– Español aquí –
After a faultless trajectory, the italians NOVEMBRE disappeared, almost since 2007, from the face of the Earth. Nobody knew anything about them… Until last year, when they annouced their comeback. A long process that has culminated on URSA, its seventh work, which is been distributed by Peaceville Records. Carmelo Orlando, band founder back in 1993, kindly answers to a big amount of questions, with a sincerity that distances itself from the archetypal promotional interview. Here are the results.
Subterráneo Webzine: Well, as a fan, I have to ask you… What took you so long? Nine years between The blue and URSA, we even though that you had split up. But you returned last year starting to show vital signs. Great news for all those, like me, who didn’t know anything about the band and its current state.
Carmelo: Well, I don’t know what took us so long… Back then we decided to stop and we did it because it was 2009 I think. The thing with the CD market and the metal scene was kind of weird. You know, the CD sales were dropping down, the record stores were closing, the paper magazines were closing too… and we actually felt that it was all useless and stupid to keep going on and doing an album without nothing happening, you know?
So, we decided to take a stop and that’s how it happened. One year become two years, two years became four, four became eight and you don’t even know it. And in the meanwhile we took care of our things. I kept on writting music on my own and at some point I decided that another album was ready. I didn’t care of this and that, I determine that it was time to comeback and that’s what we did.
Subterráneo Webzine: In my opinion, URSA follows the steps of The blue, it’s like you had continued exacty were you left. Obviously there is an evolution that has been macerating throughout all these years, but it does not represent a big breakthrough. However, for me, Materia, showed a bigger change because of the softer sound (I’m not referring to that as a negative aspect), while The blue served as a return to harder sound. Besides my considerations about your last albums, do you agree with what I said about URSA? I’ll ask you this in a different way: In whichs aspects do you consider that you have evolved in contrast to your latest albums?
Carmelo: I think I agree most of what you say. The difference between URSA and its predecessors it’s that is an album that is has been studied a lot. I mean, The blue, Materia… those albums were written in a hurry and sometimes we found musical solutions that were too quick. We tend to add things on things, guitars on guitars… That was not the right solution, in my opinion.
On this one, on URSA, everything was more relaxed and I have the chance to study all the problems and structure the songs to solve the troubles in the proper way. So that’s why this album is so fluent. It a long one, ten songs, but you don’t even notice, you do not get tired of it. It flows without inconvenients, and that’s what songswritting is all about.
Subterráneo Webzine: You probably have answered this question above but, how’s been the composition progress? According to the post you uploaded on social networks, seems that it took you a long time to record this LP, as you had a few guests musicians, for example. But which was the exact point when you started to construct this album?
Carmelo: Yes, I’ve been writting tons and tons of little separate riffs, and at some point, three years ago I think, I decided that this was needed to be put together into tracks. I tried to work as usual, following a pattern to try to build an album from start to end. Of course there have been extra songs, because there was a lot of material. So, two extra tunes went on the mini disc Annoluce.
Well, as I stated before, I wrote this album entirely because I wasn’t even in touch with the others when I started to build everything up, but next time I’ll speak with Massimiliano [Pagliuso, the other guitarrist .EN] and we are determined to write an album together and see what happens, because I’m very satisfied about this work, but I need stuff coming. I mean, music coming from other people. I don’t want everything done by myself, so I’m very eager to see what’s coming next.
Subterráneo Webzine: Currently you are a duo, just Carmelo and Massimiliano. Considering how many musicians have been in NOVEMBRE through all these years, I assume that a couple was the best way to keep working. You control all the music without any distraction. Even you have hired some live musicians, but are you going to keep yourselves as a pair, or perhaps in a future the NOVEMBRE line-up could be increased?
Carmelo: Yes, me and Massimiliano we get very well along musically-wise, and I got to tell you that with this new guys [referring to the newest members .EN] everything is going like splendid. Giuseppe on the guitars, Carlo on the drums and Fabio on the bass guitar, we’re getting along extraodinary fine and I expected that.
In the past, unfortunatelly it wasn’t like this, we had musicians in the line up and I wasn’t really musically involved with them. Now is just different, there’s an alchemy that has been created. We have fun together, we listen to the same music, they are very skilled… I don’t exclude to bring them officially on [currently they are considered just live musicians .EN]. We are not sure yet, we have to discuss a few things yet, but this is something that can happen.
