SOURCE – The latest album Hamartia seems to have taken the band to another level. What’s your opinion about it?
Larry Roberts (guitar) – Well I think with each album we’ve always tried to raise the bar for ourselves. No two albums have sounded alike, and this continues that tradition. Honestly with each album we write, it takes me a while to really become comfortable with it and decide how I feel about it. This one is still very new to me, so I’m still getting adjusted to how it sounds. I definitely think in some ways we pushed ourselves to be better on this record… better songwriters, better musicians, better production, etc. We’re always trying to evolve and grow, and I think we managed to do that again with Hamartia.
SOURCE – Your last album, Hamartia has been received extremely well and been getting great reviews. Was there anything different in the writing and recording process than it was in older releases?
Larry Roberts (guitar) – Well one of the first things of note is that this is the first time in the history of our band that we’ve had the same exact lineup for two straight albums. This lineup has been playing together for six years now, and I think that’s allowed us to really form a tightness and chemistry that’s showing through in our songwriting. Otherwise there really wasn’t anything too different in terms of our approach to songwriting. We’ve always just tried to write what we want to hear, and not really care about what is trendy or safe or expected of us.
SOURCE – When you hit the studio to record Hamartia, were the songs more or less completely written?
Larry Roberts (guitar) – Yes, pretty much all of the music was completed before we hit the studio. There are some things that get improvised or conceived once we hit the studio though, like some of the guitar solos or extra layers of guitars or keyboards that we come up with. This time though, Paul didn’t present the band with his vocal ideas until very late in the process. There were some things we didn’t even hear for the first time until we were already in the studio. But Paul and I did get together and work out many of the ideas in advance, just the two of us sitting down and demoing various vocal patterns and melodies. He writes all of his own lyrics 100% though, and sometimes we don’t hear the finished lyrics until he’s in the studio recording his vocals. Which can at times be a bit stressful, but it always works out.
SOURCE – You’ve been in the band for more than 28 years now and pretty much helped shape and create the genre. What would you be doing today had you not help found Novembers Doom?
Larry Roberts (guitar) – Yes, the band is getting close to being around for three decades now, and I’ve been in the band for almost twenty years, which is hard to believe. It’s kind of hard to imagine what life would have been like without this band because it has dictated the direction of my life in so many ways. But I’m sure I’d be playing music still even if it wasn’t with this band. Everyone in Novembers Doom has other musical projects that we do on the side when we can. Paul is the founder of this band and I know he too can’t imagine what life would’ve been like without it. Even though we’ve had some rough times and had to deal with a lot of bad stuff because of the band, I think overall the good has outweighed the bad. We’ve met many wonderful people who are important parts of our lives because of this band, and we’ve gotten to see much of the world from touring and such. So we’re very grateful for what we’ve had.
SOURCE – With over 28 years of music and 10 studio albums in an industry that’s unpredictable and forever changing, what does this longevity mean to you?
Larry Roberts (guitar) – I think the key is that we’ve always stuck to our guns and done precisely what we wanted to do, and not given in to pressure from industry people or even the fans, when they’ve tried to push us to do something we didn’t want to do or think was right. We knew early on that we weren’t going to be a band who’d tour endlessly and starve to death on the road, living off of drugs and booze and bad food, haha. We love to travel and it is necessary but we’ve kept ourselves grounded in reality and we were wise enough to know that this ever-changing industry was probably not going to provide us with massive fame and riches. So we’ve always kept ourselves grounded, doing what feels right for us and trying to jump on the right opportunities when we can, and learning to say “no” when people have tried to get us to do things that would make us miserable. Same with our songwriting, we’ve only ever written music that we like to hear and play, which means sometimes our fans get upset because we do things they don’t like. That’s ok. We’re happy that they listened and gave us a chance, but not everyone is going to be along for the entire ride. The key is keeping yourselves happy, being on the same page as a band, and being realistic about what to expect from the business and the music scene.
SOURCE – What are currently some of the most important tools and instruments you’re using?
Larry Roberts (guitar) – Well speaking for myself, one of the most important parts of my sound is using baritone scale-length guitars, because it allows us to tune down very low while still having a clear, crisp tone. Vito and I both swear by baritone guitars, we’re very happy with how they play and sound. And I only use Seymour Duncan pickups and effects pedals now, for several years it’s been a key component to my tone and it’s made a big difference. The Black Winter pickups were present on “Hamartia” and our last CD “Bled White”, and I think you can hear how much better my tone is on those albums, especially in the guitar solos.
SOURCE – Does the whole illegal download issue frustrate you as artists or is it just a fact of life and something bands have to accept these days?
Larry Roberts (guitar) – Sure it’s frustrating, because it has affected bands in ways that many people don’t even consider. It’s not simply just about money lost. Just the whole way in which business is done with trying to promote, book tours etc, has been changed due to the fact that people aren’t really buying music as much anymore. And we’ve always been a band who prided ourselves on having great artwork and lyrical concepts so we’ve always considered the packaging to be an important part of the whole album. But, as you said, it has been a fact of life for years now and complaining about it isn’t going to change anything. Social media and YouTube have really helped bands to promote themselves and gain a lot of attention in a way where putting our “free” content works positively for bands and the fans. As long as the fans who care about the band continue to support us as much as possible, we’re happy.
SOURCE – Is there anything else you’d like to add to our readers and the Brazilian bangers who’ll see you perform soon?
Larry Roberts (guitar) – We love all of our fans very much, and we really love the Brazilian fans who’ve shown us such amazing support over the years, it’s mindblowing for us. When we played the Overload festival a couple years ago, we had such a wonderful time and we met some of the best people we’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, honestly. So we’re quite eager to get back to Brazil and play again. I’m hoping they’ll enjoy Hamartia so we can perform those songs for them soon! We’re always grateful for the support! Cheers.