2007 started off with a bang after the release of The Novella Reservoir by Chicago's November's Doom. Primarily known as a doom metal band throughout their career, the band have continued to grow and mature over the years and with The Novella Reservoir the band has added a heavier death metal element as well as passages containing grand acoustic and atmospheric sounds. Lead vocalist Paul Kuhr spoke with Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo about the band's past, their evolution, and the stellar The Novella Reservoir.
Read on for the full interview!
SoT: Can you talk a little bit about the lyrics behind some of the songs on the latest CD and if there's any theme at all behind the album.
Paul: Well, there is a running theme behind the album and what ties it all together is the concept of water, and water is used in a lot of different ways, like baptismal cleansing, barriers, boundaries, for torture, and drowning, it's basically used in a lot of ways but it is the one element that ties the whole album together.
SoT: The style of the music is a little different this time around as opposed to your last album Pale Haunt Departure. You seem to have speeded things up a bit, the tempos are a little faster, and it's not as doomy overall like some of the past releases. What's your take on the way this album came out? Is this the way that the band is evolving?
Paul: Absolutely. When it came time to sit down and write we came up with a conscious decision that we wanted to come up with something better than the last release without ever trying to repeat ourselves. You know, when a band releases the same album over and over again it gets kind of boring, and we didn't want to do that. Ever since the beginning, when you go back into our catalog, there's something a little bit different each time out, and definitely over the last couple of albums we are really moving away from that doom metal category. I think it's really difficult to classify us as a doom band anymore.
Paul: Yeah, it's where we are at the time; we just really wanted to come out with a little more speed and aggression on this one. First and foremost we right what we enjoy and we do this because we love to do it.
SoT: There are a lot of intricacies to some of the songs here on this new CD. In my review of it I made some comparisons to some of the Swedish greats like Opeth, Edge of Sanity, and Katatonia, and for me it's really cool to hear a US band doing something along those same lines. Moving away from the straight doom metal thing I think was a really good move for you guys.
Paul: I think being stuck in the doom metal genre has held us back in a lot of ways. There's a lot of people who already have this pre-conceived notion of us because of our name November's Doom; like they know exactly what we are going to sound like and they never give us the proper chance. So what we are trying this time around is to get some good word of mouth going so people who wouldn't have normally listened to us now will give us a chance. We want to show people that there's really a lot more to us than just your standard doom band. There's nothing wrong with those bands-I'm still a fan of that style, it's just that it's something that we chose to evolve from.
SoT: The album has a lot of acoustic passages and keyboards, mixed with some complex arrangements. Are the band fans of progressive rock at all? A good portion of the album might certainly appeal to the prog crowd.
Paul: Yeah, we're into all kinds of things. Our guitarist Larry is into the early rock period, but I don't it was a conscious effort to be more progressive on this album. Truth be told, most of the influence for this record came from our roots, which is early 90's Chicago death metal. There's really not much different going on than what we were all doing locally back in the early 90's, so I think the early death metal and thrash roots have combined with the dark style of metal that we already had.
SoT: How did you guys hook up with Dan Swano and James Murphy to help out with the production?
Paul: It's actually the second album in row now that we used that same grouping on, and it has been great working with both of them. I contacted Dan out of the blue one day, and said that I loved the work that he's done in the past and asked if he was interested in taking a mixing job, and he was willing to give it a shot. It kind of opened up the doors for him again and got him back into mixing, which he had taken some time off from. He's definitely one of the best.
SoT: What's it like working with him? It must be hard not to be influenced in some way by him, as he's done so much for the metal scene over the years both as a performer and producer.
Paul: Oh yeah, absolutely. We are the first ones to admit, we loved Edge of Sanity and there's a definite influence on us from that style of music. Working with him has been great, as it was really cool to find someone who understands what we are doing and the exact sound we are looking for. There was very little that needed to be said, he simply 'got it'. It was a perfect relationship. He is a legend in the industry.
SoT: Any behind the scenes gossip that you can share as far as future projects that either Dan or James might be involved with? They have both been pretty quiet for a while.
Paul: You know I can't do that! (laughs)
SoT: Well, I thought I'd ask…(laughs)
Paul: I know more than I can talk about…there is something coming, which is all I can say. (laughs)
SoT: I know Dan has the new Nightingale album, and James has talked about getting Disincarnate back together. Guess we will wait and see!
Paul: Both of them are keeping very busy.
SoT: How is the metal scene in Chicago these days?
Paul: Well, it's getting better than it has been over the last 5 or 6 years. Crowd participation and attendance has increased. It's not like it used to be-the Chicago metal scene used to be fantastic where you would just go to a show regardless of whether you knew the bands playing or not. It's more difficult now, I guess the older fans have grown up and have families, so it's more difficult to get to the gigs, but it's definitely thinned out. It could be better, but it's not horrible.
SoT: Any thoughts on a tour that might take you to perhaps the East and West coasts, perhaps with a few other bands?
Paul: It's hard because November's Doom is really a glorified hobby, as we all have jobs and family lives, so doing a full-on US tour is difficult. We do some live shows when we can, we have to be pretty selective, which is all we can really do right now.
SoT: You guys are on a very cool label, The End Records, a label that is very highly regarded here at Sea of Tranquility. Have they helped you at all as far as live gigs are concerned?
Paul: Yeah, they have been great. They hooked us up with Agalloch and The Gathering in the past, which was phenomenal.
SoT: Well, we look forward to seeing you on the road!
(Click here to read our reviews of The Novella Reservoir)