Subterráneo Webzine: This one is a little bit personal. After eighteen years, Giuseppe left the band, something unexpected considering that he is Carmelo’s brother. What happened, does he have other issues to take care of? I read on Metal Archives that he currently plays on AIRLINES OF TERROR, DEINONYCHUS and THE FORESHADOWING, besides he’s the owner of the Outer Sound Studios in Rome, so, he’s not exactly bored!
Carmelo: As you said, he’s on other projects and decided to focus on them, that’s it.
Subterráneo Webzine: I’m guessing that they have asked you this thousands of times but, about the saxo part in “Oceans of afternoon”, I supose that you introduced the saxo solo because it would fit with the rest of the song. Did you think, while the composition process, to include Paolo Sapia and his saxo on more tunes? Could we see in a future, more uncommon instruments on your albums? By the way, did you previously know Paolo?
Carmelo: Well, it happens that I’m a big fan of an italian band, which I totally love, it’s called PLATEAU SIGMA. I was totally in love with their last album, which is incredible, and there is a few sections were Paolo Sapia plays saxophone and wow! It was a major surprise for me to hear a saxo in a doom metal album.
About “Oceans of afternoon”, I knew that the song needed something big in the end, because the tune was quite slow and needed to grow up, to have a crescendo or something like that. On the base of what I heard from that album [the PLATEAU SIGMA one .EN], I thought a saxophone part would fit great. So, I called him, we agree and I found the right notes to make the song special.
Subterráneo Webzine: Another collaboration is Tatiana Ronchetti, doing backing vocals on the same track mentioned above. How did that collaboration come up? Thanks to Metal Archives I’ve discovered that Carmelo and Tatiana, were bandmates in an old band called THE LEGEND OF THE SLEEPING RIVER.
Carmelo: Well, It was not me in a band named LEGEND OF THE SLEEPING RIVER, but it was Gianpaolo [Caprino] from the band STORMLORD, and yes, I’ve known Tatiana for a very long time, since we were young and stupid. I knew she was a great singer so I asked her and was very happy to be part of it.
Subterráneo Webzine: I know I’m a little bit tedious with the line up questions, but, as a Swedish death metal freak, I have to ask you: How did the Anders Nyström come up to the table? He plays a solo on “Announce”, but did you give him any kind of suggestion about how he has to play it, or did he have total freedom?
Carmelo: Well man, I’m very glad to say that Anders is a very old friend, we met years and years and years ago. I guess we are fans of each other’s music, I asked him if he wanted to be part of the album, to participate in anyway. He was willing to do that, even he was (I have to say it) very busy with the writting of their new album, The fall of hearts. We are thankful to him, because he took away some precious time to dedicate it to us.
And no, I didn’t lend him any clue, I gave him total freedom to play whatever he wanted, because I love his style, and whatever he plays is gold for me. And that’s how it happens.
Subterráneo Webzine: Twenty years after, you teamed up with Dan Swanö in terms of mixing and mastering. He already did the recording on your first two albums (the last one was Arte Novecento, I believe). After such long time, why did you decide to gp back to him? Was Dan happy to work with you after all those years?
Carmelo: Oh yeah, Dan was really happy to work with us as we were, and the reason why is that is: I actually wanted to work with him again ever since the Arte Novecento time. But unfortunately he closed down the studio at some point in the nineties and decided to do something else. So, at some point he came back, but them we were at Century Media. We tried him but his prices were a little bit out of budget, if you know what I mean.
But today things change and everything were more affordable. I think he is the best for a music like this, I mean, you can have better production, even bigger sound if you wish, but only Dan Swanö can take care of the little details that make a work special. Things that you can come up with, effects on the vocals, reverbs, delays… Sound effects of any kind. He is the man that you want when you play something like NOVEMBRE.
Subterráneo Webzine: Speaking about old times, you’ve been around for more than twenty years now. From your point of view, how has this world changed (business, fans, bands…) since you started?
Carmelo: Yeah, everything has changed since we started as a very underground band, when we fotocopied fanzines with satanic bands from Sweden, Greece, Brazil, America, Italy… Everything today is a little bit more commercial, more mainstream. We have more normal people into metal. That’s not like it used to be, when metal guys were extreme guys. Now it’s a wider audience. Wherever you go, you’ll find some CRADLE OF FILTH fan. All is normal, there is no more rebellion, no more transgression… I don’t know, this is how I see it, maybe I’m wrong. I’m not sure whether is a good thing or bad. Let’s talk about it in a few years.
