The following is a very old interview, from when Funeral Rain Zine was just a wee baby. I’ve lifted it from the FRZ MySpace, and it was originally posted there in September of 2009. Answering my questions is Larry Roberts of the brutally underrated band Novembers Doom.
At the end I’ve added the video for “Autumn Reflection”, simply because it’s such a good song.
Larry, if you don’t mind, could you tell the readers a little about yourself and what you do?
Well, my name is Larry Roberts, I live in Chicago and I’ve been a member of NOVEMBERS DOOM for a little over ten years now, and I’m the lead guitarist in the band. I also do alot of the song writing and arranging for the group, and am sort of the “musical conscience” of the band, haha. Meaning that I am the one who usually tries to make sure we’re keeping on the right path and that everything meets a certain standard for us.
How long have you been playing music? What made you decide to take this path as a career?
I started playing guitar when I was about 10 years old, and started performing in little bands and stuff when I was about 13. I took formal lessons for the first five years that I played, so I learned to read music (though I’ve gotten a bit rusty over the years) and I learned some theory and whatnot. Those years were great because I learned alot of different styles of music besides just hard rock and metal. That works well for me now because Novembers Doom incorporates alot of different influences into our music. I decided at an early age that being a musician was what worked for me, it just seemed to make sense and it’s always been a part of who I am. I couldn’t imagine just giving up music and pursuing something else. This is who I am and what I’m meant to do.
Musically, November’s Doom is just that: doom. There’s a lot of death metal happening in the sound as well. What do you think it is that drives the band, not just yourself, to play a style of music that is depressing as hell to listen to?
See unfortunately I have to disagree with you a bit on this one… we really don’t consider ourselves a “doom” band, though doom metal is definitely part of what we do. Don’t get me wrong, I think doom metal is great and we’ll always be into it to some degree, and I know alot of our fans are doom metal fans in general. But we decided long ago that we didn’t want to be one of those bands who just fit neatly into one small category like that, but it doesn’t sum up everything we’re about, and it’s just not the overall focus of what we do. We’ve got plenty of death metal in there too like you mentioned, and some classic metal, but we have alot of non-metal influence as well, plenty of other influences from Pink Floyd to the Beatles and so forth. The musical/instrumental part of our sound I think is quite varied. But our lyrics are probably the most consistently dark and “depressing” factor in our music, I suppose, but that’s just because Paul tends to write about things that are going on with him, physically and mentally, and alot of it is not the happiest shit to talk about, unfortunately for him. But it serves as a means of catharsis to be able to sing about it. So that catharsis, and the drive to be an artist and do music that means something to him, is definitely what drives Paul. And I would say that it pretty much sums up the rest of us as well. Bear in mind, however, that we’re not a bunch of depressed negative people all the time. We’re normal guys, with a goofy sense of humour lots of times, and we have families and relationships and so forth. Playing this kind of music just seems to come from us naturally, and I guess it’s drawing from that darker place in our personalities that just needs to come out somehow. We’re not a band that draws from fantasy or tries to fit into some kind of image. Everything we write is just what flows out of us at the time, depending on our moods and mindset. Which is a big part of why no two NOVEMBERS DOOM cds sound exactly alike, because we’re always growing and changing as people, and the music we write reflects that. We don’t intentionally write music to “depress” people, really we just want our music to promote thought. It’s music that hopefully puts you in a mood, whatever mood that happens to be, and causes you to think about things.
The band has gone through a lot of changes in members, Wikipedia stating that there are 13 “Former Members”. Has this made it hard for November’s Doom to continue, or has the lineup changes made it an interesting challenge. Or, even, does it not matter?
Well, when you consider that the band officially began in 1989, it’s not hard to understand why there’ve been so many changes in the lineup, as that tends to be how it goes as people grow up and change or move on in their lives. It’s sad sometimes to see certain people drift apart and have to leave them behind in order to keep the band moving forward. But I think overall the changes we’ve made have always been for the better. Every album we’ve done, I believe, has gotten better and better, and that’s largely due to the new people we take into the band. We always want to make sure that the new members are not only cool and on the same wavelength as us, but also that they’re a step above the person before them in terms of musical ability. We try really hard not to take any steps backwards.
I don’t know how long ago the official site was updated with your mini-bio, so about your favorite books and albums: any new ones recently?
Yeah, come to think of it, that bio on our site hasn’t been updated in quite some time. I usually tend to update it on things like Myspace or Facebook but always forget about the one on the official site! I’m always coming across new music or books that entice me. Lately I really love Mastodon’s “Crack The Skye” and the new Paradise Lost and Katatonia cds too, just for example. As far as books goes, I read alot of biographies on various kinds of artists in music, film, etc. I read some comics like Nova and Spider-Man and G.I. Joe. As for fiction books, I liked the Dexter series of books as well as Harry Potter, and I don’t really care if people think that’s lame or whatever. I’m an adult man who can choose what I like and couldn’t care less if it’s approved by the metal minions out there, haha.
Despite the fact that the same mini-bio has ruined this question, I won’t let it stop me! What kind of gear do you use? Any new additions to the arsenal?
I think I have updated my gear since that was written, actually. My main guitars are Fender Squire Subsonic baritones. I have two of them, and while they’re not expensive guitars, they are by far the best baritone guitars I’ve owned or played, and I’ve played quite a few. They’re extremely well made and they feel great, which I admit kinda surprised me at first. They’re even neck-through, not bolt-on necks, which is super comfortable. Sadly they don’t make them anymore. For live gigs I use Line 6 Flextone I heads, and in the studio I use a variety of different heads. On our latest cd I mainly used a Mesa Boogie DC-10 which was extremely thick and powerful. And I have a couple of 4×12 cabinets with vintage 30 Celestion speakers. I don’t use much in terms of effects or anything, a little bit of delay and chorus for leads sometimes but that’s it.
And finally, what can we expect from November’s Doom in the next six months? Twelve?
We just spent the last couple of months playing some one-off festival dates in various places like Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, and the U.S. We’re heading up to Calgary in a couple of weeks to play the Noctis III fest, and then perhaps some midwest dates with Woods Of Ypres shortly thereafter. No real plans yet for a U.S. tour, because we’re very picky about who we’ll work with and what we’ll settle for when it comes to playing the States. We’ve spent enough years of our lives trying to play good shows here and not get completely screwed and it’s hard. Overseas we fare much better and play better shows for bigger crowds, and we sell good over there, so naturally we tend to tour there more. But we’re discussing plans for the States, we’d especially love to get out to the west coast and southwest and even just do a short tour in that area, since we’ve never really tackled that part of the country. We’re also making plans to go film our next music video, which we’ll probably do down in Florida with Cage XXI productions again, who we made our “Autumn Reflection” video with. And then aside from that, the plan is to start writing music for the next cd, which we’ll start doing here in the late fall. We’re all quite eager to get back to writing, even though the new cd is only a few months old. I’d like to get in the studio again sometime in 2010 if possible.
Any thing you would like to add to this?
We appreciate everyone’s support, and want the fans to know that bands can’t carry on for long without them. Buy the cds, go to the shows, buy a t-shirt, join the Facebook groups, post your comments on Youtube, and just generally help spread the word if you really like a band. It all greatly helps and it’s not getting any easier for bands to keep things going these days, though you might not realise that. So we really do appreciate the fans who support us and spread the word, and we appreciate being given space in interviews such as this to get the word out as well. Thanks and cheers!