Q&A: NOVACUB – Louise Bartle

Words by Ed King & Louise Bartle – NOVACUB / Pics courtesy of K2 Agency

On Saturday 21st March, NOVACUB will be coming back to Birmingham – joining alt-rock powerhouse REWS on their Phoenix Tour, and playing alongside Birmingham’s own tartan clad rock/punksters [SKETCH] at the O2 Institute 3.

Minimum age of entry to gig is 14 years old, with doors open from 6pm. Tickets are priced at £10 (+ booking fee) – as promoted by Metropolis Music and Birmingham Review. For more gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page.

Or for a direct link to online ticket sales, visit: www.reviewpublishing.net/product/rews-novacub-sketch-o2-institute-21-03-20/**
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Having formed just over a year ago by Bloc Party drummer Louise Bartle (who also brought Bloc Party guitarist Russell Lissack into the fold) it’s been a pretty non-stop first dance around the sun for NOVACUB – playing some heavyweight support slots, releasing a series of singles and their debut EP.

Now coming back to Birmingham, joining REWS and [SKETCH] at the O2 Institute 3 on Saturday 21st March, Birmingham Review snagged a cheeky Q&A with NOVACUB founder and frontwoman Louise Bartle:

BR: Hello NOVACUB, thanks for letting us pick your brains ahead of the O2 Institute gig – very excited to have you back in Birmingham. You came to the Castle and Falcon in April 2019 with The Xcerts, any drunken/late night (mis)adventures from the last time you were in the city?

NOVACUB: HEY! Haha well I think we were pretty boring actually as we’re always paranoid about the safety of our instruments etc – there’s a lot of packing and unpacking when you’re in your own cars/van. It was a great show last time we were there though!!

BR: And this time last year you were also sandwiched by tour dates with the Kaiser Chiefs – how does it feel to be now heading out on the road with REWS?

NOVACUB: Yeah, it feels really exciting! It always does! We love playing our music to anyone who wants to listen haha!

We’re really excited to be playing shows!! We love playing live, it’s such a cathartic experience! Really looking forward to meeting REWS and making new memories together!

BR: As individuals you have a wealth of talent and experience already under your belts, from working with Selena Gomez to Birmingham’s own Laura Mvula. But as band, NOVACUB are relatively newborn – how have the past 12months+ learning to walk been?

NOVACUB: It’s been really exciting for us – we’ve already been through so much together! We still feel that it’s early days for us and can’t wait for people to get to know us more! We love putting music out so we’re going to focus on that this year.

BR: ‘I Still Need It’ debuted in Jan 2019, with ‘Strike’ and ‘Wait Up’ coming out in April and July respectively. How were the singles received?

NOVACUB: Yeah they went down well! It’s nice when people start to discover the band – it’s a new feeling for us and really exciting honestly.

BR: Then, with a couple of extra cherries on the cake, your Future Echoes EP came out in October 2019 – how was it to see a larger slice of NOVACUB get served up?

NOVACUB: Really special – it’s our first body of work! We have so much more to come and are dying to serve you up some more madness!!

BR: Then ‘November’ came out in, well, November 2019 – releasing your first track not featured on the Future Echoes EP. You can probably guess what we’re building up to… is there an album on its way?

NOVACUB: Hehe well… We are working on something really exciting. We have over two albums worth of music honestly but we want to pace ourselves! I will say we are going to put more music out later this year..

BR: And where did the hat tip to early rave and piano house in ‘Strike’ come from – elements of production that followed into ‘November’? Not that we’re complaining… takes us back… but it’s a little shift from the clear guitar riffs of other tracks.

NOVACUB: Well firstly we all love different styles of music so it feeds into the band. Secondly, Russell our guitarist likes to play his guitar so it doesn’t sound like one (sometimes) and this is an example of him demonstrating his skills in that regard. When he first sent the song to me (Louise) I absolutely loved it and wanted to top what he’d written somehow haha!!

BR: We love a good game of guess the genre, and we’ve seen variations of the rock-pop-indie holy trinity next to your name. But set us all straight – how would you describe NOVACUB’s sound?

NOVACUB: Anything and everything, haha, but for real probably mainly indie pop/rock – we write whatever we want though which is why I love being in the band!

BR: We also love a good democracy, and you look very warm and cuddly on your promo shots. But NOVACUB is the brainchild of Bartle – is that reflected in the songwriting or studio?

NOVACUB: I’d say that in the studio I (Louise) am more controlling. The only other way I could be considered the ‘brainchild’ of NOVACUB is that I brought us together as I knew everyone separately first! I feel we are all pretty hands on in different ways though! You all have to be a team in a band so that everyone knows how important they are!

