TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with singer and guitarist Carmelo Orlando of Novembre was done face to face by Boris Van Berlo on May 14th, 2006.
Novembre, one of Italyís finest metal bands, have recently released their 5th album ďMateriaĒ after a few years of silence. Coinciding with this they are roaming Europe with friends and label mates Katatonia. Tartarean Desire caught up with them on the last day of their tour to discuss the bands past, present and future.
Hello Carmelo. How are you doing in general and how does it feel being on the road again?
Well, pretty tired but also satisfied about everything. That would be the best way to describe it.
There has been a long period of silence since Novembreís last album and tour. Could you tell us something about the reason(s) for this?
Yeah, we basically had a very long process of changing record label. We werenít satisfied at all with Century Media and everything they were doing. To us it was all quite crazy actually. They didnít put any effort or input into promoting us and we felt like shit being with them. So after the ĎNovembrine Waltzí release and the tour, which was quite a disaster to be honest concerning organization and everythingÖ
You mean the tour with Katatonia and Opeth?
Yeah. Half of the fault is the labelís fault while the other half is due to our inexperience. But still we werenít supported by the label and etcetera. For us this was a big tragedy. Going on tour with Katatonia and Opeth and doing bad shows every night is like bad, if you know what I mean. But still we were pretty unsure what to do because you are with a big label and what do you do next? You say ďhelloĒ and what will happen next? We were unsure so we decided to re-record our first album [Wish I Could Dream It Again] in order to see what would happen, if anything would change. But after that nothing quite changed so we gathered all our courage to say: ďWe go, whatever happensĒ. Even if we will end up self-producing our own albums for the rest of our life, itís OK, itís even better. So we called up and said we wanted to leave. They asked if we were sure and we said ďYeah, we are fucking sure!Ē. All right then, so they prepared the termination contract papers. So as long as you get them signed and countersigned and you get a new deal with a new label and everything five years can go by like that, even with ĎDreams DíAzurí in between! Then in the year 2004-2005 we got signed to Peaceville Records, which was historical for us.
Especially for the type of music you play and the quality they are famous for itís a good match.
Yeah, itís a great match and also we are so proud that we have captured their interest. Because as you know, in the last 16 years they only signed mythical bands like Paradise Lost, Anathema, Opeth, My Dying Bride, Katatonia, Darkthrone... god knows how many, so well if they choose us it must mean that we are a hell of a good band which filled us with self-esteem and everything. Now itís a whole different thing and the guys from Peaceville are like friends. You can just call them if you have a problem, even in the middle of the night which is no problem. Itís a whole other thing. They only have like ten bands in their roster and are 100% behind those bands.
There is a difference in policy between Peaceville and the big labels.
Yeah, but not that Peaceville is smaller.
No, but itís not that big, therefore they have a clearer view on all the bands and what they are up to.
That label [Century Media] is just an industry and they just produce albums without taking care of everything and even if the album only sells 500 copies its fine with them. They will always earn money and they donít give a shit about the artists or anything. Well thatís it.
Like you mentioned, before you could notice it five years have passed. What has happened more recently with the band?
We had a new tour because of Peaceville. Ok, Katatonia wanted us on tour with them. They just called Hammy and said ďHey we want NovembreĒ, but still it would not have happened in another situation.
What you said earlier about the Opeth, Katatonia and Novembre tour from a few years back. For us it was a nice package but from what you told us it was not all that good for Novembre. And now you are back again on tour with Katatonia, and todayís show is in exact the same venue as 4,5 years ago, so I was wondering if you have any anecdotes or some nice memories from that tour?
Not much [laughter]. Besides being on tour with them because they are great friends. But we didnít have a personal sound engineer, so night by night we worked with local engineers, which was a disaster almost every day. And that was Century Mediaís fault. So besides being on tour with those great bands and some drunken nights and some nice chick here and there I donít remember quite much. This time every night is great and everything is perfect. We have a lot of time to do sound check and we play one hour after the doors open while in the last tour we played five minutes after the doors opened. This was such a shame!
How is the bands line-up right now? You, your brother Giuseppe and guitarist Massimiliano are the constant factor in the band. Is the new bass player a session musician or full member?
No, he is a full member of the band. In the times before weíve been pretty unlucky with the position of the bass. For several reasons we didnít have a bass player for a long time. Letís hope it will last this time and we will see what happens. We are getting along quite well and he is great on stage, he is a great musician and a teacher of bass.
You can see he enjoys playing live.
Yeah, itís such a great thing.
Like you said before, this tour is going totally different than the tours in the past. I have a question concerning the response of the people. To say it bluntly: do people still remember Novembre? The fans that come out to the shows, is there a part that comes for Novembre? Are there people that sing along and know the music? Or is it more recruiting a new fan base?
It happens, but mostly itís getting new people. Because you know people come here always to see Katatonia and then they discover a new band. After the shows we end up selling lots of CDís which should mean that they appreciated the music. They just came across here and asked for autographs. This might sound stupid but it didnít fucking happen on the last tour. People noticed that the sound was shit and everything was shit but on this tour people are really excited and are happy. They end up buying the albums or downloading it, I donít care. We also found a great feedback on My Space and our website. Itís a total different thing.
Letís talk about your new album ĎMateriaí. I have to say that it sounds definitely as Novembre, but itís also on one side more melancholic and on the other even heavier than previous releases. Can you find yourself in this expression, or what are your regards concerning this?
