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In Words: Neverland

- Oganalp Canatan - Mar. 2010 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

© Neverland

Oganalp Canatan - date - where

In 2008 Neverland made a step into the spotlight with Reversing Time, now they deliver the follow-up. Time to learn more about Neverland! Singer Oganalp was so kind to answer my questions.

With Ophidia you have the second album done, but before we talk about it, I want to go back in time a bit. Reversing Time was your debut, the first cooperation of Dreamtone and Iris Mavraki. Looking back, are you satisfied with the result? With what you achieved so far?

Oh, we are satisfied with Reversing Time. You know, every album has to be judged within their own time and Reversing Time couldn't be better as a debut for us. It got very good reactions from the media and listeners, it helped us to get and established start and taught us many things about the international scene. We got a record deal to set us going and sponsors. Basically, it was an album to help us set Neverland up and get it running. We have nothing to complain about Reversing Time's success. Of course, if we were to record it today, we would change certain things but its basically because we are two, three years away from its timeframe and mind frame, not because the album needed it.

At Reversing Time you had some guests, one of them was Mike Baker. How do you feel about his performance and the song now? Glad you got him involved?

Mike was a friend and one of our idols for a long time. I am a fan of Shadow Gallery and was listening to them almost for a decade when we had the chance to collaborate with Mike Baker. So our ties were strong. When Gary informed me of Mike's passing, I was shocked and couldn't say anything for a while. After I straightened up, I called my band mates. Everyone was very very upset. I still keep Mike's letter that he sent me about Reversing Time, having his handwritten notes all over it. Like 3-4 days prior to his death, we were discussing of making a new album, having him on the singing spot together with me for Dreamtone. Actually, if he was alive today, you would probably be hearing some of Ophidia's songs with his voice. Reversing Time was his last official release as a singer as Gary informed me. This makes it an even more touching song and album. He will always be in our hearts. Reversing Time is a very, very special song that still gives me the goosebumps.

As far as I know the idea about Neverland was to bring Turkish and Greek people together by playing music together. And with the guests you had on the debut you got the attention of the metal fans. Do you think that you succeeded to get Turkish and Greek people closer?

I don't know if it succeeded but it was a step. We shouldn't judge this kind of moves by thinking over if it changed it all or not. It is a step. If every person, every artist, every writer, every reporter creates a step, it will be a walking idea. Problems in between the two nations... well, let me correct that, problems in between ALL nations are of political reasons and escalated to a much bigger scale than they originally are with targeted propaganda and false leading. People always blame politics, wars and coups. Sure, they are to blame, but its humans creating those political coups, wars and such. So we should address the issues, tell it out loud and try to make a difference. What man is a man if one doesn't try to make the world a better place? We shouldn't expect the guy, gal next to us to change it. Why should it start with the next person? Let it start with you...

You weren't looking for big names, you wanted to involve musicians who inspired you. On Ophidia you have some guests, how did you choose them?

Well, we weren't looking for big names, but our guests ARE big names hehe. Both for Ophidia and for Reversing Time, we tried to pick guest artists that we follow and love as a band. So far we have worked with Hansi Kürsch, Tom Englund, Mike Baker, Gary Wehrkamp, Jon Oliva, Edu Falaschi and Urban Breed. Personally, I own all the discography of these names, some of their albums, I even have several copies and signed ones. This applies to the whole band. So, our guest 'picking' sequence basically works like this: Some of us having some beer and chit chat at our studio, with some background music playing. Suddenly, the mp3 shuffle plays a song that we adore. We sing along with the song, have fun. Then one of us suggests: "Hey, why not? Lets invite Jon Oliva! If he accepts, it would be great!!" So we prepare our album, demos, presentation dossiers and get in touch with the guest name we have in mind. If he/she likes the music and info we present, we jump up and down for about half an hour, celebrating this, then start working on the guest artist's song hehe.

And how did you choose the songs for them?

