RavenEye is set to hit the road with Slash in support of their new single Breaking Out.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Oli Brown to discuss the band’s impending U.S tour, his influences and upcoming plans for RavenEye.
NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us at National Rock Review, we really appreciate it.
You’ve been out on the road opening for The Blues Pills recently with your new band RavenEye. How’s it been going so far?
OB: It’s been great, the shows have been well received actually. It’s been a lot of fun to get to these territories with the band especially Ireland as well, I’ve never played there before.
We did a show in Belfast and it was wild, it’s fun to get these rock show going and everyone jumping around.
NRR: It’s a bit of a different crowd to your traditional blues crowd.
OB: (laughing) Yeah, it’s cool each crowd has a different atmosphere. I love the blues crowd because they really sit and listen and take everything in and then you get the crazy rock crowd who just want to have a good time and jump around and I love both for completely different reasons.
NRR: Obviously RavenEye is a bit different from the more traditional blues music that you’ve been playing. What caused the change of direction?
OB: Well I’ve always liked rock music and I think it’s something that I’ve really wanted to venture into but I haven’t really known how to, or that it was the right time to. I think playing rock music it really needs to be a band you know it’s not Dave Grohl it’s the Foo Fighters and that branding and just a group of guys.
I don’t think that I really found guys my age that I got along with that way that musically who were amazing and really inspired me. Then I got lucky when I found Kev and then Aaron it kind of came to play. It really was all about timing and it just worked out amazingly.
NRR: Which rock bands have influenced the sound for RavenEye besides your blues roots?
OB: Audioslave, when I heard “Cochise” I absolutely lost my mind. Then I became obsessed with Chris Cornell and everything he did. I went back through his back catalog like Temple of the Dog when he was with the Pearl Jam guys and then Soundgarden has been a huge part of my life now. I’ve been having Superunknown on the playlist and I keep on going back to that record.
Queens of the Stone Age are kind of an obvious one as well. Songs For The Deaf is a real defining album for me and really made me want to venture into that heavier music, that heavier riff style. I got to see them live and it just really blew my mind. I think that so many of these little rock things kept on creeping in my head. I was like I really want to do this and it just started taking over and you know I had to get into it.
NRR: Can you tell us a little bit about the band and how you all met?
OB: Yeah, I met Kev numerous times actually over the past years and just we bumped into each other because we were both on different projects, he was with other artists at the time. I was looking for another drummer for the UK, I was looking to come back and start working there again.
I was on Facebook just about to post something and he has these drum cover videos. His video was at the top of my feed and I was like it’s a drummer and I kind of know him so letâ€™s have a listen and it just blew my mind. I was like this is the guy, this is the guy that I want to work with. We had never spoken before, I don’t know what our relationship was like before then, I think we had always kept away from each other.
It was a pretty nerve racking e-mail to write, to say ‘hey do you want to work together?’ I was nervous to see what he was going to say and if he was even going to bother replying. Thankfully he did and we spoke online and just started figuring out more about the project and what we wanted to do with it.
Then he actually passed me on to Aaron, so when I moved over to the UK and started working with Kev we were just working as a two piece at that point, just whilst we were waiting to get the other musician in there and find the right bass player for the band.
He recommended Aaron and just straight away, he’s a phenomenal player and even before then I had no idea about his playing and we just hung out and had an amazing time. We just had so much fun together. I think from there it’s always going to be a good sign when you are really good friends with people and they are easy to get along with and as a bonus they are killer musicians, it was amazing.
NRR: You’ve just released your debut EP “Breaking Out”, which rocks by the way, I really like it.
OB: Thank you man.
NRR: Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration behind your song writing for the EP?
OB: Yeah, last March I went to record a solo album, a blues record. I recorded ten tracks and five of those tracks are the ones that I recorded in that studio time. “Breaking Out” the lead single I was never going to record. I went into the studio and I played it to the guys and I was like this is way too heavy it’s not going to work for the blues thing, and they said let’s get it down, let’s put it down and see what happens. Then I started writing some lyrics after I put the song down, because I really had no intention of writing a song. Then so many other songs that came in.
“Breaking Out” primarily is more about my own personal conformity, I think at that point I felt confined, I felt my limits also what I should and shouldn’t write. That was all about breaking out of my own beliefs of what I should do and believe what I want to do. Then there are song like “Hey Hey Yeah” which are just about enjoying those guilty pleasures in life. Sometimes there is a bit of fun in that (laughing), everything in moderation of course.
So I like the idea of RavenEye having some songs that are poignant, that I do want things to be said. “Run Away” was all about me escaping the UK and moving to Canada and just kind of starting things again and figuring myself out. Then I also like the idea that you can just nod your head and not have to worry about reading into a song too much.
