Interview – Ben Colton (Neverworld)

If you want to know more about the past, present and future of Neverworld, one of the most promising Heavy Metal bands from the UK, take a shot at this fun interview with the band’s lead singer and guitarist Ben Colton. Can you guess which songs he would save for the future of mankind? You will surely enjoy his list.

ben colton_neverworldThe Headbanging Moose: Could you please introduce yourselves to the readers who are getting in contact with Neverworld for the first time? What’s the origin of the band, your main objectives and your dreams? And what was the inspiration for the name Neverworld?

Ben Colton: Howdy! Certainly. I am Ben, lead guitarist and vocalist of the band Neverworld. We formed in late 2009 and the plan was always to take it as far as we possibly could. We sat down and discussed at length about the music we wanted to make and it became apparent quite quickly that we would need a suitable name. A name that would give us the scope to be the audio/visual outfit that we wanted to be. So Neverworld was born and 6 and a half years and 3 releases later here we are! Our main objectives at this point in time are to keep progressing, keep pushing the boundaries, keep playing awesome shows and to keep having lots of fun doing it!

THM: I have to admit I can’t stop listening to your brand new album, the excellent Dreamsnatcher. It’s perfect for listening at home, at the gym, on the road or anywhere else. How did the whole process to compose the album go? Was there anything you think that could have worked better in the recording period?

BC: Well thank you very much that means a lot to us and I really appreciate the feedback. The recording process this time around was actually a lot of fun. We knew what we had to do and that was better than ‘Visions Of Another World’. So every week we would go into the studio and write riffs, choruses, verses, intros etc. until we felt we had 10 songs that completely summed us up. ‘Dreamsnatcher’ is an album that defines who we are right now and for that reason it was a great relief to achieve that. We learned a lot doing our first album so we didn’t make the same mistakes. All the music was written in about 8 months and then it was a case of writing the vocal melodies and lyrics. From the writing process to the demo stage to the actual release it took 18 months which was awesome. When you’re a perfectionist, and this band has a few, you will probably always look back and say I could of done that better but there comes a point where you just have to bite the bullet and leave it to the critics mercy! So far so good!

THM: Although none of your releases are concept albums, there’s a special concept behind the band as a whole. As quoted on the review for your 2014 release Visions Of Another World, you said that “Neverworld is a place of dreams, a world we all visit in our sleep and the band explore this magical realm in their lyrics and artwork.” Having said that, what’s the link between Visions Of Another World and Dreamsnatcher? Is there any type of storyline connecting both albums, and even your debut EP Welcome To…, from 2010?

CD Cover ArtWork - Dreamsnatcher (2015)

Album Review – Neverworld / Dreamsnatcher (2016)

BC: Basically there are some links in certain songs like ‘Visions Of Another World’ and ‘Dreamsnatcher’ but we are yet to explore the Neverworld concept fully. We are writing and recording demos already and the plan is now to release an EP toward the end of this year and then a concept album. It’ll be our third full length album and that feels like the right thing to do. We’ve discussed it in the past and we all knew the day would come where we did the whole concept thing. It’s very early days yet but we are planning the story and will write accordingly to fit that. It’s likely to be pretty dark but all will become clear as to what Neverworld is and what can happen there!

THM: There are several details that make Dreamsnatcher a must-have for fans of traditional Heavy Metal. The guitars are heavier than ever, the overall production is a lot more consistent than in your previous releases, there are many interesting additional layers of intricacy added to each and every song, among other things. How do you see the evolution of your music so far, and what can we expect from Neverworld in the future?

