Interview with Warrel Dane
Seattle is well known for its rain, and the home of Grunge Music, like Sound Garden, Pearl Jam, among others, something we all could of done without, but thank God this music has died out. Seattle is also the home of some really good metal acts like: Queensryche, Forced Entry, Bitter End, Sanctuary and now Nevermore. As you may know Nevermore was formed out of the ashes of Sanctuary. Nevermore are without doubt the best metal underground band to ever come out of Seattle and with 7 releases under their belts certainly say's a lot for the band. Mixing Power Metal with Thrash and almost Death Metal riffs and soaring melodic vocals with screams that even Rob Halford would love to hear. The bands debut really saw a promising future 'Nevermore' and as time went on the band released even heavier releases such as their new stunning album 'This Godless Endeavour' which is without doubt the best Power/ Thrash album for 2005 so far!! I managed to have a chat with my old mate Warrel Dane to find out more about the new album and what the future holds for the band. In the meantime order this amazing new album out in August 2005, you will not be disappointed I'm sure!!
Ok Warrel, its great to see you again after your London show. I'd like to ask you the following first question. Looking back at your early days with Sanctuary what would you say were the highlights within the band?
"Yes I do, punching the guitar player in the face when the band broke up (laughing). We are friends now though, but at that time there was so much bitterness within the band. To be honest we were all fighting, we all ended up in a pile on the floor. It all started when the guitarist said he wanted to do the Grunge sound for the band, and I wanted to carry on playing metal. I maybe doing a solo project with my former drummer of Sanctuary, Dave as I have recently reconnected with him and we're talking about it. He has grown up a lot more now and it feels really good to have a good relationship with him again."
So what's this project your doing with Dave?
"Mmm, I can't tell you yet Jason, sorry buddy!! It will be heavy that's all I will say about it!"
As you're now friends with your old band mates, would you ever consider doing a reunion tour or play some festivals together?
"Well the only way I would do that Jason, is if the whole original line-up got back together and I will tell you now, it will never happen!! Because of the 2 guitar players, Lenny & Sean are cousins and they have not spoke to each in 8yrs, they hate each other. Lenny has put on so much weight, he is so embarrassed to step onto a stage right now. He has some kind of health condition, but I'm not sure what it is. He wont even come to parties if I'm there, he doesn't like his old friends to see him the way he is now!!"
You said you would only do reunion shows with the original line-up, wasn't Jeff Loomis in Sanctuary for a short time, couldn't he be part of the Sanctuary reformation?
"Yes he was in the band for 6 months, but he never really recorded anything, he just did some live shows with the band. It would have to be the recording line-up if anything was going to happen in the future. I also think that all this reunion crap is just done for money and I think that is the wrong reason. We have been asked to do this many times, but I'm not interested really. Wacken have asked us to do it but I wont do it, there is one band who did do it and for a good reason. That was Candlemass, and their new album rules!! I told Candlemass to stay together, as I really love their music. (ED: I'm looking forward to the new Trouble album, Doom Gods!!) Oh my God Jase, there awesome!!! We got the bands name from one of their songs, 'Black Shades Of Doom' with a line in the song that says 'Nevermore'!!"
Just before me move on, which is your favourite Sanctuary album?
"Into The Mirror Black', because we were a little bit more grown up and I was not singing about fantasy themes and I think the music was a lot more mature and we also jelled better as song writers. The debut is still really special to me, because of the art work, sometimes I laugh about it but it was a classic album cover by that artist at the time, as he was doing stuff like: Megadeth, Death."
I remember see in you live with Megadeth & Sanctuary in 88, when I was 18, how old was you then? Also I also remember saying to my friends who has the longest hair within the band?
"Well I was in my mid 20's back then and yeah we did all have long hair. Now in Nevermore there is a battle between Steve & myself to see how has the longest hair within the band. I think Steve is just winning (laughing)"
I also hear you're about to go on tour with Megadeth once again after all these years, how do you feel about that?
"Yes we are in the U.S. Well I saw Dave at the Graspop festival in Belgium and he was so cool, he came up to me and gave me a hug and I have not seen him in 15yrs, so we had a talk for about 10 minutes about the tour and what would happen. I really do have a good feeling about it, and I'm going to try and get him to play 'White Rabbit' with us on stage. You are the first journalist I have told this too, so you're getting an exclusive!!"
Moving on now, I have noticed that you have some unusual album titles for the Nevermore albums, why is that? Who comes up with the titles for the records?
