Friday, 1 August 2014

INTERVIEW: November-7

We recently featured Swiss metal band November-7's new album Awaraxid 7mg on Femetalism and as promised here you will find the interview we had with lead singer Annamaria ahead of their UK tour later this month.

First off can you give us the low down on November-7?

I met Steph (lead guitars) in 2001 when I was in a cover band. He joined us for a show just to play guitar on a couple of songs and told me he had just started a music project with a keyboarder and asked me if I was motivated to join them. I accepted but the project did not last long - we only recorded one song and then the project died out. We both moved on, found new jobs and kind of lost sight of each other for a while. Then in 2005 he told me had composed some cool songs and asked me if I wanted to find some vocal lines and record them. I accepted and that’s how November-7 started out.

Our first line up included one more guitar player, an old friend of Steph’s and a drummer, a guy we met at a party. Then in 2010, as we were getting ready to start recording our first full length album, those two musicians both left and we hired Sieg (drums), Matt (second guitar) and Machine Man (machines and samples). The three of them were friends of Steph and while Sieg and Matt were already active in music projects, Machine Man was a photographer and passionate of technique and music. For all of us November-7 is the most long-lasting artistic project we’ve been involved in ☺

Can you tell us a bit about each member of the band?

Steph (lead guitar) has been in several bands and has studied guitar at the AIM in Vienna. Unfortunately he could not complete his studies because the director of the school left with the all the cash and the program was put to an end.

Sieg (drums) was in a Swiss band that was very successful in the 90s. When he joined November-7 we were playing in very small clubs and asked him if it was OK for him to play on an electronic drum kit. He said yes but of course he did not like it and we made fun of him telling everyone that he had learned playing drums on Rock Band and was incapable of playing on a real drum kit - that was funny!!

Matt is from the UK and moved to Switzerland with his family when he was a kid. He’s a fan of blues and hard rock. He’s the only dad in the band and the youngest!

Machine Man is a fan of hardcore and grindcore. I think he joined November-7 because I told him I was practicing my screamo and maybe somehow he hoped I’d change my vocal lines.

And finally me on vocals. I am Italian and moved to Switzerland in 1999 because I wanted to see the world.  Apparently I did not see that much as I got stuck in the first country I found after crossing the border ☺

Where did the name November-7 come from?

November-7 refers more to a state of mind rather than to an actual date. Steph and myself started working on the first November-7 songs in November 2005 and we both feel that this is great month to compose, to make plans for the future, to revamp your dreams … you know at the end of the year you always think about your good resolutions and what you want to achieve in the next year. So it’s cool! Some people hate November but I like it because it’s full of expectations and promises. And then 7 is my favourite number. So that’s how we got to November-7!

How would you describe your sound?

I’d describe it as industrial metal, because of the samples, the rhythms, the sounds, the atmospheres etc. I think our songs are very varied, some are more goth, others more heavy, others even a bit progressive. We all listen to different genres so I guess that’s a natural consequences of our diverse preferences.

Your album “Awaraxid 7mg” was released in April this year. Can you tell us about the album?

Well, first of all our writing process. Usually the way we compose is the following: Steph composes all the music and sends it to me, I put on some vocals on it and then he makes the arrangements. The other band members usually adapt or change their instrument lines and propose arrangements. But overall the real production work is done by Steph.

The title of our new album is “Awaraxid 7mg” and it is named after a drug that cures us of our dull state of adulthood. The older we get the more we forget our dreams and make conscious choices to adapt to the idea that other people have about how our life should be.  Until one day when we look in the mirror and we wonder “who is this guy?".

“Awaraxid 7mg”, connects you with your true self. Our new video « Another Day » is an illustration of the good and the bad things that this drug can do:

The cover represents a box of pills and all our visuals and stage accessories have also been adapted to reflect this medical theme.

The songs are about what is it is like when you do not recognise yourself. How you can actually get to this point without even realising it and how it feels to finally decide to realise your own ambitions. What is it that makes you do it and what is it that prevents you from doing it? etc. The funny thing is that I did not realise that I wrote about this theme until the day we started to discuss about the cover of the album and then it all came back to me and I sort of discovered that all songs revolved around this. It happens to me quite often, I finish writing a song and I have a very vague idea about its meaning and then days, months later I see everything clear! Amazing !

We were particularly taken by the “Awaraxid 7mg” Collector Package. Where did the idea come from for this bundle?

Well, we decided to put in place this medical concept and we wanted to see it through, so as well as calling our album “Awaraxid 7mg” we actually produced a drug with that name. We created some real pills, a pill blister, a box to put them in and of course the patient’s notice warning about the side effects. We thought it’s be cool to sell this together with the album. That’s how the idea of a collector’s package, which is actually a full therapy package, came about.  Then we put more gadgets into the package in order to make it even cooler. I think this drug is great because it shows you where you should be and then it leaves you the choice - take action or don’t do anything. No miracle cures, I don’t believe in them. Make your decision and face the consequences. Many things happen to us because we choose them.

What motivates you to make music?

It’s as difficult as knowing what motivates me to eat chocolate!! I don’t know, it’s natural. I would not know how to function and I’d probably get an ulcer because I’d keep everything inside myself!

Which artists have influenced you?

