“Road tested,” The Novelists performed March 11 for the first time at The Saint on Saturday for what was billed as a Homecoming Show. The pop rock band formed by four University of Nevada, Reno, students a decade ago has just returned from its longest tour. The Novelists have had several two- and three-week tours, but this winter it was on the road for six straight weeks.
Primary songwriters Eric Andersen (piano/lead vocals) and Joel Ackerson (guitar/lead vocals) Justin Kruger (drums, backing vocals) and Zack Teran (bass, backing vocals), traveled by van packed with a speakers, mixer, cables, mics and instruments to Las Vegas, Denver, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Reno, Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Florida, then a cruise ship to Mexico before hitting spots all along the East Coast.
What’s with the Reno show in between Nashville and Atlanta? The band flew back home to play UNR’s annual athletic fundraiser, the Blue Tie Ball. The altruistic alumni went extra miles for the cause. A flight delay forced the musicians to change their itinerary and fly to Sacramento, rent a car and drive through a Sierra Nevada blizzard to play the show and then rise at 6 a.m. the next day to make it back to Atlanta for a show that night.
“No two shows (on the tour) were the same,” Andersen said. “Everything was different whether it was a brewery or a theater or a club and we had quite a lot of house concerts and yard concerts, too.”
The Sail Across The Sun cruise was from Tampa to Costa Maya, Mexico, with other bands that included Train, Matt Nathanson and Michael Franti & Spearhead. The Novelists were selected through a three-tier competition. The bands were judged by a video of a live performance.
“It was a paradigm-shifting experience for an independent band to be on that ship,” Andersen said. “The fan voting wrapped up in September, so by the time we were on the ship a lot of these people had already purchased our album and knew our songs. That first night we played to probably about 300 people and they were complete strangers that were absolutely in love with us as if we had radio support.
“It was it was a little dose of what it must be like to have a major label support because you would see people you’ve never met and they’re singing every lyric your song. It was it was special, especially for an independent band.”
It also was rewarding to be received as peers from bands that the Novelists consider to be their heroes, he said.
“To get some genuine comments from them, that just means the world,” he said. “When somebody gives you a compliment, saying that they have really enjoyed your music, you look up to that. It’s almost better than any sort of material success you could have.”
The cruise has opened several opportunities for the Novelists, who already have booked a busy schedule into the summer. But for now, it’s a hometown show for a band that is on top of its game.
“It’s road tested,” Andersen said. “We have absolutely never been tighter.”
It was The Novelists’ debut at The Saint, the midtown venue that celebrates its one-year anniversary in April.
“I hear great things about it and I also I also really like the fact that Reno is opening a music venue of that size,” Andersen said. “We have some tremendous venues that are larger like the Nugget Showroom and Grand Sierra and we have really cool smaller clubs, but The Saint is kind of that middle, you know, 300- to 400-person club where they really care about doing it right. So we’re definitely excited to play there.”
- The Novelists
March 17 – Yountville/Napa
March 30-April 1 – Carson Valley Inn, Minden
April 7 – The Brickroom, Ashland, Oregon
April 8 – Ca’Momi, Napa