When you can laugh at yourself, you have the world beat. When you can make others laugh with you, then you are blessed with talent.
Oli Brown (guitarist/singer), along with Kev Hickman (drummer) and Aaron Spiers (bass), are headed to a show near you, as RavenEye. They are coming for your mirth, laughter, and a small merch purchase to be fair after all. The Milton Keynes UK group has a confirmed show in the Loudest Month in Music will be on the closing day of the Carolina Rebellion.
On the legs of their EP release, the band, with lighting fast speed that would even confuse a blonde bow-wielding elf, Oli shot responses of fury to match any dwarf’s manner, and managed to be as regal as a soon to be crowned human king as he answered a few questions for us while on the West Coast. If that makes no sense, keep reading there, pal; everything will soon come into focus.
After the tears of laughter dry, head over to our fellowship of rock and let us know what you thought at either our Twitter or Facebook. Thou shalt not pass, until you do, that is.
NRR: Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for National Rock Review US division. What’s been going on with the band, RavenEye, so far in the early Spring of 2016 since the last time we touched base with you?
Oli Brown: A lotâ€™s been going on in the RavenEye camp! We had an incredible European, USA, and Canadian tour supporting Slash! Headlined our own UK tour with sold out venues too, slept on many house floors staying at fans houses on our trips as well as prepare for a record! Itâ€™s been kind of a whirlwind year for us, so many things we didnâ€™t expect to be doing from the release of the EP and it all came at once!
NRR: You are currently on the road and out on the West Coast. How’s the tour going straight from the source?
Oli Brown: The tour is pretty fucking great! The Darkness crowd is totally up for a party here! They are loud and in your face, and so are we. So together it can get pretty rough. Thatâ€™s what we want and itâ€™s great that the crowd are so welcoming to the support act, weâ€™re just to warm them up for the main event but these crowds are already in heat before we start!
NRR: Your sound is described as blues rock in some accounts. For those that haven’t heard your material before, is that a good way to think of your vibe?
Oli Brown: With the EP in mind Iâ€™d say thatâ€™s at least a good start to describe it, with the tracks like â€˜You Got Itâ€™ and â€˜Get It Startedâ€™, itâ€™s very much in the vain of the blues-rock style, songs like “Breaking Out” take it away from that, but also with all the new songs written for the full album. Itâ€™s going to be going into a heavier and more intense world sonically! Still the blues rock nods in some ways, but weâ€™ve worked harder to really define itâ€™s own sound as a record.
NRR: If you are up for it, how does a Brit and an Aussie come together to form a pretty soulful trio?
Oli Brown: I think we even wrote in our bio that it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, eh? I moved back to England in 2014 to put the band together and aligned myself with Kev as the drummer for the band! Aaron (The Aussie) is a good friend of Kevâ€™s as they play some function gigs together and he recommended this jazz master. We hung out for a while and started talking about our influences and found so many similarities in taste with rock music, before we even started playing we became close friends and heâ€™s a wicked lyricist too so things just kind of moulded and before I knew it, we ended up with an Aussie in the band.
NRR: We’ve recently lost a few big names in music starting with Scott Weiland and Lemmy to Bowie and Fry passing as well among others. Do you have any fond memories of their music or were influenced by any of them, by chance?
Oli Brown: I was â€˜better late than neverâ€™ with Bowie I guess. I watched the video for â€œBlackstarâ€ when it got released and I pretty much lost my mind, the sound, the visuals, all of that song just blew me away. Aaron and I have a 40 minute long rant about the song recorded on our phones talking about it, we were going to put it up but realized itâ€™s more a drunk fumble of words strung together. We weren’t as â€˜deepâ€™ as we thought we were being once sobriety kicked in. I counted down the days before getting the full record Blackstar and had that on repeat all the days up ’til his death. What a kick in the teeth that was. But now Iâ€™m going through the back catalogue and getting into him some more, but there really was something about that Blackstar record for me. When music hits you at the right time with the right sound, it does something to you thatâ€™s beyond describable
NRR: Here is the dreaded question for most bands, how did you pick your moniker, was it a name with a meaning for the band or names on a dart board at the local pub?
Oli Brown: (Laughing) Wellâ€¦ we were traveling across the plains of Mordor with Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee when we stumbled upon an old tavern. Reluctantly we entered the bowels of this disheveled domain in search for a good meal. Now some folk would say, â€œHey guys, what about the ring? Youâ€™re in Mordor, and all those people are having a big fight at the wall, you should go and throw it in that lavaâ€. But itâ€™s a tough job walking and you get a thirst, plus we have this weird dude next to us who keeps whispering “my precious” and looking at Frodoâ€™s hand with some kind of delicious intent, not sure what his problem was.
