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Neverton United is a Norwegian Rock Band Conglomerate and is the Parent Company of several Subsidiary Bands playing music in different genres.
Neverton United was established as an Umbrella Organisation in 2018 when, after several line up changes, the bands Airhog (Progressive Scandirock), Honeyroll (Rock n Roll), G.R.I.M. (Doom Metall), StarratS of UfotofU (Classic Rock) and Ambcrave (Metall) ended up consisting of the same pool of musicians.
Like most Rockers and Metall Heads they have a general love of Rock Music and its many sub genres. The different Subsidiary Bands give them the creative outlets to have fun in many styles and make genre specific albums - but as a Conglomerate they have a platform where they can work towards a consistent branding.
Among the musicians main influences are Kvelertak, Turbonegro, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Guns `n` Roses, System of a Down, Chicago, Toto, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Mastodon… but many more could (and probably should) be mentioned in this section.
1.1 Parallell Universes and Rough Sketches (2001 - 2004)
1.2 From Basement Projects to Live Acts (2005 - 2011)
1.3 Albums, Line up changes and New Constalations (2012 - 2016)
1.4 The great Amalgamation (2017 - pressent)
2. Brand, Bands and Musical Styles
2.3 StarratS of UfotofU
3. Band Members
4. Band Name, Concept and Art
4.1 The Neverton United Brand
4.2 Les Inkwell & InZenZine
In a way it can be argued that this is Dan´s story. He is the the one linking all the different members together. In addition he is the only player that has been a forming member of all the bands under the Neverton United umbrella, and as one of the main composers he has contributed a lot in shaping the sound and musical direction of the projects. One of the main proponents of this narrative is Dan himself.
An other perspective, mostly advocated by Hans, is that this is the story of how he has been on a consistent interdisciplinary artistic path of mixing music and comix for over 20 years. In his narrative he focuses on how important his contribution as storyteller, concept developer, visual designer, lyricist and singer/songwriter has been both in the individual projects but also when it comes to creating and shaping the brand.
In retrospect one can argue that there are many early signs of what to come in the individual histories of the different band members. In addition to important events that are mere coincidence - there are also some reoccurring constellations of people, similarities of approach to music and / or a general artistic direction that have played major roles in the formation of Neverton United.
1.1 Parallell Universes and Rough Sketches (2001 - 2004)
In 2000 Childhood friends Dan and Lars play start playing together in the Grimstad based rock and metall band called «Strait Jacket». The band consisted of: Lars Martin Gimse (rhythm guitar and vocals), Dan Are Rui Christiansen (guitar), Lars Sandåker (guitar), Pål Tangen (bass), Jan Erik “Jani” Øyordsbakken (Drums). Playing mainly Metallica (Seek and Destroy, for whom the bells toll) and AC/DC (You shook me all night long, Back in. Black) and one infamous live take of the song “Nothing else Matters (The ultimate and best cover in the history of this song)”. Like many small town high school bands, they split up when the members leave for higher education.
Dan and Øystein met while attending Folkehøyskole in Hurdal. They quickly became friends, sharing the same strange humor and a passion for rock music, and shortly after meeting they formed a band called “The Nano Project”. Øystein played guitar, Dan did the vocals (and guitars and bass on the 2 last albums) while Tor Ånon Kleivane played drums. Their first songs had rather silly Norwegian lyrics and questionable instrumental performances, but nevertheless they started recording on Øysteins VS880 - an 8 track hard disc recorder - resulting in the unreleased album «En filosofisk betraktning» (2003).
They continued writing and recording songs and developed an elaborate live show including lots of costumes, make up and a “completely mental attitude on stage”. In total some 5 full shows was played at the Folkehøyskole and the highlight of this project was when they almost landed a gig at Crystal Bar at Chateau Neuf in the fall of 2005 that eventually got canceled due to “circumstances”. During this period they recorded two more albums, this time with English lyrics and a much more refined and more serious rock / metal attitude: «Crowdpleaser» (2004) and «Frame of Dreams» (2005).
Around the same time Hans started using the pen name Les Inkwell for making comix, concepts and when recording crappy sounding lo fi EPs for release in xeroxed Zines containing CD-Rs. The music was also distributed in digital form on the Urørt.no platform. Since his production of questionable comix and audio tracks (that with some benefit of the doubt) could be considered music was so extensive these efforts are explored in separate posts.
