John Novak‚??s father was a musician, but it may have been his record collection that sparked his son‚??s passion for music, particularly classic punk rock.
‚??The first time that I was really interested in music was because of The Clash,‚?Ě Novak acknowledged, finding the band‚??s music amongst his dad‚??s albums around sixth or seventh grade.
‚??They just had this energy, and they didn‚??t have a gimmick. They just set out to do something and make a difference and actually be real people and write about stuff that was important, not just be one of those bands where it was all about having a good time and partying and stuff. They were one of those bands that was actually real.‚?Ě
The 20-year-old is now the guitarist and vocalist of Down to Six, a Wilkes-Barre-based group that became his first serious musical effort after playing in several ‚??crappy high school bands‚?Ě over the years with bassist Joe Lach. Cody Klein joins them on drums to form the hard rocking trio.
‚??I guess we were old enough to finally write some good songs. We‚??ve had the opportunities to play with some cooler bands‚?Ľand we were able to play for more people and get noticed,‚?Ě Novak explained.
While they‚??re considered a punk band by most listeners, Novak believes the band, formed in 2010, has a bit more going on in their tunes.
‚??I think we have a little bit more structure as far as songs go than just being Ramones-type, one-and-half minute songs,‚?Ě he described.
‚??In my opinion, the older punk kind of had the formula down right. They had a reason for writing about what they wrote about, and there was stuff that was unsettled at the time. I feel like now, a lot of bands like Anti-Flag just try to find some sort of common enemy to go against. Even though they think they‚??re not being gimmicky, they‚??re still being gimmicky by trying to have the get-up. There‚??s not really a reason to be a full-on punk band anymore.‚?Ě
This may be why Down to Six‚??s imagery-laden lyrics on their first album, ‚??A Better Place,‚?Ě cover everything from girls to theoretical topics like the end of the world, avoiding the typical punk rock clich√©s and keeping their sound as authentic as possible.
‚??With our recordings, we try to make them hold true to our live show, so we didn‚??t really go in and do a lot of overdubs or spacey sounds or anything. It‚??s what we would do normally,‚?Ě he said of the new record, which was tracked at 119 Productions in Scranton and finished at SI Studios in Old Forge.
The eight-song album, some of which can be previewed at facebook.com/downtosixpa, will be released on Friday, Nov. 30 at New Visions Studio and Gallery (201 Vine St., Scranton) at a show with Eye On Attraction and Moxie & Rebel, delivering a good mix of ‚??loud, fun music‚?Ě at one of the few all-ages venues left in the area.
‚??Some of the venues aren‚??t willing to take a chance. They kind of stereotype if they hear you‚??re a punk band. They might be one of those venues where they say, ‚??Oh, we don‚??t want a bunch of rowdy people in here,‚?? you know? Most of the time, it‚??s not really that way,‚?Ě Novak commented.
The album‚??s striking artwork was created by Hartford, Conn. artist Scott Carr, who he feels captured Down To Six‚??s attitude, though the trio are already working on new material for a planned summer release.
‚??I think (the artwork) is a pretty good match, especially for what we‚??re trying to do ‚?? kind of have the punk rock ethic, but with a little something more. I feel like having artwork like that more or less captures that,‚?Ě Novak said.
‚??I‚??m just (relieved) to have it out finally. We‚??ve been doing this for a long time. It was kind of a messed up situation that we had. Just the closure and having a record is the best part for me.‚?Ě
Down to Six ‚??A Better Place‚?Ě record release show with Eye On Attraction and Moxie & Rebel, Nov. 30, doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m., New Visions Studio and Gallery (201 Vine St., Scranton). $6.