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Interviews   

A luck that Warrel deign to talk to us…


Warrel Dane is an incredible character. First of all, he’s a fantastic singer for Nevermore, clearly one of the most important band in metal nowadays. Humanly, Warrel seems phlegmatic, his personality composed and thoughtful. In the end, the man’s niceness puts you at ease very quickly.

When we interviewed him, Warrel was obviously knackered, a fact for which he apologized at the end of the conversation. And before I started firing questions, when I asked him if he was OK, he gave me a nervous, hesitating, « I’m OK », before laughing of his tiredness. And yet he managed to answer our questions with a truly infectious good mood.

This interview was a good opportunity to talk about The Obsidian Conspiracy, Nevermore’s first album in five years, but also about various subjects, among which the contest our American friends of Metal Sucks organized and which was won by Ben Robson and his now cult video.


 » I think it’s gonna be hard for people to not compare anything Jeff or I would do with I think it’s gonna be hard for people to not compare anything Jeff or I would do with Nevermore. Not to sound arrogant or anything, but I think the Nevermore sound comes from both of us. »

Radio Metal : Jeff Loomis and yourself both did a solo album in between the release of This Godless Endeavor and The Obsidian Conspiracy. Many fans thought these albums were very close to the Nevermore style, although Jeff’s album was instrumental and more complex, and yours was more on the melodic side. How come you two didn’t try to move farther away from your main band ?

Warrel Dane (vocals): I always wanted to do something that would be closer to a rock’n’roll record, instead of hard and metal, because this is what I grew up listening to. As for Jeff, he always wanted to do something more guitar-oriented, ‘cause obviously, he’s a very good guitarist. He really wanted to do the instrumental thing. The best way to explain it would be to say that we wanted to get it out of our systems. We’d both wanted to do different projects for a long time, that’s pretty much why we did it.

As I said, Jeff’s solo album was technical and complex, while your album was softer and more on the melodic side. Can we say that these two albums represent the two sides that, when combined, make the unique Nevermore sound?

Maybe, yeah. I think it’s gonna be hard for people to not compare anything Jeff or I would do with I think it’s gonna be hard for people to not compare anything Jeff or I would do with Nevermore. Not to sound arrogant or anything, but I think the Nevermore sound comes from both of us. No matter what we would ever do, people are always going to say: “That sound like Nevermore”.

Somehow, have these solo experiences given you a new and fresh look on Nevermore before going into the writing process for what became The Obsidian Conspiracy?

Yeah, a little bit. We were definitely refreshed and more inspired, I think, after doing our two solo records. To the point that when Jeff and I started writing the new material together, there was definitely a different perspective, because we were able to go by ourselves for a little bit and get that out of our systems.

This Godless Endeavor was complex with a progressive edge. The new album, The Obsidian Conspiracy, sounds much more straight forward. Do you think it wouldn’t have been such a good idea to go further in the complexity? And as a matter of fact, do you think you’ve reached a certain limit with This Godless Endeavor?

I don’t know if we reached a limit. But I think that in our career so far, we’ve been lucky that we have not really repeated ourselves. Every record that we’ve done sounds completely different from the other ones. Who knows, maybe next time we’re gonna decide that this new album is gonna be so fucking complex and ridiculously progressive! We never know, but then again, we never decide to do things like that anyway!

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This Godless Endeavor was considered as a major album by Nevermore fans. Was this one of the reasons you tried a different musical approach with The Obsidian Conspiracy? To avoid trying to equal This Godless Endeavor?

No, we absolutely did not try to do anything. We just let the songs become what they are. When you go into the songwriting process with preconceived ideas of what you think it should sound like, that’s not the correct way to do it. When we write songs, we never think that it has to sound that way, or it can’t sound that way. It basically just happens. If you do go into songwriting with preconceived ideas, sometimes it can harm the songwriting process.


 » I don’t know if we reached a limit. But I think that in our career so far, we’ve been lucky that we have not really repeated ourselves. Every record that we’ve done sounds completely different from the other ones. »

Jeff Loomis recently said about The Obsidian Conspiracy that he gave you a little bit more room this time for your vocal parts. Did you feel more comfortable creating your vocal lines this time?

When he said that, I remember that my first thought was: “This music is so fucking insane and complicated, where’s all the room you’re talking about ?!”. The song “And The Maiden Spoke” has one of the craziest, most progressive and fucking insane riffs I have ever heard. But at the same time, it has a really big chorus. I didn’t feel more comfortable, but I didn’t feel less comfortable either – I don’t know if that makes sense! When we write songs with Jeff, I’m always comfortable, because basically he’s my musical soul mate.

Do you think that Jeff’s solo project allowed him to fulfill his thirst for complex and technical riffing and that now he realized he could lay back a little bit more with Nevermore to give you more space ?

Maybe. I’m really glad he was able to do that record, it’s freakin’ killer. I don’t think he intentionally laid back more for the new Nevermore. He just started writing new Nevermore songs, and that’s how they came out.

Have you or Jeff hesitated to use some riffs or melodies for your solo albums, thinking: “Maybe I should keep this for the next Nevermore”?

No, that didn’t happen. You might wanna ask Jeff; perhaps there are some riffs he wanted to use for his solo record, but I’m not exactly sure. It could be.

The Obsidian Conspiracy is produced by Peter Witchers from Soilwork. Peter also played on your solo album and produced it. What pushed you to call him back to produce this new Nevermore album?

