INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
PHOTO by 82 PHOTOGRAPHY
Liverpool-based four-piece Novacrow specialise in a dark, intense, high-octane sound, incorporating elements of grunge, hard rock, and metal, which is also accurately reflected in their live shows, which have to be seen to be believed.
Armed with these components, the band have been able to win over audiences across the UK, resulting in a devoted fan base.
With a few live dates coming up, including a mini-tour supporting Chasing Dragons, and an eagerly-anticipated follow-up to acclaimed 2016 debut release, ‘Black Syrup’, entitled ‘Criminal Mastermind’, set to be unleashed later this autumn, it seemed to be the perfect time for me to have a chat with the quartet, and this is what they had to say:
How did the band get together?
“JONYX” (guitar/vocals): Kitty and I met when we were living in Wolverhampton about eight years ago, we were both already guitar players, and it has always been a passion of hers to create music and perform live, so it made sense to offer my skills as a guitar player.
We met Freddy during uni after we moved up to Liverpool, we spotted a guy with long hair and dressed all in black, so naturally assumed that he was a bassist and asked him to join.
We recently met Valerio after trying him out for a dep position, his chemistry flowed naturally with ours, and he’s become a great addition to the team.
How did the name Novacrow come about?
JONYX: I came up with the name when I was trying to come up with a name for my brother’s band, which would later become Tigerpunch.
The idea was to think of an animal, and then point to a random word in the dictionary, I thought of “crow” and my finger landed on “nova“, I liked the similarity to the imagery of a phoenix, so it stuck!
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
KITTY STAUNTON (lead vocals/guitar): If I get something in my head, I end up whipping my phone out and singing into it. I have a giant folder of low-quality windy recordings of myself walking down the street and inevitably getting funny looks.
Generally, I will start with a melody or riff, but often, I’ll find a phrase that I like, and the song kind of generates itself from there.
FEDERICO “FREDDY” SPERA (bass/backing vocals): I don’t really have a particular approach to songwriting, I just get on with it, because it becomes like an itch I have to scratch, so I end up writing an awful lot, but it’s usually stuff that gets used for other projects.
When I have something I think is suitable for Novacrow, I tend to just lay down the bare bones of the song, let the other guys write their parts on top of it, and then let Kitty write whatever lyric she wants to sing over it.
What inspires the band lyrically?
KITTY: Loads of stuff. I love being able to tell a story through lyrics. ‘Fever Swamp’ was inspired by the Goosebumps books, aiming for pure horror cheesiness- the perfect excuse for stupid sound effects! Also, ‘Criminal Mastermind’ tells the story of a bunch of idiots conducting a totally failed bank heist.
Although it’s not all jokes, as lyrics can be a fantastic platform to convey different painful emotions and messages. I wrote ‘Are You Happy?’ on the off chance that it might make somebody stop and assess their current situation and make a change for the better.
This November, you will be bringing out your second EP, ‘Criminal Mastermind’. How has the recording process been for that?
KITTY: It has been quite a staggered process, but we’re so happy with the final result. The drums were recorded at Whitewood Studios in Liverpool, and the rest was done in Freddy’s studio.
FREDDY: Recording has been good, I was really trying to push the guys in a different way than I had in the past. I used to be somewhat more demanding out of them, but Kitty’s voice has greatly improved since last time, so I could focus more on “feel” and John had been practising loads as well, so I didn’t have to spend as much time editing the tracks, and we could have more fun with it, really.
I wanted to get more outside people involved (whilst not having to spend a fortune), so we recorded drums in Whitewood studios and got it mastered by my friend Rory Cavanagh, and having an outside ear that you can trust is an invaluable thing when recording.
And how will it differ from the band’s 2016 debut release, ‘Black Syrup’?
KITTY: You are treated to more of our sense of humour, and we’ve been able to incorporate more into the music- there are bonus groovy synths and sound effects. I’ve also worked on my voice a hell of a lot, and I’m really happy with the difference!
FREDDY: It feels like a more natural progression: the jokes are dumber, the music is sexier, and the feels are real-er.
Your live shows, which the band regularly play across the UK, are energetic, and in your own words, “better than sex“. How is the stage experience for you all?
KITTY: I absolutely love performing and our shows always end up being so much fun. I love that we don’t take ourselves “too seriously“- so we have no reservations and are impossible to embarass.
Our aim is to entertain, no matter what, and we will always bring an alarming amount of energy to the stage, no matter the setting.
JONYX: It is something that feels very natural now, it is second nature to thrash around like the Tasmanian Devil, you can liken it to a form of possession, as soon as you walk on stage, something comes over you and you no longer have control of your body.
FREDDY: It’s the one place where our RAGE CAN BE UNTETHERED AND OUR FURY LIMITLESS! We can go on stage and not have to worry about being liked or what people think, we just get out there and do our thing, and people end up loving it!
I’m sure you could add some weird metaphorical meaning to it now that I think about it (some shit about people liking your true self or whatever). The whole thing is very cathartic, and I often feel overwhelmed afterwards and drained, like a massive come-down or something.
And the band were one of the few British outfits invited to play at the Metal Days festival in Slovenia. How was that as an experience?
KITTY: Absolutely amazing. Metal Days is such an awesome festival, and we were thrilled for the opportunity. The whole festival is so fantastically organised, and the location is beyond stunning. The music is awesome, the people are all lovely, and it is so unique.
Also, nothing beats floating down a beautiful river on an inflatable turtle with a wonderfully cheap beer in hand.
JONYX: It was epic to be at a festival that is simultaneously the most relaxing vacation and a whirlwind of ferocious energy.
FREDDY: It was pretty fan-fucking-tastic, despite the fact that I must have lost about four different inflatable giant T-rexes to that damned river…
And finally, the upcoming EP aside, what else do you have lined up for the near future?
KITTY: World domination, but that might take a while, so along with the two music videos that will be coming out to accompany the release, we’ve got a lot of exciting shows coming up, with more to announce in due course, so keep those eyes peeled!
‘CRIMINAL MASTERMIND’, THE SECOND EP FROM NOVACROW, WILL BE RELEASED ON NOVEMBER 16.
YOU CAN CATCH THE BAND LIVE ON THE FOLLOWING DATES:
September 15 – Woodfest, Leeds; September 28 – Percy’s, Whitchurch; October 7 – Arches, Coventry; October 26 – RAW Nightclub, Whitby; November 9 & December 8 – Giffard Arms, Wolverhampton; December 16 – Rebellion, Manchester
AND NOVACROW WILL BE SUPPORTING CHASING DRAGONS ON THEIR UK TOUR THIS NOVEMBER. THE DATES ARE:
November 4 – Joiners, Southampton; November 7 – Hammer And Anvil, Birmingham; November 8 – Queen’s Hall, Nuneaton; November 10 – Black Mass Bar, Wakefield
FURTHER INFO ON ALL THIS, AND MORE, CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: