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Interview: The Nova Saints about debut album "Newfoundland"

Bristol based five-piece band The Nova Saints has released by Northern Star Records long awaited debut album "Newfoundland".

Recorded by Matt Sampson at Bink Bonk studio, "Newfoundland" brings twelwe songs, with shoe-gaze influence, psychedelic energy, and roots in accomplishments such bands like Ride, The Verve, The Jesus and Mary Chain. In our series of interviews - "In My Own Words" The Nova Saints guitarist John Banks talks exclusively to readers of Wiadomosci24.pl about freshly released album "Newfoundland".

The Nova Saints / Fot. Nicola Perugini1. "Sugar Coated" John Banks/The Nova Saints: This is the song on the album, that I had the least to do with writing, to be honest. During the early days of the band I got back from a holiday in Italy and the boys had secured us management and written this song whilst I was away! Maybe I should have gone away more often. The lyrics are Tom’s and although on the surface they sound like surreal nonsense lyrics, if you know what’s it’s about- they become crystal clear. It documents a very specific time.

2. "High Roller" John Banks/The Nova Saints: Steve brought the basics of this song to practice on an acoustic guitar. We worked it out without him telling us the chords, just doing it by ear and what sounded good, so the four instrumental parts – the rhythm guitar, lead guitar, keys and bass– are all doing completely different things and playing individual melodies that harmonise rather than being based around root notes. The lyrics were worked through by Steve, Tom and myself and I added the lead chorus line at a much later date.

3. "Take It Or Leave It" The Nova Saints: This is one of Tom’s. It was originally an experiment of his using samples on Cubase, but it took on a life of it’s own. We liked the piece of music so much, that we originally tried to work it up into a song, but eventually realised that it was best in it’s original simple form. It’s the one really explicit tip of the hat to shoegaze on the album.

The Nova Saints / Fot. Nicola Perugini4. "Whirlpool" John Banks/The Nova Saints: "Whirlpool" came out of a jam between Dom, Tom and myself. It was originally in 4/4 but Matt stuck his head into the practice room as we were playing it and said "It sounds like Wonderwall", so we quickly decided to rethink it! I decided to change the time signature to 6/8 and me and Tom worked out the lyrics and melody.

5. "Slow Down" John Banks/The Nova Saints: Another song where pretty much the whole song was written and demoed in my absence, this time my Matt and Tom. The first time I heard the chorus I knew it was great, so I rewrote the bridge melody and then as a band we built up the arrangement with an overtly psychedelic feel. The original version of this was released on "The Draft" EP, but we felt we could go even further for the album so added the tremelo guitar, sitars and backwards solo!

6. "The Draft" John Banks/The Nova Saints: Dom has never been short of great, dirty, distorted riff based guitar tracks, but this was one of his most simple ones that I just latched onto as having potential. I took the drums down to half pace to give it a more menacing feel and then Steve and myself came up with the lyrics which I actually think were written after we came up with the title. This has my favourite Dom guitar solo too.

The Nova Saints / Fot. Mike Clarke7. "What Does It Feel Like?" John Banks/The Nova Saints: The instrumental track was written as a full band with Steve adding the melody and lyrics afterwards. It was demoed with a lush string arrangement but then put on the back burner for years – so long in fact that we had to relearn it more than once before it made it onto the record. The final version is a far more striped back arrangement, partly because we simply couldn’t remember the original string part!

8. "Indian Summer" John Banks/The Nova Saints: I wrote this after a heavy night out, working it out in my head on the bus home the morning after.
Somehow I’d managed to find myself trapped in some lunatic’s flat as he played The Cardiacs on repeat all night. As far as I can tell they’ve only got one good song so, though you’d never tell, that provided the seed of the idea for “Indian Sumer”. It took a while to develop into the final version on the album, which involved a lyric brainstorming session between Steve, Tom and myself with moral support from Dave Francolini from Levitation and Dark Star!

9. "Lights" John Banks/The Nova Saints: Like "What Does It Feel Like?" this was another track that was jammed as a band with Steve providing the lyrics and melody later, this time after long period of gestation. We made a very conscious decision that we wanted to write a groove based song with the drums and bass locked in, so that’s the first part we came up with.

The Nova Saints / Fot. Clare Savory10. "I Wouldn’t" John Banks/The Nova Saints: This is Matt’s song and used to be a point of some contention in the band, although Matt’s probably sick of me saying that as the audience reaction to it speaks for itself. I always felt it was too un-Nova Saints and it took me a while to get over the ridiculous notion that we had to apply limitations to what we should or shouldn’t do. It’s great to play live.

11. "Ten Year Silence" John Banks/The Nova Saints: Some people write with a guitar, some on piano, but I seem to do most of my writing in my head. This is another example of that – this time I sat at my desk at a dead end job. Dom had demoed a track that I really liked the guitar sound on, so I took two chords from the song and pitch shifted them to create a whole new chord structure. The basic arrangement has remained since the original demo, but we tried out about six different drum patterns before we came up with the Krautrock motorik beat. Again it’s about a very specific time when we were all living together in Bristol.

12. "The Last Song" John Banks/The Nova Saints: This song was written backwards, the enormous coda being the first bit I came up with. I then decided, that as a contrast the main song itself should be relatively delicate and that led me to the lyrics that are about the situation I was in with my girlfriend at the time. When Dom puts his soaring guitar riff over the "chorus" (which Matt echoes on the keys) it still brings a lump to my throat, even though I know everything worked out OK!

The Nova Saints are:
Steve Waterhouse: vocals, electric guitars
Dom Gallagher: electric guitars
John Banks: bass guitar, vocals
Matt Goddard: synthesizers
Tom Chillcott: drums, vocals

The Nova Saints MySpace

The Nova Saints Facebook

Northern Star Records

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