RavenEye, “Breaking Out”: Exclusive Premiere

Written by Music, Popdose Interviews

RavenEyeIf you’ve been looking for some new sounds featuring kick ass heavy fuzzed out guitars, look no further and wrap your ears around the music of RavenEye, a new power trio that is in the midst of starting to turn a lot of heads. They’ve just released their debut EP Breaking Out and Popdose is pleased to have the exclusive premiere for the lyric video of the title track (embedded below).

The band is currently touring Europe at the moment and they’re set to support Slash for five dates as part of that touring and they’ve got their eye on conquering the U.S. as well. The project is barely a year old, the brainchild of singer/guitarist Oli Brown who at age 25 already had three successful solo albums to his credit, plus touring with Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and Johnny Winter, just to name a few. We caught up with Brown via Skype this past week while we were waiting for a plumber to come to the house (it is indeed, the glamorous life) and we talked a bit of music with Oli, who was happy to give us the scoop on the new band and what we can expect in the coming months. He assured us that things are just getting started.

“Everyone’s still working really hard, because we’re not anywhere near where need to be yet and it’s little moments of celebration [followed by] what’s next,” Brown told us. “The Slash thing is incredible — but what are we going to do after that? because then we’ve got nothing at the moment. We have got plans going in, but it’s constantly just forward thinking. I love it — this is my baby now and I’m really proud of the guys and I’m proud of the team that we have and it’s incredibly exciting.”

Listening to this EP, my first reaction was that I want to hear a lot more. This band has such a great story on the surface. As I know it, you guys got together about a year ago and only a year later, we’ve got this EP. Things moved really quickly and that indicates that things clicked really quickly for you guys.

I actually recorded the EP before I met the guys. I was recording a solo album and when I was in the studio, a few of the songs, I wasn’t going to record them. The [first] single, “Breaking Out,” I wasn’t going to record that in the studio. Because it was for my blues release and I kind of asked the people in the studio, “Is this too heavy?” Then I realized why I don’t really want to confine myself into a genre and that’s what really kicked off making the whole RavenEye thing.

I moved back to England with five tracks, saying, “Guys, I want this to be the foundation of what we build the music on and then let’s write with this kind of goal.” The EP really kind of set off the direction of what RavenEye is trying to sound like and wants to be. A lot has changed since then and the guys have stepped up and the past year has been crazy for us. It’s been growing and we’ve just been working endless hours. [Laughs]

Did you know the guys prior to putting the group together?

I knew of Kev [Hickman], because we’d crossed paths a few times. He was the drummer for another blues artist at the time. Just by chance, I was on Facebook and he does these drum camera videos and that day, coincidence or fate, whatever you’d like to call it, his post came up on a day I was looking for drummers. It popped on my news feed and I checked it out and it was the shortest, easiest search I’ve ever had to find a musician that I really wanted. We hooked up and he recommended Aaron [Spiers] and Aaron and I hung out and partied on my birthday actually, last year. It’s almost a year to this day that we met. We just kind of all hit it off and it’s been really great.

Did you know that you wanted to make it a three-piece band pretty early on?

Yeah, I’ve always done a three-piece formula for the past eight years previously on the blues scene, where I did a three-piece. There is something that I like about it. There’s a different kind of energy. I’ve played session guitars for a few four-piece bands as well. And as much as I love it, because it is a full sound, there’s some missing link for me. I want to sing and I don’t really want so many guitars behind me. Maybe there would be a key player [at some point], but right now, [as a ] three-piece, I love it. Everyone’s got to work hard and make sure that no one’s making any mistakes. I like the energy of it.

That’s one thing I’ve always loved about trios. It’s got to be a really good feeling when you lock in like that.

Absolutely. We’re all sticklers about each other’s performance. We record every live show that we play and always sit down and really listen to each other’s playing and we’ve all become very centered with each other. It’s nice because there’s a very open dialogue between the three of us [as far as] what’s not working, what is working, who needs to be stepping up. You know, we’re all striving to achieve something far beyond where we are now and we just want to keep developing and improving the band and the sound as time goes on.

I had heard the three records that you had done prior to this and it doesn’t sound like you were necessarily looking to do this. It seems like it kind of happened organically, which is cool.

Yeah, I’ve always loved rock and roll as well. I was a big Audioslave fan when I was growing up and a huge Chris Cornell fan and that kind of brought me into Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog. I started archiving my rock things as well and I really wanted to move into this but I didn’t just want to do it under my solo name.

You don’t really hear many rock solo artists and I really liked the idea of venturing into this heavier sound and type of music with a band thing. Something with an identity or logo, something that people can connect with, rather than just this dude. [Laughs]

You mentioned Soundgarden, Audioslave and Cornell, one thing that this stuff has in common with your previous solo material is that the production is nice and thick — what kind of stuff influences the sound that you go for on record? Were there album and producers that you loved growing up that feed into that?

Before I went into the studio, I sat down and recorded everything by myself. I had a little area where I had a drum kit, a bass rig and I just recorded as many songs as I could and really tried to explore different bands. Like, when I was learning to play the drums, teaching myself, I was listening to loads of Rage Against The Machine. I really liked the gravity and weight of that band, so I really wanted to cultivate some of that energy into the drums. I’m certainly not an accomplished drummer, but I knew how I really wanted it to sound.