BC: Evolve is a great word where music is concerned. It’s something you have to do to keep it fresh and interesting. We will never make the same album twice. You’ll always know it’s us but you won’t always be able to predict what’s coming! You are one of the first people to mention the added layers of the songs and I’m really pleased you noticed! That was a very conscious thing. I love the way certain bands build songs with layers. They can be very subtle and you may not notice them initially but take them out and the song can sound naked! The future of our music I guess will depend on many factors but for me I’d like us to add more progressive elements. Mainly for the reason that there really are no rules with progressive metal and I love that. I hate restrictions. Fortunately we have none really. If an idea is cool then we use it. We do exactly what we want and that is make music that we’d like to listen to!

THM: Before we talk about a couple of specific songs from Dreamsnatcher, I just wanted to quickly go back to Visions Of Another World, where you performed an amazing duet with British singer Christina Gajny in the powerful ballad Blood and Romance. Can you tell the readers more about how Christina got involved with Neverworld and how this beautiful song was recorded? And why are there no guest musicians in the new album?

BC: Christina was just meant to be for us. I woke up one day and just thought it would be cool to do a duet with a female vocalist. So I hit the net to seek one out. She was the first one I looked at and the last. I listened to her doing a cover of ‘Black Velvet’ and was blown away. She is an incredibly versatile singer with a staggering grip on melody. I think Blood and Romance really helped us. Christina was in a band called Interlock just prior to doing the duet and was fairly well known in London. Because of her when we started playing London there were actually people there to see us! I did want her on ‘Dreamsnatcher’ too but in the end we decided that we had the 10 songs we needed and also it was another 10 songs we could add to our live performance. We’d been playing pretty much the same set for 2 years and we desperately wanted to be able to pick from a bigger selection so we could give our die hard fans a new experience every time we played. However we are indeed working on the follow up to Blood and Romance with Christina. It’ll probably be called ‘A Gothic Tragedy’ and will be part 2 in the vampire/mortal love saga. Writing is under way and it will be on the EP release so if you love Christina’s voice as much as we do you can get excited about that! I know I am!

THM: Now let’s get back to Dreamsnatcher, more specifically to the opening track, the epic Into the Mouth Of Madness. This is not a regular opening song for an album, being more progressive, more melodic and a lot longer than the opening songs found in most Heavy Metal albums. I would say it’s a similar situation to what Iron Maiden did in their 1995 album The X Factor, when they had the 11-minute masterpiece Sign of the Cross kicking off the album. Why did you choose this specific song to be the first of the album? Aren’t you afraid it might be too complex or maybe too lengthy for the average listener who’s just getting to know the music by Neverworld?

BC: Into The Mouth Of Madness was actually the first track we wrote when we went back into the studio again. I think it was what set the bar for the whole album really and also sums Neverworld up in 9 minutes or thereabouts! It’s kinda got everything. The intro, the prog, the metal, the big chorus, the epic solo section, light and shade etc. It seemed the obvious choice to us to kick things off for ‘Dreamsnatcher’. If you don’t ‘get’ that track then I don’t think we are for you! So no I wasn’t worried about it putting anyone off because anyone who doesn’t like it probably won’t like the rest of the album either! From a personal point of view a lot of my favourite songs are long, epics. ‘Still Remains’ for example by Fates Warning is my all time favourite song. It has everything! I think every album we do will end up having a few epics on.  It’s becoming a bit of a habit for us! A cool habit though I think!

THM: My favorite song in Dreamsnatcher is by far the high-octane Under The Asylum. As mentioned in the review of the album, this song has the perfect balance between aggressiveness and harmony, being highly recommended for any type of metalhead from anywhere in the world. What inspired you to write this song, and can you provide us some details on the story being told through its lyrics?

neverworld_logoBC: Thank you! I’m glad you dig! It’s a lot of fun to play live too. The inspiration for the song comes from a couple of things. I grew up near a mental asylum. Near it. Not in it! It was a Victorian era one and only shut down in 1998. Going round the place when it was derelict was an eye opening experience to say the least. That place was dark. It had its own atmosphere and was the size of a village. It just oozed sorrow and woe. I’d always felt it was a great theme for a song anyway but then American Horror Story season 2 came out and that kicked the idea off again. So really the song is about the underground workings of an asylum and all the nasty shit you don’t see happening. Very Neverworld!

