An Interview with Jonathan Lee–Life After Novus Folium

| November 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

Interview by Finn

Story by Tim Wenger

Those who have been following the Denver music scene over the past few years have undoubtedly heard of Novus Folium. They have also probably heard some variation on the story of the band’s demise.

MileHighUnderground.com and Colorado Music Buzz got Novus front man, Jonathan Lee, to come on air and convey his side of the story, the story from the inside. Lee opened up in an emotional interview that was broadcast live on milehighunderground.com on October 19, and CMB has taken the interview and put it on paper for you here. Lee did most of the talking during the radio interview, and as such, we have let this story represent that as well.

“Everybody told me the kiss of death, when it comes to a band, is one of your members being the manager,” he says. “We definitely experienced that. We tried in a couple different opportunities to have a manager. Collectively, we decided that it wasn’t being executed the way we wanted it to, so we thought the best option would be for me to continue. It was voiced as opinions amongst the group.”

The band headed on tour following their War Games CD release show at Summit Music Hall on June 25, 2011. “Tour is where it gets really hard between everybody,” says Lee. “I took that managerial role pretty seriously on tour. Some people would say I was a pretty big dick, you know, to put it bluntly. I wouldn’t stray away from that. I would say I definitely was a stickler on everything. Sometimes I even took it a little personal because I felt that they didn’t respect the position that they had in fact placed me in. There was a lot of animosity because of that. It built. It would simmer down after we would collectively talk, and kind of come to an agreement again. Then, you know, things wouldn’t be executed the way that at least I was thinking that we had all agreed to. There’s two sides to every story, at least there is here. So I think it was just, overall, that grew the animosity. A lot of the alcohol involved, mixed up in there, getting that liquid courage to say and do whatever you want to. I think it all boiled down to everyone had at least one bad night with drinking on tour. We all kind of had misunderstandings. That, and when you’re stuck in a van together for weeks on end is just a spell for disaster. I think it just boils down to all that coming together and blowing up on us.”

Novus had a huge following around town, and outside of Denver. Their fans wore red to shows, signifying that they were there for Novus. As it goes with the break-up of any band that had achieved even a moderate level of success, the band members have to deal with the feeling that they letting down their fans. “That’s one of the toughest parts,” says Lee. “Feeling like you let down a mass amount of people that believed in you, that loved your music. Literally, I’d had letters written of ‘Hey your music saved my life, it changes me in a positive way, it makes me want to be a better person.’ That was the toughest blow, next to my son being heartbroken. When you have other people where your music actually becomes a part of their life, like a crucial part of their life because it gets them through, and there is that responsibility on your shoulders. I think I personally carried that a lot, because I felt like in the end the music had become, for me, more about writing about my life so that others could get through theirs. And it was really tough for me to carry. It breaks my heart, to be honest with you. It’s worse than any relationship breakup I’ve ever had. I feel like I’m letting more than myself down, or the guys in the band. Feels like there’s thousands of other people in different states and countries that are let down by this and heartbroken, and I feel like that’s my fault.”

Finn asked Lee if the band could see this coming before it happened. “There was a lot of tension and a lot of stress. I think when a band decides to give up everything in their lives for the music and the people that believe in the music, there is always going to be a lot more stress put on it. Even while you’re working towards that, and you have a job and you have a roof over your head, and your girlfriend at home that comforts you, and all this other stuff that everybody else working a 9-5 gets. Those things are taken for granted by those people I think, because it’s like for us, the comfort of a regular life isn’t going to be there. I think that stress adds up. It’s an interesting situation. There was definitely things that were there before, but things that boiled to the surface while we were out there. There was a lot of personal information from certain members that was held back until we got on tour that was released that caused a lot of distrust amongst the group. You have to depend on each other. It’s like a wolf-pack mentality. We called ourselves the sound wolves for a reason.”

Lee and the other members of Novus are currently in court over the rights to the music and the LLC surrounding it. “There’s an opportunity for me to not have any rights, but not have any obligation to the business anymore,” says Lee. “Or [for] me to have an obligation to the business and any debts or assets we have, and still have my rights to the songs. Being a songwriter, having my life spoken about in those words and those songs, I go ‘There’s no way in hell that I want to give up my rights for this.’ This is my life, that’s what I put my hard work into. That’s what I built with these four guys. Now I know where some of their family and friends were coming from when I was trying to rebuild Novus after they quit on tour.”

“My heart is still tied,” Lee says. “At this point, I’m broken and worn out. I love music, but this is worse than any relationship I’ve ever split up from. It’s like four of your future wives that you’re breaking up with.”

Lee expressed, through heavy emotion, his desire to make things right with the band. “Right now, there is not a good repoir between their side and my side,” says Lee. “And it sucks. It’s heartbreaking because they’re my best friends and stuff, but if we could put our differences aside and come to an agreement on some stuff, then I would turn around and take a bullet for them again in a heartbeat. But to shoot yourself in the foot, and not have a manager, and go out on the road and have one of your members that’s inside the group that you’re trying to equalize yourself with is never going to work out, because then you’re looked at as being this god-like figure, and thinked about by everyone else like ‘Oh he wants to control everything and be this person.’ Somebody has to do it. You can’t just let things get out of control; you’re not going to be successful. My problem was, I got away from focusing on the fun because I had to be the manager all the time.”

Colorado Music Buzz and MileHighUnderground.com thank Jonathan Lee for granting this interview. We hope to hear from the other members of the band and get their side of the story. Responses can be sent to TWenger@ColoradoMusicBuzz.com

 

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Category: Exclusives

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