Interview: NABERUS – Rising from Down Under

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When you’re on the right track, there are no obstacles.

For the four Aussie boys who look much younger than they really are, they got that clue-by-four when one year they get together, the next they release a demo — that takes off — then the year after, another release and they’re playing festivals and various stages for the next two years, and then boom! signed to Eclipse Records.

Now, in 2016, they have unleashed their first major album, The Lost Reveries to critical assent. But, the impressive aspect of Naberus is not their electric performances or brick-house solid writing skills, but the grace that they’re handling this career explosion with. 

There are two excellent ways to destroy a band: Sudden failure or success. But, these guys are riding that wild mare into fame like real cowboys.

Dan Ralph, guitarist and second-composer in command, shares some of that good-nature and a little insight on how the heart stays in the art. 

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TBS: Everything seemed to happen so fast for you. Were you prepared for this?

Dan Ralph: No, not really. It did all happen very fast, I will say that. But, we have a pretty tight-knit community so it does make things a little easier I mean there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities.

I mean, we’re still a pretty young band, so the options are a little scarce. But, everyone’s pretty good with each other and stuff.

TBS: A tight-knit Metal Community between the bands is a rare thing, a real blessing.

Dan Ralph: Yeah, yeah that’s quite possible. I think we were very lucky to have that, especially when we started, there was still a (I hate to say it this way, but) a “clique” of bands. But, everyone was pretty open, too.

We’re all in this together, it isn’t a competition.

TBS: Tell us a little bit more about the Australian metal scene.

Dan Ralph: Ooh, where to start?

naberusTBS: Well, maybe start that it’s not just AC/DC? [Editor’s note: And Destroyer 666, Psycroptic, Alarum, Heaven…*tsk tsk* Shame on you, Ray!]

Dan Ralph: Well there is certainly that! *laughs* But, we also have what you might call a ‘missing tier’ in our scene. We have an underground scene and then the mainstream bands.

There’s nothing in between. Whereas in other countries, from my understanding but I could be wrong, there’s this other tier that connects the underground bands to the bigger bands from that country, I’m not sure. But, I think because they are the countries of origins for those bands, so it’s easier. At least, that’s what I assume.

We don’t have that. If a band blows up here, it’s usually overseas.

I think it’s because we’re so far away from everybody else, the only opportunity that we have is to play with those big bands opening shows when they come down for festival season or whatever.

TBS: How do the venues and the promoters treat you?

Dan Ralph: Pretty well. It’s usually a positive experience. As long as you’re nice to the crew and the staff, generally you get the same kind of respect back.

TBS: In the states and in Europe there um there’s a little bit of a problem with pay-to-play.

Dan Ralph: Yes, I have heard this. I have been told about this.

naberus-141TBS: We are also pretty saturated with tribute bands, which the venues tend to give preference to over original bands because they’re guaranteed ticket sales.

Dan Ralph: Is that like fully-fledged tribute bands to particular bands or do you mean just like cover bands that do…?

TBS: Oh fully-fledged, almost impersonators. There’s got to be at least 100 different Iron Maiden tributes, like I’m sure you’ve heard of the Iron Maidens…

Dan Ralph: We don’t have too many fully-fledged tribute bands like that. We do have just the usual cover bands that play at a pub, which kind of – I wouldn’t say they’re taking anything away from the original bands here.

They do an occasional tribute thing here and there, but it’s usually for an anniversary for an album or something. You know, the 20th anniversary of an album, a couple of mates might get together and do a whole set of that material for a club show.

TBS: That would make sense.

Dan Ralph: And that’s really cool, because you got a bit of a vibe like in those circumstances. The promoter may not have booked an original anyway, because it’s a celebration of that anniversary. But, we don’t really have that.

For us, we have a lot of venues closing down due to numbers.

We don’t have that many people compared to the States and in Europe, the amount of people who go to a show here. It’s just a numbers game – our population just isn’t that massive in the grand scheme of things. So, that’s a bit of a struggle.

We have had a couple of really good venues close in the past just due to financial reasons. It really sucks but it happens. I’m sure, at some point, it’ll pave the way for a different venue to open up or something. At least, that’s what we hope. We have lost one or two really staple venues a year or two ago. It sucks, but that’s life.

TBS: Tell me a bit how you came together? There seems to be a genuine connection between all of you that you can feel through the music. Did you know each other for a while or did you just naturally fit when you put the band together?

Dan Ralph: A little bit of both. James and I went to the same primary school together, we weren’t the best of friends or anything, then when we were like 15 – 16 (I was playing guitar since I was 11) and James got a guitar when he was 16 and I had no idea that he was into the same music I listened to. But, we got together and started shredding. Everything was all about Metallica and Black Label Society back then, no one was really into that Swedish Melo-deth stuff in my circle of friends. And so, I started jamming with him and then Jordan, the bass player. And then we brought Chris Sheppard. We just brought him to the fold and he just clicked straight away.

We were all in bands together, quasi-Naberus, but nothing quite to this scale. That was really just the music that brought us together.

