For two consecutive years, Neverwonder has been named one of the top 100 unsigned bands in Los Angeles. Recently, the band added Megan Bobo as its vocalist. Megan nearly made the Top 24 on season five of American Idol. At O'Connell's in Long Beach, Megan, Vincent Ramos (bass) and Andres Ramos (drums) discussed the band's name, sound and what honors mean the most to them.
This is for you, Megan. What was the most important lesson you learned from being on American Idol?
(MB) Just to be myself. Looking back at it now, it was such a good experience. There’s obviously things I wish I would have done different. I really feel like going back now, there’s so much pride that I’ve instilled in my community, especially my family and the state of Iowa. It’s the place where you can be yourself and have that kind of support and encouragement from doing that. It’s the most rewarding thing for me. It sounds cheesy but, whoever remembers my name, or whoever remembers that experience of me being on American Idol isn’t going to be some random person I meet on the street, or someone that wrote a blog about me, or doesn’t even know me. It’s going to be the people that watched it for me, to support me and my talent. I think it’s just being myself and going with what I felt was right in my gut, picking the songs I did.
The whole process is really rigorous. It’s five months and you have five interviews a day. You get no sleep because they want to create drama. They want to make everybody fight against each other. That’s just not my personality. At the end, they didn’t show it, but Simon said, “Everybody likes you. You’re too likable.” I don’t know what that means. At the end of the day, every question revolved around “What’s it like being from Iowa? Are you from a farm? What’s your ethnicity?” OK, I can choose to be like everyone else on the show, or make some kind of comment to get me ahead, or do something ridiculous, or disgrace my family by doing something totally outrageous. Or I can be myself, polite, and not tell people more than they need to know. Focus on the positive. The point is just to be myself and apply everything I was raised with. Not that I’m patting myself on the back.
I never knew that being likable was a personality flaw.
(MB) Oh yeah. Particularly for TV. They didn’t really know my demographic. That was pretty cool to me. It was like “We love you. You don’t look like you’re from Iowa. You have cool style and you’re nice and fun.”
Were they expecting overalls and a John Deere cap?
(VR) You’ve got to be a better seller?
(MB) Yes, because they know who they’re marketing to, by looking at somebody. They’re thinking this girl is not going to represent the Midwest. Whatever that means.
Very. What’s the story behind the name Neverwonder?
(VR) There’s the story that Megan likes, and then there’s the real story. Wonder, was it the bread?
(MB) Yeah. Dre (Andres) was like, “Megan, make me a sandwich.” I was like “What kind of bread you want?” He was like, “Wonder Bread.” I was like “Don’t wonder. Never wonder.”
(VR) The band had a previous singer and we’d all come from different bands. The biggest part for us at that moment was we were all from different bands and we all got together to record the album. We simply said, “We can’t wonder about the past.” You can’t say, “If only we’d stayed together another six months.” We were simply like, “Never wonder. Never wonder about the past. Just focus on the future.” If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have Megan in the band. It’s really simple, but that’s what it is. Focus on the positives, not the negatives. Never wonder about it.
(MB) Mine is better.
(AR) She likes the bread.
(MB) Or maybe like a WonderBra.
(VR) It’s all sex with her.
(MB) No, it’s not!
(AR) Yes it is. (laughter)
(MB) You’re so funny.
(VR) She’s very innocent, mom and dad.
Give me the jewel case sticker version of your sound.
(VR) You’re making us think here.
(MB) That’s good.
(VR) That’s a great question actually, because we hear all the same questions over and over. Since Megan joined the group, we consider ourselves modern rock-soul or soul-rock. People are like, “What? Are you serious?” They hear the music and it’s rock with crunchy guitars. Then they hear Megan sing and they’re like, “They went and done did it.” She’ll get some funk and some R and B in there, but then she’s got some great strong pipes. It really fits. It’s modern rock-soul. How about this? With the amazing Megan Bobo on vocals.
(AR) The beach meets the cornfield. (laughter)
(VR) I told you he’d come up with something good.
(MB) The surfboard meets the hog.
That’s your next album cover right there.
(VR) That’s it. No one would get it.
(AR) How about a hog served on a surfboard? (laughter)
That’s even more Midwestern.
(VR) That’s gotta be on the sleeve.
(AR) People will be like, “What does that mean?”
People don’t have to get it.
(VR) It will take deep thinking.
(MB) It’s all right. We’re deep people.
(VR) Ooooh! I like that! We’re deep.
You have quite a few honors listed on your Myspace page. What’s the most gratifying accomplishment or recognition you guys have received?
(MB) Megan Bobo joining the band. (laughs)
(VR) That was the one.
(VR) Yeah, right! Why do you even have to ask? You know. We’ve been doing this for a while. The Music Connection one. Music Connection is a well-renowned, well-respected magazine. To be included…
(MB) Two years now.