Well, after the jumping process ends, we look at the songs at hand, both the completed ones and work in progress versions. Then we usually listen to our guest artist's earlier works and discography and try to come up with something fitting and yet different enough to give him/her a room to be creative. Most people try to find a Blind Guardian when Hansi Kürsch sings on a song as a guest or a Savatage when Jon Oliva does. However, we try to give them something different so that they would also have fun and try some of the stuff they had in mind. It is a tight balance. If we give Jon Oliva a Savatage song, it would be the 30th year of his career singing another Savatage song. No, we give him something different like the song Invisible War. It has some guitar licks that shows Savatage or JoP resemblance, but it is also different from what he does with his own bands, it has this orient feeling with support vocals and orchestral fills and such. So basically, it's a seek and find situation for creating guest artist songs.

Why the title Ophidia?

Ophidia was a word that lingered in my head for about a year, even before we started to compose for the album. It means 'snakes' in general, but also means 'The art of worshipping to snakes' or 'worshipping to evil'. We tried to tell the story of human beings' corruption and ease of falling into corruption. For us, every person has an evil lurking within their thoughts and when our collective ideas and thoughts unite, we create wars, we create suffering all around. That is when we become an Ophidian. We tried to tell this tale with Ophidia.

What are the differences between Reversing Time and Ophidia for you?

Well, Ophidia is a limitless album in means of ideas for me, for us. Reversing Time was our debut and we had lots of unknowns and lots of 'first time' tryouts. So some things were experimental. From that perspective, Ophidia is much more 'us' when compared to Reversing Time. Its heavier, much much improved as music and performance wise, its fresh and better performed in means of presentation as an overall products. Reversing Time was a really good album but there were certain songs coming forward and carrying the album while some of the other songs suffered a 'collective' identity mismatch. Ophidia doesn't have that mismatched variety so its precise, to the point. Of course, this may not be liked by some but then, so far, the majority seem to be favoring it hehe.

Please tell us a bit about the lyrics!

Haha ok I will give you a walk through for each song!

This Voice Inside: This one is about the book series, Wheel of Time, and the protagonist of the series, Rand Al'Thor. It talks about the madness that derives his actions and causes as much harm as his expected help to the land. Basically it's a portrait of Rand, the Rand presented by Mr.Jordan and Mr. Sanderson in between Books 6 to 12.

Silence the Wolves: This song is the voice of Mother Nature, trying to tell mankind that they are killing her and thriving to tell that it will be their doom. Mankind slowly devastating forests, wildlife and all. It's a criticism of that.

Ophidia: Our title track is about the willingness of humans to fall into evil's web. They are so easy to deceive and so willing to perform the dark acts that even the evil itself gets surprised with this devotion. This song basically tells the story from evil's point of view.

Will of God: This song is inspired by the director's version of famous Ridley Scott title, Kingdom of Heaven. It talks about people know even knowing who they are fighting against and killing, just because some religious fanatic or leader told to do so. Without questioning the real motives behind such actions and raging war, while in reality, what God asks is human harmony over the followed religions of Mankind.

Invisible War: Invisible War talks about the political coups played over Middle East nations. You know, there is a constant aggression and tension here in between nations. Constant terror acts or wars or coups and so. Its because of big countries, like USA or EU or Russian power politics demands it to be so for their own profits. This song talks about it, telling that the people here are being 'farmed' with altered realities and fake events.

Places Unknown: This song is dedicated to Mike Baker. The lyrics are about death and its aftermath on feelings. This is our farewell to him.

No One Leaves the Hive: This song is about a boy deceived into defending his homeland or group or nation, you fill in the gaps, while in reality, being used for dirty deeds of his puppet masters. The song also tells that, once you join this flow, you cannot leave it as no one is allowed to leave the hive.

Speak to Me: This song is about a little boy's love to a girl. The idea first came into my mind when bumped into the movie My Girl on TV. Then the idea sparked and evolved and became a song. We all have a similar story, a platonic one way trip when we were kids I guess.

Ashes to Fall: This song is criticizing the wars, specifically the ones happening in between Israel and Palestine from the eyes of a 15 year old kid. No matter who the sides are, people are suffering because some other people need the conflict there to profit over it.

Final Odyssey: This song's idea first popped from the movie, Final Fantasy: Spirits Within. It basically tells that humans destroyed Earth with all kinds of crap they can imagine of and now seeking a new beginning. Song simply suggests that anyone with bad intentions or dark ideas, empowered with greed or profit, shall left behind.

The Forests of Hope: This is our first bonus song for the album. It basically tells that even in all this madness, there is hope. There should be as hopes are what derives us to move forward.