1.2 From Basement Projects to Live Bands (2005 - 2011)
Finishing Folkehøyskole Dan moved to Oslo in the fall of 2005 to study music at the NLA College. There he met Knut and they soon formed a band that later becomes Honeyroll. The first line up consisted of Knut (drums), Dan (guitar), Robert Vendetta (vocal & bass - later dedicated vocals), Kenneth Robson (guitar the first year), Mariann Uleberg Cohen (guitar). Robert was later replaced by former Nano drummer Tor Ånon Kleivane on bass, and Jan Abild later replaced Mariann and Kenneth on guitar. When describing this first period of Honeyroll Dan has said that “We recorded several demos, but nothing seemed to come out of them - we where kind of unfocused… or undefined… with members pulling in different directions… I think we had different ideas of what kind of band Honeyroll should be - or become…” (citation needed).
In 2006 Hans moves to Oslo, starts publishing comics at nettserier.no where he meets fellow cartoonist / musician Mats Gullikstad. Mats brings in Fredrik Hovland and they start the «illustrated» band Christiania Tusj og Lirelaug in 2007. They played several show at Amatøren, a student run culture pub at Sogn Student Village. The band was dissolved for a short period before reemerging as Vindknut, playing a couple of more shows on Amatøren. In April 2010 they got a gig at Last Train as the support act on the release concert of Roger Græsberg & The Anti-Music Bonanza first album “Field Recordings for Lovers”. For the occasion they recruited Johan to play drums - that after an intense, stange and epic show, quit the band while walking off stage. Mats later dissolved the band for good to join the army!
In 2009 Jon Fredrik “joffe” Våle replaced Tor Ånon on bass fra 2009, and according to Dan this is the period where Honeyroll sort of become a “real” band. They became more focused, got to play several gigs and slowly started working on a debut album.
Øystein and Dan had continued composing songs to the Nano Project, but now under the new name Ambcrave, and in 2008 they where ready to record a new EP «Metal Matilda». It was recorded in the NLA studio and fellow student Håvard “Fast Tast” Træthaug was brought in as engineer and mixer (and even did some falsetto backing vocals). Knut was asked to do the lead vocals on the EP, his first effort as a singer, an experience that gave him a taste for more - and he soon started looking for an other outlet for this new found passion.
In 2010 Knut and Hans through work. They often talked about musical influences and started playing around with the idea of forming a band. Around the same period Knut did some session work with guitarist Eivind Ystrøm Petersen and Knut now had the members he needed to form a blues trio. He introduced Hans and Eivind (at a Honeyroll show!), the three of them got along great and soon after they started playing and composing. A few months later they recorded a demo in Crystal Studios in march 2011 with Håvard “Talk Back“ as engineer - and decided on the name “Spilled Soup”.
Dan was never content with writing music in just one genre and in this period he was splitting his creative drive between making rock n roll riffs for Honeyroll and co- composing more elaborate metall tracks with Øystein for Ambcrave. In early fall 2010 the duo recorded an other Ambcrave album in Crystal Studios / Vålerenga Platefabrikk with the constantly reoccurring Håvard “Scissor Hand” Træthaug as engineer. The album was named “Mind on Sale” and was released on the date 11.11.11. So far Dan has (with a sheepish grin) refused to answer any questions about why that exact date for release was chosen.
1.3 Line up changes, Albums and New Constalations (2012 - 2016)
Knut, Hans and Eivind had been meeting weekly to compose and rehearse songs for the Spilled Soup trio. They had adapted a nice work flow where they all pitched riffs and ideas that collectively was arranged and recorded with Knut humming melodies and vocal lines. These sketches where sent to Les Inkwell, and he wrote lyrics based on the rhythmic humming to make the phrases as singable as possible. In September 2012 they felt ready to record their debut album, and yet again Håvard “Slow Laugh” Træthaug was the go to engineer and mixer. The album was recorded and mixed in only 5 days in Crystal Studios / Vålerenga Platefabrikk. When released in spring 2013 the album got some measured reviews but it nevertheless paved the way for several local shows and even a couple of international gigs.
