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NEVERMORE: witty and negative

NEVERMORE: witty and negative
BANDS : Nevermore

The first press conference from Metal Camp 2006 took place on 21st July at 6 o'clock PM and found us talking with Jim Sheppard, Warrel Dane and Jeff Loomis of Nevermore. My nervousness vanished after Warrel's first answer and, until the end of the conference, I had already made my opinion about them: they are nice and witty guys, they accepted the journalists' jokes and games but still they answered seriously when it was the case. It was the longest and most pleasant press conference of all those that were to come (the Opeth one was just pleasant, not longest, but that you'll see in another update).

I'll do my best trying to retell the whole discussion, but I hope you'll understand that I can't possibly describe the atmosphere, nor Warrel's intonation that made the true delight to some apparently ordinary answers, nor Jim's mumbling, who was laughing at his own jokes, seeming from time to time that he's talking more for himself than for the journalists, nor the gestures and mimics of our interlocutors.


Jim Sheppard, Warrel Dane, Jeff Loomis


At the beginning, Warrel told us that the title "This Godless Endeavor" refers to the fact that a lot of people in this world today have lost hope, have lost faith. And the concept of a lot of the lyrical things evolves around this loss of faith.

Then they were asked if they think that the live dimension of metal music has lost its charm. Facing so many different countries, crossing so many borders, don't they think that bands have started to get the same feedback as they were getting 5 or 10 years ago? Jim thinks that it's different everywhere you go, that it's different in Europe than it is in the States and that when you see festivals like Metal Camp, it's quite a thing. Metal has always been underground in his opinion, if that was the question. The Italian journalist asked if the band thinks the audience is gonna get used to see them. For him it was already the third time to see them in less than four months and he started to think that maybe people can get the impression that there's not any band to go to see live, to be worth the trouble. Warrel thinks that we're living in different times now and metal goes through its phases, and as far as for bands being used ... they have to look out for themselves, they have to be very knowledgeable about the business end of music and if they are, they can prevent things like that.

Jeff tells us that the next (and first) Nevermore DVD will be shot in a club in Bochum, Germany, and it's going to be a two-part DVD, one being the live show that it's gonna be filmed there and the other it's a kind of a documentary on how they tour and how they live their everyday live on the road. Warrel added that the footage for the documentary section of the DVD had been compiled since last July. They had a film crew that went with them all over the world for the tours and that’s why the Nevermore DVD will be a little bit different from the average DVD. So the band is really excited to be able to do something that's gonna be a little bit against the norm of what people bring up in this business. Why there will be only 666 tickets sold for the German show? Because Satan loves to sell 666 tickets, says Warrel Dane, stating afterwards that it wasn’t the band’s idea. Jim said something about a godless endeavor but his voice was covered by Warrel’s sudden coughing. Jeff’s opinion, more rational, was that maybe it’s because only 666 people can fit in that club.

Our Italian colleague asked the band members if the DVD market has something more to offer than the VHS one and said that he sometimes thinks that DVD's are things that have to be done, that are something imposed by the label to the bands. Jim, Warrel and Jeff strongly agreed on the last part and then Warrel said that DVD releases are more for the hardcore fans of any band. Record companies are always wanting bands to do them, but at the end of the day it is more for the hardcore fans. What Nevermore is working on is to make the DVD as good as it can be, in this new market for them. Jeff noticed that bands that are together for about two years, put out a DVD. They have spent more than 10 years for this band, it's been a long time coming for a DVD and the fans deserve it.

“If I said what I really want to, I would probably be excommunicated from my country”, answered Warrel to the question about his opinion about the American society, an opinion that perspires though through every line he writes. Jim yells in a burst of joy that the band doesn't answer lyrical questions. After pleading the fifth amendment, Warrel has an answer: “I think there are a lot of things wrong with society, a lot of things wrong with the American government and .. that's about all I want to say.” After a few seconds of silence, we can hear Jim asking “Can I say monkey?” followed by a blast of heavy laughing.

Joining the general atmosphere, I leave aside the serious questions and ask Warrel if he thinks his band mates keep him in the band just because he is a good cook and they need to eat well on tour. Unfortunately, Warrel can’t show his cooking talents on a tour bus and thus can’t give an appropriate answer. Making everyone laugh, Jim reveals that they only say this cooking thing for dazzling their groupies.


Warrel Dane


The first Nevermore album is not representative for the band in Jim’s opinion, although it is a brilliant record and it stands for itself. When they will do the live show for the DVD, they'll go back to the very first record, but back then they were still searching for themselves. Afterwards, Nevermore became a new band. But of course, they don't deny those songs. Warrel told us that the first Nevermore album consisted of demo songs that were recorded with Neil Kernon, an amazing producer. When they got the deal with Century Media, the label said they don’t have to re-record those songs because they already sounded like a record. It’s Warrel’s least favorite record, but still he’s very proud of it. It was only on Politics of Ecstasy when they kind of fell into their groove, of what they were going to progress into.

When they were asked about the story of the kid on the cover of their latest CD, Warrel jokes, whispering that they’re not supposed to tell. A lot of people have asked him “now is this Lydia from the song on the cover?” If that's what we want it to be, that's fine. She's just killed a lot of people, put their heads on stakes and she's walking away. That image was created by Hugh Syme who has also done covers for Rush and Fates Warning. It was just amazing for the band to get him to even work with them. For Warrel the image is a piece of art, he doesn’t know what Hugh was thinking when he created it, it just fit the title of their record perfectly. Jim jokes again, to everyone’s amusement: “It looks like she's been through as much as we've been through.” Warrel concludes: “Cute little girl though.”

