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A WORLD WITHOUT JOYIt hardly seems like news anymore (especially for ROCKWIRED), but the band NEVERWONDER is putting the finishing touches on their follow-up to their self-titled debut CD - This time with with ex-AMERICAN IDOL contestant MEGAN BOBO up front and center. While the band's former lead singer JOY PEARSON left in late 2007 to explore a solo career and a softer sound, NEVERWONDER has been exploring a new sound of their own; one that is more groove-oriented. "I think having MEGAN in the band is moving us in a direction that I don't think that NEVERWONDER has ever gone. I'm really excited about the sounds that we're creating now, and the ideas that are flowing." says drummer DRE RAMOS. "I really enjoy it because vocally, it's more challenging and the music is a little more soulful and a little more groove oriented and as a drummer- I like that. It's a different animal and I really enjoy what we're about to put out."
NEVERWONDER IS COMING BACK FOR MORE
WITH A NEW LEAD SINGER, AND A NEW LEASE ON LIFE:
A ROCKWIRED EXCLUSIVE
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
MEGAN BOBO, the bright-eyed sprite with the wildest curly blonde locks ya evah did see, had this to say in regard to the shake up in NEVERWONDER's sound."Musically, from here on out we're going to be more groove oriented. I definitely think it will entail more butt-shaking."
In prior coverage of NEVERWONDER's line-up change, there was some bitterness on ROCKWIRED's part. NEVERWONDER was our band and JOY PEARSON was our very own rock chick, but after speaking with the lovely MEGAN and hearing the first three tracks of NEVERWONDER's new material, it's as if we've fallen in love all over again. BOBO certainly brings a soulful spin to NEVERWONDER (a'la NONA HENDRYX) without making the rest of the band (VINCENT RAMOS on bass, DRE RAMOS on drums, and FLINT MAVIS on guitar) compromise their rock roots. After the departure of PEARSON, ROCKWIRED hesitates to make any long term predictions, but at least for the forthcoming album - NEVERWONDER will really have something!!!
ROCKWIRED spoke with MEGAN, and the brother RAMOS (VINCENT and DRE) immediately following a rehearsal. Here is how it went.
VINCE: What's going on?
Nothing much. Is everyone here?
VINCE & DRE: I think so.
Thank you for joining my MYSPACE page.
MEGAN: You're welcome!
Where are you guys calling from?
VINCE: All over.
MEGAN: We're all calling from seperate places.
I thought you guys might've been calling from rehearsal.
VINCE: We tried doing that, but it wasn't working out. So right now, we're all over the city.
How is the new album coming along?
VINCE: It's going very nicely. It's exciting right now!
How so? Are you guys demoing stuff or are the tracks really getting layed down?
VINCE: I think every day is a new chapter for NEVERWONDER with MEGAN. The music is great and we're trying new stuff with a new sound and a new direction. We're pretty happy with it.
And I'm pretty happy with what I've heard so far, as well. It's good stuff! I can't wait to hear the whole thing.
VINCE: It's gonna be a process. We're excited about it. Everyone is throwing their two cents in.
Is there a title for this forthcoming CD.
VINCE: I don't think we have anything, BRIAN.
Really? Not even something like NEVERWONDER II, and do what LED ZEPPELIN did when they couldn't think of something.
VINCE: What should we call it?
I think A WORLD WITHOUT JOY is a good one.
I'm kidding! I'm kidding!
DRE: That's a good one! It's creative! I like it!
Well, too bad! That's what I'm calling the article. Anyway, I've interviewed MEGAN on her own and I've talked with VINCE about it a little bit, but now that I've got all of you together, I'm just going to start from the begining. What did JOY's leaving do to all of you?
VINCE: DRE, what have you got?
DRE: Well, I think it's gonna open new doors for NEVERWONDER. JOY is an awesome singer, and I think what MEGAN brings to the table is a new chapter. It sounds cliche, but I think it's going to take us in a direction that I don't think that NEVERWONDER has ever gone. I'm really excited about the sounds that we're creating now, and the ideas that are flowing. I really enjoy it because vocally, it's more challenging and the music is a little more soulful and a little more groove oriented and as a drummer- I like that. It's a different animal and I really enjoy what we're about to put out.
VINCE: JOY was a great person and a great friend and everything, but now things have opened up for us musically. When you work with a certain type of singer, you sort of work with their strengths and with MEGAN, we're able to be more universal and broaden our fanbase with the type of music that we're playing right now. MEGAN is a great singer and we have to create the right vehicle for her and push it forward. That's the exciting part.
I'm sure I've asked you this before MEGAN, but what drew you to this band, other than the fact that that you saw an ad requesting a lead singer?
MEGAN: For me, personality is huge. If I didn't like hanging out with the people then I definitely wouldn't want to be in a band with them, because the band becomes like a family. You definitely get that chemistry when you first meet people and sometimes you don't. Walking in to this situation, I was the only female and I didn't feel intimidated by them. I just felt that they were very cool, genuine people from L.A. So that was first and foremost. After that, there was this energy that we created when we started playing and rehearsing. It's just a very high energy and I like that. For me, those are essential things that you have to have to even want to be in a band.
