The Early November hold a special place is so many of our hearts, and it was truly an honor to interview Joe Marro for a great new interview on PropertyOfZack. Joe and I discussed how The Early November went from playing a one-off show to reuniting for a new album, how the internal workings of the band have shifted since their break, the writing and recording process for their highly-anticipated album, future touring, and so much more. Please read up, it’s one of the best interviews we’ve had the pleasure of having on the site in quite some time!
So, an original reunion show at The Electric Factory was announced this past summer, and things have been getting increasingly busier for the band. When did it become clear that you wanted to actually make a record?
It was a totally gradual decision. Initially, and I mean this, we only intended to play one show at The Electric Factory. It’s not like we planned an “one and done” sort of thing, but we wanted to play one show to see how it would go. That show went overwhelmingly well, so we decided to add another. The Philly show was so much fun and people seemed to genuinely care so much so that it sparked us to make a record again. Right before the New Jersey show we decided to do a record.
I think emotions were running equally high for both fans and the band at all those shows. Can you talk about the shows a little bit?
The Philly show was without a doubt the most incredible time I’ve ever had on stage in 10 years of touring through two different bands. I think that was felt by the rest of the band as well. It was incredibly emotional to hear that response. We never really got anything like that when we were a band. We had great fans, but it was nothing that overwhelming. It was almost hard to play; all practice went out the window. It was kind of nauseating to the point with all of the emotion. We were a little more prepared for the New Jersey show and it felt awesome and a little more intimate just because of the size of the stage. Both shows were fantastic. The holiday shows were all awesome, and that sort of felt like we were a band on tour again. It wasn’t so spontaneous then and we had a little more planning and knew what was going on. All the shows were really fun and were smaller, and it was fun to play outside of the area we had played a few times.
We’re obviously seeing new reunions every single day now, but some people like their old favorite bands to just tour and not put out more music. Did you take that into thought at all?
We thought about it, and it’s something that I’m conscious of. Every time that you see a band announce a reunion you question their motives. I do that less so now because I’m involved. Some bands might get back together for a large chunk of change because it’s all they have going on, but that’s not the case for the band. We were all doing our own individual thing. People had full time jobs where, on a yearly level, they probably made more money then while doing the band. We’re not making an insane amount of money to do this. It was a hiatus in the true sense of the word. We needed to take a break from the situations around us. We just want to let people know that we’re genuinely good friends and we do love playing in a band together, and why not do it while we can before things get too crazy in our personal lives. Ace has two kids, I just got married, and it’ll only get more and more difficult to do. We want to do it now while we can.
Was there automatically a spark back in the room for new material once you guys got rehearsing?
We probably decided to make a record a little earlier than November actually. We solidified things with the label around November, but it was probably only a month before then when we decided we wanted to record. But yeah, the first practice we played songs we hadn’t played in five years, but in between songs Ace would play riffs. One by one we’d start feeling them out and ask him what they were, and we thought they were really cool. It started on day one, really. Some of those little riffs will probably end up on the record. It was never intentional though. It was just a couple of guys who used to play everyday together doing what we used to do.
Regardless of that initial urge to make the album, everyone else has other things going on too whether it be Ace’s projects, Hellgoodbye, or family. Were there things that had to be worked out?
It’s tough to work around, and it still is. We’re still working out things for the year now. Jeff has a very, very full time job. So he has to work around that, and we obviously want him to be a part of everything, so that’s tough. Bill had a pretty serious job too, but I think he’s taking some time off. Also, as a band, we don’t really want to be on the road like we were before eight or nine months out of the year. We just can’t do that at this point in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we won’t do as much as we can. We’ll obviously support the new record. It’s just about playing it a little smarter this time, I guess. We’ll do what we can.
We spoke a while ago casually about how towards the end of The Early November’s original run that things just sort of got to be too much. You all signed contracts between the ages of 17 and 19 and thought the idea of having a 5 contract deal was incredible, but soon learned otherwise. Can you just talk about what it’s like now to have flexibility and how that makes you looking forward to be doing this again?
We signed so young and literally didn’t have a single clue about how these things worked. We had no idea what a booking agent did as opposed to a manager, as a opposed to a label, and who did what or what a publicist did. We never knew any of that stuff, so we signed a standard deal. Now bands usually get an attorney and work it down so it’s more favorable, but that’s in the past. We signed a deal and Drive-Thru was good to us with letting us work around certain things, like the triple disc. We were a free agent until a few months ago when we signed again. We knew we were a band that sold this many records and we wanted a label that could make it work. We had leverage for once, which was a nice feeling. You get to pick and chose and get something that works for you instead of something that just works for everybody.
Has the band taken measures to ensure that now more than ever it is more for the fun and to enjoy it
We’re obviously super serious about it. We do want it to be fun, and now to seem like a chore or that it’s more than what it should be. We’re also extremely involved this time around as opposed to when we were younger. We just let everyone do everything for us because we didn’t know how to do it. We’ve all learned a lot since then, so we’re pretty much self-managing the band. Everything is controlled by the band, which is really nice. We know what’s going on.
I think everyone views The Early November as the band that Drive Thru truly stuck the knife into. I think fans are looking forward to seeing what one of their favorite bands can do with a second chance. Are you looking at it that way too now?
