Interview: The Early November

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Sometimes it’s good to go home.

The Early November, emerged from South Jersey in the early 00s during the massive emo explosion that swept the nation. The band went on to become one of the heavyweights of the movement, and after a brief hiatus, returned as a ferocious touring band — performing to sold-out venues across the country.

I remember encountering the band back in 2003 when they headlined a special concert for students-only on the Douglass College campus at Rutgers University. The guys were still young, and just coming into their fame. In tow with their gear was an extra-bulky bass drum bag. When concert organizers (myself included) were asked to help load the band’s gear in (there were no roadies), the bass drum kit started to move. When organizers picked the kit up, out fell a young, definitely not college age fan. The band looked at each other and laughed.

Today, they return home.

Later today The Early November will headline the first-ever Pinelands Music Festival at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey. So, to pre-game their set we spoke with The Early November’s Joe Marro talk about their new record, and of course, performing at Pinelands Music Festival.

Photo Credit: Danielle Parsons
Photo Credit: Danielle Parsons

You released your new record, Imbue in May. How has the reception been from the fans?

t’s been pretty awesome. I don’t think we’ve ever seen such an immediate reaction to some songs. A lot of that probably has to do with things being available so fast via the internet but it was great to hear people singing along to the new songs so soon.

Ace Enders was quoted saying, ‘This is my favorite album I’ve ever been a part of.’ What is it about Imbue that makes it so special? How does this record stand out from the rest of your catalog?

I think because it’s the one where we had nothing to prove really. After being a band for about 13 years and having had the ups and downs we’ve had, we now feel like we’re able to make records from a very pure and real place.

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In the press release for your record it says, ‘The Early November is crafting powerful and dynamic rock music that is undeniably modern without abandoning its roots.’ Do you ever feel that it’s difficult to balance the classic Early November sound while embracing the future? Do you ever feel you should put the old sound on the shelf, and move in a new direction?

Not really. We’ve always been a band who has tried to grow from record to record but that doesn’t mean you don’t still identify with the stuff you wrote earlier in your career. It just invoked a different reaction or feeling and in actuality, it’s fun to tap into now and then.

I first saw The Early November when you played a special show at Douglass College at Rutgers University around 2004. You guys were super-young, and tried sneaking a kid into the show in your bass drum bag. It was a funny moment, for sure. Do you ever look back on those early days, shake your head and laugh at some of the stuff you pulled while on the road?

For sure. We did a lot of silly stuff. I remember that show well. I feel like we did the old drum case trick a few times. Those times were fun though. We were never trying to put one over on any one or anything. Just young kids having a laugh.

Many of those fans who were around those early, Early November shows are getting married and have families. Who are you seeing coming out to your shows these days — is it those original TEN fans coming out for nostalgia, or is there a new, young crowd that has become hip to your sound?

I would say it’s mostly people who have been coming out for years. Probably something like 80% are people we recognize, which is really flattering. The other flattering thing is seeing new people who are new fans, which is definitely hard to do these days.

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Next year will be the 10th anniversary of The Mother, the Mechanic and the Path – any plans on playing those records in full on the road?

We’ve been discussing it. We won’t be able to do the entire thing (it’s long) but we’re planning something special for it.

You recently toured with some great newer/younger bands like A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Restorations and You Blew It! What bands out on the scene today really get you amped to see live and/or listen to on record?

So many great bands now. All of the ones you mentioned up there. Bands like Foxing, Allison Weiss, Prawn, Into It Over It, Dryjacket, Sorority Noise are all doing really awesome things.

You’re one of the headliners for the Pinelands Music Festival, which’ll take place 30 minutes or so outside of your hometown of Hammonton. How does it feel to be an integral part of a hometown show like this? Speaking of hometown shows, does performing shows in Jersey (and Philly/NYC) make you a little more nervous than other shows, or does it add an extra bit of excitement?

Pretty great really. We’ve always felt like Southern NJ should have something like this. Geographically, it’s in a really great spot. I wouldn’t say home shows are any more nerve wracking but they’re definitely a little more stressful. There’s always a ton more people to be looking after at these shows.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?
Some more touring for sure. Maybe something special at the end of the year.

The Early November headlines The Pinelands Music Festival today. Tickets are still available, click here.

Schedule for the Pinelands Fest.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites