In a world that’s obsessed with numbers and the virtual online world, remember the joy that brought you into making music in the first place, the joy of creation and sharing it with others. Why you do what you do is so much more important than the actual act of doing it.
Novanauts are an alternative electronic rock band from Atlanta, GA. Luke Galloway on vocals, guitar, and other melody-making devices and Brett Batson holding it down on the drums. Their mission: "we want to give people a shared experience, for whatever time frame, that everything is gonna be alright."
Luke is a resident surgeon in Atlanta, Georgia and his hospital colleagues have been majorly supportive of our work in the local music scene. Brett found out through a DNA test that he is related to King Richard III on his mother’s side.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LATEST ALBUM OR SINGLE
“Distracted” is our most recent release. It is a high-energy groove with a massive riff that feels great to play live when we both lock in and lay into it. It's very syncopated and the idea behind that song was to channel big eighties guitar and drums with some synth while we are talking about being present in life and putting down the masks. It talks about putting down the roles that we play for other people and trying to connect in a world that's almost run on distraction these days. We should always show each other our true selves. If we are not our true selves, we'll never know what we need to adjust in our lives. The literal roles that we play don’t define us. We play these roles every day and we think that is who we are at our core and it's time to realize that we're human beings going through a shared experience.
WHICH SONG WOULD YOU SAY SUMS UP YOUR SOUND THE BEST?
“Out In The Open (The Day When We Stood Still)” is a great example of the breadth of our sound. It plays a lot with juxtaposition as an element of art. There are these really delicate vocal lines and spacey verses that get completely slammed into a brick wall of guitars and drums throughout the song. It touches on this whole idea of dealing with some negative thought patterns in life and how those impact actions in the world. Often, this is contrary to actions that would be beneficial. The Day When We Stood Still is like the title of an old sci fi horror movie, but talks about the dangers or the terrors that can come from being paralyzed by overthinking. That can impact your life and your relationships. That is the message of that song. It plays with that idea and it plays with these very expansive, almost landscapes of synthesizers and then just slams you up against a wall and motivates you with this huge riff at the end.
DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC IN A FEW WORDS.
Expansive, high-energy, rock music with an electronic edge.
WHO HAVE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES BEEN?
A few of our biggest influences have been Muse, MuteMath, Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Metallica, and Underoath to name a few.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO MUSIC?
When I (Luke) was about 10 years old, my oldest sister started taking guitar lessons. Our teacher, Andy, came to our home in Rickmansworth. My parents thought it would be a great idea if I took up the instrument as well. It was a natural extension to take lessons from the same teacher after my sister. At first, I was not very interested in learning guitar. It was acoustic and my fingers hurt, but I stuck with it and learned some basics. Everything changed when my sister got an electric guitar. I used to use it when she wasn’t around. I heard Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and learned that famous riff, and my world opened up when I found the overdrive channel on her Marshall combo amp. The rest is history.
Lessons were now my path to creative agency and rocking out.
Brett was also in a musical family. His brother was taking guitar lessons and he would watch. He decided it was so cool and he loved being with the music, so he decided he wanted to do it too. He also started taking guitar lessons after his brother, but two lessons in, he decided… this is not for me. He learned he had a fascination with sitting behind the drums during his dad’s concerts. His drummer would let Brett play after the performances. When Brett’s brother got into the drum line in the marching band, he taught Brett his first drum beat when they got their first drum set. Interestingly it was the same drum beat to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Cool coincidence. He played it over and over with his hands for months. From there he started playing in church and in bands with friends he met in high school and then around 15 started getting serious. Now here we are. Always students.
WHAT IS THE CREATIVE PROCESS LIKE FOR YOU WHEN MAKING MUSIC?
BRETT: I love to archive ideas. Luke is very methodical about archiving ideas. Our backlog of songs and ideas is huge. We’ve been keeping the backlog going since about 2005 or even before that. Some songs begin as snippets from a voice note, or a written piece of music, or a little riff. We love to develop from a spark and use electronic tools to get ideas started, but we are a rock band at the core. We have electric guitar, vocals and drums, but we don't stay there. We're not married to that combination. We can explore other areas, but we like to write high-energy songs that really enhance the performance of those core instruments. There is such a beautiful sound when vocals, electric guitar, and a drum set sit in the mix when they're locked in. That's been a lot of our true north when it comes to building up songs recently. Does it sound good stripped down? Then let's have some fun and add some atmosphere and some synth layers to enhance the experience.
We ask ourselves, “could this be played on an acoustic guitar and people still say, ‘yeah, that's nice.’” We were trying so much at the beginning to throw on layers to sound more and more epic. Now we're finding ourselves saying, “if we take that one thing away it will be so much more epic, and it really is.” I believe that should be a guiding light. What can we do to get our music and our feelings across with intention? Because with the opposite, we can start to lose what we were trying to do in the first place. When we started off playing our style of electronic alternative rock, the ability to play synth tracks and to sync with MIDI instruments was so new in our scene back in 2006. People have been playing with backing tracks since backing tracks existed, but when it comes to our scene, it was rare. So we were eager to incorporate these tools that we were learning how to use in a cool, interesting, impressive way.
Nowadays, you can basically do anything you want with modern music production technology and reproduce it in some form live. So the emphasis becomes less of, “I wonder what we can do?” and more “how are we doing it?”. Working in the studio with our producer Lee Dyess once ideas are formed is the next step where we really mature the song and get it developed. It's about intentional choices of how we are using synth or modulation on parts as well when we incorporate the electronics. It's very freeing as artists. We have all this ability to shift and explore and morph over time with various tools. Still, at the end of the day, we want to write good songs that feel good to play live and connect with people.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN?
Remember why you do what you do in music. In a world that’s obsessed with numbers and the virtual online world, remember the joy that brought you into making music in the first place, the joy of creation and sharing it with others. Why you do what you do is so much more important than the actual act of doing it.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT THE INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
There has been a slight hesitancy for people to go out in their local scene and invest their time and energy into emerging artists in their area. With a large amount of connectivity, which is awesome overall, we have lost some sense of the local culture. The best way to get that culture thriving is to get together, in person, at local shows, and I hope to see a resurgence of that in the years to come. The connections we make are so big in this industry, it would be amazing if people adopted the view of being resources for each other instead of adversaries.
We have a run of live shows coming up in our region and will be releasing several new singles in the coming months. We are really excited about these songs and how they showcase the improvement in our songwriting and performance over time.
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