NRR: Obviously now you’ve got RavenEye and your solo blues band. Do you see yourself moving away from the blues scene to concentrate on RavenEye or are you going to try and balance them both?
OB: I think right now it’s definitely hard to balance them both. I love the blues scene, but right now just because RavenEye has got so much going on and you know we have this U.S. tour now that we are going out to tour with Slash in October and even right now I can barely look at doing shows, we are just planning all the routing and everything.
Only the three of us are going to go out and do this tour, we don’t want to bring anyone else with us because for budgetary reasons it’s easier for us to do this ourselves (laughing).
I do occasional blues shows, there’s a few gigs every month that I do because I do still love it. What’s nice about the blues gigs is that it definitely keeps your chops up (laughing), it’s definitely a different approach to playing which I love and I love that music, and I have no intention of departing from it.
RavenEye is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of time at the moment to build this band up.
NRR: With the success of the Breaking Out EP, do you have any plans to do a full length RavenEye album?
OB: I’d love to, I mean we are kind of back and forth over this. I like the idea of doing an album, I also like the idea of doing another EP sooner rather than later and just offer another five tracks.
I feel like once the album is out that’s the definitive of what the band is and the sound, and I still feel like as a group we are still exploring a lot together and writing a lot of songs together. I feel like right now the priority in the band is to write quantity, just write as many songs as we can, all the time, every situation we can just write and refine that sound even more so that when we do bring out an album this is the official sound, this is what we sound like. You don’t record another album for another year and a half to two years after that, I like the idea of doing the EPs because it keeps the content coming out sooner and more often and it makes it more fun and fresh for us too.
NRR: Do you have any plans to do any headline UK shows?
OB: Yeah, we are looking actually at doing something in December, we are looking at putting some shows together. Last year we did an underground thing just to get the band’s name out and get the band busy. At that point there was barely anyone talking about it so it was fun just to put the band out there.
December we are looking at putting together another mini-tour by ourselves and just have a little fun with it again, just do some small intimate gigs in tight venues so everyone gets close and we all get intimate, it would be fun to do something like that.
NRR: So RavenEye are going to tour with Slash in the U.S. as the main support at the end of the year. How much of an influence was Slash on you as a guitarist?
OB: It’s funny, I think when we got the invite I didn’t really think about it too much and then I started looking back, trying to think when I started out because I was writing a diary just to remind myself of everything that’s going on. I remember watching November Rain vividly on TV and the guitar solo where Slash is standing in the desert outside that church, just thinking I want to be that kind of rock star (laughing) I want to be that guy that’s standing on top of the piano.
The ideology of what a rock star is and a performer and that charisma, that easily identifiable person, the hat, the whole look he was a huge influence on me. It’s funny I realize it more so now than I did when I was growing up, but he was a huge part of my career as a guitarist.
NRR: So what else do you have planned at the minute, is there anything else you can share with us about RavenEye?
OB: Right now it’s so intense, all the planning we are doing like getting the visas ready for America it’s all the whole time. All eyes are looking at this America tour and figuring out how we can go over there. Before you even touch American soil you’ve got to spend a good couple of thousand in visas (laughing). So right now all is on that.
Like I said we are looking at doing some shows in December, and I mean we are writing all the time so I would love to get the band to record in the first quarter of next year. It would be nice to be able to get in the studio and whether it’s a full album or not to be able to offer more content because we have so many songs, like we do a full show there are still plenty of songs that we play that aren’t recorded yet. It would be nice to have enough songs that make people familiar enough with the music so that when they see a full show they know what the songs are that we are playing.
NRR: That’s great, thanks for that and thanks for taking the time to speak to us, we really appreciate it. We wish you all the best with RavenEye, we look forward to getting the chance to see you live some time soon.
RavenEyeâ€™s debut EP Breaking Out is currently available via iTunes.
RavenEye Tour Dates
10/3/15-Louder Than Life Festival-Louisville, KY
10/7/15-Mill City Nights*-Minneapolis, MN
10/9/15-Grey Eagle Event Centre*-Calgary, CAN
10/10/15-Northern Alberta Jubilee*-Edmonton, CAN
10/12/15-Queen Elizabeth Centre-Vancouver, CAN
10/13/15-Moore Theatre*-Seattle, WA
10/15/15-The Depot*-Salt Lake City, UT
10/16/15-Fillmore Auditorium*-Denver, CO
10/18/15-Warfield*-San Francisco, CA
10/20/15-Wild Horse Pass Hotel Casino*-Chandler, AZ
10/21/15-House of Blues*-Annaheim, CA
10/23/15-Hollywood Palladium*-Los Angeles, CA
10/24/15-Aftershock Festival-Sacramento, CA