I enjoyed working with him so much, I decided we should give him a chance to do the Nevermore record. We had such a great working relationship when I was writing songs with him for my solo project that I knew he would be really good for Nevermore. In the studio, I never had one argument with Peter. And that’s really odd, it’s not normal! He’s a great guy, I’ve known him for years. I consider him one of my best friends.

You just said you never had an argument with Peter and that it was weird; does it mean you’re hard to work with?

No! It’s just kind of odd, when you’re working in the studio, to not have any arguments. Of course I’m hard to work with, all musicians are! But at the end of the day, you learn how to behave in the studio. Peter was just very easy to work with, and I hope he thinks the same about me.

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The cover artwork seems to represent an opposition with these two faces looking at each other. What does it symbolize?

It might take a while to explain… You can see the Washington Monument decaying and the two children staring at each other. There is a lot of symbolism in this cover. Travis Smith, the artist who created it, did an amazing job. It’s funny because I see things online where people are very polarized about the cover. Some think it’s the most horrible piece of art they’ve ever seen for Nevermore, and some think it’s our best album cover. For me it’s hard to be objective, because I took part in creating it. To me, it’s… God, that’s hard to explain! I wanted people to interpret the visuals for this record on their own, instead of being completely literal. It’s more fun when you have to take some time to understand the meaning of it.

What about the title? Should the fans interpret it themselves as well?!

The obsidian is the volcanic glass. I think right now, given the state of the world, especially in Iceland, volcanoes are very popular – unpopular, rather! I don’t know where the title came from, it just came.


(About Attila Vörös new Nevermore’s guitarist) » It was like 5 a.m. when I called him. I woke him up, and he was like: “Who is this?”. I said: “Who do you think it is?”, and he was like: “Oh my God, this is Warrel, isn’t it?!”. It was funny.
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Nevermore has a new second guitar player to replace Chris Broderick who left for Megadeth. He is called Attila Vörös. Can you introduce him to us?

This is interesting, because I found him online. One of my ex-girlfriends, who knew we were looking for a new guitarist called me and said: “You should see this guy’s YouTube videos, he can play all your songs, he’s really good”. So I went online and started watching his videos. I had to call her back to ask if she had his phone number. She found it and I called him. I guess it was meant to be. People make jokes all the time about the curse on our second guitar player, but I guess it must be difficult to walk around in the shadow of Jeff Loomis, who’s a very good guitarist.

How did Attila react when you called him to audition?

It was like 5 a.m. when I called him. I woke him up, and he was like: “Who is this?”. I said: “Who do you think it is?”, and he was like: “Oh my God, this is Warrel, isn’t it?!”. It was funny.

You talked about the curse on the second guitar player. Have you ever considered the band with only one guitar player?

Well, yeah. We played many shows with just Jeff. I have to leave that up to Jeff, because he really feels that we need two guitar players to interpret his compositions in a live setting. I would be fine if we only had one, but you know… We’re not Van Halen!

The blog Metal Sucks recently had a contest asking Nevermore fans to write their lyrics and sing what would be their vision of the vocals on the instrumental version of the song “The Obsidian Conspiracy”.

Yeah, and we have the results now.

That was my question, actually: the guy who won the contest is very funny. What do you think of his version of the song?

I think it’s awesome! I was very impressed. He’s obviously a big fan, I think we selected the best contestant as the winner.

Apparently Ben, the winner, will sing his version of the song on stage with the band. Do you feel confident about his performance?

Sure, why not! I think it’s gonna be very fun. We haven’t exactly decided when it’s gonna happen yet, but we’re going to do his version of the song at the beginning of the set, and at the end he’s going to join us again and do our version.

Aren’t you afraid to see people prefer his version of the song?

Of course, that was one of the first things I thought: “Oh my God, somebody’s gonna think that his version is better, oh no!”. Seriously, it’s silly to even worry about something like that. Of course some people are gonna think his version is better, and some that ours is better, but you can’t change that!


 » I’m a big Soilwork fan. Don’t even get me started on The Chainheart Machine, that’s just brilliant. We already toured with Soilwork, three times, I think. Of course we’d love to tour with them again. »

You recently wrote a very enigmatic message mentioning Nevermore, Symphony X and Candlemass. Does this mean we should expect a tour with these three bands?

Uh oh! You’ve been on Twitter, haven’t you?! Well, that would be a dream tour for me, because I love Symphony X, and I fuckin’, absolutely love Candlemass. We’ll see what happens. I don’t want to curse anything by talking too much about it! It’s almost a certainty that Symphony X and Nevermore will tour together. Nothing’s confirmed for Candlemass yet.

These three bands are quite different. Do you think this is what would make the package even more interesting?

Yeah, I guess so. Like I said, it’s two of my favorite bands. If it works, it’s gonna be so much fun! Maybe all three bands sound dissimilar, but at the same time we all have the same inspiration. Even if we don’t sound exactly the same, we all sound like we’re coming from the same space – if that makes any sense!

Since you’ve collaborated with Peter Witcher on your solo album and on this new Nevermore record, have you thought about touring with Soilwork? They actually also have a new album coming out soon…

They do, though I haven’t heard it yet. I’m a big Soilwork fan. Don’t even get me started on The Chainheart Machine, that’s just brilliant. We already toured with Soilwork, three times, I think. Of course we’d love to tour with them again. We’ll see what happens.

Can we expect songs from Jeff’s solo album and your solo album on the upcoming Nevermore shows?

I don’t think so, no. It might be cool, but unfortunately, I think the other guys in Nevermore might tell us we’re going on an ego trip if we did that!

Interview conducted by phone in May 2010

Nevermore website :
www.myspace.com/nevermore




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