Boston-based band The Novel Ideas talks with C&I about their recently released self-titled album and their collaborative outlook on music-making.
With impressive four-part harmonies, rich Americana sounds, and touching song lyrics, the rising folk group The Novel Ideas take listeners through a musical journey with their recently released self-titled album.
The Boston-based country folk band — consisting of Sarah Grella, guitar player Daniel Radin, pedal steel and guitar player Danny Hoshino, and bass player James Parkington — build upon their first album, Home, and join their unique voices into a seamless-sounding melody to create an authentic sound that mirrors their live performances.
Recently, C&I talked with Radin about the band’s new album, their collaborative style, and their upcoming tour.
Cowboys & Indians: What do you hope your fans will get from your new self-titled album?
Daniel Radin: We worked hard on this album to try and create an experience similar to what you might hear when seeing us live. It was important to us that the album feel like a natural extension of our live performances, since the arrangements for these songs were developed, in large part, at our concerts.
C&I: How do you think this new album stands out from your first album, Home?
Radin: Home was almost entirely the result of Danny and myself spending a lot of time in a barn, working out songs on the fly. None of the songs on Home were performed live before we recorded them, and the arrangements were all written as we recorded them. The new album is much more of a group effort, including the songwriting, but especially the arrangements. When we recorded Home, there was no band. The Novel Ideas [were] formed around that album and evolved into the band you hear live today.
C&I: Where did you gain inspiration for this album?
Radin: We take a lot of inspiration from artists we grew up listening to and still listen to: James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris ... the list goes on. Some of our favorite albums came out before we were born.
C&I: How do you all go about songwriting? Is it more of a collaboration between everyone, or do you come together with individual ideas? Do you start with the melody or the lyrics first?
Radin: Mostly it depends on the song. Some of our songs were developed all together at the beginning of practice. Sometimes, one of us will come to the table with a more complete vision in mind. More often than not, either Danny, Sarah, or myself will come to the band with the lyrics and melody finished, and we’ll all work out the arrangement and harmony together.
C&I: How did you develop your sound?
Radin: Part of our ethos is equal representation within the band, which shows itself in the music, such that our songs are an amalgamation of our music tastes combined. Often, that can make it difficult when people ask us to describe ourselves, but we’re always able to make sure everyone is on the same page with a song before we decide to record it in that form. Sometimes, our songs will go through several iterations before landing on something we’re all happy with. “I’m Not Waiting” from the new album is one like that.
C&I: You all got to work with Rick Parker, who produces such acts as Lord Huron, and Ryan Freeland, who has mixed with Ray LaMontagne and Bonnie Raitt. What was it like to get to work with them? How did their musical input influence the new album?
Radin: We worked with both Rick and Ryan separately, which was ideal because they each brought their own extensive knowledge of songwriting and arranging to the songs independently. There were still certain songs we were working on when we went to Rick, and he helped us get outside our own heads and finalize arrangements. With Ryan, we brought the album to him when it was already recorded, so it was interesting to hear what stuck out to him as important to be highlighted in songs. He was able to hear the songs in a fresh way, whereas we had listened to them a thousand times and had lost a lot of perspective.
C&I: Do you have a favorite song or a song you are most proud of on the album?
Radin: I’m really proud of the way “I Was Not Around” came out. That’s one of the first songs we worked on together as a four piece, and we struggled with the arrangement for a while before landing on something that we felt represented the mood of the song. I was also worried initially about what song would close the album, but once we laid down the piano and pedal steel, I felt certain it would be a nice way to close out the album.
C&I: Are there any tracks that didn’t make the album that we can expect sometime soon?
Radin: Good question! Not as of now, but we are writing for the next record.
C&I: What can we expect in terms of touring? Any places you’re excited to play?
Radin: We’re currently on tour on the Eastern Seaboard; heading out west to Colorado, California, and the Pacific Northwest in October and November. We love playing the West Coast and can’t wait to go back. Mostly, we’re excited to tour in places we haven’t played before.
C&I: Lastly, what’s next?
Radin: Tour, tour, tour! We’re excited to finally have a finished record that we feel represents who the band really is. That’s why we chose to make it a self-titled album.
For more information on The Novel Ideas and their upcoming tour dates, visit their website.