Established in 2014, newhaven is a 6 piece genre-bending band out of Dallas, Texas. Originally starting as a "post-hardcore with a piano" project, newhaven have evolved their sound over the six years since to incorporate many differing musical styles from all over the world.
newhaven released their debut album 'RUOK' on November 29th, 2019 and we have been chomping at the bit to talk to the band ever since. We recently caught up with the band to talk all about 'RUOK', go into the deepest dive ever into our favourite track 'Welcome Home I Caved In', check out what the band are listening to and find out about newhavens super secret plans for the remainder of 2020...
"The lock-down has had its ups and downs for all of us… like part of me is excited that we got to slow down, spend some much needed time with family / close friends at home, but there is also a huge part of us that just wants to get out there and play!"
Firstly, I have to ask this at the moment, how have you guys been coping in the lock-down, what kind of things have you been up to since the lock-down came into effect.
The lock-down has had its ups and downs for all of us… like part of me is excited that we got to slow down, spend some much needed time with family / close friends at home, but there is also a huge part of us that just wants to get out there and play!
Let’s be honest 2020 has been a weird year so far and things will probably be weird for a while. As an artist, how has this affected your rhythm? This is the time you would be out their promoting the new album ‘RUOK’!
Before the lock-down we were making a significant effort to expand our avenues of influence even further than what we reached on RUOK, promotion was a huge part of that, planning for the future, etc. We were even playing oldies covers for war veterans.
For the first part of the year (after the virus) we did not even really see each other and it wasn’t until recently that we finally ventured out and got together to work on music with each other. However, we all have side avenues for expressing ourselves musically, published or not, so there are always ideas in the works and we’ve taken the time in this “Off-season” to kind of explore more of those solo avenues.
How did you guys get into writing and creating music? Was there a decisive moment or event that you remember that made you stop and think, wow, THIS is what I want to do with my life?
We all have different reasons for our deep connections to music, but I think for the good majority of it our passion really turned into a possibility learning music from the ground up in the middle school band hall.
"no two songs came together in the same way on the record in the same way. Some tracks started off as a page of lyrics, while others we built around cool riffs, electronic melodies, or even a hook we were particularly keen on. When we are writing a new song, everyone participates, and contributes ideas."
How did the band get together?
We started a punk-rock project called “Order 204” in High School that we were all a part of in one way or another and that really set the foundation for what would eventually become newhaven.
Your latest release, ‘RUOK’ your debut album, was released on November 19th, 2019. Can you go into the creation process of the album a little more? When did you start writing for the album?
The earliest track for RUOK started to form in late 2015, immediately after the release of the Self-titled EP. That track was “ATTN:”, some of the ideas in that song were actually recycled ideas we were going to use on the EP. The breakdown section in “Madame La Mort” was actually ripped from an older version of “ATTN:”, and then the song had to be rebuilt.
As far as the writing process goes, no two songs came together in the same way on the record in the same way. Some tracks started off as a page of lyrics, while others we built around cool riffs, electronic melodies, or even a hook we were particularly keen on. When we are writing a new song, everyone participates, and contributes ideas. Some songs belong more to specific people but for or the most part we all write our own parts, and by the end there is a bit of oversight when it comes to composing those pieces into a cohesive product.
‘RUOK’ manages to combine loads of different genres including, rock, metal, Hip-Hop and Latin influences which results in a truly unique sound. What prompted this shift in sound from 2015’s self-titled EP?
The EP came from a place of wanting to find something new and in all honesty it was a bit of a reflection of the types of music we were hot on at the time. When we got back together after our initial Order 204 run, it was 2014. Post-hardcore had just made a nice resurgence with this new pop-punk era.
So when we were writing those tracks we just decided to write stuff that was a fusion of a genre we were into at the time and the sounds we loved growing up! That sort of put us in a box, but we were aware of that and we wanted to leave newhaven open-ended, so track-6 on the EP, “Not Yours To Take” we threw in a few random styles we thought wouldn’t quite go with the rest of the tracks, such as the rap during the intro to kind of let fans know… This harder style of play isn’t all we have.
"We kind of hate the idea of genres in general. They do serve a purpose in the music world, but for us it doesn’t have much of a role in the creative process. When you’re first starting out a genre can give you a direction to go, but genres create boundaries and limit what you can do and it just feels like creative censorship to write music like that."
‘Welcome Home I Caved In’ is an absolute belter of a track and has already received massive critical praise. Is it always the ambition of the band to always push the limits of what the definitive newhaven sound can be?
Absolutely. We kind of hate the idea of genres in general. They do serve a purpose in the music world, but for us it doesn’t have much of a role in the creative process. When you’re first starting out a genre can give you a direction to go, but genres create boundaries and limit what you can do and it just feels like creative censorship to write music like that.
‘Welcome Home I Caved In’ is an amazing track and a favourite of ours here at Not A Phase which we just cannot stop listening to. How did this track come about? What are the themes of the track?
I’m glad you like it!
So... RUOK was actually written with the track order in mind. Even before we had all of the songs prepared. We knew we would have specifically 13 songs, we knew what order the songs we already had were going to go in, and because the track “Dead” was written so early on in albums development we knew we wanted it to be track-2.
The initial song that developed into “Welcome home | Caved In” (WHCI) was called “Alive”. It was meant to be a short intro song that flowed directly into track-2. Those lyrics slowly evolved into the part of the song we refer to as “Caved In”, and for a good while, the album just started with that portion of the song (where it changes into the 6/8 time signature).
However, at the point in the album's creation where we already had all 13 tracks mostly finished and planned out, Matt came to us with the intro and Chorus to this song in the form of just lyrics and a melody. We immediately fell in love with it and decided it needed to be on the record, this spot was just where it fit best.
The song narrates the transition between life, death, and the afterlife. The title “Welcome Home” is supposed to be the welcoming voice of death. The album as a whole makes an effort to explore mental health issues from different angles, so with (WHCI) being track-1, we thought it would be fitting to start at the end — death.
With everything still up in the air, what do you think the rest of 2020 will look like for you as a band?
We have some plans to hit the studio again before the year is over. I don’t want to give too much away but we will be doing, once again, something we have never done before! ;D
‘Don’t Waste It’ shows new unheard depths in your sound and just how far your sound and musicianship has come since the release of the self-titled EP in 2015, was this a conscious choice or a natural evolution of your sound?
It has been a very long time since newhaven has had a specific direction when it comes to writing a new track so it’s a bit hard to say if it was a conscious choice or if, for us, it was natural to move in this direction.
This particular track was lyrically and thematically very heavy. The instrumental we chose to pursue was latin in nature and it was very difficult to find the balance between exploring this new sound without losing what we felt made the song great — the lyrics and themes.
Can you tell us a fun fact about each member of the band?
Matt & Luke have known each other basically since they were born. Alx — Total tech nerd, house is basically nasa control. Tommy — Knows everything there is to know about cars. Stephen — Won’t be complete until the Dallas Cowboys win a championship in a year he’s actually alive to see.
What is on your playlist at the moment?
Finally, as we are called Not A Phase, were you guys scene kids when you were growing up? If not, what kind of music were you rocking out back in your formative teenage years?
Maybe I was, but I didn’t find out I was an emo kid until I was already in my 20s.. lol. We still listen to all the stuff we did back then, but a lot of classics... and what I guess are now classics like, Linkin Park, SOAD, Panic!, Taking Back Sunday, Senses Fail, The Used, ETC ETC ETC
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