Q&A with guitarists/vocalists Johnny DiCarlo and Justin Sanford
14 June 2018 by Liselotte `Lilo’ Hegt @ Headbangers Lifestyle
Recently HeadBangers LifeStyle teamed up with the nice people of ReverbNation to give 5 new promising bands or artists a chance to extra promotion and exposure. We were overwhelmed by the number of bands that submitted their songs. Believe us when we say it was hard to choose because there were many promising bands and artists between them. At the end of the day we received 1250 submissions and reached almost 800.000 people. Now it’s time to put the winners in the spotlight. The fifth and last band we want to introduce to you is NEVERWAKE from Pittsburgh, USA.
NeverWake can be considered as part of the new wave of American metal bands; 4 youngsters who follow the musical footsteps of successful modern metal bands such as Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium, Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, a.o., combining modern sounding heavy, shredding guitars and pounding rhythms with melodic elements and harmonies. Raised and fully supported by musician and music loving parents, it is not a surprise these guys have a tremendous love and passion for creating music in their nature and it is a no-brainer the band is strongly devoted to make their career in music work on a professional level. So far NeverWake released the debut full-length album `Vitality’ , `Sleepwalker’  and the 5-song EP `Incinerate’ , they had the balls to record their own version of Michael Jackson’s hit ,,Thriller’’ and played many local and nationwide venues already. HeadBangers LifeStyle is impressed by the sound of NeverWake and asks guitarists/vocalists Johnny DiCarlo and Justin Sanford a few questions as an introduction to the HBLS readers.
,,We only write what’s on our minds and in our hearts’’, Johnny DiCarlo
First of all, why should people listen to your music?
Johnny: ,,On the musical side of it, we put a lot of time and effort into making sure we write the best songs possible for us. In that process we never put ourselves inside a box or limit things. We only write what’s on our minds and in our hearts. We allow room for everyone’s influences and ideas to be a part of what we do. We feel that it definitely adds to our sound.’’
Justin: ,,Lyrically, from the outside, it could be easy to take our content as dark, but that’s not at all the case. It’s quite the opposite. There are dark moments, but in reality it’s the fight against those dark times and making it through to the light. Fighting your battles and coming out stronger on the other side.’’
What do you want to achieve with NeverWake?
Johnny: ,,This is something that we all love doing very much. We all have our regular day jobs for now, but ultimately the goal is to make/play music as NeverWake for a living. To have a positive impact on our “SleepWalkers.” If fans can grab on to something from our music that helps them through a difficult time and realize that there is always hope, then that’s our mission.’’
What makes you different from other bands in the genre?
Johnny: ,,All bands have their inspirations. You could dissect our music and pick out our influences. Ultimately, we hope that when someone listens to our music, it is instantly recognizable as “NeverWake”. We have been described as having a Burton-esque musical form.’’
Describe your music in 3 sentences maximum?
Johnny: ,,NeverWake music is heavy, riff-oriented metal with melodic inspirations. Our lyrics are primal and enlist our deepest thoughts and inner conflicts with purposeful resolve.’’
,,Gone are the days of A & R departments and tour support’’, Johnny DiCarlo
What made you decide to [also] release your songs through platforms like ReverbNation?
Johnny: ,,The industry has changed so much in the last 10-20 years and continues to do so at light speed. Gone are the days of A & R departments and tour support. The reality is, we are in the digital age. This sentiment is echoed by our label Melodic Revolution Records’ President, Nick Katona, who fully understands that in today’s digital environment you must use all available outlets for music distribution.’’
How important are social media and the Internet for spreading the name of NeverWake and how do you use it?
Justin: ,,Unbelievably important. Social media can be a challenge managing all accounts and posting regularly, but it’s absolutely crucial. Mastering these public relations tools are a must. We use them to network with bands, venues, promoters, keep in touch with our SleepWalkers, we advertise our shows, music/video releases.’’
How and when did you guys meet?
Justin: ,,Johnny, George, and Marcus have known each other since high school. Originally involved in different circles, but it was the beginning of NeverWake that brought them together. Fast forward years later: I joined the band after being in several other local bands.’’
Your latest, third release, the 5-track EP `Incinerate’ (2016) is produced by John Moyer of Disturbed. Why did you want to work with John as a producer? Was it easy to get him for the job? And what magic did you see happening while workingwith John in the studio?
Johnny: ,,We are all fans of Disturbed. So a handful of years ago, our manager Dino Giovannone, reached out to John to set up a meeting about the possibility of working with NeverWake as a producer. Dino was familiar with other projects that John had produced and was impressed. Dino and John met up at a music conference and hit it off. Once John heard the music, he was in. They kept in touch and when the time was finally right, he was on board as our producer for the ‘Incinerate’ record. We are honoured to have him and look forward to working with him on the new record. After he’s finished recording the new Disturbed record, he’ll join us for a few weeks in the studio. His song vision and production experience bring another professional and creative element to our work. We are blessed and privileged to have him on board.’’
On your latest EP you recorded a cover of Michael Jackson’s well-known hit `Thriller’. Why covering this song and what were you aiming for with your interpretation?
Justin: ,,Actually, it’s kind of funny. We had toyed with the idea of a remake for a while and we’d constantly have fans/friends/family telling us “oh you should do this song, you should do that song!” We were actually just about wrapped up on the recording process for the ‘Incinerate’ record (right before Halloween) and Johnny’s sister told him “you guys should totally do Michael Jackson’s ,,Thriller!” At first, Johnny had a hard time conceptualizing the cover. Then, he decided to sit down and toy with a few riffs. Next step was to review the ideas with Mike Ofca (who owns Innovations Studios). Mike loved it and wanted us to come back in and record the song. The rest of the band was back to work and John Moyer was already back home in Austin, Texas. Both our manager and Moyer thought the idea was crazy because as they both said “Nobody covers Michael Jackson.” Once they heard those initial demo ideas, they were instantly floored and green lit it. So we buckled down and made it happen. It released 2 days later on Halloween.’’
,,We are very artistic in nature and we like to put our ideas into form and bring them to life’’, Justin Sanford
How important are the lyrics for the band in general and what are they standing for?
Johnny: ,,Just as important as the music. They both need to be equally strong.’’
Are you working on new material and are there concrete plans for a new release?
Johnny: ,,As a matter of fact, we are in the studio right now to record a new CD.’’
How far would you go for success?
Johnny: ,,As far as the hard work, dedication and effort take us.’’
What drives you as a band?
Justin: ,,The love of family, the love of music, the love of our fans and for the love of creating. We are very artistic in nature and we like to put our ideas into form and bring them to life. We love creating the art that we do and we hope to pass that on to our followers as it’s pictured in our minds.’’
Your biggest achievement so far?
Johnny: ,,Three records we’re very happy with and a fourth on the way.’’
How do you get your live shows?
Justin: ,,We work with regional and national promoters and talent buyers. Before we commit to a performance, all details are reviewed by our management, Dino Giovannone of Atomic Cowboy Productions.’’
What can people expect when they come to see a NeverWake live show?
Johnny: ,,A high energy, headbanging, badass rock show!’’
What is in the agenda for the band the upcoming months?
Johnny: ,,Diving into the recording process of our new record. Once we finish that up, we shoot the new video and start touring. That’ll keep us pretty busy for a while.’’
Follow NeverWake on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, Itunes, Reverbnation and visit the Website here