Lars replaces Robert as vocalist in Honeyroll in fall 2012 and starts working with Dan as the lyricist on Honeyrolls first album. It had been in the making for quite a while, with the band already recorded in Urban Sound Studios with engineer Jock Loveband. Gimse later recorded the vocals with usual suspect Håvard “Short Cut” Træthaug as engineer and mixer. In the middle of this process, in the spring of 2013, Øystein replaces Jan as rhythm guitairst in Honeyroll. According to Dan this was one of the last pieces of the puzzle - and with this new crew the band played several festivals, supports and headliners - in total some 30 shows. The debut album was finally released in November 2013 but received little attention at the time - but served as a base for Gimse to grow their online and social media presence.
When Eivind finished his music degree at the University in Oslo in the spring of 2014 he moved back to Fredrikstad, and Spilled Soup is put on hold. Knut and Hans had really enjoyed co- writing music and using Les Inkwell as lyricist, and when Spilled Soup was put on hold they immediately started looking for other outlets for their creativity. Hans wanted to make louder, faster and more progressive music - and Knut floated the idea of forming a new trio with Dan. As it turned out Dan was happy for an other creative outlet and already had several sketches for songs that didn’t fit the sound profiles of Honeyroll or Ambcrave - and in the fall of 2014 StarratS of UfotofU was officially formed. They immediately starts planning a concept album in cooperation with lyricist and artist Les Inkwell.
Parallel with planning and creating the StarratS album - Dan, Øystein, Knut, Joffe and Gimse had been working on Honeyrolls second album. It was recorded in only 4 days during January 2015 in the awesome Amper Tone Studios in the heart of Grunerløkka - with Håvard “Niiiiice” Træthaug as engineer and mixer. The album was given the name “Time to Rock” and was released in October 2015. This time the reception was much more positive, resulting in several reviews, both local and international - and even some air time on international radio stations.
In late February 2015, about one month after recording with Honeyroll - Dan, Knut and Hans recorded the first StarratS of UfotofU album “#DuckRock”. This time in Vålerenga Platefabrikk, but as usual with Håvard “Slow Mix” Træthaug as engineer and mixer. The album was recorded and mixed in 5 days - but due to Les Inkwells incredibly slow post production and the printing queue of a limited vinyl version - the album was not released before march 2016. The band played two release show - the first for the digital release in March 2016 at Magneten, and the second for the vinyl in release in June 2016 at MIR. For both shows they brought along the Don Rosa enthusiast Mats (also infamous from Vindknut) as rhythm guitarist. The #DuckRock album received good but cautious reviews - with the heavy visual and lyrical Duckburg concept as one of the major issues that was controversial.
1.4 The great Amalgamation (2017 - pressent)
Determined to make something epic and unconcerned by the criticism of theme and concept from the last album - Dan, Knut and Hans started working on a new audio visual concept album. Since the ideas and concept on the next album was pretty dark and heavy, they also wanted a bigger and much more metall sounding album - Gimse and Øystein was asked to join. The process of writing songs for this next album was much more involved, and since the song structure was much more progressive it was decided that all the songs should be recorded in demo format. At the time Øystein had started building his basement studio - Koppang Sound Distillery - and this was a perfect project to test his studio. Still under StarratS of UfotofU name the 8 demos for the album “#FringRock” was recorded during three weekend sessions in Koppang Sound Distillery: March 2017, October 2017 and December 2017. The 8 tracks where then thoroughly rehearsed before the crew and their trusty sidekick, engineer and mixer Håvard “Art Brake” Træthaug returned to the wonderful Amper Tone Studios for 5 days in February 2018. Due to circumstances the album was in the mix for several months, but around December 2018 it was handed over to Les Inkwell for post production where it stil resides. Since the recording it was decided that the album will be released under the band name Airhog.
Soon after the #FringeRock album was recorded Dan and Gimse revealed that they had been working on a top secret project called “G.R.I.M.” and that they needed musicians. The project was rehearsed in a few weeks and subsequently recorded in Koppang Sound Distillery in only 3 days in April of 2018. The recording was engineered by Øystein and Knut - and the project was then passed along to Håvard “Sound Savior” Træthaug for the mixing. If everything goes to plan the over 40 minutes long EP is scheduled for release in late spring/summer 2019. With the success of recording in the Koppang Sound Distillery, Øystein and Dan started talking about re- recording and reworking some of the old Nano/Ambcrave tracks with the help of the other guys.