THM: What are your biggest influences in music? Do you only listen to Heavy Metal, or do you also drink from the fountain of Jazz, Blues, Pop or any other type of music? And if you had to select five albums that define who Neverworld are today, which ones would you choose?

BC: Haha well I certainly don’t drink from Jazz fountain but I listen to all sorts really. Obviously being a guitar player and a singer it’s either guitar or vocal based but of course I prefer it when it’s both! Heavy Metal was my first love as a child and that just captured my imagination. In later years you learn to appreciate different things. I love classic rock as in Blue Oyster Cult, Van Halen, Boston, The Eagles etc. I love prog, hair metal, Thrash, Motown, even Grunge era stuff too (although I don’t call Mother Love Bone, Candlebox, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam or Alice In Chains ‘Grunge’). I just like good music. Well played, well sung, well written. I don’t have any rules anymore. I just like what I like. Ok picking just 5 albums is a really hard thing to do but because it’s what influences my own part of the Neverworld sound it’s a bit easier. As much as I love Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Manowar I find that I am no longer influenced by them. It’s strange but I lean towards more progressive stuff now just because there are so many more elements going on to keep your mind occupied. Ok here goes!…

1. Fates Warning ‘Disconnected’ – Brilliant album by the criminally underrated Fates. This album is the soundtrack to my life. Love it!

2. King Diamond ‘Conspiracy’ – King seems to have got bigger and bigger over the years and that pleases me a lot. The guy is an evil genius and Andy LaRouque is one of my favourite guitar players. It’s not until you sit there trying to work out King’s music you realize how complex it is, how clever it is. Love this album. A huge influence on me.

3. Crimson Glory ‘Transcendence’ – This album is just timeless. A masterpiece by a band who should have been playing arenas. Very classy, very intelligent music!

4. Winger ‘Pull’ – I imagine a few people will shake their heads at this choice but Winger are an amazing collective of breath taking musicians. Kip Winger is one of the most intelligent song writers out there. When you really listen to a Winger song and analyze it you can hear all the magic that has gone into making it. I chose ‘Pull’ for the groove aspect. Some of the riffs on this album are jaw droppers! Also Kip is one of my favourite singers and Reb Beach is one of my favourite guitar players. Another big influence for sure.

5. Queensrÿche ‘Rage For Order’ – Geoff Tate has a pretty bad rep these days. Personally I couldn’t care less what people think of him as a person, he’s a God of a singer. Just watch ‘Live Evolution’ to see his prowess in all its glory. I adore this album. The songs are great, the vocals are soulful, theatrical, grand, unusual. A perfect album!

So there are my 5. Just want to give a quick shout out to Lost Horizon, Circus Maximus, Redemption, Megadeth and Magnitude 9 too. They are all big influences on my part of the Neverworld sound too!

THM: If you were given the task of saving only between 10 and 20 songs from any music genre, band or artist for the future of mankind, which ones would make it to that special playlist? Let’s imagine you would add those to a capsule that would be preserved for a very long time and opened only in a distant future, and those would be the only songs left on earth, just for you to have an idea of how important your mission would be.

BC: Haha that is a very important mission indeed! Ok all these songs mean something to me. They all helped me. They changed my life and the way I think about music. Here goes…

