Following on from a string of highly-praised releases, which have included 'Darkness' and 'Frosty' in recent months, Birmingham-based indie-rockers The Novus are back once again with their new blistering single 'Man On The Bridge'.
First played by Huw Stephens on BBC Introducing and produced by Gavin Monaghan (The Blinders, Editors, Sherlocks, The Twang) at Magic Garden Studios, 'Man On The Bridge' was written with the intent of brightening our collective lockdown experiences. With its nods to the Britpop sound and thunderous production, their newest delight is sure to make a mark on the emerging music scene in the months to come.
So with their latest effort doing the rounds, we sat down with them to find out more about their origins and what has been the biggest inspirations for them over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
TOM: The guitar has been my lifelong passion naturally. From the moment my parents brought a little classical guitar, it's always had a natural gravity.
TYLA: I first fell in love with the guitar, I think like most young lads that venture into music are surrounded by it growing up - but when I had lessons all my teachers told me I played too hard so it was a natural progression to bass guitar.
EUAN: The drums were the first instrument I loved, I wanted to play guitar but drums were something I was naturally good at.
CONNOR: I don’t actually play any instruments to the point where I could fluently play - my voice is something I’ve always used, I had piano lessons when I was younger and can play a few chords on a guitar but I treat my voice as my instrument. I fell in love with how different you can make a voice sound just by how you position yourself.
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
CONNOR: I think we have various inspirations that we collate into one. I have grown up around a mixture of ska music combined with 80s/90s music with the likes of Duran Duran, Mark Almond etc. We also draw inspiration from our contemporaries that can be seen as our ‘era’, the likes of Idles, The Blinders and Murder Capital.
TYLA: I think personally for me; my mom & brother. My mom brought me up surrounded by metal & stories of Donnington, and being around my brother playing guitar growing up was really my inspiration to start playing in the first place.
TOM: It's a form of expression for the band and myself, so there's not one main inspiration, more a sense of necessity, and a release.
EUAN: My grandad was a drummer, so he was definitely my inspiration and the feeling of an audience enjoying and appreciating a performance that I’m a part of.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
TOM: We were all born in 2000 and three of us went to school together so we’re not talking about long ago here, ha ha but my dad has always been an avid Ska fan and enthusiast, so from a young age my life was sound tracked by fantastic songs by The Specials, Madness, The Selecter and loads of stuff on Trojan Records.
TYLA: Well, as Tom says, I still am a teenager, ha ha (until that changes in two weeks) but in my early teen years I was very easily influenced and would listen to whatever the people around me were. Chart stuff and grime but also the metal I grew up with. But also, around the same time, Tom introduced me to the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Ska as a whole (I’d clearly been very sheltered to Kerrang and my Parents’ CD collection). I’ve always loved all kinds of music & that still applies. Right now I’m in love with the likes of Brockhampton, The Ninth Wave, HMLTD & all kinds of post punk, and always have a soft spot for The 1975 but my favourites are changing all the time. I’m always listening to some sort of Hip Hop, Punk & nostalgic guitar music.
CONNOR: Well I am only a few weeks into my post teenage years! Early teens I was into pop music really, the likes of Ed Sheeran etc which I’m not ashamed of! As time progressed and I started to be more involved in bands, I started to listen to lighter indie music light JAWS, The Night Cafe etc before moving into sort of the new wave of post punk like Fontaines DC and the Ninth Wave.
EUAN: Yep, I still am a teenager, and always listened to post punk and hard rock/punk.
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
TYLA: I’ve never really put anything down to one song. I couldn’t tell anyone my favourite song because I don’t know it myself. I just remember the feeling that music gave me as a kid, that desire to be a ‘rockstar’ as it were & follow in the likes of Kirk Hammett or Zakk Wylde’s footsteps, expressing themselves with such talent to 10s of thousands of people on huge stages, doing what they love. May be strange examples but that’s who i grew up watching about a foot from the TV.
TOM: It's difficult because as music was around me pretty much as soon as I was born, it seems that music was set up for me as an art rather than an individual artist as what wanted to make me pursue a musical life.
CONNOR: It's a weird one but I don’t remember in particular. A big turning point for me was when The Blinders first album came out and there was so much buzz; we were about to work with the same producer, Gav from Magic Garden, so I was really excited to see what the album felt and sounded like. I just downloaded it before I got on a plane and their song ‘Brutus’ is still one of my favourite tracks - I wanted to write and create to make other people feel how that track made me feel the first time I listened to it.
EUAN: Ha ha, as no one else has, I’ll answer the question directly, it was 'Big TV by White Lies.
When you wake up in the morning, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
EUAN: I wake up and listen to something like ‘Push The Sky Away’ by Nick Cave.
TYLA: I love easy listening on a morning, I won't lie. Something smooth but upbeat. The likes of Rex Orange County, King Krule, Mac Demarco. Anything jazzy really, or a bit of Bob Marley. Something to get the day off to a good start.
TOM: My musical interests are very wide and afar. Currently I'm starting the day delving into a lot of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan as two key song writers of modern music.