Before NEVERWONDER, had you ever written on your own?
MEGAN:Yes. I had just started to do so right after AMERICAN IDOL. It took me about a year to write and then to producer-shop, figure out my sound, play out independently, find musicians, and play music as well. I had only touched on it, but it was only going to get better from there.
VINCE, you are the founder of NEVERWONDER. What do you think is different this time around with MEGAN up front instead of JOY?
VINCE: MEGAN is high energy on stage and behind the scenes. She's a go-getter. What me and DRE had to be sure of was that there was going to be new energy, new chemisry coming into the band and to not squash it or anything like that. We allowed MEGAN to be who she is, and what she is is a ball of energy. That only helps us in our writng process and everything because she infuses alot of youth and energy into the band and musically, it changes us up a little bit and it's fun. Musically, we're not as dark, this time around. We're a little bit lighter and that has a lot to do with MEGAN's personality and possibly her upbringing in the midwest. We knew that without JOY, things were going to be completely different and we had to be okay with that and now we're very happy about it.
You mentioned that the band is alot lighter now than it was in the past. What sort of themes are you addressing with this new set of songs?
MEGAN: For me, I don't have a theme. It's kind of 'whatever'. When I write, I like to hear the music first and just hear it and hear it before I actually write and see what emotions come out or what it makes me think of, musically. It's like when you're watching a movie, and you hear the music in the background and certain emotions are supposed to come with certain music. I can't really say that there is a general theme that all of the songs are going to have. It really depends on where the song is coming from. Generally, the songs would be representative of the fact that I'm 25 and I like talking about young things. And I'll leave it at that. Musically, from here on out we're going ot be more groove oriented. I definitely think it will entail more butt-shaking.
VINCE: With me and DRE, we always wanted to have a rhythm section that was groove oriented and danceable and fun and to have this crunchy guitar sound on top. With MEGAN, the vocals sort of match where the rhythm section is, instead of being two different parts. It's one unique strong engine with the rhythm section and the vocals yet we're really focused on making hooks, strong songs, and good choruses and featuring MEGAN's voice.
How have the live shows been going?
MEGAN: Well BRIAN, if you came you would know.
MEGAN: I'm totally giving you a hard time!
I know. I know.
MEGAN: Everytime, we get great feedback and it's just getting better and better. The energy is so high because it's so fresh and it's so new to us everytime. There are definitely some things that we are looking forward to changing in our new songs but also, we want to keep that energy and keep it from slipping so people know that that energy is always going to be a NEVERWONDER thing.
VINCE: You know, BRIAN? I truly enjoyed everything about the old NEVERWONDER ,but people are really digging it. You'd expect with a new vocalist that things are going to be tough, but all the fans that were there from the beginning have welcomed MEGAN with opened arms. No one is like "Awwh, this sucks!" People are like "Wow! that's a different spin on it." People are really digging it and that's satisfying to us.
DRE: NEVERWONDER with JOY was high energy and everyone was very comfortable on stage. With MEGAN, it's like we haven't skipped a beat here. MEGAN's a hell of a performer and a hell of a voice and it sounds really cool. I think that NEVERWONDER is a live band.
It's sounds like MEGAN is a perfect fit.
MEGAN: Thanks BRIAN!
Me and these guys go back a bit. I think I was one of the first to interview them.
VINCE: That's right!
MEGAN: Thank you! It think it's the right fit too and that it's only going to get better and better. I'm excited.
You guys know that I interviewed JOY months ago, right?
MEGAN: Yeah, I read the article.
VINCE: It was very nice!
The poor thing! I think I had her in tears during that interview.
I know. I kind of grilled her a bit. Because when I saw you guys in Long Beach, I certainly didn't see what looked like writing on the wall. Her leaving happened very quickly.
VINCE: It caught us a little bit off guard.
VINCE: In those dark moments when you change bands - and this no knock on JOY - We love JOY! - but when that door closed, we opened up to a new horizon which is MEGAN and it was better. I'm going to say it. It's better for us and that by no means, is a knock on JOY. That's who we were and we're better now. That's just the way it is and we're excited by the future. Come check it out!
I will! I will! You hear that MEGAN?
MEGAN: Yeah, I hear you.
Now MEGAN, pre-AMERICAN IDOL, did you ever think you'd ever be in a Southern California rock band with the likes of these guys.
MEGAN: Never. It's more about being in a band. My whole life, I did solo stuff. It was me doing karaoke or doing other peoples songs. I never thought that I would have to get together with musicians and figure out how to make a song. That was like boring to me, but once you try it, then it's exciting and then you want to keep doing it. That's definitely where I'm at.
In going from the mentality of being just the singer to actually having to work in a band format, did you ever feel as if you had to give something up?
MEGAN:There is this myth that people are raised with, that says when you're a singer and you don't play an instrument, that you are only focused on you're part, and not on the musicians. In NEVERWONDER, I don't think I'm giving up anything. If anything, I'm learning more. I'm learning to use my ears more.
READ THE PREVIOUS ROCKWIRED ON-LINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NEVERWONDER HERE
READ THE PREVIOUS ROCKWIRED ON-LINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NEVERWONDER HERE