Face to face with GretaNova

 

Full Band

There’s something of majestic space rock in the music GretaNova make. They might as well become the next Muse and, no kidding, their potential and talent are huge, mark my words. Rock Britain chats to the band about their formation, ‘Volumes Of Revolution’ and music that matters.

– GretaNova were formed all the way back in 2006. How did you decide to get into music and start the band in the first place? – 

– Our drummer James is the only one left from the original line-up in 2006. The band was formed by 4 people who worked together in Leeds. The singer was an old college friend of James’ and asked him to help out on drums until they found someone permanent. James was based in Sheffield and didn’t want to commit, eventually they ended up at a practice room in Barnsley and James stayed on. The band was never supposed to be anything serious; it was just 3 guys and a girl playing music for fun with mostly punk and metal influences. Eventually a few members left the band to live elsewhere and Ben joined GretaNova. The band started to take things more seriously as Ben was the first proper musician we’d had! He brought a massive change in style to us and gave us a more professional, creative sound and pushed us to our limits as musicians.

– There have been some line-up and sound changes in the band. What kind of evolution have you gone through and what prompted those changes?

– The original line-up had more of a punk/grunge sound. Then when 3 of the original line-up left and our singer Ben and guitarist Mark V joined our sound changed, firstly towards a heavier sound but then gradually we started using dynamics and textures instead of relying on high gain and volume.  We’ve had the same line-up for the last couple of years since Mark B came in on bass and our sound has probably dialled back a little bit. The fact that we’ve had a solid line-up for a while now has meant our music has become a little more complex and progressive as we’ve had time to try a lot of different ideas.

– How does your present sound reflect your outlook on making music and you as musicians at the present moment in your career? 

– Within our latest EP ‘Volumes of Revolution’ we have produced a more diverse set of songs, ranging of reggae bass lines to thumping drums and driving guitars. At the same time we’re incorporating more dynamics and articulation into the music, searching for those quieter moments and then being hit hard with a wall of sound!  

These progressions reflect where we are heading naturally with our sound, each new song we are working on now we find ourselves looking for that something a little different and more expressive. 

– Your third EP ‘Volumes of Revolution’ is out. How was this EP born and what were the main inspirations for it? – 

– Volumes of Revolution was born, like many, in the bedroom! Solitary negative thoughts were passed from paper to logic. The main creative input came through Ben and once demos of each track had been created, we would have a play through in practice. From here any moments of inspiration like a tweak from Mark B on the bass, or a more personalised beat from James were added. Mark V never fails to bring some amazing riff ideas and guitar harmonies. 

The inspiration for the EP came purely from the love of music and naturally wanting to write but also putting negative thoughts and emotions down and turning them into positive, rewarding songs. Just playing live and putting on a good show is enough inspiration to want to sit down and write some new songs! 

– You self-recorded ‘Volumes Of Revolution’. What advice would you give to up-and-coming musicians who also self-record their music? What are the biggest dos of self-recording? 

– Our first bit of advice would be that if you are plan on having your drums recorded in a studio, be sure to have all the songs properly prepared and arranged and be realistic about how many songs you want to achieve in the time frame available. The last thing you want to be doing is messing around doing retakes and making changes to the songs. It will end up being very expensive! In, Out! 

The next stage of recording is great because by doing it ourselves we are able to spend as much time as we need to get the sounds we desire. It’s nice to be able to relax and do as many takes as you want without being worried about over running your time in the studio and having to pay for an extra hour. From past experiences we know being stressed or pressurised will negatively affect your playing. Therefore a definite ‘do’ is take your time and give everything a try. Sometimes the best things seem to come when improvised! 

When you finally get to the mixing stage, it is key to always listen back to your mix. Leave it a day…2 days…it’s amazing how different it can sound to fresh ears. Also play it back on as many earphones and speakers as you can because again it can sound amazing on some decent speakers, but plug in your old earphones or play it in your car and get ready for either delight as all your hard hours of work have paid off and your mix is rocking, or, manic depression as you realise your mix sounds that distant, you question whether or not you have just been mixing that song!

Overall we don’t believe you need to spend hundreds of pounds on recording to get your point across. Doing it this way we have been able to capture the exact sound we want and its cost next to nothing. Previous to this, our EP releases have always been lacking ‘something’ sound wise and we believe we are now on the right track.

 – What’s the connection between the title and the music on the EP? 

– The title is a mathematical term which we have imposed our own conceptual meaning. The songs on the album have content about relationships, life experience and the common feeling of how perceived progress in life can be quickly turned on its head. This brought around the concept of following a planned path but after contemplation, compromise and adjustment, life can quickly take on a completely different shape. This is much the same process of how a revolved volume is created, following a path then being revolved to create something different.

– What’s the biggest attraction of your live shows?

– We all have a similar appreciation when it comes to live music as we prioritise clarity and strength of the music over the theatrical. We perform with energy and always try to interact with the crowd, but we really want the audience to be focused on the music above anything else. This allows people to create an atmosphere to suit how they interpret each song. We try to offer something different by using piano and strings to introduce songs and we’ve even added some trumpet to a song we’ve just finished writing, to try and stand out a bit and keep things interesting.

– Who are your main music inspirations and influences? 

– We all draw on different influences and tend to listen to different bands and genres. The most important thing is we are all completely open to trying out new ideas and we never really think about genres when writing music, if it sounds good it goes in the song.

Ben and Mark V take the majority of their influences from modern rock, grunge and metal. James and Mark B take influences from more vintage sources such as blues and 70’s rock. These influences help Mark B and James, as the rhythm section, to create the driving progressions that flow through each song. Mark V and Ben provide the attack and create layers to the tracks which give a different dynamic to each song.

– Where do you see GretaNova ten years from now?

– In 10 years it would be nice to have written and produced 5 more albums whether signed or not. Since Mark B’s arrival on the bass a couple of years ago, things have really picked up, we’re writing songs faster than we can record them and we hope to be able to get our stuff out there now driving forwards!

– What do you want music fans to remember GretaNova for in 60 years? 

– We would like to be remembered for being a band that offered something a bit different from bands of that time, for being a band that goes against the flow of the commercially fashionable genres. If people are still listening to our music in 60 years, that would be amazing!

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