BR: And is it still all love and hugs with Bloc Party, or is there now some silent/healthy competition…?

NOVACUB: Well it depends how you look it at… I’ve never viewed music as a competition and I don’t see any other band or artist as competition so it’s all love from me!

BR: All that’s left is for us to wish you the very best with the REWS tour – especially (selfishly) the gig at the O2 Institute on Saturday 21st March.

NOVACUB: Thank you!!

‘I Still Need It’ – NOVACUB

NOVACUB come to the O2 Institute 3 on Saturday 21st March, supporting REWS and playing alongside Birmingham’s own tartan clad rock/pinksters [SKETCH]. For more gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page. 

**£1 from all tickets sold through Review Publishing will be donated to the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign – click here for a direct link to online ticket sales: www.reviewpublishing.net/product/rews-novacub-sketch-o2-institute-21-03-20

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For more on NOVACUB, visit www.wearenovacub.com

For more on REWS, visit www.rewsmusic.com
For more on [SKETCH], visit
www.sketchband.com

For more on the O2 Institute, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

BREVIEW: The Devil and Saint Joseph @ Hare & Hounds 25.01.20

The Devil and Saint Joseph @ Hare & Hounds 25.01.20 / Sam Frank Wood Photography

Words by Hassan Ul-Haq / Pics by Sam Frank Wood Photography

(Ed’s note: This review was taken from the This Is Tmrw 2020 Season Launch Party at the Hare & Hounds, with The Devil and Saint Joseph playing alongside Coffee Breath, MUTES, The Cosmics, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, and Table Scraps.

Tackling a somewhat mammoth sized line up, we opted to cherry pick a band we’ve not reviewed before… may the Gods of garage-punk-indie-rock forgive us.)

When coming across the Birmingham music scene, in particular the fuzz esc locality of various bands across the city, you begin to familiarise yourself with those artists. Whether it be through their artistic and stylistic choices, or for their various side-projects.

That being said, The Devil and Saint Joseph might be familiar to many – as two of its members, Joe Joseph and Emily Doyle, where once part of the Trash-Blues band The Hungry Ghosts.The Devil and Saint Joseph @ Hare & Hounds 25.01.20 / Sam Frank Wood Photography Now that the former is dead, from the ashes rises a new project. Alongside guitarist Billy Beale, the new trio create a live experience that is immersive and experimental as it is engaging and mesmerising.

Opening the stage for the This is Tmrw 2020 Launch night (which had an array of incredible bands performing) The Devil and Saint Joseph kicked off the evening in a way I’ve not seen any local band do for a long time. Performing alongside a projector, that plays a fictional film created by front man Joe Joseph, their music is filled with various influences of country and psychedelic blues that immerses the audience into the creation of this new project.

Seeing The Devil and Saint Joseph play live for the first time, you could be forgiven for thinking they are an American band with the Velvet Underground sensibilities and elements of The Psychedelic Furs. Front man, Joe Joseph, oozes an eerie mystique, one that is partially due to his love of Americana across both film and music.The Devil and Saint Joseph @ Hare & Hounds 25.01.20 / Sam Frank Wood Photography Singing songs like ‘Hollywood Babylon’, which showcase a different Joe Joseph from his previous incarnation, it is as if he has just been resurrected and born anew – reaching a new level of reinvention in the local scene.

We shouldn’t forget the contribution of the other members, who help to deliver a great performance. Emily Doyle – taking the stage as a drummer, keyboardist and programmer – layers the tracks with pounding percussion (especially on songs like ‘A Season of Crime’) and has some incredible vocal chops to add as well.

Whilst guitarist, Billy Boyle, delivers some incredible blues riffs that would make Muddy Waters blush. Boyle’s range on the fretboard often helps set the tone and are the highlight of the song ‘Motel Dreams’ – I a track straight out of the 60s psychedelic era. Again, you would be forgiven to think that the track was a Cream B-Side.

I like to think The Devil and Saint Joseph come from an alternative world, a world where their music is from an American TV serial based in a small city with a population of 51,201. I like to think they perform in a venue called The Roadhouse.

But for now, they are an Earth bound Birmingham band that everyone needs to check out – especially live, to experience the immersive nature of the music. Where they go next, we’ll have to wait and find out.

For more on The Devil and Saint Joseph, visit www.facebook.com/thedevilandsaintjoseph

**The Devil and Saint Joseph will be playing at The Sunflower Lounge on Saturday 8th February, supporting Japanese Television – with Mutes also supporting. Promoted by Killer Wave, for more gig info and links to online tickets click here**

For more from This Is Tmrw, including further event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.thisistmrw.co.uk

For more on the Hare & Hounds, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

BPREVIEW: REWS + Novacub, [SKETCH] @ O2 Institute 3 – 21.03.20

Words by Ed King / Pics courtesy of REWSMarshall Records

On Saturday 21st March, REWS come back to Birmingham – bringing The Phoenix Tour to the O2 Institute 3.

