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All the talk about NEVERMORE's latest CD "Enemies Of Reality", esp. the supposedly terrible production, made me curious. Like many, I knew the titlesong from last year's Bang Your Head, a friend also let me hear a few songs once he got a promo, but it wasn't until the day of the interview in July that I heard the whole album. I had the opportunity to talk to bassist Jim Sheppard about it until his phonecard ran out - still a 20 minute talk about the album, Christian Martensson, upcoming tours and pounding vodka:)
I've been listening to "Enemies Of Reality" for a couple of hours now - I didn't have a promo myself and just got some soundfiles from one of our other writers for me to listen to. Well, of course we knew the title song already from the Bang Your Head festival from last year, the rest I heard today and I gotta say I'm pretty overwhelmed by all the aggression and heaviness and chaos and emotion and all the magic that I'm used to from Nevermore. Even though there are some songs that might need to grow on me maybe...
That's inspiring, that means we did our job.
Yeah, it shouldn't be too easy to get into. My first impression is that it's more complex, very different at times, yet typical Nevermore and the production seems a little different but I'm not really sure how. How would you describe the album and its production?
It's a little more garage sounding I think, we recorded some of it in Jeff's basement, some of it in our producer's house and basically we just kind of put it together here and there, maybe because the budget was reduced drastically by Century Media for this record, so it's a bit more raw I think. It's more in your face.
I read something about the initial production being remastered.
Yeah, Kelly Gray is more the pop producer, he has a guy that masters stuff for him, he mastered it for a pop production, radio and stuff and we told him that was wrong, he had to master it for home stereos because we don't really get a whole lot of radio play, recordsales and stuff. So we had it remastered to sound better for you.
But what I've been listening to now from the European promo, that's the remastered version?
No, I think the European promos, most of them are not remastered yet. The real one will have the remastering.
Oh, I didn't think the production was all that bad...
No, we really like it but it just sounds a little bit better when you buy the CD.
Definitely going to do that. But at least you didn't get Bob Rock for your garage sound;)
It's definitely a little bit better than that one;)
Yeah, I think it's also the songs, production is always a bonus. The songwriting, that's the most important and that's what really comes through I believe on this record.
True. How did you end up with Kelly Gray as a producer?
Basically we had the record done for a while, we've been rehearsing and trying to figure out what we're gonna do for production. And a friend of us said "hey, what about Kelly Gray" and I said "wow, I never even considered him because it is a different type of producer". But we had a meeting with him and after the meeting with him we felt comfortable going into recording with him and he was really excited because he had never really heard our style of music before, so it was fresh for him and it was a fresh experience for us. The type of production is so different and we're really happy with how it turned out.
So you weren't really scared that it would turn out too poppy or too clean or whatever?
A little bit, we hesitated at first but after the first meeting with him he said he would make it sound the way we wanted it. He would do that for us and we felt comfortable after meeting with him, a really nice guy. I think we turned him into a metalhead;)
Hahaha, that's never a bad thing!
The limited edition box, I hear it will contain an extra DVD with three videos and two live videos. For which songs are the live videos?
The live ones would be "Beyond Within" and "Engines Of Hate".
Do you have any part of the songwriting or is that all Jeff's and Warrel's work?
This one it was mainly Jeff and Warrel but of course I have a little bit of influence on bassmelodies and stuff like that. but the primary songwriters were Jeff and Warrel for this record.
And how was that on the older records?
With some of the older ones me and Van would have more input, because we would be down in the studio writing the whole thing but with this record we just kinda let Jeff and Warrel do it and it turned out sounding a little bit more cohesive that way I think.
So you write more at home and not really in the rehearsal place or something like that?
I think that "Enemies Of Reality" is a great title for a Nevermore album because there is no music that enchants me and takes me into a dream world like Nevermore's, especially at live shows.
What can I say, I have to agree with you.
The lyrics, the song itself, I read in another interview that it's about killing your television?
It has a little bit of underlying political tension to it, that deals with your television and I think with what's been going on in the world lately. well I like to leave the lyrics open to interpretation because they can mean something different to each listener.
Yeah, when I read that, I just thought it was funny coming from a band with a website domain name ending with .tv;)
Yeah, a little sarcasm there;)
Exactly, love that. How was the release party last week in Seattle?
It was great, we had a lot of fun, did some give-aways, it wasn't the typical show where we'd have three or four metal bands playing, it was just pretty much us. I had a friend of mine's band opening up that's more of an alternative punk metal band, Manfall. And then we had a bunch of give-aways, had some DJs from a local radio station hosting and it ended up being a lot of fun.
How long did you play? A long set?
One hour and ten minutes. We wanted to dedicate some time to the fans and hang out with them and dedicate some time to the DJs who gave away some of the bonus CDs and stuff.
The second guitar player at that show there was Chris Broderick but he is not the one who will be coming on the next tour, right?
No, he's gonna be busy with his band Jag Panzer, so we will have Steve Smyth from Testament and Dragonlord, he is available and he's gonna do it. We just have to do a pressrelease thanking Testament and Dragonlord for loaning him to us because they are both very busy and he's taking the time out to do this.
That's really great!
You just have to thank Testament and Dragonlord.
Yeah, definitely, it's a pretty big thing. But he's just on for the next tours, for Europe and the States or for longer?
He's just gonna do the European tour and when we do the States tour we're gonna use Chris Broderick.
Why don't you have a steady fill-in? Or is it just that none of them is available all the time?
Yeah, they're not always available, they have their other bands and it's amazing that we can juggle it to get these tours to work, so...
