Novaks ready to rock ... again

Justin Brake
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St. John's band gets back into the swing after long hiatus

It's Sunday afternoon, Mother's Day, and it's snowing. Inside a downtown bar, classic rock 'n' roll songs play in the background and, aside from the bartender, Novaks lead singer Mick Davis is the only person in the joint. Before I can shake the water from my rain coat he asks if I want to shoot a game of pool.

I've known Davis for about 15 seconds and it's a great way to break the ice, so I accept his offer. He racks, breaks and proceed to kick my ass. Until he scratches on the eight ball, that is.

Members of the St. John's band The Novaks are heading back into the studio this summer, three years after the band's debut album. Submitted photo

It's Sunday afternoon, Mother's Day, and it's snowing. Inside a downtown bar, classic rock 'n' roll songs play in the background and, aside from the bartender, Novaks lead singer Mick Davis is the only person in the joint. Before I can shake the water from my rain coat he asks if I want to shoot a game of pool.

I've known Davis for about 15 seconds and it's a great way to break the ice, so I accept his offer. He racks, breaks and proceed to kick my ass. Until he scratches on the eight ball, that is.

I revel in the hard-earned sense of accomplishment but then sit down with Davis to talk about what's been on the minds of Novaks fans for a while: what has the band been up to?

After all, the hype surrounding its debut record at the end of 2005 has subsided significantly while the band has been relatively stagnant, aside from the occasional downtown gig.

"It's been terrible," Davis says frankly.

In 2006 the band embarked on a national tour and was well received by fans and media, he explains. Things were great.

Before they could keep the momentum going, though, they parted ways with their label, Inside Records, and were forced to take a step back and re-assess everything.

"It takes a lot of time to sort all that out," Davis says, comparing the situation to a divorce. "You know, who gets the chesterfield and all that."

The split was a blow to The Novaks, he says, and the past year, a bit agonizing.

"I want people to know we're not f--king dead. Because that's what the last year has been like.

"You get in a bar with some drunk a--hole and he's going 'You lost it man, your motivation's gone man.' It's like, I don't have enough time to explain to you what it means to be a Novak right now, or what it is to be in business."

Now, the band's on track to make a full recovery and take Canada by storm, says Davis.

"Things are just starting to look up," he explains. "We've got plans, we've got some dates this summer and we're going to make a record. I don't know when it will come out but I don't care - I just want to get back to work."

They've joined forces with former Big Sugar singer Gordie Johnson, who has expressed interest in working with the band since meeting them at the East Coast Music Association Awards four years ago.

"We sent him some demos and then he was calling my house every month saying 'This should be out now. Why aren't you doing anything?'"

This summer they will lay down the tracks in the studio with Johnson for their sophomore album, over the span of just two weeks. It's an atypical way to make a record but it's Johnson's idea so they're keen to let him take the reins.

"We're going to go in and make a live album. We're just going to play. There'll be very few overdubs - so that's (Gordie's) idea. He hears us as a bar band, so we're going to go along with it. It's great."

The Novaks also signed on with Sonic Entertainment which now acts as its management, promoter, record label and distributor, a change Davis says should give them the boost they need to secure a spot in the Canadian market.

"They've helped us out a lot securing tours ... so now we will just deal with them directly," he explains. "They have a great studio in Halifax. That's where we'll be recording."

So what can we expect to hear on the next record?

"The newer songs we have are a bit heavier and darker. As an opening band we want to put on the best show we can, so it's not a good time to be putting out slow, acoustic songs. We've got to go out on the road and prove ourselves all over again. So we want to make a heavier record and do a heavy tour."

In the meantime, they have a few spring and summer gigs lined up. On Thursday night they're opening for Queens of The Stone Age at Mile One and on Friday they're headlining their own show at The Rock House with Queen's Maid.

They're also joining Great Big Sea, Hey Rosetta, Ron Hynes, among others for Gander's Festival of Flight concert Aug. 2.

"It won't take too long to get the band back in people's heads," Davis concludes.

Tickets for The Novaks with Queen's Maid Friday night at The Rock House are $10 in advance and available at The Ship, Duke of Duckworth and Fred's Records.

Organizations: East Coast Music Association, The Rock House, Queen's Johnson's Sonic Entertainment Queens of The Stone Age Great Big Sea The Ship Fred's

Geographic location: St. John's, Canada, Halifax

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