Released last week on December 6th, ‘Exposition II’ is the second EP from the still freshly formed Nova Charisma – the new artsy, progressive-post-hardcore project from Hail The Sun’s leader Donovan Melero (right) and Stolas/Royal Coda guitarist, Sergio Medina (left). It’s a lavish four-track piece about the theme of “the chase”: whether it’s chasing after someone you know that you shouldn’t, being chased by an unknown figure in some nightmare or chasing after something you want yet not getting it. It’s as insightful, as honest, and as compositionally creative as you’d expect from two extremely talented artists like Donovan and Sergio; a release that nicely follows on from August’s wonderful three-track ‘Exposition I,’ which sold out its vinyl before even a single second of music had even been released. With this release now out into the world, and with more set to come in 2020 along with the band’s first-ever live shows looming over-head very soon, I caught up with Donovan to talk about ‘Exposition II,’ these new shows, how Nova Charisma is developing as a unit, and the idea of the journey.
The ‘Exposition I’ tracks deal thematically with personal perspectives, relationships, lies, mistakes, and change. Hail The Sun has always been an incredibly introspective outlet for you, but this new band’s work feels like a different approach to arrive at the same lyrical end-goal: sharing your deepest thoughts, fears, and experiences. What’s your take on all that, Donovan?
I think the music really guides the direction of the lyrics. When I’m writing lyrics, I tend to initially go off my first inclination, my first gut reaction, to what I feel when I hear it. And then I will build around that. I do agree if it feels like a different approach, and that’s because I’m writing with a different set of songwriters. I’ve learned more and more to trust my gut in the process.
With ‘Exposition II’ now out, it’s all about “the chase”; chasing things that may or may not be good for you; things that are either tangible or are just in the mind or are projected. I got the sense that there’s no resolution or conclusion being reached with these four songs, but that’s by design, is it not? It’s more so about the journey than the destination, as Hoxton seems to lyrically suggest.
100% correct! The journey to any destination, be it good or bad, should be embraced. It’s what living is all about for me. It can be hard to accept that for the more shittier experiences, but there exists a larger picture. I’ve chased things my whole life, and I’ll continue to chase. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s not, and lots of the time I don’t know which one it is until it plays out. But that usually won’t stop me.
Is the “Sonya” mentioned in the fourth song of the same name a real person? And how much does the line blur between fictional things and real people for this newest batch of songs; is it less or more metaphorical than I’m making it out to be?
I’d rather not comment on who Sonya is. For the most part, this newest batch of songs are influences of real people and real experiences, but I sometimes will fill in the gaps.
With Nova Charisma, and Carlos performing the drums on all of these Nova songs, what was it like to let someone else take the reigns given that you drum for HTS? Did you write the drum parts for him or was it all Carlos?
I’ve always seen myself as a bass player as well. I write on bass all the time, since I was 15. It helps me guide vocal melodies and song direction. The difference here was being in a room with another drummer where I just had to play bass, while someone else was drumming along. That was very cool and felt super-efficient. I loved the dynamic. Carlo wrote the drum parts.
Sergio is a guitar wiz and your vocals hold up as well as anything heard in Hail The Sun. From the outside looking in, there seems like real chemistry; an understanding between you two with the songwriting and performances. Does that line up with what it’s like inside the band?
Yeah, definitely. We both really trust each other and our creative direction. And we are both very open with any type of feedback.
Nova is very much in line with the sounds of HTS and Stolas; there are lots of similarities in the music. That also goes for the scene that you’re apart of too; sharing a very similar sonic realm to that of Circa Survive, Dance Gavin Dance, and of course Sianvar and A Lot Like Birds. Do you think that fans who have become so familiar with your band and the shared works between those other artists means they’ll know exactly what they’ll get from these songs? Are you hoping there are some surprises install for them? Like the synths on ‘Gemini’ or the darker and almost-jazzier sound of ‘Diary,’ for instance.
I think that people might be surprised by the compositions as a whole. We both have written post-hardcore music for a long time, we feel good doing it. We know how to, and are always growing there as well. But we wanted to challenge ourselves to make something that wasn’t completely in line with that. And we are very excited to have accomplished that, at least personally, for both of us. The character traits we bring to music will always be there, but it’s nice to hear them in a different form.
With the band’s first-ever live shows coming up in December, on a scale of 1 to 10, how nervous are you guys feeling? How are all of these songs sounding in band rehearsals when they’re being brought to life?
We are feeling very good about being able to perform these live. Right now, I’m a 7 on nervousness, but by [the] day of, I’ll be a 10. [laughs]
Along with Carlo, can you tell me who else will be rounding out the Nova Charisma full band line-up?
Carlo is basically the third behind-the-scenes member of Nova Charisma. Apart from him, Aric Garcia (Hail the Sun) will be on bass, and Joe Occiuti (The Venetia Fair, Ice Nine Kills) will be performing keyboards and synths.
Lastly, this final question is more so for my friends who all loved Sianvar: do you know or even think that that second Sianvar record will ever see the light of day?
That record will never see the light of day in any form that it was created to be as Sianvar.