From Issue #43
Choosing love over fear:
The journey to NEVEREST
By Dana Marie Krook
When the paths of four completely different musicians intersect, each one is presented with a choice: to continue on a simpler road and always wonder “what if” or to answer the call of destiny and hopefully take their place among the greats. Let’s just be glad Neverest was up for the challenge.
Some things can be described as pure magic. The movies, the TV shows, the dance numbers and the music that we see and experience—they have us instantly under the spell of whatever it is that makes them so special. The production teams, the writers, the choreographers, the bands—they are the dream teams behind it all. And they make it look so effortless. It’s rare to get a glimpse into their world, these masters of their art form, but we are always curious. When did they meet? How did they come up with the idea? Did they know they were making history, right from day one? What does it take to create a dream team?
For Neverest, the answers to these questions come in the form of a long story about four guys on separate paths, who found a way to make magic through music, not despite their differences, but because of them.
The Canadian band is comprised of four stars: Spyros “Spee” Chalkiotis (lead vocals/guitar), Mike Klose (lead guitar/keys), Paul Loduca (bass) and Brendan Colameco (drums). Most of you will have already heard their rock-pop sound through the catchy singles “About Us” (which reached #1 on MuchMusic’s Top 30 Countdown) and “Everything” from their EP, as well as—from the upcoming album—“Lovesick.” Many will recognize their swoon-worthy good looks from the music videos that have gone along with the songs (their “Everything” video was nominated for an MMVA). Some will have even watched interviews with the guys and know why they chose the name Neverest for the band (“We all have our own Mount Everest. We’re never going to rest until we accomplish the things we want to as a band.” Never-rest—clever, no?). But how many really know the story behind what brought these guys together?
If we start with front man Spee, an eighth-generation musician on his father’s side, we see a young guy hungry for musical success. “It’s in my blood,” he says, talking about his passion for music. Originally a drummer, he studied percussion at York University and had visions of putting together a rock band. Never wanting to be a solo act, Spee was in various other bands, taking on any position he could—from drummer, to guitarist, to bassist, to lead singer. It didn’t matter to him where he fit into the group, only that it was the right fit—the proverbial glass slipper. “I knew that finding the right guys, finding the right team, was first and foremost the most important thing that you could do.”
Early on in his journey, he combined efforts with Mike, who was a classically trained pianist (studying at U of T) and a skilled guitarist. “For me personally, the work ethic and discipline that I learned going through university and studying classical music has made me able to handle all the pressure,” he says. And the pressure to find the rest of the band members was definitely on.
Spee and Mike started working with new producers—like Mike “MK” Kiofos and Angelo “Levi” Themelkos of VicPark Productions—who helped them develop a unique sound of rock-infused pop. Those connections also led to a relationship with VicPark’s management team, 3 Street Management, which included CJ of 3Deep and Howie D from the Backstreet Boys.
The guys were building up to be a powerhouse of musical talent and expertise, with all the right people on their side. But it didn’t quite feel like family yet. So, they set out to find the missing links. It took them a few years, but Spee and Mike finally came across the two guys who would fill the void and complete the band of brothers.
After seeing their craigslist ad, drummer Brendan came down from Timmins, Ontario to meet with his potential bandmates. “I went to audition without knowing where I was going to live, without knowing if I was going to make any money or where I was going to put my drums,” says Brendan, looking back on the fateful decision to make the eight-hour drive to Toronto. It was certainly a risk—to leave everything in the hopes that guys he had met on the internet would be a) legit, and b) a good match—but he was not about to be that guy, years later, thinking about what “could have been.” “When there are opportunities put out there, it’s all about how you handle them,” says Brendan.
The leap of faith paid off in the end, as the three guys gelled well together. Then, only about a month later, Paul came on the scene. He was in a different band, but had a producer in common with Neverest who played an early recording of “Blame Me” (now on their EP) for Paul and that was it. He was hooked. “I heard Spee’s voice for the first time and it had kind of an MJ feel to it,” Paul says. “Michael Jackson was my thing when I was growing up. I heard it and I literally felt something come over me.”
So, Paul met the other guys and the former threesome became a foursome, experiencing instant chemistry—both personally and musically. “I believe strongly in energy and I think that we’ve been attracted into each other’s lives,” says Spee. “I guess when we were ready, when the songs were ready, when we hit a certain maturity level, everything else just came into place.”
The guys see their joint venture as something of a four-way marriage. They each come from different worlds, each bringing with them a distinctive sound: Spee’s got blues, rock and funk in his soul; Mike is classically influenced; Brendan brings in a jazz-reggae fusion; and Paul throws a bit of heavy metal, but also MJ-style pop into the mix. While all of these differences could mean marital disaster of epic-proportions—or, at the very least, a bit of an identity crisis—for Neverest, these variations of influence create strength in their sound and in their group.