I quite agree with you. Some people have been complaining that there is less growling vocals than in the past. That could be true but I think itís more the disposition of the album. All the growling vocals are more at the end of the album, in the 9th, 10th and 11th song.
Maybe those people donít get that far?
Yeah [laughs]Öbut still the album is heavier, the sound is huge and especially the guitars are fucking huge. To me itís our best album ever and I am not really sure we can ever do something like this again. I recon that every time we always say thisÖ but this time I still keep listening to it over and over again.
You are really satisfied with it.
Yeah, itís still in my playlist standing at number one after a year. I think itís a pretty subtle album. It gets you and you canít help it because you have to listen to it again. Itís something you must do and even those who are complaining still keep listening to it and fall in love day by day and blablabla.... I donít know if we will ever do something like that again.
You have to try!
Yes, we have to try.
Did the writing and recording process for ĎMateriaí took place more recently or has the music been written over a longer period, before or during the situation with switching labels?
It was like a big puzzle. We had all the pieces separate in our minds. When we got signed to Peaceville we said ďOk, letís do an albumĒ. We gathered all the pieces in no time. In one month eleven song were ready which was amazing. But still all the pieces came in our minds in those three or four years prior to that. We never worked like ďOk, letís do song!Ē, because we had this problem with the contract, so why bother writing a song if we donít know if we would be here tomorrow.
But when there was an ideaÖ
ÖI just kept it for myself and I didnít tell my friends and they didnít say anything what they had in mind. ďHey, letís make an albumĒ, and in one fucking month we wrote eleven song like that [snaps fingers]. Thatís why I donít think itís going to happen again.
Because the approach was totally different than when you are under contract and you have to deliver an album in letís say one year?
Yeah, gathering an album like that in just one month is unbelievable.
Concerning the lyrics. When you look at the titles of various songs like ĎVerneí, ĎJulesí or ĎGepettoí, are this intended references to well known things like the story of Pinocchio or the writer Jules Verne? So are the lyrics separate stories, or more a concept?
I can tell you this. I donít think Iíll ever be able to fully understand myself. I write the lyrics afterwards. So if we wrote the music in one month, I only wrote the lyrics in one week in a trance. I think the meaning is so deep that I myself canít tell. Maybe in ten to fifteen years I can tell you something.
About the titles: sometimes I choose titles for their power as a word and not for their real meaning. You take for instance the word Ďmateriaí [matter]. It has a thousand meanings. What can I tell you? This is Ďmateriaí [knocks on a table], but there is also the anti-matter which is missing in the universe. There are so many things and I donít know why but I like the way it sounds. So you might say this word and donít give a shit about the meaning but it sounds like ďwhooaw! MateriaĒ.
So you are using lyrics and words more for its sound or musical concept than for the actual literal meaning of it.
Yeah, absolutely. Thatís it.
And is the use of the Italian language also more sound based because itís warmer, friendlier than for example English? Itís more melodic and fluently?
Absolutely! And itís also connected with ancient poetry. Like from Dante and all his colleagues. So, Italian words are full of power and I guess people outside of Italy understand the meaning of some words because they sound familiar. ĎNovembreí for instance. You immediately know its November but maybe its sound bigger for some reason. I donít know? The word Ďarteí [pronounces it in Italian] is art but it sounds better. So the sound is more important than the meaning sometimes.
A question concerning the metal scene in Italy with the more progressive bands in mind. A few years ago I got to know the band Klimt 1918 and became a fan. Your brother did the production and engineering for their albums.
Yeah we are friends. We happen to go out together at night sometimes. We have the same taste in music. I know they have a more new rock-wave thing but still we get pretty along musically.
Is this comradery exceptional in the scene or are bands getting along quite well in Italy?
Not much. In Rome we have Klimt 1918, En Declin and another band called Room With A View. But thatís pretty much about it. Itís the same in the rest of the world actually. You have Katatonia, Novembre, and Rapture from Finland but there is nothing much besides that. Itís not like Korn and a thousand clones. There are about four bands and nothing much around it. People still keep playing like Cradle Of Filth keyboards, lyrics about Satanism and vampires,Ö They are not much behind what we and Katatonia are doing, which is true art. Fuck the trends, fuck the blood and fuck everything else.
Music has to be pure. What you see is what you get.
Yeah. I think those people just want to be on the first pages of the magazines.
Now that you have a stable label, and Peaceville always tries to get their artists on the road, it would be nice to see both you and Klimt 1918 together on tour.
I would be proud to bring them along.
Unfortunately we donít get many chances to see them live.
They are doing quite well by themselves actually, they are moving up. They signed with a German label [Prophecy Productions]. So you will be able to see them soon I think.
The thing with Prophecy is that they have so many good bands but they mainly promote them in Germany. So it is difficult to see their bands outside German speaking countries.
You can be sure if one day I will need a band, I will choose them because they are the best band I know. For sure.
I will give you the opportunity for some final words for our readers and maybe you could tell us a bit how the near future for Novembre looks like.
After this tour we have another date in Rome and some other gigs here and there, but we will mainly concentrate on writing a new album and see what happens. Thatís for the future plans. I want to say hello to your readers and invite everyone to check out our website at www.novembre.co.uk and our MySpace page www.myspace.com/novembre1.
Thank you for this interview.
Links of interest:
Novembre @ MySpace.com