Interview With Jim Sheppard & Van
"One of the most successful and one of the great Thrash/ Power Metal acts to come out for along time has to be Seattle 'Nevermore', which was formed by ex 'Sanctuary' Members Jim Sheppard & Warrell Dane. Nevermore have come along way throughout their career and are one of the top bands on the scene at present. I managed to catch the band live in London in September, to find out what the band has been up to since the last interview and to find out more about their stunning new album 'Enemies Of Reality'. It was good to catch up with old buddies and the interview took place before sound check with Jim (bassist) and Van (Drums). Here is what they had to say"
"From the bands previous albums, which is your favourite and least favourite and why"
(J) "I think for me it has to be 'Politic's Of Ecstasy", because the songs are very aggressive and the production is very punchie sounding, my least favourite would have to be the debut, because we were not quite developed enough as a band."
(V) "I agree with Jim, I feel that 'Politic's.." is a great album, I think the least favourite is also the debut, because of the same things Jim said. The debut album was really demo songs, and that's usually the case with all debut albums with every band, it's the 2nd album which is really the debut if you know what I mean?"
"Jim looking back at the days with your previous band with Warrell 'Sanctuary', do you have any regrets from those days and were there any highlights?"
(J) "The highlight was when we had a fight and we broke up!! (Laughing). It was a shame that it had to come to an end and Jeff was also in the band towards the end of the career, so that for me was great to have met Jeff and carry him on with 'Nevermore'".
"Which of the 2 albums you did with Sanctuary were your favourite and which songs stood out for you?"
(J) "God that is a tough question to answer Jase, I like both records a lot, I feel that the debut was the best because it was our first time in the studio & we got to have Dave from 'Megadeth' to produce it and it was a crazy learning experience for us. I like both albums and if we had of recorded more albums then maybe there might of been a least favourite album."
"I noticed that you play the song 'White Rabbit' from the deubt which is a 60/70's cover, why have you decided to drop that song now?"
(J) "Well I think most of the Sanctuary fans we had have gone smaller and we have a bigger Nevermore following now. Besides we have so many Nevermore songs to play now."
(J) "Do you see any of the
old members of your previous band and what are they up too now?"
"If I see them in a bar I will say hello but I really dont see them that much now."
"Did you ever record any new material for Sanctuary before you broke up? I heard you recorded a 3rd album is this true?"
(J) "Well one of the guitar players wrote some songs, but they did not sound like our music, it was more directed towards to Grunge sound."
"Jim, are you aware that there is a double live digi pk CD by Sanctuary that is in circulation?
(J) "No I am not familiar with that, please tell me more about it?"
"Lets talk about Nevermore, so why has the band seen so many guitar players come & go over the years, what the problem with them?"
(V) "Well we thought it was them that were arseholes, but it turned out that we were the arseholes, so we needed a arsehole who would fit our music (laughing), just joking!!!With Pat his heart was really with the Death Metal thing, so that is why he joined Cannibal Coprse. Tim Calvert is now married and living in Seattle and he has a pilots license."
"How did you hook up with Steve Smyth from Testament for this tour?"
(J) "Well we met up with him at several shows and Jeff knows him so we just hooked up for the tour & here we are today!! We also had Chris from Jag Panzer in mind, but he was not available for the tour, so Steve was around so we got him for the tour, we are also happy with the way it is turning out between us all."
"Do you think the band will
always be a 4 piece with an additional guitar player for the tours?"
(J) "Well we hope not!! Maybe one day we'll find the right guy!! We would like to thank Testament & Dragonlord, for letting us use Steve for the tour, thanx guys!!"
"What is the key success to keep Nevermore together for as long as you have so far?"
(V) "I very complicated question (laughing), I think over the years we have become a family were there's ups & downs.
(J) "I think we have learnt to tolerate each other when times get tough and when your on the raod for a long time things to tend to get heated."
"I have noticed that the band has become a lot heavier of recent, so what bands have influenced you to become more heavier? Also do you in it's a good idea to go heavier and loose that Nevermore sound?"
(V) "Well with the de-tuned stuff it's down to Jeff and I know he is listening to a lot of stuff like 'Soilwork', and a lot of the Swedish heavy stuff that's coming out. We have played with a lot of heavy bands, so I guess it tends to rub off on you after a while."
(J) "I really don't want us to do something heavy for the sake of it, we are all into the heavy music, and when you listen to the opening track on the new album it's typical Nevermore, but by the time the album finishes it becomes more experimental. We have some Death Metal riffs on the new album and I would say we have been listening to 'Death', who we also toured with. We also like 'Dimmu Borgor'."
"What is your opinion on today's metal scene?"
(V) "Well I like the way things are going so far, I like 'In Flames', 'God Forbid', there are tons of good stuff out there right now. I am not into the True Metal thing, it's too happy for me."
"Jim what is the scene like in Seattle right now, is Metal coming back or is it still dominated by Grunge?"
(J) "Oh it's getting stronger man!! A lot of bands from Sweden are starting to get played on MTV, like 'Soilwork' and I know the kids love it, and we have seen changes over here for the better. We have released a video for the song 'Enemies Of Reality' and that is also getting played, so we are happy about that."
"Are you aware that there were two other bands under the same name called 'Nevermore', one from New York?"
(J) "I know about the band from New York, they had the name first but we had no problems with them. They broke uop and the label went under so we knew things would be OK."
"Over the years you have been with Century Media, are you happy with the way they do promotion ect.. for the band?"
(V) "Well I have seen a lot of promotion for this record in Magazines, so I believe things are going really well so far."