Steph is a big fan of Kiss, Sieg listens to anything that is weird, Matt is into hard rock, Machine Man is totally hardcore and grindcore and me. ... I like rock and metal but also some pop. I’m a big fan of Soundgarden - I’m totally amazed by the vocal lines of Chris Cornell and I adore Frank Sinatra! But we all love Rammstein: it’s straight to the point and powerful! I’m not sure to what extent we can call these influences, more generally I’d just call them music tastes.

You are set to visit the UK this month for the first time in 2 years. What is the touring experience like for you abroad?

Touring is always great! First of all, each gig is different, no matter how well you have planned it, there’s always something unexpected that will happen. Touring abroad makes the whole thing more exotic, even though you rarely get to visit the towns where you play.  That said, it’s also extremely tiring. Personally I try to eat well, sleep well and workout! Otherwise when I get on stage I’m already dead.

You have 5 dates scheduled on the UK tour. Can you tell us more about the gigs that are planned?

We’ll kick off the tour on Tuesday August 12th at the Robin 2 in Bilston where we’ll be supporting The Agonist, then we’ll have a day off and we’ll take the opportunity to sightsee and relax.

On Thursday August 14th we’ll be in Newcastle-under-Lyme at the Rigger and will be playing with our friends from Apparition.

On Friday August 15th we’ll be at the very much anticipated Alt-Fest where we’ll share the stage with worldwide renowned artists. We’ll be on at 20:45 on the SOPHIE stage.

On Saturday August 16th we’ll play at the Swann in Evesham: it’s a nice pub filled up with some awesome people. We played there in 2012 and had a great time!

Finally on Sunday we’ll be at the Dublin Castle in Camden, London where we’ll play with Grace Solero.

So we’ll be playing in pubs, clubs and big festivals so it’s going to be varied and interesting tour! Plus, out of 5 venues, we’ve only played one in the past, so plenty of new places to discover… Cannot wait!

What do you enjoy most about playing live and which November-7 song do you most enjoy playing?

What I like most is the crowd, that beautiful and unique variety of human beings in the pit. I always wonder how they learned about the gig and what make them decide to come. It’s weird you know, it’s like going to an appointment in a place you don’t know and all of a sudden plenty of people show up ☺

As to the songs, right now I like to play the songs of the new album a lot! They are very energetic so I can have my daily cardio workout session while performing them and the crowd too, so it’s a good deal ☺

You have opened for a number of world renowned artisits such as Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, Paradise Lost, Soen and Marilyn Manson - what was this like for November-7?

When you support international artists you come across them in the backstage, but you hardly ever have the chance to have a proper conversation with them. There’s a lot to be done before the show and usually world renowned artists show up in the backstage 30 min before the show as they have a whole crew getting their stuff in place for them. But we did have some very special and enriching exchanges. For example I remember we had that immediate connection with the guys from Soen. We shared the same changing room and we discussed at length about music, touring and life. They absolutely loved our lighting system and they wanted to know how we set it up! We also had drinks after the show with Martin Lopez, the drummer and he was actually drinking sparkling water ☺ because alcohol “is not good for your health". We all keep a wonderful memory of that gig. Just like every time we played with Lacuna Coil. I enjoyed a lot talking to Marco (bass player), Andrea and Cristina they are really great people! Talking openly about their values and their dreams. Really cool!

Inspired by a recent guest article on Femetalism, I am interested in finding out more about the metal scene in other countries. Can you tell us about the metal scene in Switzerland?

Switzerland is a tiny country and on top of that we have 3 main language areas, the German part, the French and the Italian. Sometimes these are like tiny countries in themselves. Metal music is a niche genre and as such, in a tiny country, it is even more difficult than elsewhere to get gigs and media exposure.

For concerts, there are some very good clubs and festivals where the infrastructure is just great and you can really play with professional equipment and support. From what I’ve seen in other countries, the situation is the same everywhere: there are so many bands that it’s difficult to stand out.  The Internet opens up unimaginable opportunities for new comers but on the other side there is just too much of everything and professionals don’t have the time and the energy to check out the stuff their receive.

Despite what people say, it is still very helpful to have a booker and a label to make it to the next level. We’ve seen so many bands split because after 2-3 years of intense work they are worn out and their efforts have not paid off. They have to pay to play, pay to record their records, etc. It’s not sustainable and it’s humiliating. Musicians have started to talk more and more about their tiny revenues and their huge expenses, but the topic is still taboo.

What are you planning on next for November-7?

Many things!! We’ll shoot a second video off the album “Awaraxid 7mg”. We have filmed one already for the song Another Day but we’re still undecided about what song to pick for this second one.

We are also composing new songs for the next album. For the time being there’s just the music, so I guess I’ll have to really get down to work.

And then of course we’ll continue to tour. So far we have presented “Awaraxid 7mg” in Swizerland, in France and soon in the UK. We are planning to tour in other countries at the end of 2014 and then in 2015 but negotiations are still ongoing and as soon as deals are signed we’ll update our tour schedule on our website.

Huge thanks to Annamaria for taking the time to talk to Femetalism at such a busy time for the band! It's great that the band are coming to the UK in the very near future and we are sure that the UK public will welcome you warmly!

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Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.

Please note:  This interview was carried out before the controversy regarding Alt-Fest.  As yet no official statement has been released, but it is rumoured that the festival will not be going ahead as scheduled.  If you wish to catch November-7 while they are on their UK tour check out their other venues or contact Alt-Fest directly for an update.