REWS will be joined by their travelling companions and Bloc Party splinter group Novacub, performing alongside local support band [SKETCH] – hot off the heels of a sell out show supporting The Pagans S.O.H. and Kioko. But more on these little beauties a little later…

Minimum age of entry to the REWS 21st March show is 14 years old, with the O2 Institute opening the top floor venue doors from 7pm. Tickets are priced at £10 (+ booking fee) – as promoted by Metropolis Music and Birmingham Review. For more gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page.

** Birmingham Review will donate £1 from all tickets sold through Review Publishing to the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign – challenging sexual violence in the music industry. From dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play. Click here for tickets: www.reviewpublishing.net/product/rews-novacub-sketch-o2-institute-21-03-20**

REWS, or ‘the mighty REWS’ as we have begun calling this band, were last in Birmingham supporting The Darkness – playing to a packed out arena at the O2 Academy just before Christmas. Before that, the mighty REWS (…told you) were supporting Halestorm, again at the O2 Academy, as the North American rock giants stomped their sell out tour across the UK in September 2018.

Now REWS are back in Birmingham for one of the final few dates on The Phoenix Tour, which founder and frontwoman Shauna Tohill explains is: “celebrating rebirth and change, which seems quite apt, given that we are all going through dark times at the moment. I’m hoping it will inspire people to keep positive, be confident and change for the better. Expect new tunes, a new band and a safe space to immerse yourself. See you at the front!”

Led by N. Irish musician and songwriter Shauna Tohill, REWS somewhat exploded onto the UK’s live circuit a few years ago – releasing their first album, Pyro, in November 2017. Chocked with ‘wall to wall bangers’ (which is you’ve ever been to a REWS gig is a pretty appropriate metaphor) this ambitious debut featured previously released singles such as ‘Miss You in the Dark‘, ‘Shine’, ‘Your Tears’, and Birmingham Review favourite ‘Can You Feel It?

A monster of an album, with an infectious onslaught of high energy alt-rock/pop, the onlything better than listening to a copy of Pyro is when REWS play it live. But don’t take our word for it, as this 10 track line in the sand won REWS a bevy of Radio 1 airtime and a spot on the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury 2018 – with plaudits across the BBC and Pilton festival alike, including Mark Radcliffe’s clarion call: “Stupendous – if you get a chance, go and see them. Go.” A sentiment we whole heartedly agree with.

REWS were also the inaugural UK signing to Marshall Records, when the ionic rock music brand formed it’s own record label in 2017 – opening up territories across the globe and seeing this ferocious high rising balloon travel even further.

And it’s been strength to strength for REWS ever since (albeit with some lineup changes at the tail end of 2018, turning the two piece into a three piece) as the act once nominated for Planet Rock’s ‘Best New Band 2017’ are now back on the road and releasing some of their best new music to date. Which considering their back catalogue is a hard bubble to burst, with only the inevitable ‘…album two’ question left hanging in the air.

But again, don’t take our word for it – to check out REWS’ latest single, ‘Birdsong’, click on the airtwork above or the video below. And if after listening to it you think all the hype is hyperbole, then you’re either a cynic by default or clinically dead on the inside. And that’s as objective as I can get.

Then again, you might just want a little more proof. Perhaps in a live setting, for example. Which is fair enough… I suppose. Did we mention REWS come to the O2 Institute 3 on Saturday 21st March?

‘Birdsong’ – REWS

REWS perform at the O2 Institute 3 on Saturday 21st March, with support from Novacub and [SKETCH] – as promoted by Metropolis Music and Birmingham Review, with support from the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign. For more gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page.

**Birmingham Review will donate £1 from all tickets sold through Review Publishing to the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign – click here for tickets: www.reviewpublishing.net/rews-novacub-sketch-o2-institute-21-03-20/**

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For more on REWS, visit www.rewsmusic.com

For more on Novacub, visit www.wearenovacub.com
For more on [SKETCH], visit www.sketchband.com

For more on the O2 Institute, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

BPREVIEW: Action 4 M.E. Fundraiser @ Actress & Bishop 27.01.20

Words by Ed King

Genevieve Miles will perform as part of a special line up at the Action 4 M.E. Fundraiser gig – to be held at the Actress & Bishop on Monday 27th January. Also appearing will be Rhianna Keane, Echo Gecco, PJJ and Mr. K.

Entry to the gig is free, but with a suggested donation of £3 – or whatever you have left after the weekend (fiscally speaking). All proceeds go to the Action for M.E. national charity, which campaigns across the UK ‘to end the ignorance, injustice and neglect faced by people with M.E.’

