Simple melodies that build behind pure voices is music that’ll make you homesick. The Novel Ideas’ third album is called Home for a reason, with sweet lyrics about being alone and growing up, about remembering who you used to be and the people who helped you become the person you are now. But instead of a melancholy sound that laments the lost time, each song on Home has its own sweeping, bouncing rhythm – a soundtrack for memories, reunions and old times.
They describe themselves as a “folk rock outfit of friends” – Daniel, Danny, James, Sarah, Nick and Ezra. Last year the group recorded Home amidst the elements in a New Hampshire barn. Daniel, on guitar and vocals, was nice enough to answer a couple of questions about what it takes to make memory-filled music:
How did the six of you meet, and when did you first find out that you could make great music together?
Danny and I met in kindergarten, James and I met at Boston College. We met Sarah via Reddit. And Nick joined thanks to our Craigslist ad looking for a drummer. We’ve been working on new songs as a band and I can say that it is much more fun and successful than trying to work out songs while recording them.
What was it like recording “Home” in a New Hampshire barn?
Recording in New Hampshire was a really nice outlet for us. It was a rough summer in a lot of ways and having a place of respite to focus only on music was really nice. We’ll be recording some of the new album in the same barn which will be fun, except for the bugs.
Which band member writes the songs, and where do the lyrics originate?
Myself (Daniel), Danny and Sarah write the base of the songs but the songwriting process has been very collaborative. James is excellent at writing bass parts and has an amazing sense of harmony, while Nick has a knack for rhythm (naturally as a drummer) and song structure. Said simply, our lyrics originate from the experiences we go through. Some are sad, some are happy, some are bittersweet. Personally I find it impossible to be content writing anything I don’t feel is completely true, so writing honest lyrics is especially important to me.
Which songs on Home do which vocalists sing, and what do you think the different voices offer your music?
Danny and I are the only lead vocalists on “Home,” though Sarah and James are also both featured on the record. Some of my favorite bands have multiple lead singers: (ex: The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys…) I think it can add a whole new dimension (or two) to a band.
Who are some of your folk idols, and how do you guys keep your own sound unique?
I know we’ve all been listening to a lot of Sera Cahoone lately. Her melodies are absolutely beautiful as well as her pedal steel parts (which we’ve been trying to steal a page from). Kathleen Edwards is also one of our favorites. I suppose in terms of trying to keep our sound unique, it comes from having many different influences. Some days I feel like listening to Bon Iver, some days Gavin Bryars, and some days Taylor Swift. I suppose our music comes out of five people’s different tastes and styles but with the intention to create a common and unifying style.
A lot of your songs are quiet and happy with melodies that rise and grow. What sort of experience are you trying to create for the listener? Where do you try to bring them with your music?
When I write a song I want the listener to understand and even feel the things that I felt while I wrote that song, and feel what I feel when I sing that song. If I can impart that through my music I’ll feel I’ve connected with others in a meaningful way.
Promise is one of my favorite songs on the album, with lyrics that start like this:
Here we are now in the backyard
On the warm ground out at sundown
But in twelve days I’ll be halfway
Cross the world, I’m too tired to be afraid
You’ve got green eyes, I had foresight
When I said we’d be good I was so right
If we lay here, spend every day here
Well our legs might take root and we’ll grow dear
I made a promise to you
The Novel Ideas will be performing throughout July and August, with one show in Providence and three in Massachusetts.