That was kind of the start of everything, in terms of things getting heavy, was learning the drums and actually covering some of these songs and just learning how to play them. When it came to recording, Anders Osborne, who produced it, he was an influence on me over several years and it was amazing to get him to produce the record. He really helped to direct some of the sounds and kind of gave me confidence to push things harder and to add more fuzz, where I would originally feel more confined to what I should be doing, rather than what I wanted to be doing. He kind of just said, “Go for it!” He gave me free rein and that’s where the fuzz and octave sounds come in. I’m a huge Queens of the Stone Age fan as well and they were really running around in my head in terms of anthemic riffs. There’s something for me that just kicks me off when I hear a big riff — more than anything else, I love it.

It probably hits a point though where maybe you realize there’s too much going on and too many tracks.

Absolutely. That’s something I’ve been really conscious of in our live show. Like, I don’t want there to be a point where we’re all jumping around on stage, thrashing everyone’s ears for an hour and a half. Because eventually it just becomes this monotonous thing where you feel that and it doesn’t give enough room for dynamics and emotion as well. That’s something I really wanted to focus on with RavenEye as well, that we have this dynamic. There’s songs in the live show that we will be recording now as well.

There’s a song called “Home, Sweet Home,” actually, which is on Youtube every now and then. It brings everything down and Aaron sings harmonies with me and we really focus on doing these big two-part harmonies, something more of an epic ballad song. It’s not like a classic rock ballad, but just a very slow-paced song about me being forced to leave home and everybody always gets in deep on the lyrics and that. But yeah, totally, I think any band — I can blast through a whole heavy rock show and even Queens of the Stone Age have their dynamic and their soft songs as well as their heavy songs.

You’re a guy who seems to like interesting guitars — how did you get the Hamm-Tone Rail-car electric guitar?

[Laughs] Two years ago in the summer, Jeremy Hamm toured as my guitar tech when we were touring with Joe Satriani. He brought that guitar along just for a bit of fun. He said, “We’re not sure how it’s going to sound and what it’s going to play like. The soundcheck and the first gig, it sounded monstrous. I just fell in love with it and we talked about it for ages and he kept letting me use it and eventually I had to buy it off of him. I loved that guitar. Jeremy Hamm, he’s an amazing luthier and such a sweetheart as well. He’s such a sweet guy.

You’ve built your own guitars as well, right?

Kind of. I wanted to get a custom Telecaster, but I couldn’t afford one. So I’d go to part shops where they do custom sized necks and I started to concoct my own Telecaster. Like, I wanted this sized neck with this fret radius and all of that other boring stuff. I ordered all of the parts, found the pickups I liked and all of the wiring and I wanted to learn how to build the instrument. For the blues stuff, that white Telecaster is my baby — it’s the dream guitar. It was kind of almost heartbreaking parting ways with it for the RavenEye shows but it’s just too clean. The RavenEye stuff, it sounds huge and heavy and thick while the Tele just sounds too friendly.

I love the guitar tone that you got on these songs. You must be pretty happy with that.

Yeah, we wired through five different guitar amps for the recording session. Anders supplied me with this [Dunlop] Slash MXR fuzz pedal, which I use now still — actually, I had to buy it after I recorded with it. I tried a bunch of fuzz pedals and I loved it because it was a really consistent pedal and then for the heavy riffs, I had an Electro-Harmonix POG2, which is just octaves everywhere — that thickened it out a lot. But yeah, I’m totally stoked with it.

It’s so hard cultivating a guitar sound I think, on a CD and it’s really an exciting thing when finally that moment happens Because mics don’t…I mean, it’s like sticking your ear up right to an amplifier — it’s not really the sound that you’re wanting to [capture] — it’s a lot of intense sound, so it’s really nice to be able to get that sound where it’s like, “Ahhh, this is the tone that I’ve really been looking for.”

You’ve had the pleasure of touring with Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani — with Joe especially, since he’s such an experimental guy, I’m curious to know what sort of conversations you might have had with him out on the road.

It’s so odd, I never really think about geeking out. I always feel bad about asking guitarists too many guitar questions, because Joe does these meet and greets and I can guarantee you that there’s a lot of guitarists asking [that]. So our conversations are usually just about completely standard things.

You know, it’s just casual catching up really. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of touring with. He was so kind, so softly spoken and just a really nice person. He was really amazing to speak to and I think that’s probably why I didn’t ask [things like that], because I didn’t want to geek out too much then.

We talked a lot about guitars. But he was just really nice — we didn’t talk too much about gear, just a lot about touring in general and usually, we’d just have a little brief catch-up and hang, but we went to have dinner in Toronto and just had a nice time.

 

What’s the plan going forward? I know you guys want to get over to the U.S.

My main thing is writing as much as possible. It’s so imperative — it’s mostly about quantity over quality and then you set about working out the the quality through that many songs. I always feel like I learn so much. So really right now, I’m pushing all of the time about singing and writing songs and just developing the sound further. We’re testing some songs out. Our last tour, we tried a few songs out, just to really define the sound. Because these are songs now that are written with Kev and Aaron, which I think is really important in terms of expanding that identity. The next thing really is that we want to find more support [gigs] and tours.

I think we’re looking at October for America, which it would be awesome to get over there. I really love touring through America. It’s a wicked territory to go through. It would be fun to get to that area, especially with some festivals as well. The next thing I want to do is also plan another EP in the future. I think before I’d want to record another album, I really want to gather up enough songs to do one more killer EP before we unleash the motherlode of the album. I’d rather release something sooner rather than later. Another five song thing, just kind of to build up a collection and then maybe we can do a double-sided vinyl or a limited edition with some live tracks or something. But I really want to keep the tracks limited for now and really hone in on more of the songs and really solidify that and develop it further.