Well, sometimes I can be goofy. I scheduled this interview with Nevermore and then forgot the date (usually I write myself a note!). The phone rang one day, my wife was out, my three-year-old son was in rare form, and Jim called. I was totally unprepared. I had no questions ready, I was expecting Warrel, and I didnít have the phone rigged up to tape the conversation. So, being the honest person I am, I am telling you this up front. All this said, I think the interview went well. The only problem is that the interview that follows is not "word-for-word", it is a distillation of our conversation. I think I have rendered it well, but I may have gotten something wrong. If so, I apologize to Jim.

CRITICALTOM: When you guys make an album, what comes first, lyrics or music?

JIM: Warrel writes the lyrics and Jeff makes most of the music. It is really collaboration. I think weíve been together long enough that we know each other pretty well.

CRITICALTOM: Do you finish the songs in pre-production or in the studio?

JIM: Usually in pre-production, but this time we finished them in the studio. After seven years weíve gotten to know each others style.

CRITICALTOM: I think Nevermore does a tremendous job of making music that fit the lyrics, or lyrics that fit the music. Thereís a real unity. I believe that is an element I also like about the new IN FLAMES album too. Both albums, "Dead Heart in a Dead World" and "Clayman" seem to do this.

JIM: thanks! In Flames played here (Seattle) and they had an amazing crowd. There may have been 600 people at that show.

TOM: Same here. I was amazed at how the crowd filled the Masquerade in Atlanta for In Flames, and then thinned out after they played. Earth Crisis was next . . .

JIM: Did you meet their tour manager, Bo King? Weíre trying to get him to be our tour manager.

TOM: I did meet him, he was really nice. Very professional too.

JIM: Yeah, heís great.

TOM: Okay, back to music. How well is "Dead Heart . . ." doing?

JIM: So far it has been the "album of the month" in several European mags. (He went on to describe how they used to be called Sanctuary and were on CBS Records. CBS wanted them to go grunge, they didnít. Now they feel justified. Even though they didnít have a "one-hit-wonder" and sell a lot of records, they have been consistently successful in the underground metal world. I agreed and said I admire bands like that).

TOM: Are you guys able to do this full-time, or do you have to work other jobs?

JIM: Mostly we are able to do it full-time. Between touring and merchandise we do fine. We donít live expensively, so we are able to concentrate on music. When Iím off I sometimes work at a nice restaurant in Seattle as a part-time chef. I get to see a lot of old [rock stars?] there. Itís not too cool to see 60-year-old groupies, though!

†TOM: How is it with only one guitarist. It seems to me that a band can be tighter with one less guitar, though philosophically I prefer two.

JIM: Well, according to the way we write songs, two are better, but we will probably remain a four piece. Our music requires two guitarists, especially with the leads. We will probably use a second guitarist for touring.

TOM: Iíll bet itís not easy finding a guitarist with the chops to play in Nevermore . . .

JIM: It takes dedication.

TOM: Tell me about the switch to Andy Sneap as producer.

JIM: Well, we wanted to go for a more massive guitar sound. We heard what heís done with other bands and wanted that sound too. Andy is totally different in his approach from our last producer.

TOM: Why Texas?

JIM: That recording studio is in the middle of nowhere. We can concentrate on our music. The studio actually hires maids and people to cook because thereís no where to go really. If we were recording in Seattle the temptation would be to invite friends over, play around, etc. There we just stick to business.

TOM: Do you consider Nevermore a job?

JIM: In a way, but it is very satisfying to play the music you love. If I were a pop musician I would probably be really bored.

TOM: I compared "Dead Heart in a Dead World" musically to Bruce Dickensonís "Chemical Wedding". What do you think about that?

JIM: Cool, I love that CD. It stayed in my CD player for a long time. It is really great. (He went on to rave about the new Halford "Resurrection" CD).

†TOM: I hear "Narcosynthesis" and I can almost imagine Bruce doing that song.

JIM: That would be cool.

TOM: I think Warrel and Bruce have similar vocal styles.

JIM: Yeah.

(Somewhere here the dialogue digresses. We then take up the topic of the previous Nevermore releases).

JIM: On "The Politics of Ecstasy" we went overboard on the technical side. We set out to prove we were serious musicians. On "Dreaming Neon Black" we went the other direction with atmosphere. On the new album we tried to maintain a balance of both technicality and atmosphere. We feel really good about it.

TOM: And the lyrics?

JIM: Things that Warrelís going through.

TOM: Did Warrel study philosophy?

JIM: Yes, in college. I think he majored in it.

TOM: I thought so. To borrow a Nietzschian term, Warrelís lyrics seem very "Dionysian". I feel like they come spontaneously, more from his subconscious than from deliberation.

JIM: He often lets the lyrics be open-ended so the listener can insert their own meaning. Not always, though. The song "Epitaph" turned out to be his trying to work out his feelings over his fatherís death.

TOM: I assume "Inside Four Walls" is also a specific song?

JIM: Yeah, it is about a friend of ours who was arrested for drugs. He got a harsher penalty than most sexual offenders and such get.

TOM: Yeah, thatís a real shame. I was curious if the standpoint of the song is that penalties for other crimes should be stiffer, penalties for drug related crimes should be easier, or if the song advocates legalization of drugs.

JIM: No, we donít agree with legalization, just equal treatment under the law. Our friend got caught up in drugs and he got caught. But he is a first time offender. His penalty is harsher than many sexual offenders.

TOM: Yeah, the whole "war on drugs" seems like a fiasco.

JIM: Ridiculous.

TOM: Last question. Whatís "Evolution 169" about?

JIM: I donít know. Iím not sure if Warrel knows!

At this point our time was up. THE END!