An Interview with The Early November: Riding The Currents

Since their reunion, The Early November have made a gracious return to the spotlight and to the hearts of their beloved New Jersey fateful. The band put out their third studio full-length, In Currents, in 2011, and have shared the stage with many rising stars like The Wonder Years, Man Overboard, The Swellers, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves and Into It. Over It. Last summer, The Early November were one of the leading acts on the Vans Warped Tour.

Upon hearing of the first official lineup of this year’s Skate And Surf Festival, not only was I ecstatic to find out about the long-awaited return of Midtown, but I was also excited to see that The Early November were announced to play the first day as well, so this was definitely quite a treat.

Weeks prior to the upcoming festivities in Asbury Park, I had the opportunity to talk to Early November guitarist Joseph Marro, who reflected back on his glory days of playing Skate And Surf. While he expressed his excitement for being a part of the fun in the sun this year, Marro and I also talked about upcoming plans afterwards, which included talks of a follow-up for In Currents that is still in the works.

Since you have played Skate And Surf in the past when it first began, what will you be looking forward to the most about this year’s festivities?

Well it’s always been a cool time of the year because it was in the spring and it starts to kick off summer, you know? That’s the way it used to feel when we would drive up there to Asbury and you just kind of get that vibe that summer is coming. It is just a fun time.

Honestly, it’s been a long time since we had a Skate And Surf and even longer we’ve been to one or we played one. So I am just looking forward seeing a lot of friends, you know. Midtown’s doing their thing and I haven’t seen those guys in a long time. Just a nice weekend, really.

When Skate And Surf was resurrected, were you guys asked to play last year? What persuaded you into wanting to play this year?

No, we were doing Warped Tour last year so it sort of conflicted because Warped Tour has a really, really big radius around it, like how many days and where you can perform. So we were already confirmed for Warped Tour and we were kind of just out of the question.

This year, when we heard about it, we heard that they were doing it again, so we said, “Hey, let’s hit them up.” It was great to get the offer and then schedule it in for us.

What were some of your favorite memories from attending and/or playing in the past?

Back in the day, I remember seeing Cave In open the Arcade Stage. I forget what it was called, the one in the middle. And they opened it and I was just like, “Why is this band opening it? They should be headlining the entire festival.” But, you know, it was one of my favorite bands.

I remember that year—it may have been that year or it may have been the year later—but Fall Out Boy playing towards the end of the day on that middle stage and it just being insane. It was right before Cork Tree came out and everyone knew it was going to blow up. It was amazing.

What other performers are you guys looking forward to seeing?

I am excited to see Midtown obviously because it has been a very long time. I saw Hidden In Plain View a couple of months ago when they did Philly and they were great. I am also excited to see this band called Tiny Moving Parts. Alkaline Trio, too. They’re my favorite band on the whole thing.

There is a lot of cool stuff. I plan on going to Sunday as well because there are other bands like Pianos Become The Teeth who I’d really like to see.

Do you think Skate And Surf’s relocation to Asbury Park was an appropriate move to bring the fest back to its roots?

I don’t know if it was that. I am sure it’s far more just logistical. Putting on a huge festival that size is insane. There are a ton of issues that can come into play in any moment.
I honestly like it in Asbury because it’s closer to my house. And it just makes sense because that is where it started. It’s nice that it’s there. Their logo has always been related to that area. I guess it was more Bamboozle who had that face, but it still has ties to that city. So it definitely makes sense that it’s there.

Will you guys be playing a little bit of everything off of your musical catalog at S&S?

Yeah, we will be doing a little bit of everything. I honestly have no idea how long we have to play, so that will dictate what we do of what. But it’s definitely going to be pretty varied. It’s probably going to be similar to our Warped Tour, which was a little more active, a little more louder and a little more rock, as opposed to doing more of the quieter and softer stuff.

I can imagine that a lot of people are probably going to want to go off The Room’s Too Cold [2003] stuff and all your other classics.

It just doesn’t translate super well from super loud to super quiet. So what we’re going to do, we’ll probably do a couple of songs from In Currents, a couple of songs from Room’s Too Cold, a few songs from The Mother And The Mechanic [2006] and maybe one or two from the EP. It will be a good mix.

Any possibilities of hearing new material?

It’s possible. We’re trying to sort out our practice schedule. Everybody’s all over the place now so it’s super tough for us to get together anymore. We’re definitely going to rehearse, but if we have enough time, we will probably squeeze a new one in, which would be cool.

During the 10-year shows for The Room’s Too Cold, you guys announced that you were planning to put out a follow-up for In Currents in the spring. Will there be further details for an upcoming release soon?

We’re not ready yet. And I don’t mean that we don’t know what were doing yet, it’s just the time. We overshoot sometimes because we were off to a blazing start and recorded five songs and they’re done. So half of the record is done and it’s just been tough for everyone post-the holidays from the New Year. Everyone has different jobs now.

I think with Skate And Surf, it’s going to kick us back into gear with making time for it. So once we get back in the saddle, it should go pretty quickly. It’s obviously not going to be in the spring, but I would say closer to fall. Early fall is my new estimate. I’d probably say somewhere around September would feel good. I feel like we could get it done in that time.

How long have you guys been working on writing this new material since the release of In Currents?

It was super spur of the moment. We came back from Australia off of a tour, which was a year ago, and on that flight home, [vocalist] Ace Enders was like, “Let’s record more music when we get home,” and I was like, “OK, no problem.” We literally just went into the studio and wrote the songs pretty much on the spot. It was a super “just do it” kind of thing. There was no thinking about it or “what feels good,” “what sounds cool” or “what feels right” kind of vibe.

But I don’t know if that is going to carry through now because we had all of this time to sit on it. I think we are going to keep all of those songs—I really, really like them—but we had a great ton of fuel to add to that fire.

What was different from the writing process of this release compared to when you put out In Currents?

Coming back after all these years in a totally new musical climate, we had to really figure that out. “What do we sound like now?” “What kind of band are we?” A “who are we?” kind of thing. And I think we did a good amount on that on the new record, but there was definitely some trial and error.

The newer record we are working on now, I don’t think it is very similar to In Currents. It was definitely more of a reintroduction to the band and now this one is going to be more of a… It’s hard to say, really. In Currents was certainly more processed and thought out. There was a lot of, “Which songs should we perform first?” and, “What would people like the most?” And this new one is definitely more of, “What do we think is just fun and cool to do?” because there are less expectations, which is always nice.

What should fans expect from this upcoming release?

In Currents was pretty slick and polished. There were big choruses on it. This one is certainly darker, which is sort of more similar to The Room’s Too Cold-era stuff, where it was just no rules. So it’s going to be darker, but then there is going to be stuff that you kind of know to expect from the band. Just like powerful rock songs, but certainly some more experimental stuff going on on this one.

At this point in your career as a band, did you ever expect to write another record after releasing In Currents?

There is no pressure, which is nice. We can play or we don’t have to play. We can record a record anytime in the studio. There was no plan to put out a new record, but there was always, “Why wouldn’t we? We could always just put it out.” We have label support, which is nice, and they kind of let us do whatever we want.

Any future plans after you guys play Skate And Surf?

I want to do some stuff in the summer, but I don’t know what. I’m not sure what it’s going to be. It might not be The Early November; it might be some sort of acoustic stuff. I definitely want to tour in the fall considering if we put out a record in September, I would love to do a short tour to support it, something around three weeks. And again, I’d love to do our holiday show in Philly, which I kind of want to become a yearly thing. We have plans right now, but we’re kind of just lining them up and firming things up really.

The Early November will be playing this year’s Skate And Surf Festival on Saturday, May 17. For more information, go to