‘Better This Way’
An Interview with Joseph Marro of The Early November
Words by Brett Bodner
Photo by Danielle Parsons
The Early November have always been a band with their hearts on their sleeves, writing meaningful songs wrapped in great harmonies. Appropriately, the band named their newest album Imbue, which means to inspire or permeate with a feeling or quality.
On May 12, the band released Imbue on Rise Records — their second release since returning from a hiatus in 2011. Guitarist Joseph Marro took some time out of his schedule to discuss Imbue, the status of the band, and what the future could hold for The Early November.
Feedback for Imbue has been mostly positive so far. Marro said,“Someone told me that it was our darkest material yet, which I thought was awesome.”
Half of Imbue was recorded in the winter of 2013, and the other half in the winter of 2014/2015. At the end of the process, the band was proud of the results.
“It was relaxed. I don’t think there was much debating over parts or second guessing. What felt right the first time is 95 percent of what you hear on the final album,” Marro said. “Some tweaking for sure, but overall it was a very freeing record to make.”
In addition to the songs, the album art is also pretty striking. “We went to our friend’s cafe in Philadelphia, hung my wife’s photos and set it up to look like a gallery with Ace’s wife as the model. A day later our photographer friend sent me the photos and I designed the album cover that night. I wanted it to be minimal and clean, but with everything slightly off. And we wanted to convey a really vague story with each photo and its color.”
Marro said there was no specific goal going into Imbue, although lead singer Ace Enders may have had one.
“From my perspective, it was the most liberating record to make since I truly don’t feel like we have anything to prove to anyone,” Marro said. “I don’t mean that in a pompous way. I just mean that we have a wonderful group of fans who trust us, and in return we want to challenge them a bit, but also take them on the record’s journey. “
Imbue takes listeners on several journeys. Whether it’s the powerful opener “Narrow Mouths,” the nostalgic “Boxing Timelines,” or the sad truth of the closer “Nothing Lasts Forever.”
“Boxing Timelines” is a song that makes one think about growing up. Marro said that Enders wrote the song about cleaning out his basement and discovering the contents of old boxes.
“Old photos, clothes, CDs … when you look back on it, you see yourself change in seconds from what really took years. Sometimes it’s embarrassing, but there’s a sweet and innocent quality as well. It makes you who you are. “
When asked if “Nothing Lasts Forever” symbolized that this could be the band’s last record, Marro said “Nah, but nothing does last forever, so one day we will make a final record. That day is not now though. “
“Narrow Mouth” felt that most special to Marro. “I got to actually track a guitar part that by itself sounds like absolute trash. Chords that aren’t even chords — but somehow they work in the context of the song,” he said.
The Early November completed their spring US/Canada tour with Restorations and Lydia on June 4, with more tour plans coming soon. “There are more touring plans in the very near future, I just can’t quite say what they are just yet,” he teases. He also said there are tons of songs the band haven’t played but definitely need to learn for next year (hint hint).
It sounds like The Early November is planning something special for 2016, too. Could it be something for the tenth anniversary of their second full-length release The Mother, the Mechanic and the Path? We’ll have to wait and see. The band is also expected to release a live CD/DVD of the tenth anniversary performance of The Room’s Too Cold at Union Transfer in Philadelphia from December 2013.
One thing is for sure – the band has emerged from their hiatus closer than ever, and even better musicians than they were when they first started. Marro said, “I’ll be the first to admit I had no clue what I was playing for the first four years. I now know slightly more.”
“We’re totally closer without seeing each other as much. Maybe that’s the secret,” Marro said. “We all have a ton of fun when together, but because of everyone’s individual lives, getting together needs some creative planning. Things are good for everyone, and they do work they’re proud of.”
Catch The Early November on tour this August & September…
TheWaster.com | Imbue