The Early November
The Early November have a flair for irony. For proof, look no further than The Room's Too Cold, the New Jersey-based band’s Drive-Thru Records full-length cd debut. Despite the chilly title, the new album is as warm and richly embracing a collection of songs as one is likely to hear this or any year.
Co-produced by lead singer/songwriter Ace Enders and Chris Badami (producer of their 2002 EP For All Of This), The Room's Too Cold is a striking departure for The Early November (as well as for Drive-Thru Records, which crosses new musical frontiers with this album). The band passed on using synths, auto-tune and pro-tools. Instead, they went for natural sound and intensity, using vintage amps and instruments, a live string section and predominantly first-take vocals.
"We wanted to make a more mature record," says guitarist Joe Marro. "So we tried to do songs in different time signatures and stayed away from typical song structure." Adds Enders, "The important thing was to keep progressing. You always want to step it up."
The new album was written during a tumultuous time, with Enders having just broken off a long-term relationship ("I was a wreck," says the unfailingly honest Enders). But that kind of climate often results in the best work, and the trauma is well reflected in the album’s songs.
"Ace never forces anything," says Marro. "He writes songs in the weirdest and most random places. Whatever he's feeling is what comes out, and generally, the final version of the song is very close to how it originally began."
With its off-kilter rhythms, unconventional melodies and enigmatic lyrics, The Room's Too Cold is not always easy to understand. "This record kind of sneaks up on you," notes Enders, whose soulful vocals dominate. "You gotta listen to it a few times before you come around."
Indeed, the album's 11 songs are richly varied, though the band deliberately left imperfections on the album, because that’s just how life is: imperfect. Tracks like "Ever So Sweet," "Baby Blue," "Fluxy" (which features an appearance by the Starting Line's Ken Vasoli) and "The Course of Human Life," traverse broad emotional landscapes.
"The Mountain Range In My Living Room" is about that all-too-human tendency to sweep problems under the rug. Says Marro, "It's about any sort of problem and how people just ignore it or don't say anything. We think it's far more rewarding to figure out what a song means by reading the lyrics and figuring things out on your own. We don't just want to hand it to the listener."
The album’s closer, “Everything’s So Cold..But You’re So Hot” is a personal accounting of the end of a relationship that fell into the trap of continual forgiving and forgetting. "Time makes it fine," sings Enders, but eventually it’s time to let go.
That kind of layered meaning is by now familiar to long-time fans of The Early November. Their roots can be traced back to Hammonton, NJ, where Enders, drummer Jeff Kummer and bassist Sergio Anello first made music together. Joe Marro joined shortly thereafter.
After sending a demo to Drive-Thru Records, the band was quickly offered a record deal. Within a few months, their premiere EP For All of This shipped in both electric and acoustic versions.
At the same time, they began charming audiences around the country, most notably on the Drive-Thru stage at the Warped Tour. Three of their songs hit the Top 5 on MP3.com's charts, with "Every Night's Another Story" hitting #1. The EP went on to sell 50,000 copies, clearing the way to tours of the U.S. and the U.K., with the band sharing the bill with Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line, Count The Stars and Home Grown.
The band also had a homemade super 8mm video air on MTV, and they kicked ass on the Y-100 "Cage Match" ten nights in a row.
After that initial success, the members of Early November couldn’t wait to return to the studio. This time around, they had a much better sense of what they were looking for in a recording and who they were as a band.
Ask The Early November what they're like in concert, and you get a terse reply: "We break a lot of stuff," says Marro with a laugh. He’s not exaggerating. Once bassist Anello accidentally crashed through a wall of the church the band performed in. When they’re onstage playing and they feel that connection with the audience is when the band is at it’s best. Sometimes they tend to get a little carried away.
With the release of the new album, the band has many months of touring ahead of them. Currently The Early November are on the road with labelmates on The Drive-Thru Records 2003 Invasion Tour and will begin a full US headlining tour in early November. But as veterans of at least four national tours, they couldn't be happier. And as The Room's Too Cold soon begins heating up the music world, the same will be said of music fans everywhere.