Legendary guitarist Jeff Loomis recently granted MetalSucks his first interview since departing Nevermore this past April. Besides chats with a few European magazines, this will be the ONLY interview Loomis grants regarding the split. He also discussed his new, yet-to-be titled solo album. Excerpts from the chat follow:
Let’s dive right in with the obvious question: From your perspective, what happened with Nevermore?
Van and I started discussing leaving Nevermore when we were on our last tour with Symphony X in Europe. Obviously, as everyone knows, Nevermore had been together since 1993, and we were very happy for many years. I think that over a period of time, with excessive touring and doing records together, we just got burnt out from one another. There were also many issues with drinking and alcohol abuse [my own] included. I’m not out to do interviews about the end of Nevermore and just zero out particular people in the band, that would be wrong and false information anyway.
We were on the last leg of the Symphony X tour and Van and I had a talk with Warrel backstage and we told him we didn’t want to continue on with the next tour with Symphony X in the States. We wanted to take some time and regroup, so to speak, and wait for Jim to come back, since he was recovering from brain surgery. Warrel really did not like that idea, but Van and I stuck with it, thinking it was a smart move to maybe start fresh at a later date. All hell kind of broke from that [discussion], because the concert promoter [in the U.S.] got pissed off, and I heard through the grapevine that we might get sued because of it. That’s pretty much when Van and I issued a statement that we were going to depart from the band.
I really just had had enough at the end. I want to do different things musically, and I think it was just better that we left. It was quite amazing, though, with all the response we got from our fans. It’s really nice to know that we affected so many people in a positive way with our music.
So you started discussing leaving the band during that tour… at that point, for how long had you known that there were serious problems within the band?
For quite some time actually… there were many problems health-wise that were kinda getting scary. Warrel had a problem with his pancreas and diabetes back in ’05, and Jim recently underwent brain surgery to remove a small brain tumor, plus he had issues with Crohn’s disease. Sometimes Jim wasn’t able to tour because of that, and we would always have to find a replacement. Troubles happen all the time in bands, and we always dealt with them. I think that over a period of time, though, that started to kind of take a toll with never having the whole original band onstage at certain times when we were on tour. People were asking tons of questions about it, and we would do the best we could with trying to explain everything, but sometimes fans wouldn’t understand or get the real picture of what was going on. So, yes, I would say from as early on as 2005, there were issues we had to deal with, medical-wise.
So… not trying to get you to talk smack or anything, but Warrel said some very not nice things about Van in the press, and claimed he had learned you guys quit via Blabbermouth. Do you have any thoughts on the way he reacted? Did he learn about the split via the internet?
Yeah, when I read [what Warrel said about Van] I was really bummed. I’ve known Warrel for twenty years now, and still, to this day, I sometimes can’t figure him out. He has known Van for almost twenty years as well, and to say something like that is really sad, especially after the numerous tours and records we have done together.
Van is the kind of guy that speaks what he believes in. He is from New York and he is my best buddy. When certain issues would come up in the band, he never had a problem holding back his thoughts, and I don’t think Warrel liked that very much.
A lot of that started about five or six years ago when we used to get paid through Warrel and Jim. This sucked really bad for many reasons. Number one, you shouldn’t be getting paid by other band members, especially when you’re in a signed band. Van and I ended up going to our manager and lawyer to get paid through them. Equal split four ways. Its so simple. This bothered Warrel and Jim quite a bit. For some reason, Jim had always thought he was our “manager,” and the one that could get things done.This actually worked for a while, but in the long run, it really didn’t. I wish he would had just stuck to playing his bass at those times, because it ended up not being a good thing at all.
I think Warrel might have heard prior to the internet that Van and I wanted to leave, but you know I can’t be certain.