INTERVIEW: Joseph Marro (The Early November/ Paperback Management Co.)
For a little over a decade Joseph Marro has been touring and making records with the bands The Early November & HelloGoodbye. He gradually got into management and now owns Paperback Management Co where he manages the bands Young Statues, Catnaps, The Early November and Heartwell.
The Early November was formed in 2002 in New Jersey and quickly signed to Drive Thru Records. Marro joined, and then departed, the band before their debut EP “For All of This” came out on Drive-Thru Records in early November 2002. Marro then joined the band again after “The Acoustic” EP was released, a mere two months later. Throughout 2003, the band continued touring and writing songs for their first full-length CD The Room's Too Cold, which was released in fall of that year. They released their long awaited triple disc album “The Mother, the Mechanic, and the Path” on July 11, 2006. In 2007 the band made the announcement that they "will be taking an indefinite hiatus" so members could focus on their personal lives. In autumn of 2011 the band reunited for some shows, and then announced signing to Rise Records and would be releasing their first album in over six years titled "In Currents," which was released on July 10th, 2012.
Joseph also spent some time in another Drive Thru Records band Hellogoodbye (from late 2008 – Jan of 2012). During his time in Hellogoodbye they toured with; Never Shout Never, Say No More, Ace Enders, and PlayRadioPlay! (Fall 2008), Hanson (along with Steel Train and Sherwood) on the “Use Your Sole Tour” (Fall 2009), and with New Found Glory, Saves the Day, and Fireworks (early 2010).
In February of 2010 they announced that they officially parted ways with Drive-Thru Records; which ended over year-long lawsuit with the label which postponed a new album release, which had already been written and recorded. On November 9, 2010 Hellogoodbye release their second full length album “Would It Kill You?” through their own label, Wasted Summer.
First off tell us a little about yourself (How did you know you wanted to be a musician? What got you into music? ect. )
When I was super young, probably around 4, my mom bought me a bunch of Beatles cassettes. Abbey Road, Sgt. Peppers..., Meet The Beatles, etc. From that point on, music took over any and all interest I had. I've always liked non-music related things (sports when I was younger, video games, books, movies, etc) but at the top of that list and what ultimately defined me was music. Once I saw Nirvana on TV in 1991, it all seemed slightly more tangible. They we're a current band where probably only 10 years or so older than me at the time. That's when I knew I had to be in a band.
WHY do you play music?
Just wanting and needing to be a part of something that means so much to you. Regardless of skill level or age, I always had to be around it from as long as I could remember. From when my uncles band would practice to when I heard a ska band playing down the street. I'd just show up and try to play or be around people making music.
Being a part of two bands from the “Drive-Thru Records generation” a lot of these albums became the soundtracks to summers and were records that defined our lives. What are some of the albums from Drive-Thru/ or other labels that defined your life?
Pretty great to be a part of it but I honestly was never too aware of the Drive Thru bands before we signed. At that time, I was much more into the records Saddle Creek, Deep Elm & Jade Tree were putting out. I did really like that first Midtown record. Some of the most defining records of my live were: Saves The Day - Through Being Cool, Jimmy Eat World - Clarity, The Promise Ring - Nothing Feels Good, Jets To Brazil - Orange Rhyming Dictionary, Belle & Sebastian - Fold Your Hands..., and Limbeck - Hi, Everything's Great among many, many others.
From the time that TEN announced the “indefinite hiatus”, in early 2007, to late last year when the announcement of new shows and the newest record “In Currents” came. How do you think that time off has changed and helped the band grow?
We all had time to go out and do other things that we skipped over by being in this band at such a young band. We got to spend more time with friends and family, start and join other bands and overall, just do some growing up. That really helped when coming back together and all being a little more matured. Things that would make me mad in the past either don't happen anymore or I realize they're just not a big deal. We definitely have a newfound respect for the band we all created and each other.
“In Current’s” will definitely be going on my top favorite album release of this year, this record is so incredible passionate and honest. How was the feeling when the release date finally came for “In Currents”?
Pretty great. I bought it four different ways: iTunes, Amazon, pre-order and at a record store. My parents got copies. My wife and her family bought copies. Friends were saying that they really liked it. It was a great day for sure. It was also a huge relief to have it come out easily and snag-free. Dealing with Rise has been an absolute pleasure. They're more like friends who put out our music, not the towering force of a label that makes you feel like employees.
How has the response been at your shows since your return?
Fantastic. It's just so much fun to be playing these songs again. The new ones are a blast too.
What/who do you think changed the music industry? Why?