1. Fates Warning ‘Still Remains’
2. Candlebox ‘Far Behind’
3. Mother Love Bone ‘Chloe Dancer/ Crown Of Thorns’
4. Circus Maximus ‘The Last Goodbye’
5. Redemption ‘Black and White World’
6. Queensrÿche ‘Walk In The Shadows’
7. Iron Maiden ‘Where Eagles Dare’
8. Judas Priest ‘Victim Of Changes’
9. Manowar ‘Bridge Of Death’
10. Winger ‘Rainbow In The Rose’
11. Guns N’ Roses ‘Civil War’
12. Lost Horizon ‘Lost In The Depths Of Me’
13. Crimson Glory ‘Lonely’
14. King Diamond ‘Sleepless Nights’
15. Thin Lizzy ‘Wild One’
16. Temple Of The Dog ‘Say Hello To Heaven’
17. Van Halen ‘Runnin’ With The Devil’
18. Blue Oyster Cult ‘Astronomy’
19. Boston ‘Something About You’
20. Dan Reed Network ‘Stronger Than Steel’

A pretty eclectic mix there!

Front Cover

Album Review – Neverworld / Visions Of Another World (2014)

THM: Talking about what any musician loves the most, which is playing to a live audience, what are your current and future tour plans for the UK and/or any other countries? How difficult it is for you to schedule tour dates and to be on the road for long periods of time? And what has been the band’s most memorable concert to date?

BC: It is difficult to tour for long periods due to all of us having work and family commitments. However we are planning on doing a week long tour this year with scattered dates surrounding it. Playing live is very important to us. It’s a hard feeling to beat when you’re up there and the crowd are with you. We are always looking for dates in the UK and abroad so keep an eye out for us in the near future. I have several fond gig memories with Neverworld. Our home town club shows are always special. Very well attended and there’s always a great buzz but the 3 that really stand out for me are when we played with Freedom Call at the Barfly in Camden on the night we released our debut. The place was absolutely packed! We opened and went down a storm. That was awesome. The next is again in Camden but this time at The Underworld. Purely because it was The Underworld. What an honour to play that hallowed stage. I’ve seen most of my favourite bands there so it was great to be able to tick it off the list. Lastly when we played Larissa in Greece. We left this weird building in the middle of nowhere to get something to eat thinking well this is going to be shit! When we came back the place was full! Couldn’t believe it! That was a great night playing with our friends Wardrum and completed an absolutely awesome experience. We’ve actually been pretty blessed with live shows over the last 4 years. We’ve played with some fantastic bands too. Long may that continue!

THM: Thank you very much for your time, I truly appreciate that.  Please feel free to send a final message to all our readers and all metalheads not only in Canada, but everywhere else in the world.

BC: No, thank you! It’s been an honour. I just want to say a huge thank you to all the good people out there supporting us. If I could put into words how much we appreciate it I would! The Neverworld family is growing all the time and that my friends is awesome! I really hope you all enjoy the new album! Peace and good will to you all \m/

Links
Neverworld Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Big Cartel
Imperative PR Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

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Album Review – Neverworld / Dreamsnatcher (2016)

Once again it’s time to enter the realm of Neverworld and surrender to the power of their solid and distinct Heavy Metal.

Rating3

CD Cover ArtWork - Dreamsnatcher (2015)Two years after opening the gates of their metallic kingdom to all of us with their debut full-length album Visions Of Another World, British metallers Neverworld return with Dreamsnatcher, once again inviting us to step into their world of dreams and nightmares through their more than exciting Melodic Heavy Metal. However, this time those guys from Bedfordshire, a county in the East of England, stepped up their game and got harder and heavier, but at the same time more melodic and refined. Put differently, this is the type of band that shows all diehard fans of classic metal music the likes of Judas Priest and Savatage that not everything is lost in our modern day society in terms of music.

You’ll need just a few seconds to get hooked on the music found in Dreamsnatcher so captivating it is. Not only the guitars got heavier, but especially the keyboards played by Mr. Daniel Potter throughout the entire album are a work-of-art, adding texture and intricacy to the music and crafting a unique atmosphere perfect for transporting the listener to the land of dreams created by Neverworld. Moreover, it doesn’t matter if a song in Dreamsnatcher has four, seven or ten minutes, they all have a reason for their duration and never get tiring, not to mention their storylines that, if properly followed, will make your time listening to the whole album even more pleasant than you could expect.