Doors open for the Action 4 M.E. Fundraiser gig from 7pm, held upstairs at the Actress & Bishop. For more direct gig information, click here to visit the Action 4 M.E. Fundraiser Facebook event page.

In a healthy hodge podge of approach and style, this Action 4 M.E. Fundraiser gig brings an evening of live music and spoken word, embacing genres from neo-soul to indie pop. You might even find a little space disco in there… trust us, you’ll know it when you hear it.

But organised by Genevieve Miles, who’s sophomore Libra Rising EP was released in May 2019, the evening is being organised ‘to raise money and awareness’ to hep sufferers of M.E. – challenging the stigma of the debilitating disorder and helping to support the patient founded Action for M.E. charity.

Miles has suffered with M.E. since she was 14 years old, with the disorder altering the path of the formative years most of us take for granted. But through her music she was able to find both a platform of expression and the personal drive to challenge her M.E. head on, committing to performances even though ‘sometimes it was so refreshing and enjoyable, other times it was painful and really just horrible.’

In an article written for the Action for M.E. website, Miles explains: ‘I definitely feel like I missed out on a proper teenage experience. I remember in school thinking I would never get a relieved ‘Friday feeling’ again because Friday just meant a weekend of being wiped out stuck in the house before somehow dragging myself out for lessons again on the Monday.’

An often misunderstood disorder, M.E. can be hard to diagnose and as of yet has no cure – only the treatment of symptoms. But the Action 4 M.E. Fundraiser gig is hoping to help change and challenge this, as Miles continues: ‘I’ve recruited some of my favourite Birmingham artists for a gig to raise money and awareness for M.E. It feels so good to be organising this gig, it gave me a confidence to be more open about my experience of M.E. with my friends. I’ve always found it really hard to explain because there are so many different symptoms; I rarely explained to my friends how I felt, so this new confidence is freeing.’

But keen to keep music also at the core of this event, Genevieve Miles has programmed an eclectic line up from the local live music scene. Rhianna Keane will be bringing her neo-soul and R’nB vibes to the evening, whilst Echo Gecco will be wrapping their finely stitched blanket of prog, rock and jazz tinged genres around the crowd.

PJJ will be spicing things up/sleazing things down with a little bit of the aforementioned space disco, as Mr. K delivers a set of ‘genre-bending spoken word music that engages and impacts.’ And last but not least is Genevieve Miles, who will be performing her plucky-in-the-face-of-adversity indie pop.

But if our oh-so-clever descriptions aren’t grabbing you, never fear… there’s a handy Spotify playlist to help promote the show. Stop, look, and listen below:

Genevieve Miles will perform as part of the Action 4 M.E. Fundraiser at the Actress & Bishop on Monday 27th January – alongside Rhianna Keane, Echo Gecco, PJJ, and Mr K. For direct gig info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page. 

For more on Genevieve Miles, visit www.genevievemiles.com

For more from Action for M.E., visit www.actionforme.org.uk

For more on the Actress & Bishop, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.theactressandbishop.co.uk

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual aggression in the music industry and beyond – from dance floor to dressing room, everyone deserves a safe place to play.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

SINGLE: Living it Up – The NU 30.09.19

Words by Charlie Culverhouse / Pics courtesy of The NU

‘Living it Up’ follows The NU’s debut EP Keep It A Secret and cements him in his mix of electronic and pop-rock genre. The new single sounds more evolved compared to his first EP which makes complete sense for a newer artist such as The NU – to have your sound this polished less than a year into your career is pretty impressive.

Finding another artist who sounds anything like The NU is pretty impossible – I couldn’t think of anyone. It’s refreshing to hear someone trying to create something new rather than playing into a genre they know is popular; The NU sounds passionate and hungry to create.

The ending feels very ethereal, the soft rain sound underneath the melody relaxes the mind and contrasts the main chunk of the song while still complimenting it. The transition into the ending is seamless and comes off audibly pleasing – in simple terms it’s extremely satisfying to listen to.

I also have to mention the production quality of the single. Comparing the previous EP release to this new single, the sound quality has improved immensely. From the sound of the guitar tones to the overall production value of the single, everything sounds more like The NU – like he has found his sound.

‘Living it Up’ – The NU

The NU release ‘Living it Up’ on Monday 30th September, available through all the usual online outlets. For more on The NU, visit www.facebook.com/wearetheNU 

The NU will also be performing at NUSTOCK, alongside Jumanji, Echo Gecco, and Pomelo Fellows – at Mama Roux’s on Wednesday 2nd October. For more direct gig info and links to online ticket, click here. 

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.