Novarium is a gothic-metal group comprised of lead vocalist Jen Janet, bassist Carey White, keyboardist Micah Consylman, drummer D. Anthony, and guitarists Sean Gronholt and Dean Michaels. Novarium just released “Virus,” their first single in couple years, and we’re sure fans are excited that they are back! We got to catch up with the group about their new song, how they’ve changed, and what’s in store!
CROWDSURFER MAG: Your latest single “Virus” just came out! It’s been a while since you’ve put out new music, how does it feel to release this one?
JEN: This is my first original song done with Novarium, so for me it’s really fun and I’m excited to show the song to the world.
D. ANTHONY: It feels great, and satisfying, to finally release this song. People’s attention spans tend to be short and we wanted listeners to know that we haven’t gone anywhere. I think Virus is the best song to re-introduce Novarium to all listeners as it has elements in there for everyone to gravitate to.
DEAN: It’s been a long time coming. We went through some lineup changes and released a single in 2018, but aside from that we’ve been low-key and working on new music. We didn’t want to come up for air until we had something solid, and I think we’ve accomplished that.
SEAN: I’ve been close to this song for a long time, so I’m really happy it’s seeing the light of day.
CSM: What was the inspiration for “Virus?”
JEN: I’ve always been very interested in history and theology. I think some of the most powerful questions we ask ourselves, is who are we? Is there a god? Is there life after death, or a higher power, or just some bigger meaning to everything? This song uses ancient Egyptian history and religious imagery to move the story along. That period in history was always very interesting to me because the kings and pharaohs were revered as living gods. A lot of people don’t like the idea of a human being a god, but I think it’s fun to think about. If you love someone, for example, you may treat them in a way, like a god. We treat celebrities like gods, sometimes. It’s an interesting concept. This song is about loving someone very much, to the point where they are put on a pedestal, treated like a god. Sometimes this can go to your head, and that person changes, even though they didn’t want to. Ultimately if one wants to change, they need to do it themselves. You can’t save someone who doesn’t want your help.
CSM: This single has a title that is very timely. How do you feel about releasing it during the pandemic?
JEN: We actually already had the title “Virus” for this song before anyone had even heard of COVID-19. We started writing this a long time ago. We decided now was a good time to release it because the video was finished, but the timing was actually a coincidence.
D. ANTHONY: Luckily, or unluckily, we had that title before the pandemic hit. We actually wanted to postpone any ideas of releasing the video, and single, until things calmed down. We wanted to treat the events with respect and not attract unwanted attention due to the title and the chaos that was to follow the pandemic.
DEAN: We were sensitive to the timing and had even talked about whether this was the right time to release a song called “Virus”, but ultimately we knew that our song had no relation to what was going on. We filmed the video back in September 2019, so if we’d released it when we wanted to it would actually pre-date COVID. I remember when the nation experienced anthrax scares and the band Anthrax came out and said, “We’re not changing our name”. The same goes for our song, “Virus”. Our song is about human nature, and even during a pandemic, human nature is tested.
SEAN: Kinda like a jerk at first. On the one hand I was concerned that it would be crass or come off as cavalier for us to just drop a song with that title on to a world that’s been hurting under the strain of a virus for months now. But I’ve never been a fan of self-censorship, and as a smarter man once wrote, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” Now my only concern is that the title will be seen as unoriginal and cliched.
MICAH: Times are pretty rough right now. One small silver lining is that if you are home all the time, you can really let your inner goth kid out. I certainly have.
CSM: Tell us about shooting the music video! What was it like being on set and getting to tell the story visually? And what’s your favorite part of the video?
JEN: Being on set was great – we worked with a property in Pennsylvania who allowed us to use their space. It was a very large warehouse with a few different rooms. I made a storyboard for the video previously and we all put some creative ideas into it, so we knew how the story would go. Basically for the music video’s story, the band plays characters that have died in different ways, and passed on. My character is sort of a “goddess of the underworld” type of person. She appears to each person, one by one, waking them up in the afterlife. They are injected with a substance, and then transform into Novarium. We wanted this to be the story for the video to show that Novarium is back, and we figured it would be fun to have the members in normal, plain clothes first, and then transform into costumes later. On stage for live shows everyone looks very gothic and we keep that aesthetic, so it was fun to have both sides in the video. My favorite part of the video to film was actually the end when we are all performing, just because I haven’t been on stage in a long time.
D. ANTHONY: Shooting the music video was a fun event but it took a lot of work. I for one felt weird during the acting parts as I am far from being, and don’t aspire to be, an actor. The live part during the 2nd half of the video was the most fun for me. I just enjoy playing with fellow musicians and having a good time. You have to play the song over and over for different camera angles so you better like the song!
