Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: July 7th, 2005
Hello Jeff. “Born” is such a killer song. Why did you decide to have that as the opening track on “This Godless Endeavor”?
We definitely wanted something that will shear your head off for the first track. We felt that it kind of fits in the speed metal/death metal vein and that it would be really cool as an opener. But you know, the whole song isn’t like that of course, it goes into a really cool chorus. I kind of got that idea from the speed metal/death metal influences that I was involved with in the past. Out of all the tunes we thought that would be the best as the opener.
That is a great song.
Thank you very much. It rolls into a bunch of different styles really. I think that we like the heaviness of it. We thought it would be a killer opener.
That's what I was wondering. It’s one of my favorites on the CD and it really pumps you up for the rest of the album.
I totally agree with you. Number one - the record is so diverse that it has many different elements on the whole CD. This is one of those records where it takes more than one or two listens to really soak it in because there’s so much going on.
How was it working with Andy Sneap producing?
Unbelievable - a lot of the fans know that we worked with him in 2000 with the release of “Dead Heart in a Dead World” and it was such an honor to work with him again. We went to a studio in England to record the record. He is one of these guys who is a perfectionist. He won’t take anything unless it’s your best performance. It’s just incredible and he is a guy who pushes you very hard in the studio. He is able to get the best performance out of every person in the band. I hope we can work with him again. He really understands what we want to hear as far as musicians. The guitars, the drums and the separation he was able to get - I was very, very happy to work with him again.
What was your feeling when Steve Smyth (Testament) was recruited into Nevermore?
It was my idea to have him as a permanent member in the band. Many people know that in the past we had many guitar players (laugh). It’s not because of any negative reasons that we could not have a permanent member. It is basically because we could not find the right person. Steve really adds to the whole thing. He wrote three songs on the new album. We inspire each other with our guitar playing. We are happy to announce him as the fifth and final member of Nevermore. So Nevermore is back as a whole awesome team again.
What is your favorite track on the new CD?
Seeing that it’s a new record, I have a different one everyday. But I have to agree with you and say “Born” is my favorite.
What is your favorite song to play live?
We haven’t toured yet for the whole record yet. We had a chance to play in Belgium recently and I would have to say “This Godless Endeavor” is the coolest one to play. There are so many different things going on in that song. Solos and the intricate middle section so it’s kind of a challenge to play that one but at the same time a lot of fun.
Out of all the CDs that Nevermore has put out what was the most difficult song to play live?
Ha-ha. I would definitely have to say “This Godless Endeavor” because of the middle section. The middle section is incredibly hard to play and I had a hard time matching it up in the studio. We had to do four tracks of it. The others songs we play so much that it seems second nature.
Did you consider any other names for NEVERMORE?
Actually, when I was in Sanctuary with Warrel and Jim, we started off not having a name for the band. So on our flyers back then we had a slogan saying Sanctuary is nevermore. So Nevermore kind of became the band name that way. I was only in Sanctuary for two months when I replaced Sean Blosl back in like 1991. We were initially going to do another record but you know as well as I do the grunge scene started in Seattle. Many of the other guitar players wanted to jump on that bandwagon and write more songs on that style. Warrel, Jim, and I were like “No we don’t really want to do that.” That was the demise of Sanctuary and the beginning of Nevermore. We wanted to stick more to our heavy metal roots. That’s how Nevermore really started. We did a couple of demo tapes and those demos ended up being Nevermore’s first record which was in 1995 on Century Media.
What was the first album you ever bought?
Oh my God, it was “Piece of Mind” by Iron Maiden. My father had a huge record collection and I wasn’t really introduced to metal first. I was introduced to more seventies music. I would be spinning (ha-ha) Fleetwood Mac or the Doobie Brothers, or something like that. I actually started playing drums; playing guitar didn’t even come into play until around 1985. It was then I got the first Yngwie Malmsteen “Rising Force” record and that’s when I started spending my personal time in my bedroom working on my technique. I don’t think I came out of my bedroom until 1989 or 90 when I graduated from high school. I said man, I‘m getting pretty good at this so I have to do something about it. I heard by word of mouth that Sanctuary was looking for another guitar player so I sent out a tape to Lenny Ruthledge. He flew me out to Seattle and I got the gig.
What was the first concert you ever attended?
John Denver in Chicago. No, No.
You want me to print that?
No! I was only kidding! It was Kiss on the “Animalized” Tour. No, no Kiss on the “Lick it up” tour and it was their first tour without their make-up. After that, it was Judas Priest's “Defenders of the Faith” Tour.
Were you still pumped up seeing Kiss even without their make-up?
Dude, I was pumped up. It was my first show and I was like twelve years old. I remember coming home and I could not go to school the next day because I could barely hear, ha-ha, it was awesome. It was exciting walking into an arena for the first time and seeing that massive stage set up. When you see something like that you want to do that for the rest of your life. That image is still engraved in my head. I can’t forget about those days.
What was the first guitar you bought?
It was a guitar called PVP15 that they used to make and I remember the guitar case had the amp built right in it. After that, I had to get a Fender Stratocaster and after that, I started building my own guitars from old charvel parts.
Do you feel the music that Nevermore plays is getting more accepted by music fans?
I have a feeling since we are part of the GIGANTOUR; Nevermore will push to the next level. When we played in the US, we always played in smaller venues but now we’re going to play arenas and pavilions. It’s going to open us up to a lot more people. This is a highly anticipated record for Nevermore and the timing couldn’t be better, I’m really stoked.
What new guitarist would you recommend for fans to hear?
Rusty Cooley, the level of extremity and technique and speed level is really, really crazy. He’s from Texas, he has an instrumental album out now, and he’s a good player.
What is your favorite guitar you own?
It’s called the Schecter C7 Hellrasier model. I’ve been endorsed by the company for about a year. They are an awesome company and they make some great seven-string guitars. I am also endorsed by the amp company Krank so I’m using those two things.
Tell us about the "Wisconsin Guitar Wars" about when you were sixteen?
It was a feeling of nervousness. It was one of the first times performing on stage alone -- without a band and to be honest I didn’t know what I was doing. I don’t know how the hell I won but I did. I came home with a bunch of free gear-- A yellow fender Strat and bunch of amps. I actually won a couple awards. I won another guitar award when I was nineteen.
The first date for the Gigantour is July 21st, how does the band gear up for the tour?
We play on the main stage for about half an hour. It runs up until the middle of September and then we have four days off and we head out for a headline tour in Europe. Then we come back and we open up for another national act. This will run up until 2006.
How do you get gear up for the tour?
You just take care of yourself. If you only have thirty minutes on stage every night, you have a lot of down time. One of the things we have planned is to write a lot of the next record on the bus. Be sure that you have a good crew going out with you. There is so much to do with a tour with the business aspect of it that sometimes you lose concentration on the music part of it, but the best feeling of it all is going on stage and playing for the people.
Are you working on a solo album?
Yeah, I have a lot of the music written for it already. I am going to try and focus on that and having some time off I’ll get in the studio and get that recorded. A lot of people have been talking about it and I always wanted to do something like that my whole life, I’m going to do that. It’s going to be kind of like a Jason Becker / Marty Friedman kind of thing.
Would you like to say anything in conclusion to our interview?
We are really looking forward to coming out and playing for people again. I hope everyone likes the new album “This Godless Endeavor.”
Thanks very much for the interview.
Rock Eyez Review of 'This Godless Endeavor' by Nevermore.