STEUBENVILLE - The local band NeverWake is setting the bar high and shooting for rock stardom with the release of "Vitality," the band's first, full-length album.
The album, recorded over the summer at Innovation Studios in Steubenville with engineer Mike Ofca at the recording helm, includes 12 songs bridging the gap between modern metal and more mainstream rock styles, according to Johnnie DiCarlo, vocalist and guitarist for the band.
"This is our debut record, and it's a mix between hard rock and metal," said DiCarlo. We take our metal influences and bring them to the table in a mainstream fashion. We named the album 'Vitality' in the sense that we do exist, and we aren't some unsigned band to be shoved aside."
The band, which also includes James Watson on guitar, Marcus Giannamore on drums and George Scott on bass, includes lots of in-your-face guitars, paint-peeling solos and the ever-present double-bass drum as well as lots of melody with touches of baroque and classical stylings, such as diminished arpeggios and harmonic minor-influenced chord structures. The melody is no accident, according to DiCarlo.
"James and I have been working on these songs for two years now," he said, adding the band has been together for about a year and a half. "We've been refining, polishing and fine-tuning the songs, making them better."
The entire idea is to make the songs heavy enough for metalheads but also melodic enough for fans of rock. The goal is to reach as many people as possible and build a fan base, not just in the Ohio Valley, but worldwide, DiCarlo said. The music is dark but accessible, and the CD cover is done in a Tim Burtonesque style, designed to the band's specifications by David Szilagyi, DiCarlo said.
"We have the first four CDs planned out," he said, adding each one would be built around a theme. "This is to get people into it. We want to be the best of the best.
"We've been playing locally just to build a following," continued DiCarlo, adding the band has been busy marketing itself on a wide range of Internet media from Facebook.com to Twitter.com and CDbaby.com. "We've been playing here and there and also in Pittsburgh."
The band also has its overseas fans, including its songs being available on eight Russian websites and three American sites.
"We have all these fans in Russia, the United Kingdom and even the Middle East," DiCarlo said. "The (Russian sites) bootlegged our material within three days of being digitally released."
DiCarlo said he didn't mind, as long as the music is reaching potential fans. He also said working with Ofca for the recording was like finding a musical soulmate.
"It's been such a relieving experience (working with him)," said DiCarlo. "We wanted to make music big and epic, and he was waiting to do the same. Four days into it we were finishing each other's sentences."
Ofca in turn said he was impressed with the band's work ethic, musical ability and business-minded maturity.
"I'm a fan of their style of music, so I was really excited to work with them. They are way above their age when it comes to business and attention to detail," Ofca said. "When you listen to the record you'd be surprised to learn they were 20-year-olds performing.
"I think what they are doing is as good as anyone in their genre," continued Ofca, adding the band could market themselves and build a buzz through digital media. "There was a very good synergy there. The business side of music has changed so much. It's not like in the days when you had to get a major label contract. What they are trying to do is very doable. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of venues around here for them to play. They are going to have to travel, at least to the surrounding cities."
DiCarlo said the next step is for the band to make its presence on Youtube.com, and a music video is being planned.
"Vitality" is available in downloadable, digital format on iTunes.com, CDbaby.com and Amazon.com. A physical copy can be purchased by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For information, go to reverbnation.com/neverwakemusic, Twitter.com or Myspace.com.