Taking advantage of a small break when all of us were thinking what to ask next, one of the organizers had the idea for the band to ask us a question. Warrel was quick: “Which band are you most looking forward to seeing?” Nevermore. Yeah, besides that. Testament. Yeahhhhh. Amon Amarth. Hmmm... "You", says the Italian guy. Covering the band’s (and our) laughter, he says it’s simply because he had seen them twice and the sound was shitty. Now he wanted to see them playing with a good sound. Some Romanian colleague came to his aid and reminded about the concert Nevermore had in Targu Mures (Romania) in 2001 with Annihilator. Jim, Warrel and Jeff said almost in one voice: “Oh God! Yeah, the sound was bad indeed!” Jim then added that at festivals you're not so much in control of the sound but when you play in small venues, it's up to the band to have a good sound. In the few moments of silence, the recorder caught some whispers about Romania and “awful”, though we didn’t hear them then and there.

Then followed a question about the origin of the name Nevermore. Warrel agreed to tell us the real story. One night he was sitting in his apartment and he had drank quite a bit and he was listening to a Trouble album, thinking the whole time “God dammit, I have to think of a name for this new band!” And there's a line in the song Black Shapes Of Doom and out of nowhere Eric Wagner is screaming “nevermore”. Wow! That's a band name! Seeing that everybody’s laughing, Warrel feels the need to explain: Seriously! Everyone thinks it's from Edgar Allan Poe, it's not. I got it from a Trouble song.

When the Italian guy brought the negativism of the lyrics to the band’s attention, Warrel said that it's much more interesting to write about the dark side of a human being, even though it is a light side too. Jim agrees: “when we look at the humanity as a whole, there's a pretty dark side, we don't go anywhere, there's global warmings, we're not gonna stop, we don't even care! No, we're all a bunch of negative motherfuckers. It's just a dream to think you can change something, you need more people to do that. We're gonna start preaching the world.” Then he approves Warrel who says that millions of people pray everyday and it does no good. It’s also Jim the one who tell us not to give up and start being negative because of them, just be negative because of how we are.

Every journalist who had to review a Nevermore album has had problems to label the music. Well, Warrel clears things up: Nevermore plays psycho-rockabilly-country-thrash-crossover-hardcore and yes, he’ll say this all the time. Covered by laughter, but caught once again by my recorder, Jim asks Warrel to write that down for him so as not to forget but oh… bad luck! Warrel laughs: “I don't even remember it now!”


Jim Sheppard


We then talked about a Sanctuary reunion and we found out that the band had been asked for this too many times to even remember, but at least a dozen. Warrel knows the reunion would probably be impossible being that there’s one original member that would definitely not do it. If it was a Sanctuary reunion, it would probably be for the wrong reasons because people had offered them a lot of money to do it and they had always said no. In their opinion, the reunions of bands from the mid 80s became some kind of trend that Warrel doesn’t want to be a part of. Anyway, we can never know, it might happen. It would have to be the right circumstances though.

The next part of the conference was dedicated to the sort of quiz we used to have sometime ago in every interview. This time it was even better because the interaction with the band members and the interaction between them contributed a lot to the general atmosphere.
   What is Nevermore’s heaviest song? This Godless Endeavor, says Jim. No, shut up! Jeff has to answer now, said Warrel. Jeff thinks that Born is that song, the first one of their latest record. And Warrel thinks that Politics of Ecstasy is the heaviest song Nevermore has ever written.
   What is Nevermore’s happiest song? Happiest???!?? Warrel is almost hysterical. But Jim already has an answer: Sea of  Possibilities, and he starts to hum it. Warrel is still in shock: “Metal’s not supposed to be happy!”
   Ok, then what’s the catchiest Nevermore song? Tomorrow Turned Into Yesterday, says Jeff quickly, followed by Warrel who wanted to say that same song. Sentient 6 would be better maybe, in his opinion.
   Worst live performance? Worst? Oh, let’s not go there, laughs Warrel. But Jim starts to tell us about a show that was canceled because the guitar player was drunk, fell asleep during his solo and anyway, only 20 people showed up. Warrel interferes: “We don’t do baaad shows. That’s a tricky question.”
   Nevermore’s longest tour? Jeff remembers about a tour in the United States when they were supporting Flotsam & Jetsam. Warrel moans like he would like to forget everything. The tour lasted for two months, with two days off and the van had no air conditioning.
   Nevermore’s most important asset? Warrel says it’s the fact that no one can define their music easily. “Many people say we’re thrash metal, power metal, progressive-death metal, whatever you wanna call it. I defined it earlier. But I think that’s our best asset, that you can’t put us into a box and say we’re this kind of music.”
   Nevermore’s biggest problem? While Warrel seems to ponder, Jim bursts out: BOOZE! And everyone starts to laugh and seem to never stop. During all this laughing, Jeff starts: “I was going to say…”, but Warrel shouts, covering whatever Jeff was saying: “No, no, Shut up, shut up!” and then he laughs like a madman.


Warrel Dane, Jeff Loomis


Then followed some questions about what they expect from the audience that evening (the answer: total chaos), the differences between the European and the American audience (they always have a better response from the European audience),  their preferences to perform in front of a big crowd or in small clubs (there are two different things and they like them both), debates on what pop song they would most like to cover (they couldn’t agree on one) and other debates about what band they would like to see covering them. Jim made another joke: “That’s also the cover we want to do: the cover of a song that’s covering us.” and Warrel finally said he would like to see Rush covering a Nevermore song.

The press conference ended here and everybody took pictures and autographs. I left with a huge smile on my face and I was in such an euphoric state of mind that I even forgot to take the recorder from the table. Lucky me that my colleague, Bogdan, had his both feet on the ground and remembered to take it.

Autor: Klawz, Nebelhexa
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Nevermore

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