"Well as you know Jason, I write all the lyrics, so natural all the concepts are coming from me. I'm just a twisted and weird mother fucker, I need help I need a shrink!! (Laughing)."
What about the album 'Politics Of Ecstasy', for instance?
"Well that is based on Timothy Lareum writings, and the title 'The 7 Tongues Of God' relates to the 7 levels of energy consciousness which he refers to in one of his books. he also referred to LSD as a sacrament. I wasn't using drugs back then, but I was fascinated by the books he was writing then. (ED: You were into White Rabbits right?). You know I have some older brothers and sisters, who grew up with the psychedelic years and I kind of felt left out!! They were all involved with that Hippy shit and they tell me all the stories and they sound so fucking great!! I feel that I was cheated out of that experience. As a result of that, I decided to read on everything I could about those years I lost out on!! So those books that Timothy wrote are really interesting for me."
What about the album 'Dead Heart In A Dead World' ?
"Well you know that is our sell out 'Black' album right? (laughing)."
Mmm, I think the 'Enemies Of Reality' is your sell out album (Laughing), because you re-released it, ripping the public off!! I'm joking Warrel!!
"I know you are, (laughing). Well to be honest, it was only an extra $5 to get it, it sound so much better than the original version too!"
I have noticed that each album has become a lot heavier, why is that, what bands have influenced you if any?"
"I guess we have really, we don't plan to go heavier it just happens!! We are lucky enough to have our fans to except it. We are also allowed to have the freedom with our record company to do what we like. On the new album I have done some Black Metal vocal harmonies, but you can only really hear them with headphones on. People have heard it and come back to me and said 'Oh my God, what did you do??' "
You certainly don't seem to have much luck with a 2nd guitarist do you? First you had Pat, now with Cannibal Corpse, and you also had Tim Calvert, formerly with Forbidden. Is former Testament/ Vicious Rumors guitarist Steve Smyth a permanent guitarist now? Also which one out of Pat and Tim did you think was the best guitarist before Steve joined?
"Well Steve our current guitarist is the best. I would have to say that Pat would be my 2nd choice and looking back now I wish he had of stayed in our band, but he is playing in his favourite band now. At one point Pat, Jeff, Jim and myself all lived in the same house, and we would rehearse in the basement of the house. Pat would be always listening to Cannibal Corpse and when he joined the band I was so happy for him, and there are not many people who can say 'I'm playing in my favourite band? We found Steve through Testament, we asked them if we could borrow him for a tour and they agreed. Before Steve we had Chris from Jag Panzer helping us out on tour but he couldn't help us out for long. Jeff our guitarist suggested Steve to help us out and it worked out that Steve fits with us so well that no one can really tell what songs he has written for the new album, that's how much of a perfect fit he is in the band. I'm not sure if you can hear which song Steve helped write some of the songs for? (ED: I have 1 of those promos with speech over the songs). I fucking hate them Jason, I fought with the record label about not having that on our album, and it's done no good as it's already on the internet. Looking at it I can only see it has free publicity for the band, and if people like the album that much they will buy it. Getting back to Steve, I would like to ask you which 1 song do you think he contributed too? (ED: Ok Warrel I'm going to guess now - 'Sell My heart For Stones') you got it Jase, well done, 10 points (laughing)!! I have to tell you that you are the only guy in the press so far who has got it right!! (ED: Well Warrel, what do you expect? After all I am a true Metalhead!!) You are that indeed Jason!! Steve wrote 3 songs on the album, the others were: Bittersweet Feast which was co-written by me, also A Future Uncertain.. There awesome songs, I'm proud of Steve's contributions towards the band."
What do you think of Steve's previous bands, Testament?
"Well I love Testament!! There one of my favourite bands ever!!"
I have noticed that the band are becoming more and more successful with each album, what is the key success to the band?
"I have no fucking idea?? I think that we are selling more albums with each album and getting popularity album is because we are making quality music that may not be the mainstream, but we are building our careers properly. I think a lot of bands become massively successful with their 1st record the soon fall into a pattern and a formula and every album after that seems to sound the same. That is because they want to keep up their success with their debut album, may it be gold or platinum records, or whatever!! Luckily success has alluded us enough to were we can make whatever record we want too. So I think that is what is unique about us, is that each album has it's own character and it's own special tone, especially the new record which is completely different from all the others, but at the same time it still has some tones from the previous albums."
People would say that the last studio album 'Enemies Of Reality' is the best album you have done, but I really think the new album is going to blow it away, do you agree?