It’s a really feel-good unit, we all hang out together and stuff. It’s not just a dry-cut “Okay, let’s get together and jam or I go home and then we don’t see you for a couple of weeks.” We’re all a bit sociable together, which I think also helps with that connection. I really like how it all comes together, it’s fantastic.

TBS: Who are the principle composers?

Dan Ralph: Mainly James. He’s the genius behind the music. So, the way it usually goes is, James will come up with general idea or the general outline of the song or whatever, then he’ll email us the MP3’s. Before band practice, he’ll go, “Look, I’ve written this,” and then from there, I usually come in and jam it out with him and put the pieces together. It helps that he’s now only doing vocals for the moment.

We’ve got another guitarist — James used to do both. I think it really helps when that kind of songwriting because he’s constructing the riffs in the song, he’s already got the vocal melodies in his head, he’s already got the hooks and kind of stuff.

So, it’s probably about a 60/70 split towards James, then another 40 percent towards me and then the other guys add their own flavor and suggestions. We’re all pretty open. It’s not like a Nazi regime or anything.

TBS: That’s good!

Dan Ralph: Right now, we’re all just focusing on the release, adding new songs to the setlist, and from all reports and reviews so far, everyone’s quite enjoyed it.

The main thing for us is that this is a semi-re-release because it does have new tracks on it. So far, no one has gone “oh there are 5 tracks that are alien to the rest of the album,” it all fits very well and very uniform. So for us that was a real *whew*!

TBS: The songs are very solid, which would be unexpected for someone who is multi-influenced.

Dan Ralph: Oh yeah, we got all kinds of influences. Like, we all have relative interests, but anything from Hardcore stuff to Puff-Punk to 80’s to AC/DC. There’s also a little bit of Power Metal, as well, which I don’t think really shows through too much through our stuff.

TBS: One opinion that seems to be fairly universal is that there is no question that these songs will interpret amazingly well live. I have heard from a couple of very reliable sources that this is true. Was that something that came with the music, with Naberus or are you all babies of the stage?

Dan Ralph: It’s a little bit of both, I think. Every member was going through that stage when you were younger, for those who have been playing for a while, that you need to learn to relax and just let loose and go with it.

I don’t think there’s ever been a point where we had to force anything. Everything is quite natural, which is something I hear a lot, “You guys look very ‘natural’ on stage.”

Which is good that you’re getting that kind of energy from all of us and the people are catching that. I think that’s a really awesome thing, I think.

We just get on stage and have fun. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Expressing yourself creatively with these people, with the band and the audience. And everyone’s kinda got the same vibe. I think we’re fortunate enough to be a group of dudes who are all on the same wavelength, “Let’s just go out there and just smash it out and have fun,” you know what I mean?

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TBS: But, there is a certain passion and intensity in Naberus. You guys don’t come across as “let’s just have fun and let go.” Is it really just for fun?

Dan Ralph: It’s definitely about emotional release. Especially being up there is quite a release for all of us, and quite therapeutic in a way in releasing that sort of energy.

I think with the fun thing, it’s more like having fun with it, versus being a bit too staunch and serious – which is fine. If people want to get staunch and serious with it that’s not that bad, I guess.

TBS: Metal is based in aggression, yet it doesn’t sound like you guys have a whole lot to be pissed off about…

Dan Ralph: Oh, I’m pissed about things!

Well, I guess James, I can’t speak for him, and for him and for the rest of the band in the scene, in general. For us, James focuses on the depression and the anxiety and that sort of thing and that’s something we’ve all experienced. So, that’s something that we, James, sings a lot about. And he’s quite an introspective lyric writer with that, which I love.

I listen to the lyrics he writes and go, “Fuck.” Yeah, it hits home.

I mean, I love listening to the storyteller stuff, like the Iron Maiden like all that kind of music. But, when you hear something that hits home that’s so close to home, that hard, you get the goosebumps and you just go “fuck,” they just get me. I’m gone, I’m down.

TBS: You realize now with your first major release on a major label, from here, you’re not going to have any breaks, right?

Dan Ralph: Yes, that’s fine! That’s fine for that. We’re down for that. But, you know, even if just a few people were to listen to those introspective lyrics we were just talking about and can identify with that in some way, for us, that’s ‘done.’ That’s it.

**UPDATE 12/10 — NABERUS Officially names new guitarist:

We are extremely excited to announce that we have officially filled the void of second guitarist that I left since deciding to be a pure vocalist in Naberus.

We happily welcome Dante Thomson to the Naberus family!

Dante seriously impressed us with his work ethic, enthusiasm and dedication from the moment he sent in his audition video, after jamming with him for a couple of months and watching him grow into the exact type of guitarist we need, we have decided he definitely is a keeper.

We would also like to thank all the people who auditioned for the role, you all brought something different to the table and it was fun watching/jamming with you.

We look forward to officially introducing everyone to Dante on January 7th at the workers club!

Horns out for Dante \m/

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