ARTICLE BY: NICK GUMAS
PHOTOS BY: TATIANA MICHAELIS
If I asked you to close your eyes and think of the first time you truly realized what music meant to you, what would it be? Mine came when I was 15 years old, one day in in rehearsal for my High School’s production of Grease. It was the first time I had to learn to play any cords on the guitar, the first time I ever got a real opportunity to sing in front of a crowd, and quite possibly the happiest I have ever been in my life. If I asked you to tell me when you first fell in love with music, what would that story sound like? Go ahead, take a minute. I’ll wait.
Music is a compelling and powerful thing. Quite possibly, other than needing air to breathe, a love of music is the only thing virtually every person on this planet shares. For some people music is therapy, for some people music is art, for some a business, a lifestyle, a religion, a hobby, and for others it is everything in between. We all have our own memories surrounding music, and with that our own definition of what it means to us. I am sure I speak for virtually everyone with this same love for music when I say these relationships with sound started at a very young age, inspired some of the most outlandish and important decisions of our lives, and quite possibly, have been one of the only constants throughout our lives.
Once in a while, we get a reminder of why we first fell in love with music. There is an unavoidable sense of nostalgia that kicks in when you see something that reminds you of that moment when you first fell in love with music, and when you start to get that feeling, there is no going back. It isn’t often we find music can invoke so many emotions all at once, but when we do, it hits all at once. Bands that can can make you feel this attachment come along rarely, and with powerful lyrics, multi instrumentalist members, and all the time in the world to grow and develop even further, Novicain Road has all the makings of a band with the potential to have a legitimate career in music.
The maturity these girls have developed at such a young age is unprecedented. Both on and off the stage, their love and commitment to their music and their appreciation for the artists that inspired them is impossible to miss. As for their music, it is every bit as good as you want it to be and a little more.
February 19th at the DNA Lounge I had the chance to sit down and talk with the members of Novicain Road, before their set at a local showcase, only by chance after hearing about them through a friend who had just met them a few minutes prior and told me they seemed like, as he put it, “a chill group of people.”
How Novocain Road earn it’s name?
The band settled on the name Novicain Road originally to pay tribute to two of their biggest influences. “Novicain” According to lead guitarist Ursella, was an early name and spelling of the band we all now know as Nirvana, while the second half of their name “Road” was inspired by Green Day’s song “Christie Road” from their second album, “Kerplunk!”
Where, when, and how did Novicain Road come together?
I learned that Novicain Road formed a year and a half ago when the founding members met while attending Cal High School in San Ramon.
Having up to this point assumed the girls were in their early 20’s, I was confused as to how they could have met in High School this recently, and asked them how old they actually were. Nonchalantly, they told me that they were all 16. I then had to take a step back and collect my thoughts. To be that young, and have such a deep-seated appreciation for music, and then to have the commitment to play shows all around the Bay Area is already enough to deter most people from starting a band. But on top of that, to deal with the logistics of putting this much work into music while going to High School and taking classes, not to mention convincing their parents to support them in their decision to go out on a school night to follow this passion, is a lot to ask from anyone. It was at this point that Novicain Road had my full attention.
Who are your musical influences?
“All of them” Jayden eventually said to break the silence after the band spent a few seconds exchanging looks with one another that seemed to say “Where do we even start with this one?”
In the few minutes since I had met them up to this point, these girls had casually slipped numerous bands and artists into their casual conversation, some of which, admittedly, I had never heard of before. At parts of this interview was almost struggling to keep up with some of the names they were throwing out, and with the ways they were able to tie every obscure detail about those musicians and their lives into what inspires them.
What song are you most proud of?
Head Rush: “It is a very politically charged and inspired song” said Gabby. The girls then explained to me that a lot of their music was politically charged, but more on that later.
In one sentence to describe Novicain Road?
“Hard Rock Riot Grrrl”
This could not be more accurate. Novicain Road is not just an example of the Riot Grrrl movement, they epitomize it. Their lyrics are weighted, meaningful, and blunt. In their song Stealing My Own Innocence, (Linked at the bottom of this article) which deals which the incredibly sophisticated subject of dehumanization across genders, no two lyrics are placed next to each other without careful consideration, showing maturity in their lyrics reading: “Saying I am so naïve, and I learn this every day. I dodge the fact that they all leave, they rarely ever stay. They use and run and leave me wondering where did my body go?… Boy, fuck your double standards!”
What are your lives like outside of music?
“All Music, just music” Jayden passionately interjected. “It’s either this or nothing for me… (I Know) A lot of people say that, but I don’t see myself doing anything else… It just feels right.” The rest of the band members quickly agreed that this band consumed almost all of their free time, and that virtually everything outside of family and school tied into their music in some way.
What is a question nobody ever asks you?
“Nobody ever asks ‘What does your music mean?’ They always just say ‘that was cool.’” Jayden explained. The girls briefly discussed their views on the role politics should play in music and more so into the role others thought their views should not play in their music. “People turn our music off when they hear us talk about politics.”
When the time came to finally hear Novicain Road perform, I was a little nervous. These girls were committed to music, clearly, but would that commitment translate into a good performance? Immediately after the first song started, I knew this was not something I was going to have to worry about anymore. From the time they started to when everyone left the venue, Novicain Road was all that anyone was talking about. At first everyone was just impressed by the music, but then that sense of nostalgia kicked in. There wasn’t a single musician I talked to that night who didn’t say something along the lines of “If I was that good when I was 16…” In one way or another, Novicain Road made everyone in that audience remember why they first fell in love with music.
You can’t watch Novicain Road and not want to see what they would be able to do on a bigger stage. You want to see them have the opportunity to take their show to the next level because you know they actually can. I know I am not alone in eagerly waiting on what Novicain Road will produce next, and knowing that if this band somehow does not reach every goal they work to reach, it will not be because they did not have the talent to do so.
Stealing My Own Innocence
New Bassy Song
Breed (Nirvana Cover)
Special thanks to photographer Tatiana Michaelis, who’s online portfolio can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tatiannamichaelis