After apologising for near-perfect English and poor hearing (due to the toils of live music), vocalist Matt Gelsomino is as enthusiastic round the back of the venue tonight as he is onstage later. Read on for the Novelists mainman talking about Noir, their situation as a modern French metal band and even the streetwear trend in band merch.
How have the past few shows been with Cursed Earth and Make Them Suffer?
They’ve been really cool and there’s a lot of people who’ve been pretty receptive to what we’re doing. There’s been a lot of good moments so we’re happy with how it’s been so far.
Have you learnt anything from the other bands while you’ve been out touring together?
They’re adorable and they all have their personalities so it’s really fun being with them everyday.
It’s quite an unusual touring package with bands coming from all over the place and playing within all these different subgenres…
Yeah, exactly. Cursed Earth are super heavy, we’re the smooth band on the tour and Make Them Suffer are Make Them Suffer. It’s bouncy but it’s heavy you know. I really love them and their new album is really, really amazing.
What do you think ties all these bands together to make these shows possible?
That’s a really good question. I suppose we released our new album in September, Make Them Suffer released theirs recently as did Cursed Earth too so I think it works in that sense as a good package. I’m just a singer though, I’m not managing anything so I’m just guessing!
Coming to the UK and playing these small shows is very financially restricting, what is the incentive to keep coming back and what keeps you together on the road?
Well in any musical formation you have to make these small sacrifices such as being the driver for example. We’re not paying much attention to that stuff because we just want to play good shows and right now we’re doing fine. I hope it’ll be the same for the rest of the tour because it’s not that much of a problem.
Does the stress of travelling and touring ever the get the better of you?
It depends. On this tour we have a driver and a campervan so it’s cool because we can go to sleep whenever we want and we don’t have to do the drive ourselves especially as only the drummer and the bassist can drive. So this tour is fine but when we have to drive ourselves it’s literally killing us because you have a shitload of road to cover.
And then you’ve got to get up onstage after that.
Yeah, exactly, but right now it’s fine and we have no problems.
Noir‘s been out for a few months now. How do you feel about it and how do you feel the fans have reacted to it?
We were super scared about it because it’s really different from the first one. We’re really happy with how it’s come out, but the fans were a little bit surprised. We really wanted the album divided into four chapters so we could really push each chapter in a special direction. Right now everyone seems to be really happy with it and it’s going down well live too.
Awesome. Bit of a weird question now…
I thought I’d ask because you’ve put out your new line of merch. Something I’ve noticed with a lot of modern metal bands is that there’s a definite style to their image that’s becoming increasingly streetwear-esque…
Well some of our new merch is kind of streetwear, especially the Noir jumper. We like the simple things in the band though. Everyone can wear it, whether you’re a metalhead or you’re someone who’s listening to a shitload of different stuff, you can wear it and that’s what we wanted with the merch. We wanted it to reflect what we were doing but keep it simple. That’s probably why it looks a little like streetwear. Or it might just be because of me!
So do you think there’s any intrinsic link between the music and the fashion? It feels as though a lot of people are doing it…
I don’t know. Since merch is the main thing that provides bands with money to keep them on the road touring, we have to think a lot about it because these days the tendencies are changing super quickly. If you have a piece of merch that works really well for two months but dies with the trend and is thrown in the trash, that’s no use. We want something that will last no matter what the trend is and that’s why this sort of thing is cool to do in my opinion.
And lastly, as a band trying to break out of France, that must be really difficult with only a few bands really emerging from the scene…
The scene has been really weird up until the last two years because bands like Betraying The Matyrs opened a lot of doors for the French bands and people are starting to get involved in the French scene. I think we were in the right place at the right time and we jumped on that wave. That’s not really how we wanted to do it but that’s how it happened I think. It’s going well and it keeps getting better but it’s not always easy when you’re starting and it costs a lot of money and time with visas and stuff. For places like the USA, it can get really complicated.
So there’s obvious disadvantages but are there any advantages?
Yeah of course! As a band we don’t mind if we lose money on a tour because we can have fun and gain exposure and that’s really important nowadays. If we gain exposure and we know people will come back to the shows because they like what they’ve seen, we’re happy. It’s definitely a step you have to go through for a while because you don’t earn that much as a touring band that’s just started out, but just because you have to do it doesn’t mean you have to be scared of it. You just have to get stuck in with what you want to do and that’s it.
So you’re having a good time?
Yeah we’re always having a good time!
Noir is out now