We did everything that we wanted to do in the past, whether it went well or not so well. This time there’s less pressure because we’ve been out of the “game” for a while. We just want to show people that four years have past, but this is the record that we’re going to make as adults entering our 30’s as opposed to our 20’s. A lot of the fans are probably out of college or just leaving college, so I think it’ll be age appropriate for the people that grew up with us. We’re not going to be on that tour, record, tour, record grind that we were on before. It’ll be interesting to be able to do that and take our time with it.
How was the writing process been for the record?
It’s been similar to what it was in the past. Ace is always our chief songwriter. He writes a lot of music, and he’ll have a song pretty much fleshed out and tell us what he’s thinking. Now that he has his own studio, he can even demo the stuff and come to practice and play it for us. We’ll take it from there and bounce ideas off of each other. It’s the same as before, just on a more casual scale this time around. It’s helpful that Ace has the studio available.
Originally the goal was to release an album in April I think, but you mentioned that that has been pushed back. Was that due to the extra demand for shows?
No, I think when it got announced that it was coming out in the spring was just a little misleading. I think when we were talking to Rise originally we had said that we’d potentially be able to get it out in the spring if we had it done in time. I think that’s what someone at the label kept in their brain, but we still haven’t made a firm date. We’d like it to be out in the beginning of the summer. That’s ideal for our personal lives and what we think would be a good time. We’re on a schedule for that too. There was never a true delay because we never set it in stone. It was just a basic misunderstanding, which is no big deal. It’s only a month or two later.
The Early November obviously have a trademark sound, but how is the new material sounding?
We’re going to make a record that is us now as adults and as people who have done different things in their lives. We’ve played in different bands, made different music. We’re not going to make The Room’s Too Cold part two because people liked that when it came out. We’re not going to do that, but we want to make a record that will represent the whole band’s career. We’re also not going to make a synth-pop record or something. We want to make a record that the band would have made at this point in our career if we were still a band four years ago. Age appropriate is a suitable term. We’re not going to go out there and play a ripping punk rock song because that’s not what we’d play right now. Another band can do that.
Are you guys recording as you write, or what’s going on?
It’s not like we can go lock ourselves in a studio for a month. We’re doing it in packs. We’re recording a few songs at a time instead of all at the same time. The record is more or less written, and a lot of it is demoed. It is more or less ready to be done. Tracking has just started though within the past few weeks. We’re moving at a moderate pace. Everything should be on schedule for an early-summer release.
How many songs will probably be recorded?
We’ll probably put 11 or 12 out on the full-length and maybe end up recording 14. We don’t have time restraints because of Ace’s studio.
How has it been doing this record all on your own? It’s what you need to do due to scheduling, but it must be a chance.
In the past five years Ace has been recording bands. He’s put out records and toured obviously, but more so than that, he’s been an engineer and a producer for a lot of other bands. He built a really nice studio and he’s adding to it everyday. We’re not more comfortable with anyone than Ace, so it’s nice. It just makes more sense to do it with Ace because of the studio. It’s also relatively close to everyone in the band. Production wise, Ace co-produced or produced all of the past Early November releases. We just go right into it that way.
Did you guys have any nerves with signing to Rise or a label in general?
We reached out to a few people that we knew as friends, and Rise were one of the few that we reached out to. Matthew at the label has been a friend of the label for years now. We weren’t shopping anything at the time, but he immediately showed an insane amount of enthusiasm and excitement. We had another label in the works and everybody was cool, but we decided to go with Rise at the end of the day. That label has a very diverse roster. Some bands are a certain genre, and that genre does very well. They also have bands like Hot Water Music, Man Overboard, Transit, and Make Do And Mend, who are all awesome. It wasn’t an obvious choice, but it was the best one for us.
The band is playing a festival in March in Texas, but will there be touring around that?
I don’t think so. It’s probably going to be three or four show tops. It’s Never Say Never Festival, South By So What?! Festival, and we’ll probably be doing a show or two at SXSW. It’ll be a few shows in Texas for less than a week.
Should we expect a full tour in the summer?
Maybe. We will be doing something in the summer, but we don’t know if it’ll be a full tour. We’ll definitely going to be playing shows in places that we haven’t played yet. So we’ll be doing west coast and midwest stuff. Instead of doing six full weeks, we might be doing two and a half weeks and then picking it up again later on.
We’ve also talked about just the importance of smart touring. When the band was originally around, you’d play every single market over and over again. Now you have the luxury of touring when you want to tour. Do you think that’s incredibly important to ensure the band stays fun for everyone?
If a big band gave us a reasonable offer as a supporting band, we’d absolutely consider it. We all want to decide what’s right for the band. There can be things that come into play that could make us do a full US tour or a longer tour, but for the time being, it’s going to be smart and modest touring where we feel fulfilled, but not so much that we can’t see our families.
Everyone is so excited for touring and the record, but is the future an open book right now? Will you be playing it by ear in the future?
I would say it’s more than play it by year. We have a goal and a plan. We want to be a band and to see where it takes us. It’s just a matter of what exactly that means. We’re not saying that we’ll put out a record, do five weeks of shows, and call it a day. If that happens, then that happens for a reason. That’s not our plan though. Our plan is to release the record, tour on it, and then possibly doing some other stuff later on. We do want to make this a long term thing.
There have been hopes of a documentary as well. Will that come out with the record?
We’re planning on some really cool stuff for a pre-order package. It’s definitely an interesting story for everyone to watch and to see how this band is coming together after five years. Hopefully it should be around the release of the record.
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