We eventually get to the barkeep, who was none too impressed with our kind stepping in, the sign above the bar clearly stated â€˜no shoes, no serviceâ€™, we all know Hobbits have big hairy feet so it got pretty dicey but I managed to charm my way with the barkeep to offer us a tasty mead. It was only when we sat down to drink the stale liquid charm that I noticed there was something in my drink as I looked down into the stein. I stormed back to the server with intent to give a formal complaint requesting what was in my drink, into which he said a â€œRavenEye.â€
I told the him to shove it and got the lads out of there and we headed up the mountain to wrap up the job, we all started talking about whatâ€™s next after weâ€™ve done the duty. I told the guys I was going to make a band and try it in the music world. Samwise made the joke of calling the band â€œRavenEyeâ€ and The idea clicked. I gave him a solid high five, realized my destiny and ditched the lads and ran back to the shire of Milton Keynes and together we formed RavenEyeâ€¦ At least thatâ€™s how I remember it.
“I am a huge fan of birds, I grew up as an ornithologist (the fancy way of saying bird watcher) and had a fixation with Ravens. Thereâ€™s something so macabre about them and beautiful at the same time. I started thinking about band names and to be honest it was the first thing that came to mind I looked at so many other ideas but there was nothing quite like that name, it just stuck for me so I feel pretty close to it. I love all Raven paraphernalia so I encourage it all!” ~ Oli Brown
NRR: Breaking Out was your first EP and well received by all accounts. With its success, are you closer to pulling the trigger on a full length album in the near future?
Oli Brown: Yes! I think I already dropped in a couple of times about an album, I opened my mouth a little too early! But definitely we are recording an album in May for the whole month! Over 20 songs are written and ready and weâ€™ve picked the ones we will record, however I still am writing at the moment since weâ€™ve got a little more time before we go in. But Iâ€™m beyond excited to get a full record out. Itâ€™s way over due
NRR: It’s okay, we won’t tell anyone… Is it important to have fun while on stage so this doesn’t become just a job, like dropping an Anchorman reference in San Francisco?
Oli Brown: (Laughing!) YES! Always. Itâ€™s like that DO NOT PRESS button, you look at it and you want to touch itâ€¦ you donâ€™t know what could happen if you press it but youâ€™ll never know if you donâ€™t find out. I figured Iâ€™d get a little shit for that though, (laughing). But for us itâ€™s always important to have fun on stage, we want the crowd to feel like theyâ€™re watching more than just a bunch of guys saying â€œhey, look at us play on stage and listen to our songs, make us feel valuedâ€. Itâ€™s show time, we want the audience to get loose with us and have a good time, music is a passion that so many people come together on and thereâ€™s nothing quite like the live moments where everyone is together rocking out.
NRR: Is there a moment, that thinking back on it now, in the your career, with any band now, that you can’t help but still feel a tad bit embarrassed about, makes you laugh about despite yourself, or just still makes you shake your head in disbelief? A Spinal Tap moment if you will, that you’d be willing to share with me?
Oli Brown: Yeah, I live with it still today. I had two CD covers in a little zip-lock back ready to get signed by two of my heroes when I was a kid. Buddy Guy and Taj Mahal! Buddy was playing on stage at the time and I went backstage to approach Taj to see if I could get an autograph, I handed him the cover with a sharpie asking for my name on it and he sounded kinda pissed off at me. I wasnâ€™t sure what I did and he didnâ€™t sign and gave me the cover back and of course it was Buddyâ€™s guys record I gave him to sign. I then gave him the other cover in which he did laugh it off and make the situation better, but for a moment I was mortified. Thankfully he took it alright, sorry Taj.
NRR: With festival season right around the corner, where would you be a good fit in a show’s lineup for you guys?
Oli Brown: We love opening up these festivals, and as a new band itâ€™s a good place for us while we spread the word of the bird. Itâ€™s been fun to warm up the shows and then wander around the rest of the day checking out our favorite bands. After the next record comes out we will see where it takes us on the line-up for sure. But weâ€™ve got some wicked fests we are playing and some we are chomping at the bit to announce.
NRR: Carolina Rebellion is announced so good luck at that show at least. Is there a different feel touring the US versus Europe after the Paris theater attack or is it business as usual for the band regardless of locale?
Oli Brown: Business as usual, that wonâ€™t ever make a difference to us or touring, it never should for anyone. Nothing will take the pleasure away of playing live music in venues to audiences anywhere in the world, never.
NRR: Have you run into any stereotypes with promoters, venues, etc or been disappointed that what was in your head wasn’t how it was your first time in the States?
Oli Brown: To be honest we have so much to organize before a tour that we donâ€™t have time to sit and simmer on expectations. Itâ€™s a pretty hectic schedule and we run the road by ourselves too, so there is a lot of prep. Makes it nice with just the three of us on the road, but the drives can be pretty brutal. A lot of the people weâ€™ve run into have been pretty great to us, we feel pretty lucky to have been so welcomed by various promoters and venues, weâ€™re just the warm up act but they certainly make us feel at home.
NRR: Very good, Iowa will be nothing but corn by July just to warn you now. I’ll hand over the bedazzled National Rock Review microphone, don’t mind the faint smell of tequila on it, is there anything you’d like to plug or mention before Thirsty Thursday starts in earnest here at the cantina?
Oli Brown: Just for folk to come and join us on our socials and say hey! We run everything so youâ€™ll get either me, Aaron, or Kev replying to you! We love it and now we are on the road and only have each other for company, we need other people to talk to!