This Friday night Colby will host the Massachusetts-based band The Novel Ideas. The group has played at Colby in the past, as part of the Friday Night Live concert series organized by SPB and during the Spring Loudness Festival in 2015. Self-identifying as a country-folk quintet, The Novel Ideas favor smooth and flowing melodies with gorgeous harmonies and jaunting (and often twangy) guitar accompaniment. The music is folksy and soothing, rich with vocals and instrumentation that complement each other. The group formed in bits and pieces: Danny Hoshino ‘11 (guitars, pedal steel, vocals) had known Daniel Radin (guitar and vocals) since kindergarten. The other members, Sarah Grella (vocals), James Parkington (bass guitar, vocals) and Karl Grohmann (drums) joined sporadically, through various college classes and common friends.
“The musicianship fit is really important,” said Radin during a phone interview with The Echo. “First and foremost, we’re friends and we get along together.” Indeed, the group is remarkably fun to watch in person: during a performance at Colby in 2015, the band members brought the audience to the echoing entrance hall in front of Page Commons and led everyone in an exquisite rendition of “Landslide”.
“Oh, yeah, that was really, really neat,” said Radin. He described the moment as one of his favorites on tour and expressed his thoughts on what makes Colby performances special. “I think colleges are really fun… especially somewhere like Colby, which is kind of secluded. It feels like people are really looking to connect and talk after the set and sometimes you can play a show and wonder if anyone enjoyed that, but at Colby you can definitely connect with people after.” Radin also told a story about seniors who approached him at the Spring Loudness Festival in 2015 and said how they remembered seeing The Novel Ideas perform freshman year, reiterating his fondness for Colby students and the emphasis on community. He also recounted speaking with a senior last March who was in The Colby Eight and mentioned that he’d learned one of their songs, and that they all played together after the set.
“We strive with all of our performances to be as honest and relatable and engaging as possible, whatever that looks like,” Radin said. Their shows are intimate, involved, and cozy. It’s evident that The Novel Ideas enjoy themselves when they perform and enjoy having a genuine and interested audience. Radin spoke easily over the phone, answering questions happily and honestly. It was obvious that he cares sincerely for his work and for making legitimate connections with people. This sentiment translates into the band’s music, which is relatable, warm, and beautiful. It’s rare to get such organic music, but after understanding the band’s emphasis on relating as honestly as possible, it fits.
“Surround yourself with as many talented people as you can, because they’re people that will just make you better,” Radin said in response to what advice he’d give burgeoning musicians. “You can lift each other up, because if you think you’re the best and the most talented in every room you go in, then you’re not going to learn anything. With our band, we each have sort of a specialty that we bring to it and we’re constantly checking each other to make sure we’re getting to a level that we want to be at.” And how to find these people? “Find someone that you’re like, ‘oh my god, this person is amazing, I want to listen to them sing all day,’ and see if they’ll play
music with you.”
The Novel Ideas recently released an EP called St. Paul Sessions, which they finished and brought with them when they played at Colby last March. They’ll be playing songs from that album, according to Radin, but will also play some old songs. “If you enjoy harmony-driven folk music then we’ll be up your ally,” Radin said.
SPB typically provides locally-catered snacks for the Friday Night Live series, which take place in the Bobby Silberman Lounge (LoPo). The show will be Friday, October 7 at 9:00 p.m. At the risk of editorializing, The Novel Ideas are completely worth your time. They’re good people intent on making good music, and we are very lucky to have them. The Colby Echo thanks Daniel Radin for taking the time to speak with us and for spending this Friday night with us.