Reigniting the fire of metal from where they stopped in 2014, an acoustic intro is slowly complemented by heavy keyboards and an epic atmosphere until it becomes pure Heavy Metal in the opening track, elegantly named Into the Mouth Of Madness. And if Ben Colton, the mastermind behind the band, was already amazing in their 2014 release, now he goes above and beyond offering the listener a riveting 9-minute metal journey full of beautiful riffs and solos. And things get even better in the title-track Dreamsnatcher, where the band drinks from the fountains of Melodic and Power Metal, with highlights to the powerful bass lines by Gary Payne and the aforementioned keyboard notes by Daniel. Besides, it’s truly amazing the way Ben declaims the lyrics with so much passion and dedication, turning this tune into a must-listen for fans of the genre.

In the superb Armies Of The Night, the band embarks on heavier and darker paths with highlights to the great job done on guitars by Ben and his bandmate Jack Foster, especially with the song’s main riff, resulting in a very solid composition that perfectly represents what Neverworld are capable of delivering to fans of heavy music. Then we have Passion Killers, a heavy ballad with lots of feeling and electricity where its killer riffs match flawlessly with its atmospheric keyboards, inviting you to close your eyes and savor this metallic voyage; followed by Under The Asylum, an old school Heavy Metal anthem inspired by the music from the 80’s with an additional progressive touch, with drummer Mike Vaughan pounding his drums nonstop while Ben fires his potent vocals. Although we face a high level of aggressiveness all the time, the music is also very harmonious, and there are so many good guitar and keyboards solos it’s quite impossible not to get thrilled by this fantastic hymn.

BandFall Forever is another beautiful semi-ballad to soothe our souls, showcasing an outstanding performance by Ben, while All I Am is Progressive Metal to the second power without sounding cheesy or repetitive in its four minutes of classy passages. And in Awakening, again sounding like a classic act from the 80’s, Neverworld bring forward a nice Hard Rock vibe with Daniel leading the musicality with his first-class keyboard notes. In addition, you’ll start singing its chorus together with Ben without even noticing so catchy it is.

It’s simply incredible how every song is unique and presents a fresh sounding to the listener, and of course it couldn’t be different with the last two tracks of the album. The Grand Illusion will put you to bang your head for sure, with its fiery guitars, keyboards and drums supporting Ben’s incredible performance on vocals. Moreover, perhaps one of Ben’s biggest qualities as a vocalist is that he never exaggerates while singing, always providing exactly what the music demands. And the icing on the cake comes in the form of Face The Fear, a bold and epic 9-minute composition that properly concludes Dreamsnatcher. It’s a high-end mix of Progressive and Melodic Metal that never gets bland or uninspired, especially due to the amazing guitar solos halfway through it and its melancholic and smooth ending.

It’s time again to enter the realms of Neverworld and surrender to the power of their sophisticated Heavy Metal, and in order to experience their magical music all you have to do is visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud page, and obviously purchase Dreamsnatcher at the band’s Big Cartel page. After two sensational albums in a row, I’m beyond confident we’ll start seeing a lot more from Neverworld in the world of heavy music, with the sky being the limit for those British troopers. Or maybe even further, to a world where metal dreams always come true.

Best moments of the album: Dreamsnatcher, Armies Of The Night, Under The Asylum and The Grand Illusion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Dream Demon Recordings

Track listing
1. Into the Mouth Of Madness 8:44
2. Dreamsnatcher 4:38
3. Armies Of The Night 4:56
4. Passion Killers 5:51
5. Under The Asylum 4:54
6. Fall Forever 6:09
7. All I Am 4:04
8. Awakening 5:30
9. The Grand Illusion 6:56
10. Face The Fear 9:15

Band members
Ben Colton – vocals, guitar
Jack Foster – guitar
Gary Payne – bass
Daniel Potter – keyboards
Mike Vaughan – drums