Flashback to 2006: The Early November
dropped their sweeping three-disc album, The Mother, The Mechanic, & The Path
, garnering critical acclaim and praise for their daring and thought-provoking task. Despite the album's depth, however, the band were dissatisfied. Exhausted, creatively drained, and personally unfulfilled, they made the decision to break for an indefinite hiatus. Fast forward to 2011: after four years of testing the waters of the real world, working odd jobs and, for some, pursuing new musical projects, the band reunited in Philadelphia for what was to be a one-off reunion show. Almost one year later, they've re-grouped, re-charged, and have dropped the game-changing In Currents
. Here, guitarist Joseph Marro recalls those early days, discusses the road towards realizing In Currents
, and proves that "getting it right" in music relies solely on never losing sight of those first desires to make a career out of it.
PureVolume: Let’s start back in 2006, when The Mother, The Mechanic, & The Path left you guys drained and creatively frustrated. What were some of the thoughts and feelings going on in the band that left you feeling unsatisfied with an album so many praised?
Joseph Marro: That was a really tough record to make on a lot of levels. At times, I don't think we were clear on what exactly it was we were doing. Ace [Enders] had a vision but it was incredibly difficult to create in the studio. Everyone was getting frustrated and tired and that led to issues. That record came out, and even though it sold well and people seemed to like it, it didn't satisfy us as a band which made touring on it difficult. That, combined with just being tired from six years of near-constant touring, just weighed on us.
PV: During that time away from the band, you all did your own thing. What would you say is the most important thing you learned in that time apart, and how did that influence you when the decision was made to write a new album?
JM: We spent some of our most formative years on the road together instead of having "normal" life experiences that everyone else seems to (ie. college, jobs, etc.) After TEN, we got to try to cram those things in. Some went to college, some worked office jobs, some worked odd jobs, started new bands, joined other bands, etc. It was all about figuring out who you were outside of TEN. I think that was the most valuable.
PV: Was the reunion show the final decision in going forth with writing this new album? Or were there other forces at work that made you guys realize you wanted to re-visit TEN and write another album?
JM: We really had no plans to do anything else after that first reunion show in Philly. We were really surprised about how well it sold that we decided to add another. Once that Philly show happened the gears started turning. By the NJ show we knew that we wanted to make a record and become a band again. It's just really fun to be this band and make music with these guys — especially now, since I think were all so much better at what we do.
PV: Going into the writing process of In Currents, did you feel like there was anything you wanted to prove to yourself about the band TEN was?
JM: Yeah, sort of the thing I mentioned in the last question. We were so young when we made those first records and we knew what we wanted to do, but not exactly how to do them. I think those records came out great, and they have a purpose for their time and place, but we all learned so much in the four years apart. We were excited to apply that to the band now and make a record that represents our past but also where we are now.
PV: This album deals with some very heavy subject matter, yet it still feels accessible. Considering the scale and depth of the last album, when you set about writing this one, did you hope to tell stories that people could relate to and understand enough to take lessons away from?
JM: We never really set out to do anything in particular. We just try to write the songs that feel right to us. I just think Ace naturally writes in a way that is often times heavy — subject matter-wise — but very real and human. Everyone goes through the same stuff and it's good to be reminded of that sometimes.
PV: The mood on this album definitely shifts between dark and hopeful, which seems to speak to the point you guys were at as a band - and maybe as individuals - while writing. Were you focused on creating a sound that would speak to that?
JM: We concentrated heavily on mood and vibe. Atmosphere is a big one for us. We wanted to make a record that shifts with what's actually happening in the songs. The songs certainly dictated how to achieve that but we wanted to put a layer of tension over everything. If it breaks, it's supposed to relieve the listener. When it comes back, it's there to remind you again that things can change at any time.
PV: “Digital Age” makes mention of some very important changes that music has undergone since TEN went on hiatus. With that song, what are you hoping to say about the current and/or future state of music - and do you think that technology will have a positive effect on its future?
JM: A lot has changed since 2006. Things in general are changing so fast that you really can't predict what anyone will be doing in this industry in the next five years. It's just a comment on the fact that (some) bands put so much work into their albums to only have a few songs streamed. Listeners are being bombarded with artist after artist. You have about three weeks to reach as many people as you can and make a lasting impression on them. I think technology is helping with some of the issues, but it's really short term stuff. It's like building 10 feet of track in front of the train but not finishing the line.
PV: Knowing what you know now, and having written an album like In Currents, what advice would you give to TEN of 2006?
JM: Pressure is good and keeps you motivated but knowing when to take a break is better. I would have told us to take a year off. Do your own things. Rest up. Then come back to it, and if you still have that passion, continue on. If not, keep the hiatus. I wouldn't have been so quick to call it that.
PV: What have you learned about “getting it right” in music? Is that possible?
JM: That's tough. I think getting it right is never losing sight of why you started in the first place. If those little things, no matter how you adapt them, are still true and still exciting, then you're doing it right.
PV: What’s next for you guys now that the album has dropped?
JM: Some more touring this fall
. Some international stuff in early 2013. Maybe make some more music. We'll see...