» Paul Kuhr - Novembers Doom
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I was honoured when The End Records asked me to interview songsmith and key persona - Paul Kuhr from Chicago's Novembers Doom, concerning their forthcoming release - The Novella Reservoir. Speaking with Paul was quite illuminating, and we engaged in solicitous interchange. I have only heard Novembers Doom newest CD; but I have been aware of the band for quite sometime. I have often heard such positive feedback for Novembers Doom and Paul's powerful presence. I'm pleased to respond that he truly inspired and enlightened my awareness. He explained the theme of the new CD - water, and the stark imagery of the illustrations. So whatever your metal may be, come whet your appetite for the forlorn, imbibe the bleak, and join us in our dak metal journey as we bathe ourselves in the novel resolve, drowning in our own timely innocence.

MettleAngel: Hey there Paul, how are you doing?

  • Paul: Good man, and yourself?

MettleAngel: Really good, I guess we have about 30 minutes to converse...

  • Paul: Actually, I have you for the whole hour, so fire away...

MettleAngel: Let me apologize by saying that I have known about your band for quite sometime; although, the new album is the first time I've heard you musically. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I'm friends with Alan Scott and Matt Chapman of Thorns Of The Carrion from Covington, Kentucky. I know they have mentioned your band on several occasions.

  • Paul: That's cool. Alan actually attended our first release party, like, 18 years ago.

MettleAngel: Yeah, I know you have been around for like two decades, as I indicated in my review. I'm surprised that I never heard your music. I do like the new album, though. I've read several reviews comparing you to Opeth and Katatonia, I think your sound is much more mature than these bands; for whom I care very little. Let's begin by discussing some songs off the new CD. My favorite track is Twilight Innocence. I loved the conceptual balance of melody and lyrics. It's about your daughter Rhiannon, correct?

  • Paul: Yes, my wife is a huge Fleetwood Mac - Stevie Nicks fan.

MettleAngel: There is nothing wrong with that. The song is so beautiful and honest. I assume the song imagines you watching over your sleeping daughter, while reflecting over your role of fatherhood in her young life.

  • Paul: Actually, the song is inspired by my wife. On the last CD, The Pale Haunt Departure, I wrote a song about Rhiannon called Autumn Reflection. I catch so much shit from fans for writing weaker songs like this. I did not plan to write another one. Autumn Reflection was supposed to be it. This time my wife encouraged me. We Were watching our daughter sleep and she said "I wonder what she dreams about?" I took the words and thanked her, because I knew that I had a new song.

MettleAngel: Why would fans criticize you for writing such a sincere song from your heart. I totally relate to the words; being a father myself. I think the song evokes such passion and emotion.

  • Paul: With Novembers Doom the guitarists Vito and Larry write the music, while I deal with the lyrics. We put a lot of thought into the flow of the music. This is very important to us. We concentrate on the variation from beginning to end. We usually pick one or two songs to breakup the monotony. These songs are not brutal or heavy like the rest.

MettleAngel: Yeah, and it is songs like Twilight Innocence and Leaving This which serve to create the proper balance and flow. This is why I don't like the sardonic Katatonia and Opeth references. I think vocally and musically you transcend this limited soundscape.

  • Paul: It is lazy journalism which annoys me when someone suggests that we sound like certain bands who popularized the genre. We have been around a long time. Those bands actually included us in their thanklist on their earlier CDs.

MettleAngel: Like Thorns Of The Carrion, you have been in the underground for so long. Still, vocally I do hear some Akerfeldt/Swano similarities. Even though I despise Opeth, Mikael has a great voice; especially when he sings with Ayreon on The Human Equation. I love everything Dan Swano does. Your vocal pronunciations are so clear and concise. I like the blend of intense guitar with your harsh and clean vocal verisimilitude.

  • Paul: I'm honored when compared to being on par with Mikael and Dan - I don't mind the comparison, as long as metalheads understand that we weren't inspired by them. Let me clarify, I appreciate when someone honors my vocal talent and recognizes similarity in style; as long as they don't think these bands influenced us. We are from Chicago and have been playing for a long time. Bands like Sindrome and Chicago's Devastation inspired me. Troy Dixler and Duane Rasmussen are the reason I decided to become a singer. I love that style of clarity mixed with Ola Lindgren from Grave's brutal vocals. We are still friends and peers of the other bands, though.

MettleAngel: So you set the precedent for the other bands to emulate. Actually, I think you sing like Felix Stass of Crematory, mixing the clean and brutal. You have such a discernible range. Don't take this the wrong way, but you also sound like Dethklok's Nathan Explosion from Metalocalypse.

  • Paul: Not at all man, I love Nathan. Metalocalypse is one of my favourite shows.

Cool, because, I don't want you to think I'm mocking you. I mean it as a sincere complement; not a pejorative slag.

  • Paul: My music, vocals, lyrics, they are personal therapy and very important to me. Everything is personal and subjective.

