Interview – Oli Brown From RavenEye

  Thank you for taking time to talk to us, Oli. It’s really appreciated. Now, let’s cut straight to the chase; RavenEye’s debut album, ‘Nova’ has just been released. Not only must you be very (rightly) proud of the album, but also relieved that it’s finally out. It’s been a long time coming! “Haha right! It’s been painful waiting for the release of this record!! We’re so proud of this record. You have no idea. It took us on such a journey when recording, and also pushed us as players and writers, to really make the best possible album we could.” The pacing on the album is fantastic, with no two following tracks sounding the same. ‘Wanna Feel You’, to ‘Come With Me’, to ‘Inside’ are all different and on it goes. Was this subconscious thinking, or just the way it evolved? “Thank you so much! Yes, this is something we wanted for the RavenEye record. Some people could misinterpret it as we are still finding our direction, but it’s the total opposite. We never wanted to write five songs that all sound similar to the one ‘radio hit’ song. We never went out to write ‘the song’. We wanted to write ‘The Album’, where you listen from start to finish, and it all makes sense. I totally get releasing singles, and how important it is, but what was more important for us is to listen to the record start to finish uninterrupted. It’s all meant to flow together and take you on a journey.” There is quite a difference between RavenEye’s first EP, ‘Breaking Out’ and ‘Nova’. To these ears, ‘Nova’ is way heavier. Even the slower moments like ‘Oh My Love’ totally crush. Was this also part of the masterplan? “Yeah. When recording ‘Breaking Out’, we never went to make a rock record. It was actually meant for a blues album I was making, but we picked out the five heavier songs, remixed them, and turned it into RavenEye. With ‘Nova’ we had full intention of making a heavy-ass rock record, with no mercy in the live room. The amps were fully cranked, and the room was a hazard to walk into without headphones! Haha.” Also, ‘Breaking Out’ was more like a solo project with you playing all the bass parts as well as the guitar parts. With Aaron playing on ‘Nova’ does it feel more like a ‘band’ dynamic now? “Without a doubt. As I said before, the EP came together really conveniently. It was really only to get local gigs and get some attention; it took us way beyond that! But with this album, it finally felt like a fully true focused purpose, and something that our lives relied on. There was a lot more pressure for it.” One of the standard comments about power trios is that they are limited sound-wise, but ‘Nova’ is not the sound of a band limited at all. How do RavenEye make that expansive sound? “For the record, we always considered what we would do live. I have an amp setup that works to fill the sound out from my end too. Aaron is still expanding his too! For the coming UK tour, the whole rig will be complete and there’s about four different guitar amps on stage all doing different things! It was important for us when recording to keep our authenticity, no over-the-top overdubs, and over-produced shit. We wanted an intense rock album, where it’s all about the band, not the producer/engineer flexing his editing and effects muscles. It’s all us.” Still on the subject of power trios… as relentless road warriors, have your paths ever crossed with Simo, another powerful three-piece that kill it? “No we haven’t, nor have we heard of them, but as soon as we get some good wifi on the road, I’ll be grabbing their album and will be checking them out! Thanks! Need some more road tunes.” How has new drummer Adam Breeze slotted into RavenEye, and do you have any classic drummer tales? “He is fitting in great! He’s a wild one for sure, which is perfect for the live shows! The second gig he ever played with us he pulled a ‘Dave Grohl’, and fell off the front of the stage! He jumped from behind the drum kit and got people clapping along to one of our songs, stuck his foot on the monitor, it slid off the stage and took him with it! Luckily, he didn’t break a leg though, and got back up and carried on with the show. All he walked away with was a nasty bruise. Lucky though!”  Lucky indeed! Now, my favourite track on ‘Nova’ changes constantly between ‘Inside’, ’Walls’, and ‘Madeline’. Do you have a favourite at the moment? Is there one that you particularly enjoy playing live? “MADELINE!!! Although, we played ‘Hate’ yesterday for the first time in ages, and that felt incredible to rock out. Live, these are all going to be pretty exciting for us. To finally be able to play a headline show where everyone will know the songs is huge for us! We’ve performed two headline UK tours off the back of the EP, which means people are coming to see a live show while only being familiar with five of the tunes (one we don’t even play), so to see people connect with all these songs live is going to be incredible. ‘Inside’ is pretty fun too… maybe I don’t have a favourite.” ‘Madeline’ is the latest video RavenEye have released on YouTube. It’s a simple video, but really effective, and quite dark. What was the thinking behind it? “The process went like this… “Let’s never be in a music video ever”. Granted, I have an A Level in drama, but I hate the idea of acting for a video. We’ve written the song, recorded it, we don’t need to act in it as well! Haha! ‘Hero’ was a performance video, and we do need that so people can see who on Earth we all are, but that’s just about it for us. We wanted people to focus on the story, and the song, rather than say “Hey, here we are again. You’re listening to our song, now look at us sing it here too”. Our friends Well Hung Heart (wicked band) have a company called Grow Vision, and we pitched to them about making a video for us to the song ‘Madeline’. They heard the track and came up with the storyline of this little boy king trying to deliver a gift for the Raven Queen. We fell in love with this idea! They created such a great atmosphere while not taking too much drama away from the song! They’re so talented at pretty much everything. Bastards!” You’ve not long returned from live shows in South America. Were they as manic as they seemed? “Yeah that was intense! I’ve always heard stories about how good South America is to play, and how the audiences are so intense and rock out hard. It was even better than expected. We’re a high energy band, and are all about getting the audience in on the show, so this was perfect for us.” Would you agree it’s crucial for a young band, like RavenEye, to build a strong connection to your fanbase, be it through social media or hanging around at the merch stand after a gig? I remember the queue to buy the EP when you supported Blues Pills! “I think, if young, new bands don’t take advantage of social media and interacting with their fans, they’re lazy! It’s such an incredible tool for us. We completely take advantage of it! We split it pretty evenly between us three, but we always interact with everyone and keep in touch with all our fans. From this, we’ve built an incredible community of supporters who have helped us all over the world! They’ve made pages, flown all over the world, and shared some incredible gifts with us! The smoke and mirrors of being this untouchable ‘rockstar’ is dead. Be real, and be true to your fans. You need them more than they need you, so respect the people who take the time to share your music with others.” In the modern age, what does it mean being signed to a label these days, in terms of backing and support? “It gave us the opportunity to create ‘Nova’ without compromise, and we’re truly grateful to Frontiers for giving us that chance. We originally never wanted to sign up to a label. We had a plan to release a couple more EPs, and work the money up to put an album together, but this put a whole new load of pressure on us. We had the ability to record an album and a date was booked. So at the start of this year, for a few months, we locked ourselves away and wrote as much as possible. So for us it meant the difference of making this record or not. ‘Nova’ is by far my proudest moment to date.” RavenEye has gained an impressive army of celebrity rock star fans, such as Slash and his merry men. That must be mind blowing? “It’s crazy…. absolutely mental. I remember watching Slash on TV playing the guitar solo in the desert in front of the chapel on ‘November Rain’, thinking ‘I’m gonna do that’. Dreaming of standing on a grand piano rocking a solo out! Haha! I never really think about it on tour, as we’re working so hard then. We drive ourselves everywhere, and on the US tour, there were some big drives… but afterwards, it all starts kicking in, and then the emotions come out about it. It’s definitely overwhelming.” I hear you became friends with Halestorm after some shows in Denmark where you shared their equipment. It’s great to see camaraderie amongst fellow road warriors! “RIGHT! They’re unreal… I’ve never toured with a band quite like them. They’re so nice.So real and helpful! We only had a few shows with them, and they were so, so good to us on the road. As you mentioned, they lent us gear when a rental company was going to rip us off and charge double what we were getting paid for the night, and they gave us food as well, as they know what it’s like touring as a broke band! They’ve worked so hard from the ground up, and they’ve built up such a strong community of supporters, and you can see why. They’re incredibly tight and such a killer band.”  I know you’re a massive Chris Cornell fan. How much are you looking forward to the remastered version of the Temple Of The Dog album? Any plans to catch them stateside? “YES! YES! YES! Soundgarden is where my heart belongs, but Temple Of The Dog! Hell, yes! I cannot wait. I want to catch them stateside, for sure. Hopefully we will be in the States then to see a show.” I have to ask about the private house concerts RavenEye were offering up online. What was the most bizarre request you got regarding them? “Haha! Luckily, there wasn’t anything dodgy in the slightest… though we’ve had some incredible experiences from them. Because it’s so different, it’s almost more fun than the live gigs in some senses. We went to a French family’s house, who flew us out, and we played in their back garden to their whole family and neighbours! It was amazing! They made a huge banner for us, welcoming us, and treated us like part of the family. It was overwhelming, being treated so kindly like that.” Apart from tour, tour, and more tour, what are the plans for RavenEye in 2017? Will album number two surface quite quickly? “I’d like to think that we would be recording near the end of 2017. The writing process for the next record is about to begin, so I think it would be a reality. We want to come in with even more songs, and see what journey we can create for the next record. We’re definitely an ‘album’ band, so whatever shape the next record will be, it will be about all of the songs, not just the one song we’re trying to get noticed with.” Thanks for your time, Oli. Good luck with the album, it’s a belter! I’ll see you at the merch stand later this year! Cheers! “Thanks for the awesome questions!! Really appreciate you taking the time. It was fun!! Cheers!” ‘Nova’ is out now, available from iTunes Interview: Dave Stott  

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