In late 2018 Joffe decided to leave Honeyroll after 10 years of service on the bass. When searching for a replacement Dan (like he usually does) asked someone he already knew and played with - and first on his list was Hans. After some time to think about the offer he was happy to join the band. This turn of events led to a strange situation where 5 different bands now had the exact same line up - and several projects in the making. After several discussions and negotiations it was decided that the smart move would be to establish some form of umbrella organization where the different projects could live on - and keep their distinctive character - but on a common platform with a distinctive brand. Les Inkwell immediately volunteered to design an overarching and a unique brand - and in January 2019 he pitched the concept for “Neverton United”.
2. Brand, Bands and Musical Styles
“Airhog create Concept Albums in a time when everyone listens to singles”.
Airhog is to be considered the premium band in the Neverton United catalogue. They are playing a melodic and powerful mix of Progressive Scandirock, Metall and Punk with a well incorporated lyrical theme and striking visuals. They make full length audio visual concept albums, and takes their time when it comes to songwriting, production and packaging. Their albums will be released in both digital and physical format.
The songwriting is a collective effort where all the members can contribute with sketches, ideas, riffs and themes - and the individual songs grow organically through a process that is corresponding quite closely to the flawed democratic process of real life democracies; with negotiations, interest groups, influence campaigns, think tanks, coalitions and bargaining. Les Inkwell is also a part of this internal political struggle, having to pitch the main concepts, visuals and lyrics - and opposed to earlier collaborations - in Airhog he also takes part of the composition and musical structure of the songs.
When recording their first album “#FringeRock” their long time regular engineer and mixer Håvard “Pitch Wizard” Træthaug noted that: “Having worked with all of them on so many previous projects, I think I can isolate several of the different members contributions throughout the songs… but at the same time the parts are merged so seamlessly that I’m not sure where one contribution ends and an other starts… I don’t know how to describe it - and I can’t really compare it to anything else I have heard - this project truly has its own unique sound!”
“You’ll never fly alone!”
“Honeyroll plays straight forward, no bullshit, rock and roll with a groove”.
Honeyroll serves as the stellar opposite of the more high brow Airhog - and is all about good times, fun and energy. The band tries to convey that special feeling of classic scenarios like: “the start of the weekend, a few beers in and in company of good friends” or “the soundtrack of guys and galls starting to get tipsy - and getting ready for a night out”. Musically Honeyroll is closely related to bands like AC/DC and Airbourne.
The creative process is comparable to a fascist dictatorship fueled by love for classic rock and roll. The riffs and arrangements are created by Dan and the lyrics are penned by Gimse -with no place for democracy and politics. This helps streamline the songwriting process and makes for a consistent and more personal sound. During the negotiations of the merging of the bands into Neverton United, one explicitly stated conditions was that Les Inkwell was not in any way allowed to meddle in the internal affairs of Honeyroll. As Dan eloquently stated; “He need to keep his artsy hands off this down to earth and streamlined rock n roll machine!”
“No worries mate - its pay day!”
“StarratS of UfotofU is an artsy classic rock project set to explore the boundaries between ideas, concepts, music and visuals”.
StarratS of UfotofU is kind of a Neverton United side quest - a creative outlet for playing around with ideas that ar either to nerdy, niche, weird, strange, small or silly to justify the full premium treatment. Musically rooted in the classic rock genre, but with lots of room for detours into sub genres and musical styles not usually associated with the Neverton United brand. StarratS of UfotofU makes concept heavy audio visual albums, EPs and / or Singles in collaboration with Les Inkwell.
The creative process is similar to the workings in a corporate structure - but generally all projects starts out as ideas (business opportunities). The ideas are presented and discussed in a round table fashion board meeting, and the ones that survive the scrutiny of these discussions are given to Les Inkwell for further development. Les Inkwell fleshes out each idea into one or more concepts pitches for the board members to reassess. If an idea is deemed to be a good investment of time it will be developed in tandem by the different departments (concept, music, lyrics and visuals) in the corporation.