Novelists: The French Connection
We’ve still got a couple of months to go before we can chuck 2015 out the window, but already, we’ve bared witness to one of 2016’s biggest acts: Novelists. Hailing from the fantastical land of poofy-tailed poodles and beret-wearing snail eaters (commonly referred to as Paris, France,) the metalcore quintet are set for an enormous year ahead with their debut full-length, Souvenirs, set to annihilate eardrums worldwide on November 6. As such, BLUNT got down to business with bassist Nicolas Delestrade to get some juicy deets on the new LP, and of course, give the boys a formal introduction to the metalcore crew Down Under!
Novelists are a bit of a new band, having formed just two years ago, but already you guys are really starting to break through with the project. First things first, what’s the origin story behind this whole thing?
I had another band with Matt [Gelsomino, vocals] and Charly [Kelevra, guitar], and we broke up. Two months after that, our singer came to my flat and showed me some songs on Soundcloud by these two guys that he had met – Flo [Durand, guitar] and Amael [Durand, drums] – one of them was the demo for “Twenty Years”, the first song we ever released. So I told him that I absolutely wanted to be a part of something, we met the guys, and we talked about doing something bigger than just having 10 views on Soundcloud [laughs]. It worked for them, so then we asked Charly to come into the band, and that was pretty much it. It was really natural and quick.
When you crossed ships from A Call To Sincerity to Novelists, did it feel like you were starting all over again, or did Sincerity sort of set you up for what to expect with the new band?
When I stopped A Call To Sincerity, I wanted to quit music. I felt like I wasn’t ready to put that much energy into it, and I wasn’t getting enough in return. But then when I heard [Florestan and Amael’s] songs, I was amazed! I heard them, and that made me want to keep going, because that gave me faith that it can work. So I talked to the guys and I said, “You write awesome music, and I know the scene a bit because of my older band. I know how to produce songs, so let’s just do something together!” Because we had the experience from the other band, we knew how to release something that would look professional, so it worked pretty good.
You recently signed to Nuclear Blast’s new imprint label, Arising Empire. What made you want to take that opportunity?
We didn’t want to sign to a record label. We thought, “Let’s just release the album ourselves so we can make all the royalties”. We started by releasing “Gravity”, and we were going to put the album out one month after that. We had some labels contact us after we released that single, and we thought, “Okay, maybe it’s good to think about this” but the deals weren’t very good. So right before we had settled on not having a label, we had Nuclear Blast writing us, and they offered a great deal, so we didn’t have to think about it twice.
So we’re just a few weeks away from the release of your debut album, Souvenirs. How does it feel to finally have an album behind the band?
We don’t really feel like we have an album behind us. It hasn’t been released yet, so it’s still that itchy kind of thing that you want to go away, but it won’t. So I don’t know, it’s not a relief yet… It was a relief when we announced a release date, because then you know that there actually is a date, you know it’s going to come out.
After listening to the album, one thing I really like is how you guys blend that progressive style with a lot of high-energy metalcore riffs. How did you develop this sound?
Basically, there’s the two brothers that write everything. There’s our guitarist Flo, the older one, and he’s the one writing techy stuff, and then there’s the small brother [Amael], he writes the heavier stuff. So there are two identities to the band – the techy, ambient stuff, and then the really heavy side, and we like having both. About the ambiance, I don’t know, it came really naturally. We all have an Axe-FX, and we just loved how easy it was to create those huge reverbs and delays with it.
When you look at the metalcore genre and the scene that surrounds it, what makes Novelists stand out?
I’d say it’s the fact that we have a lot of different faces on this album. You don’t have just one type of sound. You have the very heavy song, the nostalgic one, the sad one, the kind of happy one… There is all these different feelings and emotions in just the one album. I might be mistaken, but I don’t know a lot of bands that have that many different emotions in just one album.
You guys released the title track “Souvenirs” as a single at the beginning of last year, and along with “Antares”, it made it onto the album. Being that it is the title track, it’s obviously a very special song for the band – what made you want to have this song reflect the album as a whole?
There was no particular thinking about that. I always say that everything is natural about the music, and I really think this is true. We wrote the album, and it was mixed, everything was done, and we thought, “Okay, we need to find a title now”. And we thought about it, and that emotion that we had in “Souvenirs”, the same kind of nostalgic, melancholy feeling that was happening in the song, we had that feeling, so it was natural. We wanted something to reflect that, and also, it’s good because the word ‘souvenirs’ is the same in French as it is in English.
It seems like people are really latching onto you guys and really love the stuff that you’re putting out – us included. How are you responding to all of the critical success that Novelists have had so far?
We’re really thankful, but at the same time, we’re really pressured. Usually the first album is… Not easy, but it’s just the first album. People don’t know you, so you just have to release it, and it will either please people or it won’t, but there won’t be any disappointment. And that’s what’s pressuring for us, I feel like we will disappoint if the album doesn’t give people what they want. A lot of people felt like our demos were a first album, so I feel like we have the same pressure we would if we were going to release a second album. But at the same time, it’s amazing to see how well people are responding to the music after just two years.
Over the last year or two, you’ve really started to take Novelists out of Paris and bring the band to the international stage. Where do you see yourself taking the project from here?
We want the project to be big enough to make us able to go on. You can do something that you really like, but if it’s not bringing food onto the table, at some point you’ll have to do something else. What we really want is to get to the point where we can make just enough money to survive from doing this, so we can be 100 percent involved in it without having to find shit jobs on the side. And then from that point, there is nothing that would make us want to stop, because you get what you need to eat and pay your rent, and the rest you can put into the band and tour, and nothing gets in your way.
It’s an interesting timeframe that you’re releasing this album in, because it really sets things up for Novelists to soar in 2016. What are your plans for the year ahead?
We’re planning a European headline tour for March to support the album; we wanted to release the album in November because that’s the period where all of the summer festivals are booked. So we thought, if we release it at that time and it goes well, then we’ll do all of the summer festivals, and that would be really good publicity.
Goddamn, that’s smart.
That’s our manager!
Listen to “Voyager” from Novelists’ debut album, Souvenirs, below.
Souvenirs is out November 6 through Nuclear Blast/Arising Empire.
Pre-order Souvenirs on iTunes.