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Photo by Miranda Cavagnaro
Photo by Miranda Cavagnaro

Novacane has Mastered the Art of Self-Expression

By EMERSON BRADY // Oregon band Novacane discusses style, star power, and music.

Dylan Latimer parks his friend, and bandmate, Zach Clifton’s beat up banana seat bike outside Eugene's Cafe Roma and rushes inside. Immediately Clifton tells him to bring his unlocked bike inside. They begin bantering about how one of them could take down a bike thief from inside the restaurant until Latimer caves and brings the bike in. After the bike debacle, we decompress about our weekends, and they begin to tell me stories about their day jobs. “I was telling someone the other day, the hollandaise here changes lives,” lead singer for Novacane, Latimer proclaims.

By day Latimer and bassist Oliver Lester can be found in uniform working as waiters at Eugene’s cozy brunch spot, “The Glenwood.” In the evenings they trade their all-black uniforms for gold chains and monochrome turtle necks, and, with the help of new drummer Zach Clifton, become Novacane.

Novacane has been a band since Latimer and Lester were in middle school and has since become one of the staple indie bands in Eugene’s house show scene. Growing up together as a band, Latimer and Lester have seen firsthand how much development Novacane’s style has undergone sonically and aesthetically.

Lester says, “When a band first starts their kind of a slave to their influences for the first two, three years, however long it takes to start developing their own sound/style.”

Changing influences throughout the years fluctuated the band’s aesthetic and music. Lester reluctantly admits that their first and biggest inspiration was Blink-182. We all share a good laugh for a minute until Lester chimes in “Seriously though without Blink 182 I’m not sure where Novacane would be today.” His tone shifts as he begins to describe how their sound, stage presence, and style deeply influenced the foundation of Novacane.

Latimer admires that “every song off of every album heavily influences their hairstyles and the clothes they would wear. Just seeing how their clothes fell against their amplifiers, and the guitars they would use impacted our style as a band.” The sincerity in their tone convinces me that Blink 182 is the reason why Novacane is here today.

As Novacane grew up so did their tastes in music. Their style became more centered around the sounds and fashion of the sixties and seventies. Musical and cultural icons like Jimi Hendrix and Cream began to have more of an influence on their style. The sixties and seventies aesthetic that Novacane integrates into their style has become fairly popular in the music scene lately. The blue bell-bottoms, overalls, and turtlenecks of the seventies have become staple pieces at house shows.

Lester imagines the reason this aesthetic is so popular at the moment is that “... Pop cultural patterns are always kind of relapsing. People in the sixties went to thrift shops and got old British soldier jackets, that’s what Jimi Hendrix wore, that’s what Eric Clapton wore. I think kids go into thrift shops wearing what their grandparents wore.”

Latimer, however, argues that it’s not just a sense of nostalgia, but that “everything was just more interesting at that time… You start to fantasize about what the world would be like if everyone was caught up in some crazy self-expressive outfit.”

To say that Novacane’s look is self-expressive would be an understatement. Each band member’s sense of style is unique to themselves, but together as a band becomes this cohesive theme. Their attention to style, and aesthetic is what sets them apart from other bands. Latimer emphasizes that “For us, it’s very important before a show that I have no hair on my face, and that we’re in cute outfits. We want to make sure we’re bringing a personality to the performance.”

Lester explains that just a year or so ago they were very into the idea of coordinating their outfits to match a specific color scheme and theme. However, “Moving forward I think we now want our style to be a little more individualized.”

Clifton adds, “It honestly feels like a direct parallel with the music too. We all have different personalities when we play. We’re all individuals, but we try to sound cohesive. It’s the same thing with our sense of style.”

Over the summer they gained inspiration from a band they toured with, Fashion Jackson. Lester loved that each member of the band had a signature piece that they wore. It was as if each person got to wear a bit of their personality on their sleeve and be unique individuals together. He related this to how The Beatles style transcended throughout the years. “In 1964 they had their Beatles haircuts and suits, but by the time 1967 rolled around they were all individuals but still matched.”

When asked how they would depict their style for shows, they insisted on describing each other’s styles.

“Zach’s always naked,” Latimer declares.

Zach laughs, and begins to describe a typical outfit for Oliver, “He wears cords, and striped shirts a lot. His trademark is his red vans. Recently he’s been rocking the turtleneck and tee-shirt look.”

Lester explains that “When we first met Zach he was very into metal. He had the Slayer pins and all-black outfits. Once he joined the band he kind of switched up his style a bit. He started wearing a lot of colors and started cuffing his pants. I think we each have an identifiable piece of footwear too. I’ve got red Vans, Zach has high top Converse, and Dylan has his Doc Marten ‘Creepers’.”

Clifton would say Dylan’s style is always changing. “He’s been on a suit kick lately. He’s got this beautiful blue suit he wears. He’ll wear some beautiful paisley collared shirt, and then the next day wears a tee-shirt. I never know what to expect, but it’s always incredible.”

While Latimer knows they’ve grown out of their phase of matching for every show, he still fantasizes about wearing matching tuxedos for a show. “If we’re a band for five more years it’s gonna fucking happen.”

When asked how style and music are interconnected they all almost unanimously say “Self Expression.” Lester adds, “Music as a whole is centered around encapsulating a singular moment. That singular moment being what that songwriter was feeling at the time or what you as a listener were feeling at the time. I think that style can represent a time period, and also a way a person is feeling.”

Novacane’s musical infusion of rock and roll, and funk is enough to make them a great band, but their understanding of the role fashion plays in music is what gives them star power. Latimer recalls the moment he learned the secret to playing a show confidently. “I remember this one blue room show where I wore a jumpsuit, threw glitter on my face, and it was one of the most polarizing things I’d ever done with fashion. I had this moment of like wait you can do this at parties… It somehow aided the aspect of I don’t have to be self-conscious.” Lester, and Clifton agree that letting fashion be apart of their music has aided their self-doubt.

Latimer concludes, “Once I can put on all these crazy clothes, and look at myself in the mirror, it makes it easier for me to display my art.”

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Very cool article! A pleasure to read. Hope everyone is having a fun and safe week

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