"I heard this is the last album for the label, is this true and who has been showing interest in the band if you decide to not re-new your contract?"
(J) "Well we will most likely move on, but we have not made a decision yet. I guess you have heard that they cut our promotion budget for this record and they certainly did for our recording budget by 2/3rds. I am not sure if we will stay because they seem to be focusing on the U.S. market with bands like 'Shadowsfall'."
"I heard you might be signing to Nuclear Blast?"
(J) "I believe they have shown an interest in the band, but we shall have to wait and see. We have had offers from SPV, and a few more that I am not sure of."
"Ok, so lets talk about the new album, why the title 'Enemies Of Reality' and were there any other titles for this album?"
(V) "Well Warrell is a big Sci-Fi freak & I know he got the title from a movie I think it was called 'Existence' I believe, it's a really cool movie about people who plug into organic movie games were there in chairs sleeping, it's a really heavy statement, we liked it!!"
"Would I be right in saying Travis Smith once again did the artwork for the album? What other albums covers do you like from his work?"
(J) "Yeah he did the new album and we found it hard to get him in the right direction on this album and focused because he was busy with other bands and in the end it all came together."
"Would you ever use anybody else for future albums or does this art work reflect in the bands music?"
(J) "That is hard to say really, Travis might change is style one day but so far we have a team that works well together."
"So who's the freak in the band to come up with these strange album covers?"
(V) "Well I would have to say the Warrell did a lot of hard work on the cover & he I think he's the freak in the band (laughing)."
"Andy Sneap worked with the band on previous albums, so did he not work with you on the current album, was it about timing?"
(J) "We were happy with his work he had done for us on previous albums, but this time around it was all down to timing and budget. I think Andy would of done it if he had the time, but then again our budget was cut in half by our label, so we decided it would of been better to do it on our own, saying that we met Kelly Grey, who use to be in a band with Geoff Tate called 'Myth', but when Geoff left the band he decided to be a producer. The biggest band he has produced so far is 'Candlebox', as well as 'Queensryche'."
"Are you happy with the way it turned out?"
(J) "Well I was not happy with the first mastering of the promo and after the release of the promo the label decided to re-master it so it much better."
"Besides Kelly, who else did you approach to record the new album?"
(J) (Laughing) "With the money we had, our self's!! Back in the day I had the opportunity to work with Terry Date, who has now become a big producer, and I'd like to work with him again."
"OK, so are the songs wrote as a team effort of by certain members of the band?"
(V) "Well Warrell handles all the lyrics, Jeff comes up with the basic ideas of the songs and then we work on them together and build a strong song, that is how it basically works."
"So how long does it take to write a song?"
(J) "Well the best experience I had was on the 'Politics Of Ecstasy' & 'Dreaming Neon Black' because we had more time and we were not working jobs so we spent a lot of time down at the studio working on material, but with the last album or so we had to come off tour and go back to jobs, so it hard to write song."
"So what songs off the new album stand out for you and why? Also are there any you dislike?"
(V) "Well I like them all actually!! I was kind of nervous on a few of them before the vocals came in, but Warrell does a great job on vocal lines. I was not sure how 'I Voyager' would come out, because it had some really difficult rhythms. Some of the ballads sounds very strange without Warrell's vocals, I thought they would sound gay, but they turned out really cool!!"
(J) "I like all of them expect for 'Create The Infamous', as I feel it was not wrote at the same time period as the rest of the record. I think it's a great song but I feel it didn't feel right at the time."
"The album seems really short, did you intend on it been that short?"
(J) "No we did not intend on the record been a short one, we wrote the songs and that's how long it ended up been. We are happy with the songs."
"How would you best describe this album from the bands previous albums?"
(V) "I don't think it's any darker than our previous albums, I feel it is the next normal thing for us to do. I think our last album 'Dead Heart...' was going that way anyway as that had some heavy songs on it too. It's shorter and alot heavier and sweeter too!! We knew It was our last record for our label and we were frustrated so it came out shorter and more brutal."
"Why did you decide to have this album released as a ltd double cd with live and video trax as a DVD? Would you not of thought it would of been better to release a live DVD?"
(J) "It is something that we do want to release in the future, but we can't do it yet as it in the control of our label I am not too happy with it, it's all record company politics!!"
"How well is the new album selling for the band?"
(J) "Well we can't say how well it is selling as it's only been out for such a short time. I think the press like it though."
"Moving away from the new album what did 'Judas Priest' think of your version to 'Love Bites', from the Priest tribute album that was put out?"
(J) "I managed to ask Rob Halford about it myself and he told me he really liked it and he thought it was one of the best songs on the album. I think if you record a cover tune you have to fuck it up otherwise it sounds boring. I'd like to think that one day somebody will do our songs and fuck them up too, then I would listen to it."
"Do you have any plans to do any more fucked up cover tunes?"
(V) "Not that we know of right now!!"
"So how well is the tour going so far for you?"
(V) "Its going great so far, we have a lot of people coming to our shows and we are headlining nearly all of them except for tonight Arch Enemy are great people, they rule!!"
"So I'd like to thank you guys again for your support and mentions on your albums, thanx. Do you have anything to say before we finish? Best of luck tonight!!"
(V) "Yeah thanx for the interview, it was to see you again. To our fans thanx for supporting us and for coming to our shows.
(J) "Yeah thanx to our fans, hope you like the album. Jason it's great to meet you again, let's have a beer after the show!!"
Live Pictures By Jason Brown © 2003
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