Photo by Adam Penney
David Keating speaks with Mick Davis of The Novaks.
They’re better, tighter, slightly more business-savvy and eager to get out on the road, says lead singer Mick Davis about his band The Novaks. Four years after their first, self-titled CD, Davis—along with bass player Mark Neary and drummer Elliot Dicks—are ready to put a push on for their second album, on store shelves as of May 26th.
So why label the new recording Things Fall Apart?
“I could say stretch it and say, ‘Oh it’s about this’—it’s about Chuck [Tucker] leaving the band, it’s about us leaving our old management or switching companies, or, you know, having four years between the records, but none of that is true,” says Davis. “It’s just a bad-ass title.”
Davis, the primary writer for the group, says the inspiration for the title came from the 1958 post-colonial novel of the same name by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe.
While things may not be falling apart for the Novaks, there have certainly been changes. Most noticeably, the band is now a trio instead of a quartet. Guitarist Chuck Tucker made the decision to leave the group just ahead of the band going into the studio.
“He just took the other road, that’s all. Which all of us have thought about,” says Mick. He says the split was amicable and that Tucker and Davis—friends and bandmates since high school in Wesleyville—are still close.
The departure of Tucker did lead to some serious soul-searching by the remaining members however.
Says Davis, “When he left, it kicked us in the ass. You know, ‘What are we going to do now? How are going to make this sound?’ So the amps got bigger, we had to rehearse for the first time… And it certainly worked, just because it put some work ethic into us to figure it out. And then, when we made the record, we designed it around being a trio—so when we make a record and when people go to the show, they don’t go, ‘Well, where’s all the shit that was on the record?’
Recorded over tens days in Halifax, Things Fall Apart benefited from the arranging and producing advice of Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, as well as performances by Ian McLagan of The Faces on keys. Davis describes the sound of the ‘live off the floor’ recording as honest rock and roll that’s as close to a live Novaks performance as you can get—without the screaming audience.
With all the writing duties, touring demands, studio sessions, rehearsals and after-show parties that come with the rock and roll lifestyle, Davis says the thrill of performing in front of an audience is still the best part.
“It’s the people. That hasn’t changed since you were ten, jumping up and down on your bed with a guitar, wishing you were Paul Stanley or whatever… That’s the rush. It’s a weird life because it’s so depressing after that. It’s such a high. You play and then the next day you feel like shit, much like if you go on a bender.”
Davis may very well get to meet his childhood heroes when The Novaks share a bill with Kiss in Halifax on July 18th. Other gigs on the upcoming tour include a South by Southwest industry showcase show in Toronto at the Horseshoe (with Ian Blurton of C’Mon’s re-formed band Change of Heart). A video shoot for the song “There Goes the Night” is also planned for when the band lands in Ontario.
From the outside, The Novaks seem to be living the rock and roll dream. But now in his early 30s and having spent 12 years as a full-time musician, Davis says he and his bandmates are ready to see a little more payoff for their efforts.
“It fun and you get to have a party every night. You get to play every night. But it’s fucking murder too because you have a blast then you come home and you’re scrambling to pay the rent. So all we want is that step up, just have this record do that much better so that we don’t have to worry about doing anything else. So that we could just be Novaks.”
The St. John’s release for Things Fall Apart happens June 12th at The Rock House. For more tour dates and info, visit the Novaks on their myspace site ot at thenovaks.ca. Things Fall Apart is in stores now.