The Never Ever: Never Growing Up
Bursting onto the Australian scene in 2011 with a catchy-as-hell single and music video, The Never Ever have wasted no time in winning over teen audiences across the Twitterverse with their radio-ready, electro-infused tunes.
Since then, these carefully groomed young upstarts have snagged some impressive support slots with the likes of Simple Plan, Yellowcard and Good Charlotte, amongst other pop-rock royalty. Winter 2013 sees them embarking on The Hoodie Weather Tour, their first headline jaunt this year, so with this on the horizon we got the lowdown from frontman Dylan Nash on why it’s okay to be pop.
Can you tell us a bit about your own personal musical history?
I started playing guitar in year seven, I would have been 12 years old. From there I started playing in bands with friends at school, and eventually got in a bit more of a serious band, but I guess we didn’t really understand the scene and that kind of fizzled out. Then The Never Ever found me, and since then for me it’s just been playing with those guys and recording lots of other bands, which is something I do on the side. I like playing a lot of different instruments and experimenting with different sounds so I think that’s why The Never Ever is a cool band for me to play in – there’s rock guitar stuff, there’s electronic stuff, so it’s a lot of fun.
Where does The Never Ever’s sound come from?
I think that from its inception, the band just wanted to make something that was energetic and fun and catchy, but also to bring in that electronic element, and I guess that’s why we’ve been able to develop our sound as the band progresses. This new record has gotten a little darker since we’ve started playing around with some drum’n’bass and some dubstep sections. As electronic music evolves, we seem to branch out our style a little more too.
You guys are still a very young band – how do you think that comes across in your music?
The best example would be the change between our EPs. The first one was really… I wouldn’t say childish, but more poppy and simple. As we’ve progressed, the influences from the bands we’ve been listening to have come in and we’ve been able to take it a step up from the last one. So it’s been a case of us finding what we wanted to really do and discover ourselves. On this new EP we had a reference point from the last one, and we were able to decide what we wanted to capture on the new one. As we work ourselves out, we’re working everything else out too.
How does your age affect your behaviour on tour?
We’re actually a pretty “good” band on tour! We have a lot of friends’ bands who like to party on tour, but we like to stay in. The best example is this one time where we stayed at a house that was really dirty, and instead of going out that day or night we spent the whole time cleaning the house! And a lot of the time one of us will be doing uni work in the back of the car or something. Because we’re a young band we have a lot of things that we’re trying to do simultaneously, but we make it work in the end.
Your band has used the web very effectively to spread your music and communicate with your fans. What does social media mean to you as a band?
Social media is a hugely important thing for us and for a lot of other bands too. The band kind of evolved alongside the rise of Myspace and Facebook and Twitter, so with each one we’ve had to keep the personal connection strong and I think that’s part of what drives the band. So many opportunities for the band have come about as a result of our fans helping us out online, or tweeting certain people, or representing us in certain ways, so we have a really strong connection to the fans and the social media helps us to be close to them. It’s really important to us because when we go out on tour, it’s great to meet these people you’ve spoken to on Twitter or something like that.
Speaking of connecting with fans, you clearly have a very enthusiastic fanbase. Can you tell us some fan stories?
We’ve got some really appreciative fans. The ones that stand out are the fans over in Perth. We haven’t been there that many times, but they’ve been so appreciative that we are one of those bands that does actually take the time and money to go over there and they’re always really enthusiastic. We go on tour usually every April during the school holidays, and that’s when my birthday is, so I’ve received some awesome presents from a bunch of people. It’s so great to just put a face to the names that you see online.
Let’s talk about the writing process of your new EP, Ghosts And Ghouls. Does the band write collaboratively, or do members bring fully formed songs to the table?
I guess it depends on the song. This EP was written more individually because we were experimenting with different sounds individually. So one of us would come with a bridge and a chorus and a verse all written and we’d build off it that way. We don’t really tend to write in a jam style very often, and I think that’s because there’s so much electronic production work in our music so it’s kind of hard for us to write it that way. So we might develop the chord structure and some melodies together and then one of us will go away and work out the remaining parts, and bring it back for some feedback. It’s not exactly a conventional writing method but it works for us.
