Matt McGowan wasn’t trying to play the hero when he intervened in a fight on a night out.
But the resulting injury forced him to stop singing and wondering whether he had any future in music.
At the time he was a promising solo act who was starting to make some waves.
Now he fronts the four-piece Neverman who released their debut single Icarus at the end of last year. The song was written by Matt during the dark days when he was unsure if he’d ever be able to sing again.
‘I got grabbed by the throat and it was only for a split second, but where they squeezed, they crushed my larynx – my voicebox.
‘It was really strange because it’s a piece of cartilage so I didn’t feel anything. But I went to shout after it happened in the commotion of it all and my voice broke. After that I couldn’t even speak for a couple of months. I went to see specialists and they said I might not be able to sing ever again.
‘They put the camera down my throat and said my vocal cords were fine, but my larynx had changed shape so it doesn’t move in the same way. They said that was why I had lost my range and any power. There’s still a little bump on the front of my Adam’s apple.
‘It’s the only time I’ve ever really been depressed – music was quite an emotional outlet for me.
‘Two-and-a-half-years later, my voice suddenly started coming back, but it was very weak.
‘I thought I’d give it a go at singing and playing again, and I’d written Icarus in that time - I’d kept writing music in the hope that one day my voice would come back again.
‘It was a nice little miracle for my voice to come back. You’ve got to go there to come back sometimes, I guess.’
And when he came back, Matt wanted to be part of a band again, rather than a solo act.
‘I was in bands when I was younger and I always liked how big you could make the sound and much more of everything you can do.
‘When you’re just playing alone on an acoustic, yeah, there’s a beauty in that, but you can take songs to the band and arrange it and it comes out as a completely different product, one that’s sometimes even better.
‘When I found my voice was coming back and getting stronger, I thought, I’m going to go all out this time, and do something that maybe I’d shied away from before.’
The band took their name from one of Matt’s old solo songs.
‘We were struggling to find a name and one of our friends of the band suggested, why don’t you use Neverman? It’s a cool name.
‘The song itself was all about not wanting to grow up and not wanting to take on responsibility and things like that, so it gives a nice meaning to the band – always wanting to be young at heart.’
To coincide with the launch of their new single, Spineless, the Portsmouth-based indie-rock band are about to play their biggest headline show to date, at The Wedge.
‘It’s a step up we’ve been wanting to make for a little while now,’ says Matt, ‘and to have our own name on it, rather than to play under someone else, it makes a big difference, particularly with the weight it carries for the band name.
‘We’ve only been going for about a year-and-a-half, so it gives it that extra bit of buzz and we’re excited to see the band progressing.’
After this Matt is looking at taking the band on the road for a UK-wide tour, and hoping to release an EP in autumn.
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Friday, August 9