Chris Broderick is a pretty wicked player as well.
Yeah, he's really good, we're pretty happy with him.
I'm pretty psyched to see my buddy Steve again, I'll be looking forward to it. And to the shows and the bands and everything, including Arch Enemy BTW... Yeah, about the tours, you're now gonna tour Europe with Arch Enemy and then the States with, I think, Dimmu Borgir and Hypocrisy. Which bands are you looking forward to the most to play with?
Oh, all of them but I'm really looking forward to the European tour because it'll be a chance for us to headline and Arch Enemy are good friends of ours, we'll have a lot of fun with them, great band. And Dimmu Borgir, they're fans of Nevermore and they're good friends of ours, too. And I'll look forward to that tour because the music scene in America is really starting to come alive. It's gonna be an exciting tour and that's gonna be with Dimmu Borgir and Nevermore, Children Of Bodom and Hypocrisy.
Yeah, it's a pretty interesting tour and it's good to hear that the Americans are waking up a little bit from all the crap that's been feeding them lately.
Earlier this year, there has been some talk at least in the Into Eternity camp, that you guys wanted to take them on a tour with you, what happened to those plans?
Well, I think that was more of a Century Media idea but we've done a few shows with them, they're a great band and I think it's just more just availability than anything. So of course a European tour would be very extensive and we already had Arch Enemy and with the American tour, that's not our tour, we're supporting Dimmu Borgir. Maybe in the future, they're a great band.
Would be a great combination, too:) By the way, Tim is wondering if you guys are still pounding the vodka, haha.
Not as viciously. It's all about sustaining power, hehe.
Your contract with Century Media ends with this record. Do you already have an idea who you're gonna sign with next?
Well, we kinda wanna focus on this record, let it sit in the market, do some touring for it and let it run its course before we really start considering options for a new record company.
But is Century Media still an option to resign with them or not at all?
There is still an option, we've had good seven years with them and they have been very good to us up until just recently and I can understand the politics of it, I just don't understand the reason, it just doesn't make sense to me. The money makes sense of course, you know, because they don't want to spend a lot of money if we're not caring to stay with them but at the same time if they wanted us to resign you'd think they would treat us a little better.
Exactly. Yeah, it's always a money thing with the record companies unfortunately.
I have a question also concerning the "Politics Of Ecstasy" or rather a quote that was in the booklet, about Christian Martensson. What was up with him, I didn't really understand what has happened with that man.
Basically he was set up by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Oh I see, I didn't know what D.E.A. meant. That's crucial.
Yes, it is. And he was entrapped into selling some LSD to them, which the drug laws we felt were really wrong - that he would be set up and entrapped by our government and then end up going to prison for 10 years and you know, when violent criminals who go out of their way to commit a violent crime do less time than someone who's been entrapped by the law over a drug. It just didn't make sense to us, so that kinda set the tone for "Politics Of Ecstasy"
Is "Inside Four Walls" also about him?
No, that's a song that we dedicated to a friend of ours who kinda ended up in the same situation. He did something really stupid but it was his first offence and he ended up going to prison for a very long time for it and we thought that this was wrong. With a lesser crime like that you should get a second chance. A lot of times they give rapists and violent criminals a second chance but not drug dealers. It doesn't seem right. Not that we're a pro-drug band or anything we just think that the laws in America are kinda fucked up.
I understand it that compared to other things it's wrong.
And there's a little bit of an underlying political tension with the new record "Enemies.." too, there is some connections to "Politics..".
Also musically, right? Actually a bit to all the albums probably, I can't really say it sounds like this or that album but sometimes just reminds me of whatever other album or even Sanctuary here and there.
We tried to connect our music.
It's definitely a very versatile record, so I guess it's inevitable that it resembles some older stuff from different eras.
What kind of stuff do you listen to, what have you been listening to lately?
I tend not to listen to too much metal because we play metal and all my favorite bands are metal and we're always surrounded by it. So I decided to step away and I think it's also healthy for your musical carreer to open your mind for other styles of music and I like stuff like Portishead, I've been listening to Coldplay for quite a while now, I really enjoy that band. And another one of my favorite bands is Queens Of The Stone Age, more of a rock-oriented band. So I like a bit of everything but as far as metal I think my favorite stuff's been coming from Scandinavia, especially Dimmu Borgir.
I'm always wondering, a lot of metal musicians say that they try not to listen to a lot of metal because they try not to get influenced too much but if you're a metalhead and always been a fan of metal - how do you not listen to it? I mean, you miss out on a lot, too.
Yeah, well I think first when you're developing as a musican you need to build around your influences, like with me it was Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Metallica but I think once you do that you find your style it's important to keep a broader aspect and develop more as a musician by listening to other stuff as well and incorporate it.
Oops, I'm sorry, my phonecard just has two minutes left...
Who are your influences and heroes?
Cliff Burton, Geezer Butler, Geddy Lee, old metal stuff.
About touring, do you have favorite places to go on tour, you've been around the world I think.
Well, just anywhere where we have fans. Greece is a lot of fun, South America is a new place for us to tour, Australia was a lot of fun.
Don't really have a favorite?
Nope, just the world in general.
Hehe just the whole world? Ok, we'll put an end to it. Do you have anything to add?
Well, just come and see us, our shows are gonna have a lot of energy and fun, we like to involve the audience into the fun we have on stage and they can expect that from this new tour.
I'll be looking forward to seeing you, I'll try to be at several shows. Thank you very much, Jim, for talking with me.
Thank you very much and I'm sorry my phonecard is running out!
No problem, see you in September!
submitted by Marlies 05.09.2003