WORDS: Eddie Sims
With the ever increasing ease of access to any music wherever you are, the insurgence of new artists making staking their claim to the throne. Of course not all of these young hopefuls can make it, and in a vicious survival-of-the-fittest battle royale the pecking order is formed but remains ever shifting. It’s safe to say that starting from the bottom and climbing to the top is an arduous journey of struggle and certainly not for the faint of heart. Thankfully though, there are bands that can not only hack the harsh lifestyle but also come gifted with music that some bands struggle to create three albums in, let alone on their debut. NOVELISTS are that such band. We spoke to frontman Matt Gelsomino about the debut record, Souvenirs, the history of the band and what it means for them to be forging music.
What’s the history of NOVELISTS then? From the beginning to here…
Matt: So, in the beginning I was in a band called A CALL TO SINCERITY but left that and ended up spending a year doing nothing. I was really sad so my girlfriend kicked my ass and told me to ‘find a fucking band’ [chuckles], so I met the Durand brothers, the drummer (Amael) and the guitarist (Florestan) who isn’t here tonight because he had lessons to give back in Paris. I met with the guys, heard what they were doing and I fell in love with it. After that we were missing another guitarist and bassist so I asked Nicolas (Delestrade, bass) ‘this is my new project do you wanna be a part of it?’ After that it was about a month before Nicolas spoke to Charly (Kelevra, guitar) who was the guitarist for A CALL TO SINCERITY and then after that everything went so fast, we’re still not realising what’s happening but we’re happy.
What were the main influences going into writing?
Matt: We have so many influences; everybody in the band is listening to different things. Me and Charly are from the rap scene, like I started listening to rap a few years back because I liked the flow. Amael switches it up literally every week. Charly likes rap but also really hard hitting heavy stuff and Nick is a musical schizophrenic so one moment he listens to SWORN IN the next it’s JUSTIN BIEBER. We have so many influences.
Do you think it’s important for new bands to have lots of influences?
Matt: Yeah, definitely. I think as a vocalist and a musician, the more you listen to the more you can see when it comes to writing. The sad thing Is there are so many bands that just want to copy the copy of a copy, and that’s definitely not what we want to do. It might be cocky but we love what we do and we want to do the best we can.
Whats the writing process for the band?
Matt: We actually have two composers in the band. Amael writes all the heavy stuff and Flo writes all the technical melodic side. The weird thing is that they actually can’t work together to write, but most of the time Amael writes something and then Flo adds to it and by the time it gets to me it’s finished. Working like that also allows us to do everything ourselves, so Charly deals with all the graphics, artwork, Amael and Nick both take care of the recording, mastering and producing, Flo composes and them I’m kinda the mascot of the band.
What was the recording process like?
Matt: Most of the time everything would be recorded at Amael’s [drums] place. They’d send me a song, I’d start to write and then we’d change the songs at least 2000 times because there are parts we want to tweak or change, but yeah, the process is the same. I get sent a song, I finish the lyrics and send it to Nick so he can correct it because I’m not very fluent writing English, then after that we go to Amael’s place and record it. Nick then gets sent the final product to master.
What’s your favourite song on the album?
Matt: Personally my favourite tracks are Auroboros, Earth Grazer and 5:12 am. 5:12 am is a ballad at the end of the album and is a bit out there, Auroboros has some really great, smooth clean vocals and Earth Grazer because I just fucking love playing it on stage. It’s really bouncy and punchy.
How many times have you been on tour?
Matt: We’ve been doing a few. The biggest one was last year between November and December with I, THE BREATHER for just under 30 days, that was really cool and a great tour. We did a few other short tours in Holland and Spain and then two weeks ago we toured all over Germany with FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, which was great.
Does touring internationally still feel weird?
Matt: It’s really cool; there are loads of good things and bad things, especially when you have a small van. It can be complicated sometimes but most of the time we’re just used to it so there’s not problem.
Have you accepted touring as something you’re going to be doing for the next 10-20 years then?
Matt: Yeah, I hope man. There are definitely more upsides than negatives to touring so I feel as a musician you need to be ready to go through hard time and moments when you won’t particularly enjoy yourself but it’s all a part of touring really. We’re not really realising what’s happening to us at the moment cause we’re so young, we’re only two and a half years old, so everything is a bit new and when people come to tell us that they can recognise themselves in our music or that they feel something emanating from our music then our minds just get blown.
What does it mean to you as a band having the debut coming out?
Matt: The release date had to actually be pushed back from the 6th November to the 13th November because there were some issues with printing the CDs. We printed 6,000 and the last two songs cut out at five minutes and we couldn’t find out why so we had to re-print everything. We’re happy it’s not delayed too much longer; we’ve worked so much on that album. In my life I have nothing but the band so I have literally spent two years on the lyrics and everyone in the band has put something personal into the art so I can’t wait for the album to come out and see how people react.
So it’s a deeply personal record for you guys then?
Matt: Totally. It’s not the first album I’ve released, I released some stuff previously with A CALL TO SINCERITY but this album is definitely our little baby. We’ve spent too much time and given it too much attention to screw anything so we just can’t wait for it now.
Now that the album is coming out, are you starting to formulate plans on supporting it?
Matt: Yeah we’ve got a few possibilities. After this tour we’re gonna take some rest until either February or March. We’re all super tired and we haven’t had time to work on our personal lives, we’ll probably start work on the next album. We’ve got a headlining Europe tour and a US tour with some other bands; I can’t really say much because we don’t have any info right now.
What would you like to see NOVELISTS achieve?
Matt: For me and the other guys, so long as we can touch people and they can recognise themselves in our work and have the opportunity to travel and tour the world, meet new people. Obviously if we can make a living off that too then that would be amazing, obviously it’s not the case now because we’re all fucking struggling [laughs], but the plan is just to enjoy playing music and to touch everyone.