"Yes I do agree with you. It turned out so good the new album but I have not listened to it in a couple of months, just because when we put the songs in the order we wanted them we were so fed up of listening to them. Generally I don't listen to my own records anyway I would rather listen to somebody else's. I do know that we made one hell of a great record!!"
Do you think now that you could top the next record, what I mean is do you think the next album can beat this one?
"I really don't know? We always get the question, how will you top the next album after this one? It always seems that that we do it, but were not trying to do it, it just kind of happens. There is something special that I have with Jeff as we've been together since Sanctuary days and it feels really good to have that."
Moving on now, you re mastered like I said earlier the 'Enemies Of Reality', what went wrong with the first release? Most people also will think it's a con for them to buy it again, can you please explain?
"Well you can buy it over the internet for 5 Euro's, I really don't think that it is ripping off the fans. There was also so much demand for a remix that kids were actually were taking CD and figuring ways to remix it and re master it. There was one guy who did it and posted it on the internet that it sounded better than the original. So when the label asked how we felt about remixed by Andy Sneap we said 'Fuck yes!!' We also said please make sure that you are not ripping our fans off. So they came up with the idea of selling it over the net for 5 Euro's just for the CD. I have never heard a complaint yet about paying that for the CD."
So let's talk about the new album 'This Godless Endeavor', why the title for the album and what does it mean to you? Also did you have any other titles for the album?
"Well the title actually came from a friend, who is a guitarist in Seattle who never really played in any big name bands. He has been a good friend of mine for years, and Jim this guy and myself were the 3 Musketeers were we would go out to parties together etc... So we talked one night about doing a side project and his name is Tracey, and everybody thinks he's a girl with that name. We wrote a few songs and came up with some riffs and I came up with some lyrics, so we were sitting around one night having a class of wine and and asked Tracey what we should call this Godless endeavor? He then just looked at me weird and I knew then that we had come up with the band name. So what is how it all started, and he later on bought a really successful metal club in Seattle that is doing really well. He didn't have time to do music now, so we decided to use the title for the new Nevermore song. When we started to record the rest of the album I told the band that 'This Godless...' was the perfect title for the new album, so that's how it happened. We had no other titles for the album, this was our first choice and last!!"
So Warrel could you tell me a little bit about the cover concept & how does it reflect within the title of the album?
"Well that is Lydia on the cover, and in the lyrics Lydia splayed them all and she has removed her mask and hung it up on one of those poor little victims and decided to quit the killing. You should see the digi pack CD it's amazing!!!"
So Warrel what are your favourite songs from the new album then? Also any least favourite songs?
"Oh God Jason!! Please don't make me decide on which is my least favourite songs from the album, it's like choosing your least favourite child. I don't have 1. I would have to say if any 'Sentient 6' is my favourite song on the record, I don't know why, it just is. I think it has the full range of Nevermore and the full aggression of the band. it also has the most evil and fucked lyrics on the album (laughing)."
Ok Warrel, so how do you see this album as a progression from the previous albums?
"I see this album as a more natural evolution and Steve Smyth's contributions have given us a new edge and spark. I see it as a testament to how well he fits in with the band!!"
You must be so proud of the end results that Andy Sneap did for you on this record, am I right?
"Hell yes we are!! Does a bear shit in the woods? (laughing)"
You recorded the album in Derby - England at Andy's studio, I'm I right in saying that the recording took place when you played that 1 off show in London in March?
"Yes we did record the album at Andy's studio in March. We took a day off to play that London show and it was absolutely amazing, the crowd loved us. We had as much time as we needed for this record this album which was around about 5-6 weeks. It was a long time to stay in a country were the dollar to the UK pound is insane!! We spent way too much money whilst we recorded the album. We arrived in the UK on the 15th February 2005 and after the album was finished, Van and Steve left to go home and Jeff, Jim and myself stayed for the mixing. To be honest I was singing the vocals right up to the point were I had to leave to go and get my flight home. So we left it all in Andy's hands to do a excellent job, which he did. With today's technology we were able to pass back & forth mixes through the internet."
I notice that a friend of mine, James Murphy played a guest guitar solo on 'The Holocaust Of Thought', how did that come about?