Subterráneo Webzine: URSA stands for “Union des républiques socialistes animales”, which belongs to the Orwell book Animal Farm. Although that novel goes more as a criticism of totalitarian systems than the defense of animal rights, it has surprised me that URSA is not a concept album (at least, this is my conclusion after reading the lyrics, but I might be mistaken). So my question is, why did you choose that name, how is it related to the rest of the CD? Even though it seems that the artwork has some connection with it, with that read-hair women holding a bear.
Carmelo: There is a lot of animalistic and political satire well hidden into my lyrics of this album. So, I believed URSA was the perfect title. It’s a inmediate concept, it’s a title that works, that you’ll remember. It has a political background and animalistic, as well, because Animal Farm is political and animalist. That’s pretty much about it.
Subterráneo Webzine: But, to complicate things a little more, on the video you’ve filmed for the song “Annoluce” we can see the girl from the cover, who ends up surrounded by people wearing animal masks. I know this is a lazy question, but can you say anything about the concept behind your video? By the way, it has remind me a little to the METALLICA’s video “Until it sleeps”. Do you plan to film more videos?
Carmelo: Yeah, about the video “Annoluce” I think you should ask Martina [Mc Lean], the director. She just brought the script, presented to us and we believe that it was fascinating. It was a little bit on the style of David Lynch or Kubrick. It remains also to the old fairytales of the eight hundreds, you know? The animal masks connect to the concept of the album.
In general speaking of what we love of the video: It’s a catchy video, amazing and well done from Martina.
Subterráneo Webzine: Like the wife who waits to her husband to go out of jail, it seems that Peaceville has waited for you all these years, even has reissued Materia, the first album you signed out with them, including a couple of bonus tracks. Will The blue have another reissue in a foreseeable future?
Carmelo: Well, I don’t know if The blue will have another reissue, because all depends of the availability of the CD. If there are no more copies in stock they are going to print it, so it all depends on that.
And yes, they have been waiting for us, of course, and we’re very glad with the effort they put on the promotion of the album.
Subterráneo Webzine: Those bonus track I mentioned before, where do they come from? Was it recorded specifically for that release or des it belong to your personal archive?
Carmelo: The bonus tracks, as I told you before, I wrote extra songs because I had so much material and I wasn’t sure. I actually was thinking about putting them on the album, but then it would have been to long… And this is how it goes. The b-sides we put them on a mini CD. But that’s kind of a shame because I like those tracks very much. It weren’t two songs written in ten minutes. Whatever I’m very happy with the release, one way or another. [Actually, I was asking him about the bonus tracks included on the Materia reissue, but he was very gently to answer a similar question of one that it was written above .ED]
Subterráneo Webzine: Well, let’s speak about touring, you have a european tour in September [that it’s currently happening as I write this .ED], additionally you will play at a few festivals, like the BURNING RUINS METAL FEST, BASILICATA METAL FEST and something that we care even more: A date on the Spanish fest Madrid is the Dark fest, 9th and 10th of December, with SAMAEL, DRACONIAN, TIAMAT, PHLEBOTOMIZED or HELEVORN, among others (a solid line up, by the way). With so many dates around the continent, do you really believe that a good era is coming up for the band?
Carmelo: Well, I gotta be honest: I don’t ever put things in terms of good or bad era. I’m just very glad the album was released and well received by the people, and squeezed a lot of interest around the band. But I can tell you, I’ve never been an ambicious guy, we’ve never been a group after the money. We live day by day: There’s a concert, we go out and play. There’s not a show that we give a shit about it, you know what I mean? So, we would be very happy to be in Spain with all this incredible bands. I’ve been growing up and listening to TIAMAT. Jesus Christ, TIAMAT it’s perhaps one of my biggest influences on my music, so I will be honored to meet them and to see all this spanish people.
Subterráneo Webzine: Going back to Madrid is the dark fest… That show will be the first time that you will play in Spain, or have you had previous experiences?
Carmelo: We have played in Spain a couple of times in old tours with KREATOR and MOONSPELL and later with OPETH and KATATONIA. Maybe a third time with KATATONIA again, I don’t remember. But certainly it won’t be the first time, and it’s been always fantastic. Great places, great people… I can’t wait to be there again.
Subterráneo Webzine: Before we finish, I would like to ask about bands, any musical recommendations that have impressed you lately, whatever musical genre they are?
Carmelo: Do yourself a favour and listen to this band: PLATEAU SIGMA and TO DREAD NOT, from the USA. This two bands will blow your head away, trust me.
Subterráneo Webzine: Thanks for your time, anything else you want to say to our readers?
Carmelo: Thanks a lot for this interview, and I want to say hello to all your readers, hope to see you son. Thank you, bye.