DEAN: The hard part was telling our entire story the best we could using what we had available for the time allotted. We had it story-boarded out, we had minimal equipment and wardrobe, and we had never been to the set before. We weren’t sure if what we had planned was going to work because we couldn’t scout it out ahead of time. Luckily the people we worked with were very accommodating and understood what we were trying to do. They were filmmakers themselves and were on scene from time to time to watch the process. I did a few takes for my hanging scene, and on the second take I realized that I had an audience watching me. I’m not much of an actor and it was a bit awkward, but you suffer for your art! I think we were there for 12 or 14 hours and my favorite part only lasted a few seconds on screen: the part where we all open the bay door, having been awakened, and enter where we are “made” for the first time.
SEAN: Personally I’m proud of the noose I tied for Dean. I’d never made one before, but when your friend asks for a noose for himself, what are you going to do, say no?
CSM: Your album Omicron came out in 2016. How would you say your sound has changed since then? How would you say you as a group have changed?
D. ANTHONY: The songs on Omicron started forming as far back as 2008. As you can imagine, we’ve progressed as songwriters since then. The new songs have more collaboration from all band members. Omicron is a great debut album and allowed us to share stages with great musicians and travel, but I feel like we’ve matured as musicians. When you first become a band you are starting to get to know each other and sometimes it takes a few songs, or an album, to figure out the formula.
MICAH: I’ve been collaborating with Novarium from the start. They have always been a talented band. They seem to be progressing toward tighter, heavier, more melodic writing and performances, with really sexy keytar players. The group has changed a lot since getting a sexy keytar player.
DEAN: Omicron was a collection of songs by a band that was still finding itself. We knew we wanted to blend a few different elements together, but we hadn’t worked out the ratios yet. There are a lot of songs on that album that were written and re-written to fit into a mold that was constantly evolving. We were too heavy for the goth crowd, and too goth for the heavy crowd. We also had a different line-up. Any time you change members, you alter the DNA. Once we got our bearings and fell into a rhythm, we realized that instead of writing specifically for an audience, we would get better results if we just wrote for ourselves. We’re also experimenting more with vocals than we have in the past, blending what we call “beauty and the beast” style stuff between Jen and the rest of us. Sometimes the vocal melodies inform the music, so the tracks are a lot more cohesive than before. You could say the band is more mature these days, but I’d like to think that we just stopped worrying so much about how we were perceived and just focused on writing the best songs we could.
SEAN: As a group, we’re more professional now. We have spreadsheets, deadlines, scheduled teleconferences. Only thing missing now is an HR department and performance reviews, which is fortunate for me. But really, we’re a well-oiled machine these days, and we’re far more effective than we were in years past.
CSM: How has the pandemic changed your writing/production/creation process?
JEN: For us it actually has not changed at all. We were already a remote band with members all across the US, so we were already writing remotely and sharing files back and forth.
D. ANTHONY: Our songwriting process is actually still the same. Due to how hard it is to juggle having a career and establishing your band, technology starts becoming your best friend. Even more so when not all band members live in the same state.
SEAN: Yes. Now I actually have to practice my instrument instead of my usual formula of just giving excuses. Like, “I have to go to work.” It’s a tough time to be a procrastinator.
DEAN: Yeah, not a whole lot changed with the process during the pandemic. If anything, it gave me a chance to finally sit down and concentrate on finishing a few things! A lot of the pandemic has been us preparing to release “Virus”, retool our social media and web sites, and create content, so we’ve been pretty busy.
CSM: “Virus” will be on your upcoming EP. What can we expect when it comes out? Can you tell us anything about it?
D. ANTHONY: You can expect the same elements that form the core of what Novarium has always been, with new and improved sounds.
DEAN: “Virus” set the tone for our new chapter. The EP is chock full of gothy goodness, songs about human nature, various tempos, and includes our previous single, “Christian Woman” for all the Type O (Negative) fans.
CSM: I know the year is very much up in the air, but what’s next for Novarium?
D. ANTHONY: What’s next is releasing the first EP with our current lineup, finishing the 2nd EP, new merch, and some tours to come.
MICAH: Bass, heavy screaming, and blazing keytar/guitar leads.
DEAN: We’re finishing up the release of other singles associated with our first EP, starting work on a second, and gearing up to head to the West Coast for one of, we hope, a few performances out that way. We also hope to shoot a new music video – the first to feature our new keytarist, Micah.
CSM: Anything else you want everyone to know?
JEN: We would love to stay in touch with anyone who enjoys our music!