What were the lyrical themes of the record?
When people listen to the five songs on the EP, I’m hoping they’ll get the sense that it’s all about self-betterment. I think that’s one of the main themes of the EP. As you grow up you realise things about the person you are, about your flaws and your strengths. The EP also deals with anxiety and depression, which is something that so many people go through and that people in the band have gone through. Compared to the last EP, I guess it’s a lot more personal and meaningful. We released a track called “Déja Vu” which was along those lines, and it was received so well, and the fans appreciated that we were sharing stories that were close to us and so I think that’s what inspired us to continue that approach on the new EP.
You made a brave move in choosing to go overseas to record this EP. What difference do you think this made to the final product?
The last two EPs were recorded in the same studio with the same producer and basically the same gear, which has been great, but the opportunity to travel overseas and work with some award-winning producers in a completely isolated environment really helped us focus and get a fresh approach to the songwriting and try and make the best record we could. The input that these producers had was invaluable, and it definitely wouldn’t have sounded the same if it was recorded here.
How much did the songs change in the studio from what you’d written at home?
There were a couple of songs that didn’t change much at all. We went over with about 10 songs and with the producer we picked the five that were the strongest. In some of them we were able to decide which parts were really great and which parts needed to be worked over. The one that we ended up choosing as the single – which we’re gonna be doing a video for after we finish this tour – was my least favourite song that I’d written before going to America, but the producers told us, “This song is great, but this part of it needs to be exploited more”, and through trial and error we ended up doubling some of the vocals, and putting it in the chorus, and it became this huge thing that was the strongest point of the song. Hats off to our producers for working with the song in that way.
There’s not really that much of a scene for your style of music here, compared to heavier styles – how did you go about getting yourselves noticed?
It’s all kind of just gone hand in hand with that surge of online music. We established ourselves on Myspace back in the day, and it seems people have really grown to enjoy our music, and also to enjoy that personal connection that I was speaking about before. But within the range of styles close to ours, there’s so many competing artists, we have to keep up with stuff like all the boy bands and Top 40 radio which are competing for our main audience. So we have to keep up this connection with our fans. Maybe one day there will be more of a scene for this style which would be great, but it’s kind of cool that maybe we’re a bit different to the main Sydney scene right now.
Is “pop music” a dirty word?
I think you have to embrace it! I don’t really listen to much pop music outside of playing in this band. I listen to a lot of heavy music, and acoustic and folk music and even hip hop but being able to draw all of those influences into a pop-rock band and write songs that utilise all those elements in a way that’s catchy and can stay in your head for weeks on end is really satisfying and fun. But at the same time I hope people will hear on the EP that we are stepping away from just a conventional pop-rock sound.
Why should people come out and see you guys on The Hoody Weather Tour?
We haven’t played a headline show in Australia for about six months, so we’ve been waiting for this opportunity. We’ve got a brand new drummer who is phenomenal, and we’ve been working on our new live set since we got back from New York. So we’re super excited, and the more the crowd is giving back to us the more we’ll give back to them. We honestly can’t wait! We’ve got four other friends’ bands on this tour and we’re going all the way around the country, so we couldn’t be more pumped!
The Never Ever – The Hoodie Weather Tour
with: Nine Sons of Dan, A Sleepless Melody, Way With Words, and With Confidence.
Fri Jul 5th – King St Brewhouse, Sydney
Sun Jul 7th – Studio 454, Alderly
Sun Jul 7th – YMCA HQ, Perth*
Fri Jul 12th – Fowlers Live, Adelaide
Sat Jul 13th – Wrangler Studios, West Footscray
Sun Jul 14th – Wrangler Studios, West Footscray
*Nine Sons of Dan & With Confidence not appearing.