Critically adored rock n’ roll band The Novaks are headed to Metro Moncton for the second time this year, performing at The Manhattan on Westmorland Street on Thursday, Dec. 9. Their Moncton tour stop is one of nine shows the St. John’s, N.L.-based band is playing in conjunction with Toronto rock outfit Flash Lightnin’.
From his home on The Rock, Novaks singer-guitarist Mick Davis says that despite the band’s lack of “mainland” shows in recent times, they have kept fairly busy over the course of the past year. In addition to having played numerous festival shows this past summer in their home province, the group has also had the opportunity to support the likes of Big Sugar and Our Lady Peace on their home turf.
After letting almost an eternity of four years pass between the 2005 release of their debut record and the 2009 release of their sophomore record Things Fall Apart, The Novaks released the three-song Big World EP this past April. The exclusively digital EP was recorded and produced by the band in St. John’s at a studio that Novaks bassist Mark Neary worked at.
Davis admits that he, Neary and drummer Elliot Dicks are still finding their footing in the ever-evolving digital music age and decided to use the EP as an opportunity to step into this strange, new world.
“It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to make this new EP digital only,” Davis confesses. “We did want to try feeling out that market though.
“We are a bit of a strange band in some respects. We tend to be tagged as being ‘classic rock’ a lot and even though we really enjoy our share of classic rock and are good at playing at, we don’t necessarily love the tag because we aren’t exclusively a throwback band.
“Really though, I don’t know what kids want these days,” the 33-year-old Davis laughs. “I think we are still trying to feel out who our market is and who enjoys our music. There are definitely kids that like us, then you’ve got people my age and older who dig us. Maybe we lost some people going digital-only with these newest songs – they might not even know we have an EP out.”
Even though the four years that lapsed between their first two records isn’t anything that Davis would be eager to repeat, there were many highlights to be enjoyed in that span of time, including having his band championed by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt.
Van Zandt released The Novaks debut album on his Wicked Cool label imprint in addition to giving the band oodles of airplay on his syndicated satellite radio show “Little Steven’s Underground Garage”.
“At the time we signed on with Steven’s label, they had just started things going so the deal we signed with them was crazy easy. It was literally one-page long,” Davis says.
Although Van Zandt didn’t pursue releasing other material from The Novaks, Davis acknowledges the boost given to the band by Van Zandt was priceless.
“He played the crap out of us on his radio show and passed our record onto all of the affiliates of the satellite radio station he worked for. We even got a message from Andrew Oldham who is probably best known for putting Mick Jagger and Keith Richards together in a room. Steven did a lot for us, something we are still really grateful for having had the chance to experience.”
With their run nine shows with Flash Lightnin’ slated to take them from Halifax through many of the major cities in southwestern Ontario, Davis admits the band doesn’t have the opportunity to tour west of Ontario as often as they would like.
“It is expensive to tour through western Canada without much in the way of funding. All we really want to do is tour; we would be out on the road all the time if we could be.”
With Old Man Winter just around the corner, Davis says the group doesn’t have much in the way of touring plans once this run of shows wraps up. He is optimistic that the winter season will be a productive one nonetheless.
“Hopefully we will be in the studio over the winter months,” Davis says without hesitation. “I have the songs that I want to have on the record and now it is just a matter of playing them for the other guys and getting their input. So far, the songs are shaping up to be more of a Big World-sound, less heavy and more poppy than Things Fall Apart was.
“It is getting to be that time to make another record though – it has already been a year and a half since Things Fall Apart was released. We definitely don’t want to wait another four years to have a new full-length record completed. Sometimes, I wish we were KISS and could release a new record every six months.”
Article published in December 3, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript