With 4 previous albums and one EP, Chicago-based Novembers Doom signed a record deal with The End Records in 2004. After a special re-release of their latest "To Welcome The Fade" (first licensed by Dark Symphonies), March 2005 brought us their 5th album, "The Pale Haunt Departure", which is an amazing blend of mostly Doom Metal and Death Metal, tagged as Dark Metal.
In contact with their new label, The End Records, I had the chance to be one of the first fans to listen to the album and I was eager to catch up with Paul, Larry and Vito to talk some more about the band and the new album.
- Can you introduce the band, who is Novembers Doom, who's behind the music?
Vito: Novembers Doom is a dark metal band from Chicago, IL. The current lineup is Paul Kuhr - vocals, Joe Nunez - drums, Larry Roberts - guitars, Brian Whited - bass, Vito Marchese - guitars.
From left to right: Mike LeGros [bass, left the band since], Vito Marchese [guitars], Joe Nunez [drums], Larry Roberts [guitars, keys], Paul Kuhr [vocals]
- I had the chance to review your brand new album, "The Pale Haunt Departure". Compared to your excellent previous album, "To Welcome The Fade", I feel that your last opus features more Doom elements than ever. How painstaking was the songwriting? How soon after "To Welcome The Fade" did you start working on "The Pale Haunt Departure"?
Larry: I think this new CD is a lot less "doom" than anything we've ever done before. It might be doom in the sense that the vibe is very dark but that doesn't really constitute being "doom" to me, personally. I think there's a lot more versatility and aggression coming out in the new material than previously. The songwriting for this album wasn't too painstaking, in fact I'd say that in some ways it was a lot more natural this time around, because we were all on the same page artistically...Vito and I write together very easily, and once he got accustomed to how we do things, his writing got better and it made things even easier. We basically started writing new material back in early 2003, and the writing was done about a year later. We took our time, not out of difficulty but just because we wanted to make sure we were all happy with the final results.
Vito: I would say that "The Pale Haunt Departure" is overall a darker and heavier album than "To Welcome The Fade". I wouldn't categorize it as a doom record though. There are some slow doomy type of riffs, but overall it is not a doom album. I think we started writing material for "The Pale Haunt Departure" about a year or so after "To Welcome The Fade" came out. I believe that's when I joined the band.
Paul: Everyone seems to have their own ideas as to what genre we fit in and what we should be called. We're heavy, doomy, powerful, dark and beautiful. We have just been calling ourselves "Dark Metal" and that's just a generic tag, but there's so much more then just one style, it's hard to comfortably place into anything.
The Pale Haunt Departure
- Do you agree on the fact that your vocals on this album are the best you ever recorded? Do you feel that you have reached your full potential yet?
Paul: This is easily my best performance yet, on anything I've ever recorded. I really have to thank Chris Djuricic for working with we and helping me to achieve the exact performance I was looking for. His suggestions were invaluable to me, and his guidance made me more confident and comfortable. I think I'll do even better next time, not that Chris and I know a bit more of what I can achieve. I can't imagine recording vocals with anyone else. And to pat myself on the back, I'm very proud of the vocals on this CD. It's the best I've sounded.
- Even though the album has the steadiness of a masterpiece and it's hard to single out one track, a couple of songs really stand out. 'Autumn Reflection' would be one, 'Dark World Burden' would be my second pick. What are the strongest tracks in your opinion?
Larry: I think both of those songs are personal favorites of mine, but it's hard to pick favorites when so much time and devotion was put into each song. This time around, with this particular CD, I find myself enjoying every song on the album. I can't say that for our previous CDs.
Vito: The strongest tracks in my opinion are the title track, 'The Pale Haunt Departure', 'Autumn Reflection', 'The Dead Leaf Echo', and 'Collapse of the Fallen Throe'.
Paul: 'The Pale Haunt Departure', 'Autumn Reflection', 'Dark World Burden', and 'Through a Child's Eyes' are the stand out tracks for me. It's actually hard to say that, because I think all the songs on this CD are really good, and fit into the flow of the CD perfectly.
- Dan Swanö was involved in the production process and the result is simply amazing. How was your collaboration with such a legend?
Larry: Dan really was in charge of the mixing, more than anything, and I think you can hear his touch in the way it sounds, which is exactly what we wanted. He was pleasant and easy to work with, and we had confidence in him, in that he'd know what to do with our kind of music, sonically. Hopefully we'll work with him again.
Vito: Dan did an incredible job on this CD. His solo on 'Dark World Burden' makes me shit my pants hahaha. I personally didn't speak with Dan, I know Paul spoke with him a lot through emails. As far as a personal collaboration, I didn't have the opportunity to actually speak with him.
Paul: He was awesome to work with. Very professional, and he knew what we wanted right from the start. He was on the same page as us instantly. I could go on and on about him, as we were just so pleased with the result. Dan rules.
- With this album, I really feel that Novembers Doom has become America's best Doom act ever and thus is also probably one of the most underrated bands out there actually. Hopefully, your new label, The End Records, has done a great job promoting Novembers Doom! Are you satisfied with the feedback from the press so far?
Larry: The End are known for being very good with promotion, and so far it's been quite good. Most of the feedback we've gotten from the press has been good, but to be honest we're not all that concerned anymore with what the press has to say because they're so fickle and they often have their own agendas anyhow. Some people work hard at their reviews and have a good knowledge of music, and a lot of people are just in it for the free promos and the opportunity to spout off with their opinions. We write music first and foremost for ourselves, and if other people like it, then great.
Vito: I've been overwhelmed with the response we've gotten so far on the release. This being my first CD ever, I never actually thought I would get to hear such great comments about something that I was involved with
- Novembers Doom is often compared to bands such as My Dying Bride, Opeth and even Anathema. Is it positive feedback for you or do you feel that your music suffers from those comparisons?
Vito: In a way I think it is positive, because people generally like to listen to bands that they know will fit into whatever category of music they listen to. Opeth is a band that a lot of people can listen to and find elements that they like. They might not be into the death metal side of their music, but their acoustic element draws them into their music or vice versa. That can help us because people will be more open minded to some of the stuff we are doing. On the other hand, when you hear comments like "these guys are totally a My Dying Bride rip off," when it's pretty obvious that we don't sound anything like that band, it can become frustrating.
Larry: I understand why people use comparisons when trying to describe music but too often it's just far from the mark. I can hardly see any comparisons between us and My Dying Bride at all to be honest, and Paul and I have been listening to My Dying Bride longer than probably most people out there now. It only bothers me because there's such a wide world of music out there, so many different influences we do in fact have, and rarely does anyone catch it. People hear Paul's clean spoken poetic vocals and jump to conclusions..."Oh, that's MDB." Oh yeah, really? Guess what, try The Doors. We're more influenced by stuff like that and Pink Floyd, or older metal like Celtic Frost and Grave and underground stuff like Sindrome and Maimed....if people would just delve a bit deeper they'd see. There's so much stuff going on in our music that doesn't even compare at all with MDB or Opeth or Anathema, it's just too general of a comparison, sorry.
- Are you currently pleased with your fan base or the motto "the more the better" applies?
Vito: I think the fans that we have spoken to at shows, through email, or online at our forum have been extremely supportive, honest, and really cool towards us.
Larry: We have no interest in being one of those elite, cult bands that has a fan base of a couple hundred or something. If we have 1500 fans, okay cool. If we have 150,000 fans, that's cool too. Our goal here is to put out music we like playing and hopefully as many people as possible will come along with us. We're thankful for the fans we do have, absolutely. But we always love to see new people at our shows and writing us.
- Another excellent quality of Novembers Doom are the lyrics. What are your sources of inspiration?
Paul: I'm inspired by my personal life. Many things have happened and taken place in the past several years that has not only changed me, but has shown me many new options in life, and dealing with these changes has been difficult. Whenever something monumental happens in a person's life, they can be overrun with emotions, and they can either be channeled to a negative, or a positive. I'm able to speak my mind through the lyrics, and treat it as a therapy for my thoughts. I'm not trying to preach, or help someone else's life, I'm just trying to cure my own demons, and my source is a life of struggle.
- So now, what are the plans for Novembers Doom in the coming year?
Vito: Novembers Doom plans on hitting the road a couple of times this year. We have a slot on the ProgPower fest in the Netherlands this year in October, and are trying to set up a tour over there. We are playing the South by Southwest festival March 18th at The End Records showcase, which should be a lot of fun and a great opportunity for us to play to a crowd we have not played to before. We are planning on shooting another video this year as well.
- In your opinion, which was your best gig so far?
Larry: Hopefully our "best" gig still is forthcoming. I've had great experiences playing things like the New England Metal & Hardcore fest in the past, and our tour with The Gathering was really cool. I have very fond memories of the shows we did with Opeth and Amorphis back in 2001, that was a lot of fun.
Vito: I would have to say playing the 9:30 club in Washington DC. Those guys knew how to take care of you and make you feel welcome. We played on a great stage with an actual sound check, had the best shower in the entire world also. We almost took it home with us.
Paul: House of Blues in Chicago with Opeth and Amorphis, and the 9:30 Club in Washington DC with The Gathering and Agalloch. Toronto, Canada on that same tour was also a highlight for me.
- If you had one city to name where you would love to perform, which one would it be and why?
Vito: I would say Los Angeles or some city in California, because I've never been there and I like warm weather.
Larry: I want to play everywhere possible, where people actually love and appreciate the music. I suppose to be specific, it'd be cool to play someplace like Sydney or Tokyo, or Helsinki, anywhere there's a good crowd for our music.
Paul: Somewhere in Germany, Krakow (Poland), London, and The Netherlands. All places I hope to play at this October!
- You have our full support, we're screaming Novembers Doom loud for you guys… Wishing you all the best. Thanks guys! Any last thoughts?
Larry: We only ask that people give us a fair chance and listen to this new CD with open ears, and don't prejudge it based on genre or comparisons. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you hear. Thanks for the support.
Vito: Buy our new record!
Paul: You guys rock! Thanks so much for your support. We need guys like you to help spread the word and we're eternally thankful you do what you do!
Thanks again to the guys of Novembers Doom, the whole crew at The End Records and Adrian Bromley who made this interview possible.