The four-piece band NVO brings live and electronic elements together in beautiful harmony. With the latest release of their Solar Tides EP and some busy weeks ahead dedicated to touring, these boys are flaring up and about to go super nova! The members include: Greg Maximov on live drums, DUDHAUS (aka Justin Ward) on sequencers and synths, Chuck Jones sampling and scratching, and Mike Laglia on guitar. The three song EP is available on a ‘Name Your Own Price’ basis on bandcamp and features uplifting live elements with nice synthetic builds that will keep you dancing all night long. Check this EP to find out who’s coming up in the livetronica scene and read our artist interview with Greg, Chuck, and Mike from the band to get a feel for NVO!
For those who haven’t heard of the electro-rock band NVO, how would you describe your sounds?
GM – We walk the line between a rock band and a produced DJ set. We draw our fans both from the electronic side and the rock n’ roll realm. We can’t really be shoehorned into any particular electronic subgenre, but the general purpose of our songs is to make you dance, and they tend to be high energy.
CJ – Sometimes people say we play electronic funk. Our songs span tempos and styles, for example some songs are at 128 BPM and on the house/electro side of things. Other songs are in the 95-115 BPM range, more mid-tempo breaks. A few songs are at drum and bass/jungle tempos, we have a dub track, and also some more cerebral, ambient stuff. We don’t have a vocalist, but we use a lot of samples from hip-hop acapellas and science fiction movies.
How did all the members; Mike, Greg, Chuck, and Justin, come together to form NVO?
GM – Chuck and I were roommates in college, and Chuck and Mike were childhood friends, growing up in Oakland together. When they moved back to the Bay Area after college, Chuck discovered that Mike had a stockpile of great songs built up that had never seen the light of day. I was living in SF and playing with a few bands when Chuck and Mike brought me into the fold to flesh out some of Mike’s tunes. I was keeping a practice space at the time in the basement of a laundromat, and the three of us practiced down there for six months, just learning how to play live electronic songs as a band. (It was VERY slow going at first. I think we still have some embarrassing old recordings somewhere…). When we finally played our first live show, our friend Justin Ward, performing as “Dudhaus,” opened up for us. It was then we realized how adept he was at controlling Ableton. We quickly invited him to join the band.
Solar Tide is a space-rock extravaganza. Did you guys put a lot of improvisational elements into the EP?
CJ – Absolutely! We call it ‘structured chaos.’ The songs have a distinct arrangement, but we earmark certain portions where we cut loose. For example, when Mike does his guitar pedal freakout at the end of ‘Solar Tide Spreading,’ the rest of us know that some spacey sounds are coming, but its new and fresh every time. Dudhaus will do the same thing with his Ableton programming and effects chains– every time we play he’ll rock a different delay or big hit of reverb in a new place, riffing on what the rest of us are doing.
GM – We generally approach recording as well as playing live with a jazz band mentality. Our songs always had a defined framework, but we leave plenty of space for improvisation, and rarely play a song the same way twice. Even under the layers of studio polish, the songs you hear on “Solar Tide” are in fact live takes: all four band members in the studio, recording simultaneously. We always embrace happy accidents.
How was the show at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall on June 7th for the release of your Solar Tide EP?
CJ – It was amazing! We had a great turnout, everyone throwing down super hard on the dancefloor. We also tried out a few new arrangements that people seemed to like a lot. Carter from ArtnowSF killed it with the light show, and Gamelan X, Cavalry, and DJ Phleck made for a great night of music.
GM – Sweaty! We have a super fun and loyal SF following and they brought their best dance moves to this show. It was a high-energy raucous crowd. We played the album live in its entirety, and it was very well received.
The EP has a mix of rock, post-rock, dub, hip-hop, and electro vibes. Where do your tastes converge or differ when creating a new track?
ML – NVO has never really been allegiant to any single genre. I think we would lose our minds if we wrote and played just one style of electronic music over and over again, song after song, night after night. Nothing but respect to the folks who specialize completely in a very specific genre. In fact in a lot of ways this is a great decision from a music business perspective…But we’ve always tried to put our creative vision first, business second. Because let’s face it, if you’re in the music industry to make money instead of to make music, you should have your fucking head examined.
We think that a good show or album can move around in tempo, mood, feel, and color with a lot of agility. Our coherence comes from memorable songwriting, killer sound (and lighting) design, and an energetic performance. There is a pretty healthy science fiction obsession going on too.
‘Mars Raver’ is a straight up hyphy track with psychedelic synths, guitar riffs, and lasers thrown in there. WouldNVO ever consider throwing a rave on Mars?
CJ – Oh yeah!! Maybe we can get the Cantina band from Star Wars to throw down too? (I always wondered what the Cantina band’s next gig was after Han Solo shoots Greedo.) As to venue, I’d say we do it after-hours style in that dive bar Schwarzenegger goes into in ‘Total Recall.’ We’d also need a cameo DJ set from the actual Mars Rover, because that thing is just way too awesome. Every time we land another robot on Mars I completely lose my shit. When the last rover landed, I ran around telling everyone, ‘HOLY SHIT WE JUST LANDED A ROBOT ON MARS AND IT HAS A FRIGGIN’ LASER ON IT!’ Did I mention there is a robot on Mars that can shoot laser beams? Because it’s out there. Right now. On Mars. With a laser. Pew! Pew! Pew!
Why did you decide to make Solar Tide available on a “Name Your Own Price” basis?
CJ – The important thing for us is that people hear the music! If people want to download the music for free, we 1000% encourage them to do so! That being said, if somebody wanted to donate to help us recoup the costs of making the record, it makes sense to give people that ability. We are super DIY, and every penny the band earns gets put back into the band.
What’s next for NVO?
CJ – Lots of exciting things in the works! We’ve got some killer remixes coming out soon from The Flying Skulls and some other top-notch Bay Area artists, ranging from future bass to glitch hop to jungle. We’ll be running around California this summer rocking some festival slots, and if we can figure out a playa-ready rig, we’ll head up to Burning Man in August for some art car shenanigans. In the fall we’re putting out a full-length concept album, based on the day in the life of a robot in a dystopian future. In the same way that ‘Solar Tide’ spanned different styles and tempos, the next album will cover a lot of ground, and has a distinct narrative. We’re really excited!
GM – We’ll be performing a late night Silent Disco set at High Sierra Music Festival as a live band. This is super rare and we’ve been working very hard to put together a live band set that rocks over wireless headphones (and listened to by a field full of dancing maniacs at three in the morning). Also, look out for music videos for the Solar Tide tracks. We had a great response to our Discorental video and can’t wait give you another peek into our imaginations!
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