"Well he was in the same studio as we were, but in another room with ex Skyclad singer Martin, he is doing some project with him. So we asked him if he wanted to play a guest solo on the record. At first the song he played on 'The Holocaust Of Thought' was suppose to be just Van and Jim, and I had no idea James was playing on that song until afterwards and it really did blow me away!! Jim asked James if he wanted to play a guitar solo along side his bass playing and it worked out so well. Jim has been playing the bass part for years now, and I told him that we should use it at some point, because it has some weird time changes and it sounds odd. So when Jim played it to James, he also thought it was weird and by the end of the night he has this amazing solo."
Would I be right in saying that Andy Sneap is going to be you're permanent producer? Or will you move on at some point?
"I think Andy is the man right now, he is an incredible producer."
Do you plan on releasing a promo video for any of the songs from the new album? If so for which song?
"Yes we have already made a promo video, I recently saw the finished product and it's great!! The song we choose was 'The Final Product', and the concept behind it is mainly manic live performances and in the lyrics it deals with black seeds, and there is a character who is played by an old Shakespearean who is in the new version of 'War Of The Worlds'. He is one of the extra in the movie and he is in the scene at the end were all the refugees are running from the aliens. It is rather odd that we picked somebody who happens to be in that film for appear in our promo video. In the movie he is obsessed by the black seeds in the film, who actually end up killing him at the end of the video, and I'm kind of responsible for his death."
You mentioned that you are going to release a DVD, it's about time Warrel, tell me more about it, what will this DVD feature besides live performance?
"Well it is 10yr anniversary of the band now, so we are going to make this very special with a lot of surprises. We have catalogued all of the bootlegs that we have back from 95 when we were touring with Death, all the way up to the present day. We what we are going to do is to find the best moments of all the videos and put them together as one DVD. The DVD will also include some backstage footage also tour filming with Megadeth and the headlining tour we will be doing on Europe, which starts on September 15th which includes the UK. I think it will be a double DVD so will we put as much shit in this so that people can see a lot of our stuff."
As you haven't really done a full UK tour, will it include more dates in the north of the UK where I live?
"Well Jason, I really do hope so!!! If this record does as well as we hope it will, then we will play more shows in your country."
Are you happy with Century Media Records, because you're contract ran out, things must be a lot better now, right?
"Yes they are, we are completely happy now. All the problems from the past are been solved. it was difficult when we recorded the 'Enemies Of Reality' album, because that was the last record in our contract and they wanted us to resign before the contract was over. So, I understand this from a business side of the label with each album doing better than the last one, they thought they could get us for less money. So they force us to resign before our contract is over. So we said 'Fuck No!!' So we delivered the last one and then we talked because we had so many offers from other labels and there are certain people who work there who are difficult to work with. Mainly the companies have people who are amazing to work with and then again there are those who are higher up tell you that they will only give you so much money for the next record. That is why the last album 'Enemies....' turned out the way it did with the overall sound in the production. It wasn't rushed, it took 6 months to record and mix, it was the budget which was the problem. With that album the label were playing hard ball, so we played it right back at them too!! We didn't move an inch till we all agreed on solving the problem, but in the end the album suffered but we can now live off our music without struggling like we did in the last 10yrs. We now have such a strong relationship with them now, so everybody is now happy."
You recently played 'Bang Your Head' & 'Graspop' festivals over the weekend, how was it for you?
"Well 'BYH' was a disaster, because it hail stormed the size of golf balls, people were running for cover, and the P.A. blow up, so they had to get another one in, so a lot of the bands only had a 20 minute set. As for Graspop, well it went pretty good, but we had a shit sound. Festivals are always a hit or miss to be honest, it's either going to sound like shit or good, same with the weather. We were cursed with festival over that weekend!! (ED: You remember Dynamo 95?, When it pissed down with rain when Trouble played!!) Hell yes I remember that Jase, fuck that was bad!! We are not playing anymore festivals this year now."
Do you have any idea who will be you're support acts when you tour Europe?
"Yes we have 1 act already, it will be 'Mercenary', and we wanted 'The Haunted', but there doing their won headlining tour. (ED: What about Eidolon, are Shaun & Glenn are in Megadeth?). You know what Jase, that's a pretty good idea!! I'm not sure what Megadeth are up too at that time, I will have to ask Dave when we tour shortly in the U.S."
Well Warrel, it's always a pleasure speak and meeting you my friend. Do you have anything to ad before we finish? I hope to catch you on tour in the UK soon. Good luck with the CD and send my regards to the rest of the band.
"Yes I do, prepare you're self for 'This Godless Endeavor' because it is a twisted path of psychotic intellectual narcotics. Thanx for the interview too Jason, I hope we meet again this year, good luck with the webzine!!"
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