Dying Threads: Our second bonus song. This one is also about the Wheel of Time series, basically talking of the three Ta'verens, protagonists of the book.

Into the Horizon: An instrumental song. No lyrics to talk about but you can get the feeling of moving forward, discovering what lies beyond and such, which was what we intended to give as a feeling.

You chose The Voice Inside for a video. Where did you record this one? And will there be another video?

Yes, we picked This Voice Inside as our first video for the album. We are hoping to have one or two more videos in the near future, perhaps in Autumn and Winter time. I cannot specifically tell which songs those will be though as we are still discussing the options. We recorded the video at a near by underground parking complex where our drummer Emrecan lives. It took our three days to complete the shootings with day and night work schedules. Man... it was tiresome, REALLY tiresome.

I saw that the video will be played on Turkish Dream TV. Something you expected? Or a surprise?

Both expected and surprised to be sincere. I don't know how things work there but here, you usually have to know someone as a friend or networked etc before you get recognized regardless of your success even in small media. So we didn't expect Turkish media to pay attention to what we are doing even though we are probably the only metal band in Turkey with a major deal at the moment. So we were surprised to have it featured on TV. I mean, outside of Turkey, MTV broadcasted our stuff while people act as if they are blind here, so we don't expect much to happen. However, we are surprised and happy that we aren't all alone and there are people here who supports our cause and loves us haha. We would like to thank to Dream TV people for their interest. Dream TV is a major channel here so it is something to have a spot there.

So far you mainly played in Turkey, festivals and shows with different bands / artists. Which shows were the best? Who would you like to share the stage with again?

Well, each show has a special memory of its own whether it be a stadium one or a small bar stage because of various reasons. I mean, I remember us playing to several thousand people at a stadium and having fun, but I also remember playing to 50 people with epic enthusiasm for our songs and jumping up and down madly as well. So it's a bit of the mood you catch. We caught that positive mood lots of times. Best ones were hmm... the one we played at Anatolia Showland with Opeth was great, crowd reaction was better than perfect haha. Also, our tour with Blind Guardian is always a peaking memory for me as they are my favorite band. I would love to share stage with Blind Guardian again both because they are great people and good friends of ours, and also because no matter how much I see them live, I want to see another set hehe.

You played at ProgPower Europe. How was it?

Awesome! The festival was fun, but what is important is that the crows was VERY friendly. We met with listeners, other bands members and befriended with them, enjoyed drinks and chit chat and partied after the festival. All was fun, it was like a home party event rather than a festival, very warm. And we had some very touching moments. While we were playing, the crowd were singing along with us even though it was our first time there, people knew our choruses and verses. A couple came to us after the gig and said that they married several weeks prior to the festival with one of our songs picked as their wedding song! This is an amazing thing. I guess this is more important than being a popcorn band selling millions but being forgotten. I mean, we touched to their lives forever, and they touched to ours. This is probably hard to tell to a listener but for an artist, this is precious. More precious than the money you make or the fun you have. This is, in truth, what feeds your ego as an artist, what feeds your creativity. So, all and all, it was a very good festival time for us. Hopefully, we will have more fun in Europe with our upcoming tour in October.

Beside some festivals in Turkey there is a show in Greece scheduled. Will we see Neverland elsewhere? Any other festivals appearances in the making?

Yep, we will be supporting Jon Oliva's Pain in October for their European tour. We will be in Europe for some 10 gigs. We are also working for some more surprises after that tour. We were parted enough, time for us to visit Europe and Americas in time, hopefully. We will be in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and France this time. We may show up with some extra gigs as I mentioned. I suggest our listeners to keep an eye on .

Anything else - aside of Neverland - planned?

Well, Neverland is a full time band so band wise, nope. We are all focused on Neverland now. Personally though, we all have different ventures besides the band. And besides, one band is more than enough to fill the dates of calendar, more would be suicidal haha at this time hehe.

What's next for you?

Well, I am DEFINITLY willing to have some break in the summer for some rest. I am also focused on my game soundtrack projects. Life is music for us, especially this year hehe...

Many thanks to Oganalp for enlightening us. Hopefully more shows will be added, so more music lovers get the chance to check out Neverland live!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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