Four Brummie boys are here in town to turn your post-modern fairytale upside down. Bring your wives, bring your daughters. Witness The Novus shake your bricks and mortars.
After spending three nights on the road with Tom, Euan, Tyla and Connor it’s clear how much these boys believe in their music, and how hard they’re willing to work for it. A little more than a year ago they knew everyone who attended their shows in Birmingham. Pub basements were the pinnacle but posed no issues for their punky antics, now their sound has traversed the whole English nation and has just begun to leak out.
Eyes to the stage, Euan lays down a heavy beat. Tyla, dead-eyed, focuses a hard bass groove while Tom kicks a solid set of licks. As the sound builds, Connor emerges from the audience, well dressed and makeup to match. Twenty minutes in you’ll find him atop the bar, on the floor amongst the crowd or even in a cage. Trailing cables liberate beers from glasses while Connor shakes to whichever beat he chooses. Euan soon finds himself shirtless, steaming to songs preaching freedom, fallacies and everything in between. This show was crafted on the scene, for the scene and in many ways by the scene.
“We put on something ourselves in a warehouse in Brum no one’s ever been before. Did it all ourselves, we built the stage, lighting and sound. Had to be rigged in five hours. Connor did the whole set. He had a big Maccie’s sign and a sex shop sign. Pulled just shy of four hundred people. We were flyering months before the show, it was like a green flyer. I took the piss like ‘scuse me, what’s your favourite colour, is it green? Well you’ll love this green flyer then.’”
When the set is finished, Connor disappears into the night. The musicians drop character faster than you can say ‘one more song’. An inebriated French girl plays with Tom’s hair as he carries a guitar to the car. Euan and Tyla man the merch stand, two shy metalheads quietly purchase a badge. It’s easy to forget the reality of these Brummie boy’s lives during their spectacle. They’re all about nineteen years old, studying music business, music production and stage management. Most gigs still pay them fifty pounds and a few beers for the night.
“Do you get a good amount of beer? Do ya fuck, sometimes it’s just one beer. One tinny each.”
This is standard procedure for bands like The Novus in the UK, and these boys know it. Humour is their saviour. Three hour drive home? Nah mate, it’s a fun filled night trip to the service station. Last visit to the stinking pisser before the show? Nah mate, it’s a quick edgy photoshoot in a nicely tiled toilet facility. A night on the town with these boys is a non-stop conundrum of head smacking brummy one liners; mocking their fellow acts, mocking the shite pub and mocking each other. Genuine anger, personal intensity and anything ‘obnoxious’ is saved for the show.
“The Post-Modern fairytale is a reflection of a dystopia of what we believe is going on in the world right now.”
This stage mentality serves the projection of their punkified politics. Connor’s Mr Hide is currently a patchwork quilt of Johnny Rotten, GG Allin and MC Ride. Eloquent enough to turn up in a partial suit, yet more than happy to strip down and parade through his audience, on his feet or over their heads. This character gives vigour to The Novus’ lyrics; so, what if a stationary, well shaven, shirted man on the stage tells me that hatred is a cancer? So, what if he tells me that my rights aren’t respected, just inspected? But when Connor sings these lyrics, he performs them with his entire being. Head, shoulders, knees and toes. (It makes a great spectacle for the beer-bellied chaps shouting ‘fuck the police’, too.)
“It goes; let’s write a banger, put some lyrics to it, they’re probably gonna be socially relevant. Tom will write a sick riff, absolute banger, then you write about what you’re feeling at the time which is a product of what you’ve been put through. If everything’s shit that’s what you write about. EVERYTHING’S SHET. If you’re feeling shit you can produce something that’s quite intense and harsh. Some of our songs like “Overdrive” are very intense, whereas “Cast Away” is more of an emotional sort of thing.”
Last September saw the release of the single ‘PMF’, the Post-Modern Fairytale. This phrase compounded the group’s message at the time with a music video featuring gas-masks, stark looks and creepy green tones. Catchy post-punk carries the words, the right audience has no problem banging heads to the clean-cut chorus and the group has no problem joining in.
“The Post-Modern fairytale is a reflection of a dystopia of what we believe is going on in the world right now. I think it can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. We’ve all got our own interpretation of what it means. It’s about mental health and shit, it’s social. We ain’t saying straight communism, it’s just a point where you stop earning your own money and others are just earning if for you.”
The Novus is a project caught between a 2020 political rhetoric, a desire to produce original ‘rock’ music and the needs of listeners who crave the pure escapism of punk. Gone are the days of power chord guitar groups making it to the top on their frontman alone. These boys are serious players, lyricists and managers. A huge variety of material has influenced their refined output. You’ll hear old school blues in their riffs, feel gospel chopsin their rhythms and see Nick Cave in their looks. Tyla tirelessly posts media on all of their platform’s multiple times a day; every passing gig, release and news item is covered far in advance with a consistent style and tone. Punkish ‘craziness’, unadulterated musicianship and a tight schedule must all be maintained simultaneously to make this work, and maintain it they do.
“If the nice one’s ever gotten into power, we might have something a bit more happy to write about, do you know what I mean? But we don’t wanna make it poppy. As much as you know it would be great to be rich and not worry about things, we wouldn’t rightly be who we are.”
Not an ounce of Birmingham has been lost to these boys. Their over-the-top stage presence is a direct creative reaction to the golden personality contained in each one. The Novus exists because it needs to, because it’s fun and because it can truly cause those who witness it to feel accepted. If only for forty minutes at a time. (Go out and see them for yourself! As of writing this, they have very regular shows in London and Birmingham for nothing or for cheap. Say hi afterwards and you’ll receive a warm response.) OR (Check out their latest track ‘Frosty’ on YouTube, it’s got a video and everything.) AND? (If you ever meet them in person, don’t mention the phrase ‘pop-punk’ or they’ll want to smack you round the head.)
Listen to The Novus here.
Images & Words: Max Auberon @auberonfilm
Creative Direction: Frank Akinsete @frankstylist.
Styling: Mina Liu