Interview: Jake Bellows of Neva Dinova

words by Jackson Ellis | photo courtesy of Saddle Creek Records
| Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Neva DinovaOriginally published in Verbicide issue#23

Some musicians just don’t know when to call it a day. Over the years we’ve been abused by the sights and sounds of Santana jamming with Matchbox 20, Jimmy Page mashed up with Puff Daddy, and the spectacle of the endless Rolling Stones Geriatric World Tour. There is a palpable desperation to such transparent grabs for cash and another moment in the spotlight.

But consider, for a moment, that there actually exists a band in it for the music, and little more. Sure, we’ve all heard the rhetoric. But since the year when Ross Perot campaigned for president and Madonna was still marginally attractive enough to put out a book called Sex, Jake Bellows and his band Neva Dinova have been cranking out their melancholy brand of indie rock for whoever would lend an ear.

“I guess the secret to our longevity would probably have to be eating right, you know, exercise and stuff,” says Bellows, whose tongue-in-cheek humor belies his typical lyrical output. “We are also all very good friends first, before the band — no hired guns.

“The toughest part of having a band this long,” he continues, “is being unbelievably poor. And ugly. The music itself is the best reward for me. If you end up getting a song as close to your dream as you possibly can, it’s a unique and nice feeling.”

Another nice feeling, Bellows will admit, is Neva Dinova’s recent signing to their hometown’s largest independent label, Saddle Creek. After a decade as an unsigned act — self-releasing their music and creating a word-of-mouth buzz — Neva Dinova released two records on California-based indie labels Crank! and Side Cho, in 2002 and 2005, respectively. Despite the appreciated support of the labels, Bellows is most comfortable working with people in his own backyard.

“Years ago, when we heard there was a record label [in Omaha] that was pretty good, we made an effort to make them aware of our band. At that time, they were not that interested, and, to be fair, we were not that good,” he admits. “Things have changed over the years, and I am very happy with how they’ve worked out.”

Their one-record deal is somewhat of a way for both parties to test the waters, but the result, You May Already Be Dreaming (set for an April 8, 2008 release), is a satisfying, mature record that will likely please the label and listeners alike. And as an old-school audiophile, Bellows himself is thrilled to see his work finally appear on vinyl.

“We are stoked to get a record out on vinyl! It’s like going big time or something. I’m not a fan of this trend towards MP3s,” he adds.

Despite that sentiment, yes, the new album will be out in digital format. But with the best label support they’ve ever experienced in their long run as a band, perhaps the best way to experience Neva Dinova will be to hear them live as they spend the better part of 2008 on the road across both North America and Europe.

“We all got passports,” says Bellows, typically a homebody. “Kind of exciting.”

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