Alex Novak from The Venus Fly Trap
Earlier this week I caught up with Alex Novak from The Venus Fly Trap, who have a storied past spanning decades. Novak went deep into Venus Fly Trap’s past, their influences, style and balancing his day job with his rock and roll history.
Please tell the readers a bit about yourself and VENUS FLY TRAP.
Alex Novak: Hi I’m from Northampton, UK. I studied graphic design at art school which is where I got involved with music via my first band the ISAWS. Since then I’ve been involved with many bands including RELIGIOUS OVERDOSE, TEMPEST and ATTRITION.
Venus Fly Trap came together after I had left Attrition, who were based in London at the time. I had done an album and toured UK/Holland with them which was my first trip abroad with a band. I decided to move back to my native Northampton, famous for Bauhaus, Alan Moore and the film Kinky Boots. There I Hooked up with my brother John Novak (ISaws, Wheres Lisse) and Tony Booker, an ex-art school friend. The line up has changed many times over the years. Andy Denton joined via local band Crowman, initially as the drummer, and ended up playing guitar and has done for many years.
This has all been documented on the release Venus Fly Trap/Alex Novak “Mercurial” CD/DL. Which includes a retrospective look at the Best of VFT and other bands I have been involved with including Isaws, Religious Overdose, Attrition, Tempest, Nova State Conspiracy, The Den and Spore.
Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind your band?
Alex Novak: It’s hard to pick a name that has not been used before. I liked the idea of a plant that eats insects, the connections with the planets, mythology, sci fi, so there were plenty of images and ideas to inspire lyrics and artwork.
Originally when i started the band, the idea was to get back to basics of garage, rock n roll mixed with thumping drum machine beat with dark vox and gothy atmospherics. Somewhere between sisters of mercy and the stooges.
Where did song writing start for you and what is your origin story?
Alex Novak: I’ve always collaborated with others when writing music. Myself and Andy Denton (Guitars) 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 they were 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.
VENUS FLY TRAP is clearly influenced by a range of different bands, but where do those genres sit for you? What are your go to’s?
Alex Novak: A good description would be “blade runner rock n roll with acidic shades.” We create dark sonic cinema for the mind, film noir, sci fi soundscapes that absorb post punk, electronic and meld Joy Division, The Doors, and Chemical Brothers like melted wax crayon colours.
What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to writing new music? How do you overcome them?
Alex Novak: Finding the time especially if you are playing a lot,it takes a long period of time to sit down and write material then to go and record tracks then the never ending mixing ,very time consuming.There has to be some kind of dead line to work towards otherwise it can drift on forever without nailing anything down.
How did you go about finding the right musicians to work with?
Alex Novak: We have always been involved in a scene so you get to know a lot of other musicians. Bands are always splitting or people leave for whatever reason so there is constant pool of musicians looking to get involved in another project.
Many of us creators work on projects outside of our 9-5 jobs. Do you have any advice for balancing careers with passion projects,side hustles?
I run a record shop called Spiral Archive Records as my main job alongside DJing and promoting gigs to fund things. So I’m pretty immersed with music most of the time. I guess the trick is to find something that complements what you do creatively, but also have fall backs that pay the bills. Ideally, more than one option.
Do you have any upcoming events, projects, or releases you would like to discuss?
We Just released the single Achilles Heel which appears on the album Time Lapse (available through Glass Records Modern), a selection of tracks collected from the albums Totem, Pandora’s Box and Luna Tide, placed together as a possible alternative album in this alternate reality.
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