CONNOR: I usually work in the morning, depending on how I’m feeling it can be smooth jazz or a heavy playlist of bangers to wake me up. My favourite album of late to listen to in the morning when I’m driving is King Nun’s Mass.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
TYLA: Ah, countless. Most songs we write tend to have a direct correlation to something or someone, that we usually won’t disclose so that people can interpret and attach their own thoughts and meaning to it, as well as a broader meaning applying to a much bigger picture. But a lot of our early stuff especially, as we were writing it as 16 year olds, ‘Frosty’ is about a friend I fell out with, and ‘Darkness’ is about a relationship as a whole - but they’re very direct and somewhat immature lyrically compared to where we are now so the idea that the songs are written solely about someone is becoming slightly harder to grasp.
CONNOR: We write a lot about the world and the issues that surround us rather than specific people. We tend to write in a format where we put poetry to music. I write a lot of poetry which then gets articulated and changed into a song. I would say quite a few of our new songs are experiences of people or ourselves which our audience can then relate to. There aren’t many songs about specific people though no.
TOM: There are multiple songs that are written about various people that have influenced our lives in varying amounts. All songs have a great personal connection in different ways.
EUAN: I guess our new single ‘Man On The Bridge’ is directly about a person who came into our lives ( you can see an actual film of him dancing in the video). Apparently he is (or was before lockdown ) always there, we saw him when we went down to London for a gig.
What have been the most memorable moments in your career so far?
TYLA: The first has to be our biggest DIY headline show we put on in Birmingham last year. We did it entirely ourselves from booking the venue and other acts, to building and rigging the stage and lighting ourselves, for it all to pay off and play to an audience of 400+ in our hometown was beautiful. Secondly, Paris. Our first headline show outside of the UK and to have a few hundred cool Parisians shouting the lyrics back to us. It was a dream and better than most UK shows we’ve done and finally the most recent one, having our music on vinyl, it’s a boyhood dream come true courtesy of Flying Vinyl and the reason we’re doing this interview.
CONNOR: Both our first gig outside the UK in Paris earlier this year and the warehouse show were both massive highlights for me. Paris - playing in a different country for the first time to a room that was actually full to the brim for somewhere we had never played before on a Thursday night at 11pm is mad, wouldn’t find that in Stourbridge! It was a dream come true for me and a great moment to experience with my best mates. The warehouse show we did in September was a massive highlight as we were able to fully show what we can be capable of and provided the art of a full show to the audience.
TOM: A personal favourite of mine was being able to record at Magic Garden with producer Gavin Monaghan, where some of my all-time favourites have also recorded. Personally, I love being in the studio, feels more curated and time worthy.
EUAN: It has to be last year’s big DIY headliner in Birmingham, of course.
Outside of music, what are your biggest passions?
TOM: I'm quite close to my family, and also a great film enthusiast, so just trying to relax really.
CONNOR: Politics is my passion. I was involved in social change a lot when I was younger working in steering groups, the #Iwill campaign with the British Youth Council. I love the depths of discussion and really enjoy looking into subjects in detail and listening to opinion. I also love to read - actually just finished a book called Fahrenheit 451 which is a great novel if anyone is looking for recommendations.
EUAN: TV and movies.
TYLA: I love art, the spectrum of art as a whole. I'm obsessed with every aspect of it from visuals, to sound & emotion. I am studying Music Production at Uni ( I know it's music related but it strays away slightly) and love to produce works that aren't my own and see what other people have to offer and what I can do to make that piece perfect. I also love fashion, it's gonna sound like a very cliché one but I just love to see how people can express themselves in any way & essentially turn their personality inside out and go "this is me".
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
TOM: Probably something a lot more practical but less exciting, like a teacher, who knows.
EUAN: Definitely creative, something in movies or media.
TYLA: It would definitely be something in music but other than that probably graphic design. I do all The Novus graphics, which really happened by accident as we needed some art so i downloaded the Photoshop trial and taught myself - but it made sense as even from a kid I have always been ‘good’ at art and attended art classes, actually it’s also my mom’s job to paint and create things that people commission so it’s in the blood.
CONNOR: I would have probably continued down a route of politics and social change - or become a teacher or something. They are still options but obviously the band is our main passion and focus.
And what advice would you give to those looking to start a career in music?
TOM: To enjoy every second, and to play as much and write as much as possible. It's a learning experience and it really teaches you a lot about the world. So, enjoy it, and be nice and show respect to everyone until they give you reason to act otherwise.
TYLA: I don’t think we’re the best people to ask as i know we’re still very far from “made it” but, just keep going is all we can say. Don’t stop. You’re going to have 100 hiccups and setbacks for every one thing that goes your way - so just keep going, and if you’re doing it for any other reason than the love of music then don’t bother at all.
EUAN: I go along with the others, the best advice would be to not expect anything and do it for the pure enjoyment of playing and writing music.
CONNOR: Just go for it, head first. Don’t be afraid to experiment - be completely comfortable with the people you are in a band with. You will share sofas in someone else’s gaff just to get your head down, you will spend 7 hours in a van arguing about lyrics. You need to be completely comfortable in order to make what you believe to be your brilliance. Surround yourself with people who you want to work with and always stay humble. I still can’t get over selling 100 tickets lets alone 400 at the last show we did, the only way is up!
The Novus' new single 'Man On The Bridge' is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to it in the player below.