Ready or not, here’s Neveready!
By Pat Sherman
When Christian Clark, Patrick Hallahan and Declan Halloran met on La Jolla High’s water polo team, the athletes didn’t know they’d soon be making an even bigger splash rocking out on stage together.
But that’s exactly what they’ve done as the band Neveready, performing everywhere from the La Jolla High lunch quad and Belmont Park to Epicentre, the SOMA main stage and Bella Roma Pizza. On Halloween of last year, the band released its first full-length CD, “Soulidify,” which includes a guest appearance by San Diego’s songwriting elder statesman, Steve Poltz (of The Rugburns). The band’s music — including the tracks “Can You Dig It?” and “Trouble” — has been played on local radio stations 91X, 94/9 FM and 102.1 FM.
Though Neveready includes trumpet, sax and trombone, they don’t relish being pigeonholed as a ska band. Their music is a danceable amalgam of rock, soul, jazz and punk — with classic and modern ska underpinnings holding it all together.
“I think our sound definitely has matured in a big way,” said Christian, the band’s guitarist, who also played sax in La Jolla High’s jazz band. “We started off listening to a lot of bands and taking after what some might call this sort of new wave of ska music. That was sort of the thing to do if you had a band and a horn player — the logical progression.”
As time passed and the band added and dropped members, they decided straight-up ska wasn’t their bag, noted Christian, who says the band aspires to convey a diversity of sound and style similar to that of The Clash.
“The Clash uses multiple styles on the same album,” he said. “It’s really hard to pin down what genre they are.”
Drummer Declan Halloran, whose father is the legendary San Diego DJ, Mike Halloran, said his dad offered the band a lot of sound advice, first and foremost to try using horns in a way that reaches beyond the radio-saturating ska of bands like No Doubt and Real Big Fish.
“My dad kind of helped us, saying, ‘Try to branch out and … become a band that people will want to hire to play at a party,” Declan said.
As the son of a popular alternative-music radio DJ, Declan got to experience firsthand a bevy of big-name bands that had a profound influence on the way he perceived the role of a band onstage, including The Flaming Lips, The Specials, Social Distortion and San Diego’s Rocket from the Crypt.
“One of the things we took away from a lot of bands (like that) is that we all pretty much dress the same way on stage,” said Declan, who honed his chops drumming with Matt Lynott at La Jolla Music. “It gives the appearance that we’re like a gang on stage. We’re not just a bunch of guys up there.”
Declan recalled being heckled for Neveready’s unified sartorial front during a show at the Electric Ladyland in Ocean Beach.
“Some people were hassling us because we all dressed up in skinny ties and white shirts, mocking us, like, ‘Hey, two-toned wannabes,’” he said.
Though the band feared they might be booed off stage, Declan said it was one of their best shows to date.
“We went up there and we absolutely freakin’ killed it,” he said. “It was just kind of a little victory.”
Another useful thing Declan said his father taught him — besides avoiding pay-to-play shows like the plague — is not to bore audiences with rambling monologues.
“He told us, basically, nobody cares if you just wrote this song or if it’s on your last album — unless, of course, you’re Bono and U2,” Declan said. “Just play the song, say thank you and be done with it.”
Neveready’s CD, cut at White Horse Recorders with engineer Aaron Swanton, is laced with sound effects and textures that make the disc a richer listening experience, from a sample of the iconic 1976 film “Network” to the sound of helicopters and the use of Melodica.
“Being in the studio is really where you find out what your band is made of,” said Christian, who is studying political science at UC Berkeley. “Any discrepancies in sound and any issues that you might not have noticed while practicing or playing a show become blatantly obvious when you’re recording. … I think the more time you spend recording your own songs, the better you are at writing songs in the future.”
Though Christian, Patrick, and most of the other members are off at college (Declan is in his senior year at La Jolla High), Neveready is holding steady and eager to jam whenever they’re all together in San Diego. Between rehearsals, they work on songs and stay connected via Skype.
“We definitely want to continue this for as long as we can, but we obviously have our heads in the right place,” said Declan, who hopes to study audio production at UC San Diego.
Neveready recently returned from a mini tour — its first — playing a fraternity house party at University of Southern California and a park near Cal Poly with their trusty generator.
“It was a good learning experience,” Declan said. “We realized that we really have to keep ourselves well-rested and healthy. … It really is like your job.”
Though the band intends to forge on, it won’t be as easy as it was when they all attended La Jolla High together, and word of mouth could help pack a venue.
“Our friends were definitely behind us,” Christian said. “The students at La Jolla High did a huge amount for us.”
Neveready also includes Patrick Hallahan (tenor sax), Kody Knode (trumpet), Jay Sanchioli (bass), Adam Vickers (trombone), Mike Hom (tenor sax) and guest rapper, Kwamé Badu. Their CD is available on iTunes and Spotify or by e-mailing email@example.com
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