Haunting tones resonate deeply from within the fated souls of Novembers Doom. The compelling songwriting exhibited on the band's most recent effort "The Pale Haunt Departure" is guaranteed to stir emotions within the listener and whether moving through thick metal passages or softer, acoustic interludes, the music of Novembers Doom remains forebodingly weighty and distinctly melancholy. The Gauntlet spoke with Paul of Novembers Doom about his band's critically important contributions to the sound of despair.
The Gauntlet: How happy are you with the way that "The Pale Haunt Departure" turned out?
Paul: We're all very happy with the outcome this time around. Any artist who says that they are 100% pleased with the final product, should call it quits. That would mean they achieved perfection, which we're far from. Looking at the CD in an overall picture, it's by far the best material we've ever written as a band, it's the best executed in the way of all of our performances, and the production of the CD has fit the mood, and the material perfectly. The team we assembled to work on this disc was a perfect choice for us, and I think it's safe to say we will attempt to use this same combination on the next CD as well. The recording itself was handled by Chris Djuricic from Studio One, who also did our older release "The Knowing" and he is the easiest engineer in the world to work with. We worked closely with Dan Swano and made sure we recorded everything as closely to his specifications as possible, so he could deliver the best mix he possibly could, and I believe he accomplished better then any of us even expected. After that, sending it to a fresh pair of ears, James Murphy mastered the disc, making a nice difference in the overall tone. Again, it was a perfect combination, and we're all very happy with the final product.
The Gauntlet: In retrospect, is there anything that you would have done differently at all?
Paul: There are some elements on the recording end, or on our own performance that we would have changed, but every time we step into a studio to record, it's a learning experience, and that's how you continue to get better, faster, and more efficient each time you record. Most of the changes we would make are on a technical end, and maybe some choices in equipment we use to get a different drum sound, of guitar tone, or bass sound, but all of that is so minimal considering the outcome we received, that next time, most of the changes will be in time management. We need to pace ourselves better, and try not to rush anything, so we can get the "meat" of the songs laid down, and spend more time on some of the enhancing elements to the music, to make a better listening experience for the listener. We keep trying new things to keep things as fresh as possible, and we like to experiment a lot in the studio. That's also the beauty of working with Chris Djuricic, is that he like to try anything we can come up with. He loves to experiment as well, so it's always such a fun time.
The Gauntlet: With each successive release, the band seems to gain momentum. What is it that you have done as a band to ensure that you continue to grow and evolve?
Paul: The main thing this time around, was the band, for the first time, all talked about the direction of the music, and we all got on the same page, and worked for a common goal. With every CD we release, we try very hard to not replicate ourselves too much, and try to make each CD very different from one another, without ever straying too far from our sound. This time around, everything you hear on this CD was a big collaboration from everyone, and not written as an individual. It worked out so well this time, it had to bee the easiest CD for us to write, so being the first time we attempted to write like this, the next CD should be even better. We plan once again, to really focus on a common goal, and write a CD that tops Pale Haunt, to really make people listen to it and say "wow." Everyone in the band needs to work well with one another, and I think that's a key element in continuing to out do ourselves with each release.
The Gauntlet: Does The End Records give you complete artistic freedom to make the music the way that you want it to be made?
Paul: Yes they do. They are a label very much for the artist, and have never tried to step in and change anything we've ever done, from music to artwork. It was one of the things we liked so much about the label in the first place. They were well known for taking the chance on some obscure and very unique bands, making it a great place to sign to, being an artist. We're one of the more straight forward bands on the label right now, and if anything, they encourage us to take even more chances with the music, and really explore all the possibilities. We made a good choice signing to them, and I hope they feel the same way!
The Gauntlet: The album's layout very effectively conveys the emotions of the music contained therein. How did you decide what type of visual expressions would best represent the music?
Paul: I have always felt the images in a CD, and the layout itself is just as important as the music recorded. It's the entire package that tells the whole story, and it was important to me to find the right person to illustrate the lyrics I had written. I found the artist, Attila Kis, on another artist's web forum, and he had posted some of his work, and instantly I knew he was the man for the job. I sent him early copies of all the lyrics, and talked with him in detail about the concept I had, and what I needed the images to say, and each time he sent me a new image, I was blown away. If there is a perfect element of the CD, it's the illustrations inside. I would very much like to work with Attila again, and hopefully when the time comes, he'll accept the work from me. I already have ideas forming for the next CD, and I think his take on it will be very interesting once again. Art is an element some bands don't spend enough time on, and for me, especially when downloading illegally is at such a high point, you need to offer the fan something more, and a full CD booklet, illustrated to every song, is a good way to do it.
