New purveyors of traditional metal Neverworld released their first album earlier this year and more recently made their open air debut at the Rhythms Of The World festival. ZT found out what they’ve got planned next.
Based in Bedfordshire, UK, like a lot of bands Neverworld were born from the ashes of a bunch of broken up bands before them. Getting started a few years ago they recorded their debut EP Welcome To… back in 2010 and went on to spend a lot of time playing shows before getting round to releasing their debut album in March this year.
High pitched vocals, fiddly guitar riffs and scaling keyboard lines mean they branch across both the traditional and power metal genres and to say Visions Of Another World is their first full-length effort it’s a good start. ZT spoke to frontman Ben Colton about putting it together, avoiding cheese and why playing Rhythms Of The World wasn’t as great as he hoped.
ZT: You released your debut album Visions Of Another World earlier this year. How pleased are you with how it turned out?
Ben Colton (Vocals/Guitar): On the whole I’m happy. The reaction to the album has just been amazing; I didn’t anticipate that to be honest. You sit in the studio for hours on end just doing your best with what you’ve got, you know? You kind of pick it apart and obviously after hearing the songs over and over again I think your own judgment gets more and more clouded, so in the end you have to say here it is, it’s done over to you guys! All the reviews and fan reaction so far has been overwhelming and makes me very proud.
Why the three year gap between releasing your first EP and debut album?
Basically when we first put this band together we wrote a couple of tracks and made an EP straight away. We wanted to have a product available and also realised just how important it is to have your stuff out there on the net for people to check out. So we spent six months doing the EP and we hadn’t even played a show! I was new to singing and we all knew we just had to get out there. We spent the next two years on the road as much as possible. Then in 2012, when we just about had enough songs to make an album, we lost our original bass player. It took us a while to find his replacement and as soon as we did we started the long winded recording process. A lot of hard work went into this. Sometimes we’d get offered gigs when we were meant to be recording so instead of being in the studio we were rehearsing. It was a nightmare trying to juggle the time constraints and things would go wrong too. For example I think I recorded my vocals three or four times because we weren’t happy with them. There was a stage where I thought the process would never end! Anyway I think all in all the album took us probably around two years from start to finish. It was such a relief to get it out. Next time round it’ll be a lot easier. We learnt a lot making this album!
Have you all been in bands before? Was writing/recording together as Neverworld a much different process? We’d all recorded demos/EP’s before I think but this was the first serious output for any of us. I love working with these guys. They are my brothers. We all get along great which is obviously very important but one of the best things about our writing process is we’ve all been influenced by different bands. That’s why I think it’s quite hard for people to say we sound like this or that. We have our share of disagreements but we are all honest people and say what we think. Therefore we respect each other and all have what’s best for Neverworld at heart.
How did the band come together in the first place? Well it’s a long story but really we were trying to get my old band Sentinel going again after a year’s hiatus. As it turned out not everyone was that committed so those of us that were decided to form Neverworld instead. A new band, new vision, new songs etc. That was in late 2009 and we haven’t looked back since!
What inspired you to go down the traditional/power metal path? Personally I’ve been listening to trad metal since I was a very young boy. As I’ve grown older my musical taste has broadened immensely but I find trad metal an incredibly diverse style of music anyway. It has light and shade, it can be epic, it can be an anthem, it can change atmosphere. There aren’t many restrictions with it and I love that. Who likes being restricted? No art or music should be. It should flow from within and that’s what Neverworld is. A reflection of who we are. As for the power metal comparison I wouldn’t say that but many people have so there must be something in it I guess!
And how do you avoid falling into clichéd or cheesy territory when writing/playing such music?
I don’t really know. One man’s meat is another man’s poison and all that I guess! I think maybe we’ve avoided it so far just by being quite a dark bunch. I mean theme wise I wouldn’t call any of that cheese. But people have said to me that I play guitar like a throwback to the 80’s which a lot of people associate with ‘cheese’! I don’t know, we just do what we do and hope people like it!
Is there a message you hope to convey through your music?
Sometimes, yeah. Don’t be a sheep, don’t believe everything you read or hear, don’t trust the government etc! Most of the time we are just telling a story, trying to take you on a journey. Music is a fantastic escape for a lot of people. We don’t want to be too preachy but we will write about anything we like the sound or idea of. There are no rules in Neverworld!
What was it like playing the Rhythms Of The World festival amongst artists from many different genres?
Unfortunately for me it was a nightmare! The rest of the guys enjoyed it but I had a stinking headache, a killer bad back and suddenly lost my voice on the second song! That aside it was a good day for the band as a whole. We got to experience a big outdoor festival, the crew were amazing, the crowd were with us and we sold a lot of albums after the set. I just wish I could have enjoyed it more!
How did you get that gig?
Our local venue is run by a great guy called Bob Mardon who also helps out with the festival. He put our name forward for it on the back of our performances at his club over the last year or so. He’s a legend. And he genuinely cares about local music and talent. Without him we wouldn’t have had the opportunity.
Do you think British traditional/power metal is in a good place right now?
It’s hard to say actually. Are there awesome trad/power metal bands out there? Hell yes. Are they getting the recognition they deserve? Hell no. The talent is out there for sure and especially the fan base but without the mainstream metal media, radio in particular, behind this movement then it just gets harder for the bands to get heard. However, music is a wheel and you never know it might come back big time. All you can do is stay true to yourself musically, keep working hard and maybe, just maybe you’ll be in the right place at the right time.
What future hopes do you have for Neverworld?
We are currently writing the follow-up album. Next time round will be a lot easier and we want to make a much better album. If you don’t progress you just tread water and I’m not up for that at all. Our hope is that we can get on a major label ultimately but until that day comes we will keep working our asses off doing what we love. The future looks good right now though. We have ambition and our awesome fans drive us on to get to the next level.