(VR) Two years in a row. I know the guys that make this thing and they’re tough cookies. They’re really respected people. That one feels good. We get calls about it. It goes all over the country and they do a big blast. All the nominations from All Access to South Bay to Orange County to Inland Empire. The nominations mean a lot. They really do. Being in LA, there’s thousands of bands. People might say, “Whatever.” But a lot of those things get sent in. For us to be in Best Live Band, Best Rock Band, Female Vocalist, that tells us we’re going in the right direction. Music Connection has meant a lot.
(MB) Just from the short time that I’ve experienced some of the awards and the whole process of it, it’s been how much people honestly believe in us. That’s really shocked me. I don’t even know these people and they’re like, “We are so excited about the new sound.” To me, you don’t have to say that. A lot of people don’t say that, let’s be honest. People have really gone out of their way at awards shows saying, “We’re really excited! We’re really supportive and we wish Joy the best, but now look at Neverwonder.” To me, that has been impressive. That’s awesome because you can’t get anywhere without people believing in you. You can win awards, but if you’re a crappy person, people don’t want to talk to you.
(VR) The idea of the awards, we put them up there because this is a name game. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. We wish it was only about music. That’s what I believe in. Megan sounds great. Everybody’s talented in the group, and that is it. I can’t play in the band if I don’t believe in these guys. That being said, you want to catch somebody when they’re just browsing through bands. “Oh, top one hundred bands in LA. They better be good.” It’s not, “I hope they’re good.” It’s, “They better be good.” It hooks people. It’s good for calling cards. When we send our packages out, it lends some credence to what we’re all about. We’re not a hobby. We really want to make this a career. South Bay was fun. Megan had been in the band maybe three months. She was nominated. We submitted our music with Megan’s vocals. Our publicist was able to talk to the producer and say “Just listen. If she doesn’t make the cut, cool.” They listened to it and they were blown away. She made the top eight vocalists and that was really good for her, understanding that she’s in the rock arena, but she has a different vibe. That really helped the band and at that show we won Best Rock Band with the new stuff. We’d won it previously with our old stuff. We believe that this stuff today is not as heavy, but it’s got more groove and soul and depth to it now.
(MB) We lean more toward groove-oriented rock. When you watch us live, everybody’s into it. I want to be grooving up there and that’s what we’re gearing toward.
(VR) We can rock with the best of them. With her vocals, it’s opened up avenues we never expected previously. It was like “OK, we can groove a little bit.” Back to your question, Music Connection has been really, really great. I don’t want to take out Orange County or the Inland Empire Awards. We’ve been really lucky with that. Any award, any nomination means a lot to us. It means someone in the industry has taken a look and a listen to us.
What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?
(MB) Makin’ looooove. (laughs)
(AR) Making babies. (laughter) I don’t see myself doing anything else.
(MB) That’s the right answer.
(AR) I’d sell cars.
(MB) You’d be a good car salesman.
(VR) I’d be flipping tortillas.
(MB) If the shoe fits. (laughs) What would I do then? Make a hip-hop video? Be in the background shaking my ass?
(VR) Can it deal with music at all?
All the time you spend making music, if you didn’t have that in your life, what would you fill that gap with?
(VR) That’s tough because I go crazy when that happens. Like last week, we didn’t have rehearsals because Megan was not here. I went crazy. I’d be homicidal. So you better buy my freaking CD! (laughter) I get stir crazy. I gotta put my energy into something. I’d volunteer more, for kids, elderly people. Help the community, help make the world better, something.
(MB, singing) Heal the world, make it a better place. For you and for me and the entire human race.
(V) You’re a phenomenal singer. You’re great. Can you go again?
[Megan gives an impromptu a capella concert, singing a few lines from “Black or White” and “We Are the World.”]
(V) Can you guys answer the question too? I would volunteer, or I would be crazy into business. Find some avenue. Trying to make a lot of money, that’s the way I would go, one or the other. How about you?
(M) It would have to be in the creative field. I work in marketing for a performing arts center. Something that is related to, or around art. That’s generic, I know it is. It’s the truth. I have so many other interests. I was accepted to law school. I wanted to do law. I wanted to do politics. That’s a huge part of me. Right now, there’s always going to be a creative aspect of me. So when I did school, or when I do law, it still has to be creative. I’m the one videotaping debates. That’s my answer.
(AR) I’m the guy that would break the Guinness Book of World Records.
What record would you shoot for?
(AR) No, I would probably be either recording, songwriting. That sort of thing, mainly. Guinness World Records…how long can you ride a skateboard?
(VR) A marlin fisherman. In Cancún. Just fishing. That’s what I want to do. Just a fisherman. In Cancún.
(M) Or you have the dramatic answer, “I’d just die.”
For more information about Neverwonder, go to http://neverwonder.com