The Gauntlet: What type of feedback have you received from long-time fans of the band in regard to the new album?
Paul: The response to this CD has been overwhelming to say the least. I can't believe how well received the disc has been so far. The old fans love it, because there's still enough of the classic Novembers Doom in there, and we've gained many new fans due to the new elements we've added. We've worked hard to remove ourselves from any one specific genre, and feel we've stepped away from that "doom metal" tag, and Pale Haunt is a very hard CD to label as such. It's got a lot of different tempos, and emotions in it, we've decided to just call what we do dark metal. We just want to reach as many people as possible with the music, and the best way to do that, is to break away from the common mold and try to shatter the preconceived notions of the band. Some of the old fans prefer the older style, of the slower and doomier approach, but we're constantly growing as a band, and we needed to move away from that. For me, it was for the better, and I'm much happier with the material now then before, and hopefully as we continue to grown, and move forward, the old fans will follow us, and enjoy what we do!
The Gauntlet: The music on "The Pale Haunt Departure" is such that it could appeal to many listeners of differing musical tastes. Why do you think it is that after 20 years of extreme metal there remains no substantial outlet for commercial airplay for music of this type?
Paul: I blame a lot of that on the industry, and the people who control what gets played, or aired on MTV. It seems the only bands that really get the push, are the bands that come from a label with huge financial support. It's hard for a smaller independent label to compete with that, when they funding just isn't there to buy their bands onto the airwaves, and none of the major labels will take the chance on the smaller metal bands, until they've done all the hard work on the small labels. I guess it all depends on what your personal goals are in a band. If you want to play music for a living, then my guess is a death metal band isn't really the smartest choice to do so. It's very hard in such an over saturated scene to be one of those bands who actually "makes" it. For every band that has been lucky enough to gain success, there's 100 other bands just waiting in the wings to take their place, and there are a good handful of those bands, which are better, and hungrier for it. The competition is amazing, and as soon as you start to gain more exposure then some of your peers, the talons come out, and the backstabbing and shit talking begins, from bands and people you thought were friends, but are obviously touched by a bit of jealousy, even though it's far from being successful. It's a tough business, all the way around, so first and foremost, you need to just have fun with it.
The Gauntlet: What other bands have you always dreamed of sharing a stage with?
Paul: I've been fortunate enough to play with just about every band I've wanted to. Friends of ours like Moonspell is always a great time, we've also performed with Opeth, and Amorphis, Lacuna Coil, and Trouble. Obviously, I'd love to play for huge crowds, but I think instead of wanted to play with specific bands, I want to play specific festivals, like the Download fest, or Wacken. Hopefully in time, we'll have the opportunity to play one of these large European festivals. That's the real dream for me.
The Gauntlet: What are some of the newer acts on the metal scene that you are enjoying these days?
Paul: I think my two favorite newer metal bands are Wood of Ypres from Canada, and Lilitu, who is also on The End Records. Both bands are amazing to me, especially Woods of Ypres. Another band I really enjoy is Swallow the Sun. Very old school Death Doom in the My Dying Bride vein. Awesome stuff. Other then that, to be honest, I'm really out of the loop with new bands. I'm so busy with my own band, and my family life, that I have so little time to invest on anything else. I'm sure there's 100 newer bands out there I would love, so hopefully, some people will turn me onto them. Myspace.com has been a great new source for me to hear new bands when I do find the time, and i've heard some great stuff there!
The Gauntlet: What advice do you have for young, aspiring musicians?
Paul: The best advice I can give anyone, is to do what ever makes you happy. Don't compromise your artistic vision for other people. Play the music for yourself first, and if others like what you're doing, it's only a bonus. Keep your goals realistic, and prepare yourself to work your ass off for what you want out of the band. No one is going to hand you anything, and the only thing you can control is what you create, so be happy doing it. Practice, practice, practice. Make your live show as professional looking as possible, and be memorable. It's hard these days, because the competition is getting better and better, so just be the best you can be, and don't quit. You'll be discouraged more times then not, but persistence is key.
The Gauntlet: What does the future hold for Novembers Doom?
Paul: We are now entering the writing stages for the next CD, we still plan of filming one or possibly two more videos for Pale Haunt, and we will play on European soil in 2006. We're also starting to put together ideas for a future DVD release for 2006 as well. We have no plans on slowing down, or going away any time soon, so you can expect us to do our very best to create a piece of work that will overshadow The Pale Haunt Departure. We encourage people to contact us through our forum as well. We interact with everyone there, and we love the input we get from the fans.