According to the band, Novacrow is “a four-piece of zombie-punching, hard-rock sleazeballs.” What they certainly are is a hard rock seeded roar which is earning a mighty reputation for their eclectic sound and EP Black Syrup has only backed and reinforced their striking emergence on the British rock scene. With the supporting of bands such as Skarlett Riot, Heonias and Green Jellÿ also under their belts, the EP feels like the spark to bigger things and attention upon Novacrow so we seized the opportunity to get to know the band and its hungry heart with big thanks to vocalist/guitarist Kitty Synthetica and bassist/backing vocalist/producer Federico Spera.
Hi guys, thanks for taking time out to talk with us
No worries, thanks for the interview!
Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started and what brought you together?
Federico: The band consists of the following sex gods: Kitty Synthetica on vocals/guitar/kazoo, Jonyx on lead guitars, Freddy on bass/backing vocals, and Torben Schmidt Hansen on the drums. We all got together when Kitty and John wanted to form a band; they met Torben and I through mutual friends and cosmic forces.
Have you been/are involved in other bands?
Federico: The others have all been in bands before and I studied music in university, so I’ve always been part of different bands in some form…The so called “Mistress Bands”.
How have previous experiences impacted on what you are doing now?
Federico: It’s kind of hard to say, obviously with us all having been in bands before you’d think we’d be super pros, but the truth is that there’s no set way to work together. It depends entirely on the bands and the people in them. But being in other bands definitively taught us how to promote ourselves and our releases, what works and what doesn’t, etc.
Kitty: I’ve been playing gigs since I was 16 and it really helps giving you ‘live experience’. Shows can be tough and crowds can be unforgiving, but you need that to make you a better performer. In terms of the impact on my music, in previous projects, I was solely focussed on writing metal, which tended to limit my creativity. I listen back to demos I had scrapped for ‘not being heavy enough’ and think “Oh nice, I want to use that now!”
What inspired the band name?
Federico: The legend says that John one day just picked a word out of a dictionary and fused it with an animal. The idea of a bird on fire must have appealed to him I guess, so he stuck with it.
Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band in what you wanted your sound to offer?
Federico: Kitty had a few songs already written when she originally formed the band, but that’s about it. I think ultimately we just wanted to rock out with our cocks out, and that was the main premise behind the band.
Kitty: I had a very different project in mind! I wanted an all-girl band, but these guys were the closest thing to women that I could find. Haha. No, I love this band and how well we all work together. One big creepy happy family!
Do the same things still drive the band from its first days or have they evolved over time?
Federico: The drive of the band is still rooted in the desire to be outrageous and we’re very much a success driven band. However, the way we focus that drive has definitely matured throughout our time together.
Since those early days, how would you say your sound has evolved for you?
Federico: I’d say it has evolved for the better. If you listen to our old demos there were some nice ideas, but they weren’t particularly well mediated and executed. I’d like to think that as time goes on, we manage to find the right balance between being ridiculous and writing good songs as opposed to doing one or the other, which is a significant sign of evolution for our sound.
Would you say that change has been more of an organic movement of sound or have you gone out with new things you wanted to specifically try?
Federico: It has always felt quite organic. I don’t think there’s a single song which we’ve had to force into existence.
Kitty: Because Novacrow is so unrestricted when it comes to genre, there’s no ‘wrong sound.’ I have a few juicy riffs in the pipeline though. I am also a big fan of vocal harmonies, (Alice in Chains get this SO right) so I’ll be looking for opportunities to use some interesting melodies.
Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?
Federico: With the exception of Black Syrup (which was inspired by the burlesque goodness of Pussy Liquor by Rob Zombie), I wouldn’t say there’s been a conscious influence on any of our songs or approach. We mainly base our inspiration for songs on vibes and energies as opposed to songs or artists. Instead of saying “We should write a Machine Head-esque riff in C phrygian”, we’ll say “We should write an angry and crushing powerhouse of a song”.
Kitty: There are some awesome female musicians that have inspired me massively. Brody Dalle of The Distillers, Tairrie B of My Ruin, Joan Jett, Grog of Die So Fluid, Otep, Alissa White-Gluz- to name a few. From the earliest days of getting into rock and metal, I would seek out bands with powerful female figures and I always wanted to emulate the same sort of commanding presence they had onstage.
Musically, I only ever learnt guitar as a means to write songs. I’ve never had an interest in replicating tracks; if I love a song, I have no urge to reproduce it identically. But, I do love deconstructing a track that I adore and putting together a new cover, something I have been doing on YouTube since 2009. It’s a fun challenge and a way of paying homage to songs I love.
Is there a particular process to the songwriting which generally seems to emerge?
Federico: Generally, one of us (usually Kitty) will have a whole song idea in their head, which they’d bring to a rehearsal room and we bounce ideas off each other. Each song is then mediated in a different way. I’d say the biggest exception to this is The Mantra, which was almost a completely different song when Kitty first showed it to me for pre-production.
Kitty: For a lot of songs, I think that the melody is the most important part- and by this I mean the vocal tune combined with the central guitar riff. That will always be the starting framework of any song I write. In my opinion, if you strip back everything else, but still retain that central vocal/guitar, it needs to be strong enough to make an impact on its own.
Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?
Kitty: It completely depends on the song. In a lot of cases I fixate on a phrase and use it for a title first (Black Syrup and Fat Frog for example), or the lyrics drive the rest of the track entirely (I think this is particularly the case in The Mantra).
Fight The Horde!!! was very much video game inspired. The lyrics loosely follow the storyline of The Last of Us, whilst the title is a reference to Left 4 Dead. I wanted something fast and heavy, with epic soaring choruses, perfect for kicking ass.