“Everybody’s different,” says Brendan. “We’re lucky enough to be playing pop music, so—with all of our different musical backgrounds—you can fuse every genre into it.” And the same goes with the dynamics of their personal relationships with one another. “We all gel in different ways,” says Spee. “We balance each other out.”
But beyond the honeymoon stage, every marriage has to have its share of fights. “There are little things that bother each other, about each other,” Paul says, bringing laughter from the rest of the group. “Paul, that’s bothering me right now,” quips Brendan. “Please quote that,” Paul comes back with, laughing along. “It’s actually that silly. We poke fun at each other all the time. I think it’s important to be able to do that and still know that you love each other in the end.”
So even though Paul and Brendan are complete opposites in terms of both music and personality—as Spee says, “Paul is completely high-strung; Brendan is way too relaxed”—all of the guys have found that balance which exists when any group of people learns to appreciate the “other” within each member. It’s all about seeing the good that comes from our differences, rather than wanting everyone to be the same.
When I first met Neverest, back in June of this year, I was immediately struck by how much of a unit they were. Sure, their personalities were vastly diverse. But it was a total family affair, and just spending 15 minutes in the presence of these four guys was enough to make me feel like a part of the gang—a fifth member of Neverest.
And this interview is no different. Just like their music, these guys pull you in with their infectious energy and comfortable vibe. From Mike’s adorable shyness, to Paul’s easy laughter, to Brendan’s laid-back nature, to Spee’s matchless excitement for life—to know them is to love them.
So, it’s no wonder that their united passion for amazing music and killer performances are earning them more and more fans (check out the thousands of fans-turned-friends on their personal Facebook pages).
But it’s not an easy ride, by any means. Hard work, focus and sacrifice are needed on a daily basis to push Neverest to the pinnacle of their climb, because the music world is not an easy landscape to navigate: it can be fruitless and unforgiving at times. But, with the right team, anything is possible. Even magic. As Spee tells me, the most important thing is “Saying yes. Choosing love over fear.”
EVERYTHING ABOUT US
Most memorable date:
Brendan: When I was in high school, I thought it was really cool to bring a girl to Wendy`s for lunch. One day, I busted out the big line: “We`re going to get one Coke and TWO straws.” I thought that was pretty sick.
Paul: I’m sure there is something. But maybe I’ve chosen to block it out.
Mike: I went and played pool with a girl. I was really confident in my skills, so I said, “If I win, we get to go on a second date. And if you win, you get whatever you want.” I lost. So, we didn’t go on a second date.
Spee: I think I’m too casual. Maybe I’m a bad date! Maybe you should ask the girls that I go out with—I’ll give you a list. [laughs] I think I’m just too casual, ‘cause it never feels like a date with me. It’s just hanging out; it’s just chills.
Favourite flavour of ice cream:
Brendan: I like the bubble gum one.
Mike: It depends on what mood I’m in: I’ll go for strawberry if I want something refreshing and a pralines and cream if—
Spee (interrupting): I’m going to change mine to orange sherbet. Sorry, Mike.
Mike: That’s not ice cream.
Spee: That is ice cream.
Mike: Sherbet’s not ice cream! It has no dairy in it.
Spee: (pause) Really?
#1 turn off:
Brendan: Boy hair.
Spee: Poor sense of humour or bad breath.
Paul: No sense of humour.
Mike: When they agree with everything I say.
You might not know about me:
Mike: I don’t have cable.
Brendan: I love shoes.
Spee: I’m actually a fairly good magician—mainly with card tricks.
Paul: I make toast in the morning, butter it and call it “choast” because I put Nestlé Quik on top of it. It’s amazing. Choast = chocolate toast.
Photography by Richard Sibbald
Styling by Donovan Whyte for Judy Inc.
Styling assistance by Sonia Torsan
Hair and touch-ups by Esteban Ortiz
Faze assistance by Carrie Cai, Steven Edmonds, Sabrina Maddeaux and Rebecca Sadler
On the cover:
Mike is wearing a Diesel shirt and jeans and a Fossil watch.
Spee is wearing a Dr. Denim shirt, his own jeans, a Hugo tie and a ToyWatch watch.
Brendan is wearing a Diesel vest and jeans, a Denham shirt and a Fossil watch.
Paul is wearing a Rare t-shirt, a Diesel jacket, his own jeans and a Fossil watch.
On these pages:
Paul is wearing a Rich Royal t-shirt, a Diesel vest, Lucky jeans, Adidas shoes and a Fossil watch.
Brendan is wearing a Denham t-shirt, Diesel jeans, Supra shoes and a Fossil watch.
Spee is wearing a Rare shirt, Levi’s jeans, Adidas shoes and a ToyWatch watch.
Mike is wearing a Diesel t-shirt and jeans, a Belstaff jacket, Adidas shoes and a Fossil watch.