The Dreamsnatcher awaits your arrival in the Neverworld

I found this gem a little while ago, from the UK with a mix of heavy/power/progressive metal, Neverworld has landed with "Dreamsnatcher", their second album, and it’s a pretty cool experience I have to say. With that in mind, I got the opportunity to chat with Ben Colton, lead vocalist and guitarist to find out more about the release and Neverworld’s development leading towards the release of "Dreamsnatcher" and beyond. 

Hi Ben, hope you are well? There has been some fantastic reviews to your new album "Dreamsnatcher", I guess you are overwhelmed by the response?
Hi Paul yes I’m very good thank you bud. Absolutely. When you put something out there to the critics you kind of sit back with baited breath because you know you are at their mercy! We've always been very lucky with the press and that does surprise me. Not because I don't have any faith in our music I just read a lot, especially reviews, and people can be cruel. I always breathe a huge sigh of relief when we get a nice review! After all you do rely on these as a form of reaching out and attracting a new audience so yes absolutely overjoyed by the response so far. Big love and thanks to you guys too for another lovely review!

I read somewhere, I think I did anywhere, that a notable influence said they like the album, was that true? That must be like the biggest pat on the back for you especially and the band I guess!
Yes that is true indeed and of course it makes you feel amazing! It was Vince High of Mythra. A band I've been listening to for a long time. I always thought they should have been huge. Great songs, great band. I've known Vince a little while now and we swapped albums last year and have a chat from time to time. He bought 'Dreamsnatcher' and messaged me to say it made him feel like a little kid again. That is a huge compliment from a true gentleman and it really did make my day. He's a top dude and I hope the reformation of Mythra takes them on another fantastic journey. Their new recordings are quality!

Would you like to expand upon the 'dreamsnatcher' role and concept for those not with the release yet?
Well Neverworld is very much an audio/visual concept. As in we like to tell stories. Usually not very nice stories! When we came up with the name Neverworld we were thinking ahead about our product and where we could take it. Neverworld is the dream world we all visit when we sleep. Therefore it's a place where anything can happen. I absolutely love that notion. The 'Dreamsnatcher' is the main character in our artwork. We simply called him 'Crowman' before but now he has a few names. The King Of Crows, Dreamsnatcher etc. The theme behind the title track is that the Dreamsnatcher feeds from people’s fears and traps them in their own nightmares thus becoming stronger and stronger. We just liked the concept and thought this is very Neverworld. In fact we are literally about to start writing the 3rd album which will be a concept album and all about that kind of story!

How do you approach the song writing process, is it an initial idea and worked upon or do you write as a group?
The way we write has changed over the years. A lot of the first album was already written 8 or 9 years ago, but most of "Dreamsnatcher" was written in pairs or sitting down with 3 or 4 of us. I don't think you can easily write when all 5 of you are in the room so I would say 3 seems to be the magic number for us. We come up with riffs or themes and then write to the theme. There's no real science behind it as such. Music, to me anyway, is all about emotion. We like to build songs, make them complex when they need to be but we try to never lose sight of the melody and emotional content. I try to write music that I would like to listen to. So there are many different layers with us. Lots of light and shade, atmosphere, time changes etc. but when it's time to rock we rock!

How long did the recording take? Was it all in the same time period and studio?
Nowhere near as long as the first album thank God! That took about 3 and a half years. This one 18 months from the writing/demo stage to the finished product in our hands. I think we did really well this time. It was recorded in the same 'studio' but not the same place. We've moved to Knebworth in Hertfordshire now and it's much more comfortable and a much nicer environment to work in. The whole experience was great this time round.

"Visions Of Another World" may have been your full length introduction after the "Welcome To…" EP, but have things changed for the band in terms of writing and recording between that period to this?
Yes I would say so. I don't like the idea of treading water as a band. You have to evolve and adapt. You have to keep raising the bar. With this album that was very important to all of us. We are all better musicians/writers now than we were 3 years ago and we have a great work ethic so we wanted to show that with 'Dreamsnatcher'. I really admire bands who put out quality albums consistently but never really repeat themselves. I'd really like that to be us. I want to be able to look back in another 5 years and say we just keep getting better! Just an example, but Fates Warning are great at that kind of thing. You know it's them, they have a signature sound but they have never made the same album twice. That is exactly the way we are heading. Expect the unexpected with us!

Was it true that you had some advice on the vocals for this release? Did that gave you more confidence to stretch yourself a touch more. I hear remarkable things on ‘Armies Of The Night’ and when harder tracks like ‘Passions Killers’ comes on, there’s a great deal of depth.
Yes that is true indeed. I take any advice I can get! Basically I was feeling a bit low about my vocals at the time. I had just done an album with my side project All Seeing Eyes and was very happy with my vocals on that album. Neverworld is a bit different musically. It's a little bit more theatrical and requires something a bit more atmospheric. Tony Coldham of The Deep and Christina Gajny (Blood And Romance) are 2 amazing singers who I’m very friendly with. I trust and admire them. So I reached out to see what they thought of the demos. They gave me some nice honest feedback/advice and it spurred me on. I think I was just a bit low on confidence and ideas vocal wise. The music was flowing out of me but I just couldn't get happy with my voice. Luckily that was just a bit of a phase and I realised all I could do was my very best. So that's what I did! And thank you very much. I'm really glad you like what we did with the album. Out of all the things that went into making it the vocals were the hardest part. Sometimes you just have to ride it out and wait for those melodies to come. They aren't always instant.

Who did the artwork for the release?
A brilliant Brazilian artist, Caio Caldas did the artwork. He is a rare talent and absolutely nailed our concept. I think it's the icing on the cake really. We wanted everything about this album to be a big step up, including the artwork. I love it. It's creepy, dark, atmospheric and weird. Everything we wanted it to be! And of course very, very Neverworld!

How did the album launch gig go in Hitchin? There has been a subsequent show in Camden/London also I see. Have you altered your stage set up at all?
It was a truly brilliant night in almost every sense! I was just getting over a cold so my voice was pretty shit on the night (I'm sorry!) but it was just great to get back out there. Hitchin is our home town venue and it's always a pleasure to play there. Club 85 are very good to us. They let us put on our own nights there and it was packed. Full of people of all ages. Lots of Neverworld shirts being worn which is just awesome to see. Our good friends Kill Confirmed and The Deep were on the bill too. Both great bands and people. It was a special night for us. The culmination of 18 months hard work. We played for an hour and the response was mind blowing. The comeback was a success! And yes, London was great too. My voice was back at that one too! So all in all March was a very good month for Neverworld. Looking forward to playing the remaining shows this year. It's what it's all about!

Is there plans for more shows this year?
We have dates scattered about the country but we are trying to organise a tour for October. That is the aim now to do at least one tour a year and have other dates surrounding it to spread it out. We love playing live and would really like to get back over to Greece ASAP and also hit Belgium, France, Germany and Holland too. Fingers crossed we can make that happen

Is there a band or festival on your wish list to play?
Personally there are many bands I would love to share the stage with. I think in terms of suitability I would say we'd be a pretty good fit with Fates Warning, Queensryche and King Diamond. Festival wise I think most are worth doing. It's an opportunity to play to a big audience after all. I don't really have a preference as such but the European ones look far more appealing in terms of their line ups. But hey i'm not picky!

What are your thoughts on the “scene” currently, what have I missed?! Is there something brewing in the underground that we should be taking note of? 

I actually have very mixed feelings about the 'scene'. I think there are some amazing bands out there that just don't get the credit they deserve. Particularly within the prog metal market. It does make you wonder why. I think it all comes down to awareness. The big magazines just play safe all the time. It's the same 10-12 bands over and over again and more often than not when they do decide to 'break' a band it's because they've been paid to do so. Now that flat out sucks. It's not right in any way shape or form. Many bands work their asses off and get very little recognition. It actually breaks my heart too. I personally love music more than life itself. Without it the world would just be fucking awful! My point is why play safe all the time when these big bands aren't going to be around much longer? Who's coming through? Who's making great new music? I have always delved deep into the underground to find new music and my God there is no shortage! So musically speaking the scene is stronger than ever. Gig attendance and sales wise not so. I literally have no idea what the future holds now. The money has gone out of it. Most of the bands left doing this are doing it for the love of music and to leave a legacy behind. Sad but true! But the one good thing that will come of it is more good music. When you are struggling you tend to write your best stuff. We can all look forward to more good music at least!

Thanks for your time and a very hearty congratulations on your release "Dreamsnatcher".

No thank you! It's been a pleasure. Just want to say a huge thank you to all the Neverworld supporters out there too! Make sure you come and see us when you can!