The internet in general. It's a topic people can talk about for days. It certainly changed the music industry in a lot of good ways and some not so good ways. How fans listen to music and how bands sell music has changed drastically. In a lot of ways, the playing fields been leveled a bit which makes it nice to be a smaller band. On the other side, bands and labels can no longer count on revenue streams that we're once a large percentage of their gross. The internet took a serious toll on the major outlets people discovered music like MTV and radio but opened up thousands of smaller ones. What’s worth doing and what isn't changes from day to day now, but it just means everyone (bands, labels, managers, agents, PR, etc) need to be constantly evolving and doing their homework.
Now, more than ever, music is ever-changing. What do you think is one genre of music that you hope will never go out of style?
I hope there's always a place for thoughtful and intelligent pop and rock music. I do feel that the current trend of mainstream music has been dumbing down songwriting. It seems that the great music of the past wouldn't fare so well now. A song like "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys would never get played on mainstream radio now. Both lyrically and musically, it's challenging yet still beautifully sweet and melodic. That's what I wasn’t to see more of. It certainly exists, but not on the level it once had. It seems like more than half of the current hit songs are only about having a good time. There's nothing wrong with that but I'd like to see more depth.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where's one place you would like to either play a show at again, or play it for the first time? What bands would you take with you?
I loved touring South East Asia and would love to return with The Early November. Russia and Scandinavia are also on the top of my list as well. If we could take any artist with us, I'd have to bring Young Statues, Allison Weiss and Limbeck.
From being in The Early November and your time spent in Hellogoodbye what songs, of both bands, hold the most meaning to you? Why?
They both mean a lot to me. I spent more time and more formative years with The Early November so that will also hold a really special part of my heart. HelloGoodbye was incredibly fun to be a part of and I feel the record I made with them (Would It Kill You?) is wonderful. We got to tour so many amazing places and some of my most fond memories we're made in the 4 years I spent with them.
Besides playing music you also manage some bands, do you think that since you are a musician that manages bands you can appreciate music/talent more than if you weren’t in a band?
I think anyone can appreciate the music and talent of any artist but I think I can relate and understand them a little more than a non-musician can. I've been in their shoes before so I can really understand the ups & downs, the victories & the disappointments. I know what it's like to be doing the overnight drives and sleeping on floors. All of that stuff is going to happen and I try to be as honest as possible with every band I work with. Things take time and the industry is a tough place but having realistic expectations and level heads will save everyone a lot of strife. And I know that hard work really does pay off and with great songs and the right people helping, things will work out.
There are a lot of amazingly talented bands that have been coming out of the east coast area. How would you describe the music scene over there?
In the early 2000's it was incredibly lively and active. A great place to be growing up and seeing shows. As those bands got bigger or disbanded it seemed to slow down for a while but has really seen resurgence within the past few years. I go to local shows quite a bit and it really reminds me of how things were 10 years ago only bigger in some cases, which is really great to see. I do wish there was a little more support for some of the smaller bands. I don't see it being as tight knit of a community as it was.
What inspires and motivates you to still pursue a career in music?
Seeing younger bands now who are doing things for the right reasons. It's still very exciting to find a band so full of potential and get to know them and offer any advice. Also the fact that I still love playing and feel that there's always more we can do.
When you go on tour with bands that have only been together for a couple years do you see a difference on how forming a band now and forming a band 10 years ago has changed? What do you think this massive surge of social media does for bands/ the music industry?
I think at the end of the day, most bands still form from a couple of friends sharing musical taste. Social media has certainly made it easier to find those friends though, which is great. I wish I had those tools available to me 10 years ago. However, I do think that now people will start bands and have a website, tumblr, twitter, facebook, etc, before even having a completed song. The emphasis should always be on the music first and then everything else. A killer bunch of songs will always be more exciting than a shiny, slick website. I don't care if you only have a Facebook page with 8 fans. If the songs are awesome, all the other stuff will start to happen.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned working in the music industry?
Pick your battles. Know when something is a big deal and worth fighting over/for and when it's trivial and worth letting go. Your blood pressure will thank you too. As my grandma always said, you'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Has there been a specific night a show really sticks out in your memory?
September 10th 2011. Philadelphia, PA. The Early November reunion show. One of the best nights of my life. Second only to my wedding.
Since you have been in a band and also behind the scenes, what are some of your favorite things from each end?
I love the chaos and energy that comes with the live shows. I love the travel and camaraderie from touring. On the other end, I love the sense that your helping something like that happen from a desk and a laptop. I love the networking and pulling resources from friends who also work in the industry. Plus, it's great that I can work from home or anywhere with a wifi connection. As long as there's coffee, I can get some work done.
Lastly, if the world was to really end in December, what would you be most proud of as a musician?
Every record I've ever had the pleasure of having anything to do with, whether it was as a musician or behind the scenes. Also, and maybe most importantly, I feel that I've always kept my integrity throughout the entire time doing it because I love it and believe in it.