MettleAngel: Exactly, that is why the music and lyrics really leave an indelible mark. Now, has there been a recent line-up change since the last recording?

  • Paul: The only change is that we lost our bassist Michael - who is also in Disinter and Nachtmysticum. He just had too many projects, so we got Chris Djuricic to play on the new album. He toured with us and helped us record The Novella Reservoir. Now he is a permanent member.

MettleAngel: I see, and many reviews have stated that The Novella Reservoir is more heavy and faster than The Pale Haunt Departure, is this true?

  • Paul: Absolutely, we have definitely stepped up the melodies and aggression this time.

MettleAngel: Now let's talk about you being with The End Records. It is so difficult to label any of their acts as being metal. Granted Lordi and Sigh may fall under this umbrella; as well as your band, but artists like Extradasphere, Giant Squid, Stolen Babies, and The Unexpect transcend classifications.

  • Paul: The End has opened several doors for us. They have exposed us to a thriving scene and people who care. Career wise, signing with The End was the smartest move we made. They are an indie/underground label with major connections.

MettleAngel: I so treasure all their artists, but as a journalist reviewing their bands can be quite a challenge. They just signed Lordi here in the US, so that will garner them an even greater reputation. I am also a die-hard metal consumer, and I support their mailorder site daily. I have spent quite a lot on the Roadrunner reissues. So, being signed to the End as a metal band, how would you categorize your sound, if that is even possible?

  • Paul: We call ourselves "Dark Metal". We have aspects of death, doom, thrash, goth, etc.

MettleAngel: What does the title Novella Reservoir symbolize?

  • Paul: Roughly, it is the "Story of Water".

MettleAngel: Or rather a brief story about a holder of water...

  • Paul: Water is a major theme on the new CD. The rain, the umbrella, everything.

MettleAngel: Yeah,explain to me the cover artwork by Travis Smith; what's going on with the umbrella imagery?

  • Paul: I worked with a few artists, but no one could share my vision. Travis understood me, and I worked very closely with him. For me, the artwork is extremely important. It is a vital and essential ingredient like the lyrics and music. On the CD, the booklet is filled with several detailed illustratred pages for each song with water as a metaphor. The use of the umbrella is contrary to its purpose. On the cover the man almost drowns in the umbrella which is holding water; when it should be protecting him from the rain. On the reverse side it is actually raining under the umbrella. Everything has an opposite effect, like in one picture where the umbrella is covering the tree's roots; when the tree needs water to survive.

MettleAngel: All this mention of imagery brings me to the collectors edition book - the Wayfaring Chronicles, for which The End is accepting pre-orders now. That looks like quite a promising bonus for the fans with all the illustrations, and breakdown explanation of all lyrics, as well as photos covering every era of the bands incarnation.

  • Paul: I'm glad you mentioned the book, this has been in major demand. It was only limited to 300 copies, but demand has increased and now we are printing 1000, which will bring the cost way down. To honour the fans who pre-ordered this, the first 300 will be packaged in a suede bag with the CD.

MettleAngel: Wow, a suede bag, like a Chevas Regale bag? How big will the actual book be?

  • Paul: The book is 6x9". It's a novel concept. It is very hard to be original in today's world. I have had this idea for quite sometime; but I didn't tell anyone, for fear of having my idea stolen. I have been writing and working on the book for a while now. I wanted so much to keep it as unique as possible.

MettleAngel: I think the Wayfaring Chronicles is an awesome idea. I'm sure fans will be quite pleased; especially with an explanation for all the lyrics ever written. Do you think that you have more of a fan base here in America or Europe?

  • Paul: That's a difficult question to answer because it really varies. We sell a lot of music here in the US; but it is not reflected in the turnout at our shows; whereas, in Europe we can pack in hundreds of kids.

MettleAngel: Well, your American fanbase will probably buy all your CDs, but due to your longevity, they are more than likely also parents, and have busy lives. It is probably more difficult for them to always attend live shows; although, I sure they would really like to. I know that I am looking forward to seeing you live, finally.

  • Paul: Also here in the states, fans are so spread out all across America; in Europe everything is tight and small; more compact. We still do well overseas, though.

MettleAngel: That's really good to hear. Metal Covenant readers span the globe and will enjoy reading about, listening to your new album, and learning more about the band. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I apologize for not knowing more or having previously heard your other albums. You can read my recent review of the Novella Reservoir. I hope I did not ask too many of the same old tired question you always get asked.

  • Paul: Thank you Michael, no Man you did not. These last two days have been press days, and I do get asked the same questions over and over. Like what does the name Novembers Doom mean. I'm like c'mon we've been around forever you can look that up, just google it.

MettleAngel: I primarily wanted to focus on the new CD and the book.

  • Paul: Yeah only you and one other mentioned the book, thank you so much for enquiring.

MettleAngel: So that should cover everything for now, I hope you enjoyed our time together.

  • Paul: Michael, thank you so much, man!

See also: review of the album The Novella Reservoir

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