The Bitter-Sweet Taste of Life
CoC interviews Paul Kuhr of Novembers Doom
by: Pedro Azevedo
Some may say that doom/death metal's prime moment is gone, now that bands such as My Dying Bride, Anathema and Celestial Season are treading different paths. However, the early nineties may be gone, but doom/death certainly is not. Two Portuguese bands, Desire and Sculpture, show it, and several others do so as well. One of them, and also one of the best after the release of their _For Every Leaf that Falls_ EP, is Novembers Doom. After having had severe line-up problems following their debut _Amid its Hallowed Mirth_, Novembers Doom are back to contribute to the future of doom/death metal; and, considering the quality found in _For Every Leaf that Falls_, they seem to have what it takes to accomplish that. Vocalist Paul Kuhr replied to my questions from the USA.

CoC: Would you like to describe to our readers the music created by Novembers Doom?

Paul Kuhr: We try to create an atmosphere with our music. If we write a song and it doesn't affect the entire band in a way that we are all completely satisfied, we don't keep it. We have no 'filler' in any of our songs. We try to create songs that are enjoyable from start to finish.

CoC: There was quite a long period of time between the release of _Amid its Hallowed Mirth_ and _For Every Leaf that Falls_; what caused it?

PK: Well, actually we called it quits. Here's a quick version of the story. We all had a rehearsal space that cost quite a bit each month to rent. I was the only member with a checking account, so I would write the check for the room, and everyone would give me cash. It was good for about six months, and we wrote all the material for the second release. We were getting ready to record in the near future, and some people in the band had no money come time for rent to be paid. I covered them with the understanding that I would be paid later for it. So this went on for another two months, with different members not having money; I was covering everyone, and not getting paid back. It got to a point where no one in the band had the rent, so I refused to pay the bill. Two months of not paying our rent, and we were kicked out. At that point we were all fighting about the music, and fighting with each other, and I told everyone that it was over. We never recorded the second CD, and I'm glad we never did. It was almost an exact repeat of _Amid its Hallowed Mirth_, with nothing new to offer in any way. After six months of being miserable and missing the band (not so much the members), I decided it was to time give it another try; only this time I would pick the members more carefully. It took me almost a year to assemble the band we have now, and it is truly the best lineup we have ever had. We were only together for about three months when we recorded _For Every Leaf that Falls_. That's how well we work together.

CoC: Is the lineup in the EP a steady one now or will there be more changes in the near future?

PK: With the addition of a second guitarist, which we are looking for now, this line up should remain the same. We're all very happy with the music, and we have some things planned soon, that makes everyone excited for the future.

CoC: How is Abbas [Jaffary, drummer] recovering from his car accident? [I wish him a quick recovery.]

PK: Abbas is doing good. He's walking a bit now, on one crutch. The accident shattered his pelvis, and it had to be totally reconstructed. They cut him from the center of his stomach to almost the center of his back, so he's pretty proud of the scar. He was behind the drums playing with us just four weeks after the surgery. He can't walk, but he can play! He's quite an amazing guy.

CoC: How satisfied are you with the _For Every Leaf that Falls_ EP?

PK: I'm totally happy with it. The production on it is great, and the musicianship is amazing. Eric [Burnley] is one of the best guitarists / song writers I have ever worked with. It really captures what my vision for Novembers Doom has always been.

CoC: How has the response to the EP been so far?

PK: It's been really good. We have sold about half of our pressing in about a month and a half, and that's without much promotion at all. People seem to really like the new music. It has so much more to offer than the old material.

CoC: Personally, I find your lyrics quite interesting; would you like to tell us more about what lies behind the lyrics you wrote for each of the EP's songs?

PK: When I write, I write for myself. Everything is personal, and written on a very personal level. I write them so the meaning people get when reading the song is usually different from what I wrote about. For example, the title track was written for anyone that has felt loss. It deals with the death of a loved one, and the pure emptiness you have. That's what the listener will get out of it. The true meaning is in fact different. It's about a relationship having problems. The line "I used to dream of the blue in your eyes" isn't about the color blue, it's about the sadness and innocence in a person. Basically it's saying "I used to dream about the purity of your soul." But that's a bit too personal for me to write. I don't want people to know what goes on inside my head. "The Jealous Sun" is basically written about myself. It's the first time I have ever written anything solely about myself. "Dawn Breaks". That's hard to explain without getting into a huge answer. Let's just say this: if you looked in the mirror, and you saw nothing but darkness, this song is about what lies beyond the darkness.

CoC: How have you been doing in what concerns concerts over there in the USA?

PK: We played a good show with Obituary in December, and we're supposed to play with Morbid Angel at the end of the summer. We will also be playing the International Metal Fest in Michigan in August, so we have a few things lined up. We're all hoping to have a tour set up before the year ends in Europe.

CoC: I suppose the USA isn't exactly the best country in the world for a doom metal band like yourselves... How do you view the current American metal scene?

PK: It's quite difficult here. Especially here in Chicago, where most of the bands are grinding death metal or black metal. The crowds always seem to look confused for our first two songs or so, but then they get into it, because I think they realize that we're quite heavy, just not blazing fast. It's a fun time. We've never had a negative reaction yet, so I guess we're doing "OK". We need to get to Europe.

CoC: Some of your musical influences come from Europe, I think; bands such as My Dying Bride and Anathema could be named here. Several bands that literally made doom/death a few years ago are now getting softer. What is your opinion about that?

PK: It's disappointing, but at the same time, it opens up new doors for this style of music, and draws in a larger audience. If you ask just about anyone what their favorite My Dying Bride CD is, most people will tell you _Turn Loose the Swans_. [At least I will. -- Pedro] It has a nice mixture of both the clean and the dirty. It worked well for them. Many bands in this style use that mixture now. It's no surprise that we're influenced by bands like this. How could anyone not be?

CoC: Will there be many significant changes in your sound? Do you think the musical softening I just mentioned will apply to Novembers Doom in the future as well?

PK: Well, I can promise you this: while the band plays under the name Novembers Doom, you will hear at least 60% death vocals. That's one thing I won't change. Some of the music may have its moments of softness, but we're a 'metal' band and will remain that way.

CoC: What about the future? Any plans for a full-length album soon?

PK: We scheduled time in the recording studio, two weeks in early October. The full length should be available in late 1998.

CoC: Having _Amid its Hallowed Mirth_ been released through Avantgarde, and considering the high quality of the _For Every Leaf that Falls_ EP, it surprised me that this new EP of yours was self-financed. Why did this happen?

PK: Well, after being away for so long, we wanted to give people something new to listen to, and to show people that we're still around. We decided to release the best possible package ourselves, and shop the CD to different record labels to see what offers come in. We received a few offers, and Avantgarde said they will work with us again, but we haven't signed anything officially yet with anyone. We will be making a decision soon. We are waiting to hear back from a couple of labels, so after that we will be signing. It looks good. The offers we've seen have been good. Some better than others, but we will release the CD through a label. We're just waiting it out a bit longer while we write the new material for the release. We're close to finishing the material, so it will be soon.

CoC: What would you like to see happening in Novembers Doom in the future?

PK: We want, more than anything right now, to tour Europe. If we can get there and play with a larger band of our style, it could really be great exposure for us. I really think the European fans would accept us.

CoC: It's time for a final message, "for now... dawn breaks."

PK: Thanks to everyone who has picked up _Amid its Hallowed Mirth_ in the past. Don't forget to pick up _For Every Leaf that Falls_, our new EP, and keep an eye out for the new full length due out Winter 1998. Thanks for the great interview!


(article submitted 7/6/1998)

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