New Jersey’s The Early November are a pop punk influenced, indie rock quintet. Rising above the status of just a local act with a decent following, they are one of the preferred bands in the genre with an extremely dedicated fanbase. After putting the project to the side for roughly five years while pursuing other ventures, the guys have reinstated their skills as musicians to focus on everything The Early November.
Their latest album, In Currents, is the raw, mature follow-up to 2006’s The Mother, The Mechanic, And The Path, and it’s a cohesive indie rock piece in its purest form. They’re set to tour throughout the fall, but the group’s guitarist, keyboard and piano player, Joseph Marro, took some time to speak to me about where The Early November currently stand. Here’s what he had to say:
Lyrically, In Currents comes across as a work based on life experiences. Did the primary songwriter in the band pen this from as personal a place as it sounds?
It has always been something the band has done, it is incredibly personal. I guess that’s just the way that “Ace” [Enders, singer/guitarist] writes. “Ace” is the one who writes the lyrics and the songs for the most part. I guess it is just easy for him to draw from personal things. Some people can create a story, create a character, and that’s really nice, but others, like in our case, prefer to talk about what is on their mind and what relates to their lives directly. I think the big thing for him and the entire band was just kind of growing up and getting older.
The records we made when we were younger, like 10 years ago, they are kind of about falling in love or the rough times in the earliest parts of relationships. Now, he has two kids, he’s been married for five years. Now, it’s about these bigger things that now you worry about—these other things that you have in your life, how to provide for a family. What happens when you both get older? Now it’s about mortality really, those parts of life that are a little more important, not important rather, but the big things that you have to deal with as an adult rather than as a teen or a young adult.
Being a New Jersey-based band, how has growing as an ensemble in this state influenced you over the years?
I think it is probably the best possible place for us to exist. I only say that because I have nothing else to compare it to. Growing up in the time that we did, it was an incredibly exciting place to go to shows. You can go and see bands in the basement of a church, a couple of days later you can see a couple more bands in a VFW. We could always see the bands that we were interested in.
It was never too big, so we could see the bands all kind of in the same place. We were kind of all growing at the same time, the fans and the bands. You see a couple of kids at a show, then they would start a band. We were one of those bands and we started playing with the bands in the area. It was easy just to play local shows, really, that would be well attended because it was such a vibrant scene back then. It was a really good springboard at that time.
What was the first show that you went to growing up?
Um, the first show—the first punk show—I went to go see Less Than Jake. I don’t remember the year, but I was in sixth grade. That was a long time ago, that had to be mid-‘90s.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I listen to a lot of older stuff, like I’m a big fan of Sam Cooke, I’m a big fan of Dion & The Belmonts and stuff. The National are a band I really like. I like Wild Nothing, and the new Twin Shadow record was really cool. That kind of stuff.
In Currents has a feel to it that captures the rawness of the live recording without over processing of the music. Was there a specific decision to maintain that type of sound?
The last record we made, which was a few years ago now, I think we spent way too much time on all this bonus stuff that really didn’t make it any better. “Ace” made some records on his own where I think he had a bad taste in his mouth from some over-production that was done on a certain record. We just thought let’s get in the studio and do what we used to do. Let’s record the song, we’ll add some cool stuff and make it to sound a little bit more interesting. At the end of the day, the song is the song and it’s what we want to say. The best decision right now is to make it be minimal, but let’s work on what is most captivating about the song as opposed to all of these bells and whistles that distract you from the song when it’s not really being that strong.
You guys did take time off from the band. In that time, what were you busy doing and what brought you back together?
Everybody kind of did their own thing and did it quite well really. “Ace” went on to record more and tour more. I joined a band from southern California called Hellogoodbye and toured with them for four years. Our drummer [Jeff Kummer] got a really great job at NBC. Bill [Lugg, guitarist] experimented with organic farming and stuff like that. Serg [Anello], our bassist, went to school, finished school, and got a really great job.
What brought us back together… Um, it was really not a whole lot of thought behind it. It was just; we got an email from Jeff saying, “Hey, I was thinking about it.” We talked about it about once a year like, “Oh, you think we should do a show, eh? Our lives have got all this stuff going on or whatever,” or something like that. This time he was like, “Hey, what do you think, should we do something together this fall?” and everyone was like, “Okay.” It sounds cool. It just happened and it made sense for everybody at one time. We did it and it was so awesome, so we were like, “Let’s just keep doing it.” It wasn’t calculated, it would be fun to do it now, so let’s just go ahead and do it.
With a number of releases behind you, how did you approach the recording process this time around?
We wanted to sound like us. Even though it’s been a long time and musically we’ve all grown, our tastes are probably different then they were when we first started. We wanted to make a record that would be an Early November record that people could put on and say, “Five years has passed, but it sounds like the record they would have made five years from the last one, it still sounds like that band.” We went into it trying to approach it in the same way we did those old ones. It’s like, get in a room and play some music and all work on the parts together.
We each would bring a song and we’ll start filling it in with parts. Some parts worked, some parts didn’t. Like, “That sounds weird, take it out,” or “That sounds really cool, put it in.” Like you said, not to overthink these things. Let’s just make the record that people would not only want to hear from us, but would hold up whatever legacy the band has. I just want to make those records proud as well as the whole name.
The Early November will play at Philly’s Union Transfer on Oct. 6, Gramercy Theatre Oct. 9, and Starland Ballroom Oct. 12. In Currents is available now through Rise Records. For more information, go to theearlynovembermusic.net.