In the States their debut album 'One Big Sky' attracted considerable attention while their newie 'A Liquid Earth' builds on the hard-rocking reputation of NOVELLA. Jan Willem Vink spoke to the band.
The lead singer and guitar of Novella is Jonathan Paganno. In 1987 Jonathan was signed to Star Song Records but with a band that was disintegrating the singer began the gruelling search for another set of musicians. He found his drummer in Adam Gibson, the brother of the girl Jonathan was going out with and after extensive auditioning the singer/guitarist located bass man Jon Spinolla. In 1991 the New Jersey trio, dubbed Novella, released their debut 'One Big Sky' and its bluesy, hard rock sound got the team out there on America's Christian rock and metal circuit. This year the band expanded, to a quartet with the addition of second guitarist Derek Ferewerda, released their second album 'A Liquid Earth'. I met the band at a Dutch Christian music festival and spoke to Adam Gibson, Jonathan Paganno and Derek Ferewerda.
Where did the name Novella come from?
(Adam) "Novella means 'story' in Latin. Jonathan could probably tell you more about it." (Jonathan) "We see ourselves as a story. The biggest one is the fact that we all pretty much grew up as Christians and so we can really relate to Christian youth, 'cause we were there, going to high school and dealing with a lot of kids who weren't Christians. Our story to young Christians is there's a band, Novella, to strengthen them, committed to making excellent music with excellent lyrics about God and about Christ and what he has done for us."
What about people being put off because the lyrics are explicitly Christian?
(Jonathan) "I haven't seen that too much. I had no shame about our music at all. I brought my non-Christian friends to concerts and I had a few of them saved that way. So I'm talking from experience.
Who do you see as your main target, Christians or non-Christians?
(Jonathan) "Definitely both, but our heart is for the Christians because that's where we came from. Naturally the non-Christians too. We're out to tell the people about the love of Christ in ways that do not alienate anyone. But we definitely want Christian youth to know that we are there, we are where they are at right now and we have music that would help them."
Do you feel Novella adds anything different to the Christian music scene?
(Jonathan) "I think that we add something. I think we stand apart because a lot of the bands don't address what we're addressing. The issue that we're addressing is being able to relate in a genuine way. A lot of the big Christian acts like Mylon came out of the world and got saved and a lot of the testimonies are like that. That's not our testimony. We grew up as Christians. So we know what Christian, say 15 or 16 years old in high school, feels. That's where we come from."
Do you feel you relate in a genuine way, do you get response?
(Adam) "Our goal is to be genuine people, not have this pretence or this rock stardom between us and our audience. For instance, all the fan mail we get we answer, each piece, make ourselves available at each show as long as we can. We want to be real; we want to communicate with people. That's what it's all about."
Did you have many musical influences when you were growing up as Christians?
(Jonathan) "Definitely! Phil Keaggy was my favourite artist when I was growing up. He did a combination of both. A lot of his lyrics were very upfront, very blatant. Some of his songs are very deep, very thought provoking. They make you ask questions about Christ instead of giving you all the answers in the lyrics."
Tell me a bit about the 'A Liquid Earth' album. Who did you work with?
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