the awful Tory/UKIP machine on the country. Unfortunately, as Vinyl is mostly manufactured in European locations, this will send the cost of vinyl through the roof (I never saw that on the side of a bus) but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Watch this space.

The list of credits to your name is enormous: Twang, Editors, Ocean Color Scene – enough to make young bands speechless. And yet you are known to work and championing up and coming acts: The Blinders, The Novus, Pagans S.O.H, The Lizards. How do you regard your role as a producer. Do you have your own way of working with artists?

Gavin Monaghan:  Every single artist and every member of every band is so different, that my approach is wildly varied depending on what they need to make the best record we can possibly create. We like to join the band for the time we are with them, and continue to do everything we can after they leave and go out into the world with what we have all created together.

I’m happy to be a sort of Rock And Roll helpline whenever I can, I’m so busy it sometimes takes a while for me to get back, but we always try to go the extra mile.

We are used to asking musicians about their influences. But what or maybe whom can influence a record producer?

Gavin Monaghan:  I’m influenced by inspiring people in every category, existing or as yet uninvented: artists, film makers, poets, activists, singers, musicians, chaos, order, kindness, humanity, animals, revolutionary concepts. Magick and changing the outcome of reality with beautiful intent. What if every good thing you could think of was true or could become so? A life without limits. I find that fascinating.

Before moving to Wolverhampton you worked in London’s most prestigious studios such as Maida Vale or the legendary Abbey Road. Why did you leave the capitol for West Midlands?

Gavin Monaghan: I originally left London to be with family. I ended up staying and it’s home now, though I do work in lots of other places (mostly residential studios) when the need arises. As long as I have speakers in front of me and beautiful music pouring out of them, I’m happy.

Gavin at work

On May 3rd 2019 Magic Garden  will organise a gig for Musicians Against Homelessness. The line up is absolutely mind blowing with Methods, Pagans SOH, The Novus, The Lizards, Moses and The Bohos attending. Can you tell us how the gig idea started?

Gavin Monaghan: I’ve been putting Magic Garden nights on in one form or another since the early 2000’s and quite a few people playing them have gone on to do really well. It’s lovely to watch them grow from a small start into something that people enjoy in a larger scale. The gigs are a lot of fun, and I’m only doing them to benefit various charities these days.

What can we expect on the night and where is the gig taking place?

Gavin Monaghan:  We can expect an incredible night of music, as every band is hand-picked for their awesomeness.

Famous last question – tell us  the weirdest thing that ever happened to you in a studio.

Gavin Monaghan: I was working in residential studio with A very famous band years ago, and a heavy silver candelabra jumped off the grand piano on its own and dented the wall while the singer was playing it. The same night, seven large crows flew into a bay window at the studio Manor House and smashed it to pieces.  Weird is definitely an understatement.

Thanks for asking me to do this, I’m delighted to talk about this path I’m on, and look forward to many more studio adventures.

Gavin at Magic Garden Studios

You can follow Gavin Monaghan and Magic Garden Studios online:

https://www.facebook.com/iamgavinmonaghan
https://www.facebook.com/MagicGardenRecordingStudio/
https://twitter.com/gavinmonaghan
https://twitter.com/MagicGardenUK
https://www.instagram.com/magicgardenstudio/

Poster for Magic Garden fundraiser for Musicians Against Homelessness

On May 3rd (Friday) a fundraiser for Musicians Against Homelessness will take place at The Wagon and Horses in Birmingham (Digbeth area). You will have a chance to see some of the best new indie acts with Methods, The Pagans S.O.H, The Novus, Moses, The Bohos and The Lizards – all hand picked by Gavin and the staff at the Magic Garden Studios. We can hardly wait!

Event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/330685257583461/

You can get your tickets (£5) at the address below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/468289

We are hoping you will come down with us to party in West Midlands and celebrate not only our incredible scene – but also the incredible studio and the man behind it. After all somebody mentioned 30th anniversary, right? Who knows, there may even be a cake! 🙂

M/R

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