We headed to the depths of Northampton, UK for a long and quite frankly overdue chat with The Venus Fly Trap founder Alex Novak, a man who has had his fingers in many a musical related project pie spanning the last 20 years. Very impressive! We talked to Alex about the history and birth of VFT, the writing collaborative process and why an endorsement from NASA would be welcomed.
Introduce the band in your own words.
“Venus Fly Trap based in Northampton-UK (famous for Bauhaus, Alan Moore and the film kinky Boots) situated between London and Birmingham, current line Up Alex Novak (Vox) and Andy Denton (Guitar & Programming).
VFT came together after I left Attrition who were based in London at the time, i had done an album and toured Holland with them, my first trip abroad with a band. Decided to move back to my native Northampton, hooked up with my brother John Novak (Isaws & Wheres Lisse) and Tony Booker an ex art school student (I had also had studied at art school). The line-up has changed many times. Andy Denton began as the drummer and later ended up playing guitar and he has done for many years.”
Discuss your current album.
“I have been in quite a few bands pre VFT as well as projects running alongside the band, which has been compiled on a recent release Venus Fly Trap/Alex Novak-Mercurial CD/DL (Glass Records Modern) it is a best of VFT and other bands and projects including Isaws, Religious Overdose, Tempest, Nova State Conspiracy, Attrition, The Den and Spore. A career spanning retrospective for people to delve into and explore further if they wish, about eighty minutes of music packed into this release.”
“We have been described as ‘bladerunner rock n roll with dark acidic shades’, dark sonics for films in your mind, we are situated in the post punk genre melded with electronica, think of Joy Division, Doors, Chemical Brothers DNA intertwined with ours. Live its pounding electronics overlaid with a pincer movement of dark vox and needle point guitar, all filled in with wax crayon colours to mesmerise the audience into submission.”
Who or what are you biggest influences?
“The most recent studio album ICON drew from the Warhol quote ‘in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes’, the idea of being famous for being famous, celebrity, idols, the new religion. Science fiction in the widest sense, Film noir, Tarantino movies – would like to have a song on one of his movie soundtracks.”
“But what got me involved in music in the first place was the punk/new wave explosion it changed my perception on being able to be in a band, it was a just get up and give it a go attitude and see where it leads. Minimal experience but it didn’t matter it was the ideas that counted, this DIY approach got people involved in music who would not of thought of it before.”
Describe your band members and what each person brings to the table?
“There’s only two of us, i tend to do the sorting, gigs, interviews, promoting and supply the lyrics and original ideas as a starting point for the songs and albums then give Andy a brief and framework to work with and he comes up with the structure, sounds and pulls it all together before it goes away to get mixed and mastered, the technical wiz. Sort of Ying and Yang.”
What have you been doing up to during the Covid 19 pandemic-how did you occupy your time as a band and personally?
“Well i run a record shop Spiral Archive, so that went into lockdown, had to switch over to doing EBay to keep me going, I’m back open again but gigs that were booked have been cancelled also I DJ and put on bands, so when all that will be back i don’t know. Been doing a lot of interviews to promote the new release. A lot of sorting out at the shop and trying not to lose my sanity.”
Did you manage to record a video or release any material during lockdown?
“Well we did discuss about moving the release date of Mercurial CD/DL from May to later in the year but decided to go ahead as planned, here’s Vitesse video the track appears on the above album and also features on the recent Devolution Magazine compilation CD – Issue 47.”
In the event of the end of the world what’s the first song on your post apocalypse playlist?
“REM’s ‘End Of The World’, Zager Evans ‘in the year 2025’, Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ or Credence’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’….”
Describe the music scene of your hometown and how you fit into that as a band?
“I guess it’s like most local scenes, everyone ends up in everyone else’s band or project, notable bands from the area include Bauhaus, Temples, Moons, Spacemen 3, Jazz Butcher, Slow Thai….it’s a healthy scene with plenty of rising acts notable ones being Keepers, Barratts, Bophins. I put on gigs so have put on a lot of local acts…so I’m involved one way or another. But where we go from here is another matter?”
When writing new music is it a collaborative effort or is there a main song writer?
“We write as a duo, we would start with a riff, just guitar and vocal, the riff would suggest a lyric and with a bit of jamming there would be an embryonic version of a song, not all these ideas would come to anything ,but kept for possible future use. Andy would take these ideas away and come up with a basic backing track to then add more lyrics to and work out a structure, a lot of going back and forwards from rehearsal to studio, we would end up with a song we were happy with.”
Some bands have goals for albums. Do you have any goals for future albums?
“Our last three albums have general themes that tie them together as a triptych also myself and Andy wrote and produced them they are Zenith, Nemesis and Icon, for me they fit together really well.”
In the modern on demand music scene is the concept album dead or do you feel there’s still room for them?
“Certainly have tracks to promote the album, but they need to be in context with the other tracks to give it meaning, i see an album as watching a whole film from start to finish, the trailer gives you an idea but you have to see it all to get it.”
The hardest step for any band today is going full time is this something you envisage being able to do in the future?
“I have been making a living from “music” for the last twenty years, whether its playing, djing, promoting, or working in the shop to me it’s all connected, too unpredictable just to rely on one aspect.”
If you could be endorsed by any companies who would they be and why?
“NASA, so we could be first band to play in space or the moon or mars…we have an album called Mars…so to play the album Mars on Mars!”
If you could play God for a day-who would you make an angel and who would you send to hell?
“I think i would concentrate on sending as many people to hell as possible Trump, Farage…top of the list…then we might have a decent chance of sorting the world out.”