"Where do we start?" laughed Dan McDougall, guitarist for Melbourne's Never when asked for a history on the rising stars of the rock world. "It all started before I came into the picture really. It was a band that my brother Ando, Azza and Wilsy had called The Melbourne Sympathy Orchestra. They had a bunch of other dudes in the band as well and they used to play some crazy shit (laughs). They were an amazing band actually. It all turned to shit when the head honcho - who is another friend of mine - decided he didn't wanna do it anymore which devastated the other guys. They were keen to continue playing together and just started jamming on some shit and they had this crazy idea to get a sort of porno funk band happening (laughs) and that's kind of where the initial... you can hear that in the early Never shit - and we definitely wanna put a bit more back in there. Some of the early songs were off an album called Pornosonic which was a Ron Jeremy album so they started jamming on that and one night I came to my brothers and they were supposed to be jamming with another guy on guitar and he didn't show up. I was there anyway so they asked me to jam and we had a fucken ball and we decided to keep jamming every Monday night from there for fun. It was just a four-piece with no singer, and we did that for a year at least until we had about four or five originals without vocals and we had the attitude of we'll get a singer when one comes along because we were in no rush. We had known Jay (Jason Richmond) for years from playing in bands around here and Azza had heard his band Red Sky Burial's EP which was recorded by the same guys who did the early Frankenbok stuff and he loved it and agreed that Jay would suit our sound. Then my brother ran into him at a party and got talking to him and he said the music was right up his alley. Ando gave him some demos and a couple of weeks later Jay turned up on a Monday night with some lyrics and fucken blew us all away. As soon as he opened his mouth it was just like get fucked (laughs). This band that had been jamming together for over a year and really wasn't anything, all of a sudden everything just made sense. We knew it was gonna be something good and the rest is history."
After being a band now for a number of years it seems like the public is finally starting to appreciate Never and their music. Despite the bands obvious potential and musicianship, it has taken a few years for them to get to the point where they are regularly performing, with McDougall admitting that things haven't exactly gone to plan up to this point, partly through each member's other obligations and partly through a run of bad luck.
"It's kind of an opportunity thing," he gathered. "I would have loved to have done what we're doing this year last year but we just got kicked in the nuts with a few setbacks, the main one being my brother dislocated his shoulder for the second time which meant he had to get surgery which out us out for months as a band and also meant we had to can a few shows. Last year we only played two gigs for the year, that was it. That and getting Volume 3 recorded, which took ages, made it a really slow year for us. It fucken sucks man. I was pretty devastated. I was looking to make a charge last year and it just didn't happen so this year we're doing the opposite. We're going hell for leather and I think since putting out Volume 3 we have gotten more shows and opportunities which is great to get a bit of momentum finally. We sort of had an initial burst when we first came on the scene and people obviously took interest because we have dudes from Dreadnaught and Frankenbok and Red Sky Burial in the band and it was also something that's pretty different to all of those bands which peaked a few peoples interest, but the last year really set us back. We're planning on making up for lost time this year, that's for sure. We're trying to fill up the rest of this year as much as we can. My goal is to be playing a gig a month for the next year as a bare minimum, which we've almost surpassed already."
'Devil In You'
When it comes to the musical pedigree of the band members you would imagine Never's music being brutal as fuck and heavier than a sledgehammer, but McDougall argues that while there are small elements of those genres present, Never is an entirely different musical beast.
"Oh man, that's a tough one," he measured on the bands sound. "People keep calling us stoner rock or fucken stoner metal and it's kind of not really (laughs). I dunno... we take all of those cool elements that we love from different styles. There's a bit of blues, a bit of funk, bits of metal and bits of rock - some 70's rock for sure. It's just a hodgepodge of everything. The new song we have is almost glam! It's a bit cheeky. People keep saying it sounds like 'Unskinny Bop' by Poison because of the drum beat. It's got this really glam beat but to me, it's a cross between Aerosmith and Clutch. We take all these different elements but it's definitely more of a rock band than a metal band. Even though its heavy and the guitars are pretty full on I would definitely class it more rock than metal. That's kind of what seems to be working in our favour a little bit. We're able to somehow, so far, be able to cross borders between different age demographics and different styles of music. Old people like us and young people like us. We just played a show with all of these brutal death metal bands and they fucken loved us! It was rad. We can play glam metal to a death metal kids and they fucken dig it which is saying something. We get away with it because we all look metal and it is heavy in parts but if we got up in spandex people would be like what the fuck (laughs) but because of the way we look we seem to get away with it. My parents dig it! They have never liked anything I have been in before but they love it (laughs). That comes from having Jay as the singer. It's just nice to be in a band with a dude who can actually fucken sing, you know, with a really powerful, strong voice. It makes it more palatable to a lot more people when there's not a dude screaming and there's not a lot of bands in this genre that have a singer that actually sings. There's screaming and growling but when we get up and play we stand out because we're different."
As mentioned earlier, Never is completed by Dan's brother, Ando, on drums, Jason Richmond on vocals, Graham Wilson on bass and Aaron (Bok) Butler on guitar, with Azza and Dan having previoulsy been in Frankenbok together for seven years.
"I was one of those screaming idiots I was just talking up," McDougall laughed. "My first band when I moved to Melbourne with my brother back in 1998 actually supported Frankenbok at our first shows so there is definitely history there."
The ties of friendship and family run deep through Never, something which McDougall admits can be a double-edged sword but has been pivotal in shaping the chemistry and sound of the band.
"I've always played with my mates," he shrugged. "Always, since high school. I've never been in a band where you put an ad out saying you want to start a band. Every band I've been in - except Frankenbok which I joined but still knew all the dudes anyway - I think it's important to have that bond going into it. It could potentially have bad side effects, I guess it's like going into business with your friends, but with Never it's never been a problem with any of that shit. This is the best band I've been in in terms of getting along and having a good time. I take it seriously because I have to organize shit behind the scenes but overall we just want it to be fun. It's still the same ethos that we had when we started which is getting together on a Monday night and talking shit. We spend half the night out the back catching up then we go and jam for a bit and that's the way it's always been and hopefully always will. We don't want to take it too seriously. We've all been there and done that and this is a chance for us to do something different; something that's just us and not a pain in the ass and it's something that I think all the dudes in the band deserve for all their hard work they have put in over the years with different projects. We've all paid our dues and to be honest Never has more of a chance of getting somewhere for all of us because it has that accessibility. It's only gonna get more so as time goes by purely because I am interested in a different challenge as opposed to doing the same shit. That is the other thing with Never, it is just so different to anything any of us have ever done. Instead of doing music that's a million miles an hour and 50 million notes, the whole point of metal was just to do the opposite. Just play basic, simple riffs. Memorable stuff that... simple doesn't necessarily mean easy and that's what we have come to realize with this band. Just because it's simple doesn't mean it is easy. The less notes you play means the more - if you make mistakes - the more it stands out. You've really gotta watch what you're doing. If you are playing in a band like Frankenbok and someone makes a mistake you're not going to notice it as much as if you're playing slow and someone plays a bung note."
Never perform at the upcoming Meltdown festival at every show.
Saturday, May 12: The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne
Saturday, May 19: The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney
Saturday, May 26: Crowbar, Brisbane
Tickets on sale now!