I wrote the lyrics to Set in Stone and Colourless whilst reading a lot of Haruki Murakami novels. I love how he creates such fantastic vast images and creates these prophetic journeys of self-fulfilment for average characters.
Give us some background to your new release and some insight into the themes and premise behind it and its songs.
Federico: Our latest release is the panty-dropping powerhouse of an EP called Black Syrup. It really captures the vibe of the band effectively, opening with the kazoo filled drunk anthem Fat Frog to get them booties shakin’ (which is about getting shitfaced and party-hardying). That’s followed by Fight The Horde!!!, which is a zombie-apocalypse based thumper of a song inspired by the game Last of Us. Then comes the title track Black Syrup, which is inspired by sticky black goo. Set in Stone is next, which gives the listener a peak into our more melodic side. The whole EP is brought to an end by Colourless, an easy listening instrumental piece.
Kitty: I love focussing on big over-the-top themes. Most of the time, I write the majority of a song in my head before picking up an instrument, so it’s very much a ‘visual’ experience. I deliberately wanted a set of very different songs for the EP, each with a completely different vibe and based on very different vivid scenarios.
Do you enter the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or use that scenario to bring songs to their final character?
Federico: For all of our releases so far, we’ve gone through intensive pre-production, so when it comes to recording we know exactly what we’re doing. The pre-production usually consists of recording high quality demos, so if we want to develop an element of the song we can use that as a reference point.
Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?
Federico: Ooh, there’s so much to talk about here, but I’ll do my best to sum it up. We don’t believe in “over-the-top”, so we pretty much do what we want on stage, which usually means somebody is gonna make an ass out of themselves. We’ve brought inflatable crows on stage, did a kazoo cover of My Heart Will Go On, chugged pints mid songs, and done all sorts of stupid shit when performing. It’s the biggest form of release for some of us, so we’re not gonna hold anything back on stage.
Kitty: Performing is everything. I love to make people laugh, I love writing songs and I love goading a crowd. Word of our onstage stupidity is definitely our biggest pull to shows and makes us appeal to promoters. Basically, we’re just a bunch of attention seekers, that aren’t talented enough to earn praise for doing great deeds, so have to resort to being a bunch of performing chimps. AND WE LOVE IT.
It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally or further afield. How have you found it?
Federico: Like you said, it’s not easy. We’ve definitely not even scratched the surface. It’s hard because you want to celebrate every little insignificant bit of success that you achieve, but as soon as you do then it sort of means you’re satisfied, and then your efforts diminish. This is an EXTREMELY tough industry, and unless you’re giving it you 10000% then there’s virtually no chance of getting anywhere in it. We’ve found it extremely tiring at times, especially whilst trying to balance the band with our “normal” life, but at the end of the day we can’t show any signs of stopping otherwise we won’t get anywhere.
Kitty: The music industry today is highly saturated with competing artists, in a field where very few people are willing to spend money on music. Every small victory is important to me, as I wouldn’t be making music if I didn’t enjoy it. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not under any false impressions of earning world notoriety, but I am grateful for every show, every sale and every person who takes the time to let us know how much they love the music. Hard work is everything though.
Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?
Federico: Absolutely. You gotta play to win. It’s gonna be extremely hard, and even if you put your 20000% into it then there’s still no definitive chance to “make it”, but it’s the best chance you’ve got. As soon as you stop trying then you lose any opportunity you might have. It’s just a matter of persistence and not letting the odds get you down and eventually you’ll find yourself in a good place.
Kitty: There’s no guarantees, at all, but if you’re going to go for it, there’s no point half-assing it. You have to treat a band like Walter White treats meth; you need to believe in your ‘product,’ market it intelligently and push it like CRAZY.
How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?
Federico: We’ve started the band at a point in which internet and social media became crucial to a band’s success. We’ve started using Kitty’s YouTube “fame” to fuel traffic to our various pages and so far it has worked very well, people who like Kitty’s covers tend to like Novacrow as well. So far, it has had a great impact!
Kitty: Social media is such a fantastic platform for bands, but I don’t think everybody appreciates just how hard you have to work to harness it. It is survival of the fittest. You can’t just moan about how small your post’s ‘reach’ on Facebook might be, you need to fight to get people’s attention.
The internet is incredible for musicians. I love looking at the insight statistics on YouTube and our website and seeing how people all over the world are listening to us. I had to send out all of our EP pre-orders this week, and there’s Novacrow CDs flying out all over the globe! To an extent, social media gives you a chance to reach an audience without borders or limit. As a listener, you have an endless supply of incredible music at your fingertips.
Do you see it as something destined to become a negative from a positive as the band grows and hopefully gets increasing success or is it more that bands struggling with it are lacking the knowledge and desire to keep it working to their advantage?
Federico: Probably the former. People don’t realise exactly how much work needs to go in just to have the tiniest chance of success, and so they don’t work for it. And then they get annoyed when they can’t draw a crowd to their gigs, or get any decent support slots, until they eventually give up. How hard do you think you need to work to get anywhere with your band? Welp, that’s wrong, you have to work EVEN harder than that.
And that’s when we whip out the kazoos and zombies. We know how to work hard yet still entertain ourselves.
Kitty: You have to MAKE people want to see you. Give people a reason to want your music and look forward to your gigs!
Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?
Federico: Hell yeah, thanks for the interview! Check out our EP Black Syrup, I guarantee you will be more aroused than you’ll have ever been in your life! And keep an eye out on our various pages for more music, pictures, videos, and tips on world domination!
The RingMaster Review 21/03/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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