RavenEye was one of the bands that I was introduced to while covering The Louder Than Life Festival. At first they were just another name on the lineup but from the moment I listened to their single Breaking Out I was hooked. We jumped on the opportunity to interview these guys and before long we were counting down the days to see them perform.
Just to give you a brief glimpse into their world, In 2014 Oli Brown, Kev Hickman, and Aaron Spiers came to form RavenEye in the U.K. They quickly gained enough steam to go on tour with Slash across the U.S. and Canada. This isn’t the most surprising aspect to me given how talented of musicians they are. What I am the most blown away by is how much sound comes out of only having three members.
Thankfully Louder Than Life was one of their stops, but unfortunately after weather related issues their scheduled set was cancelled. Luckily the staff at LTL got them worked in the following morning on the main stage. After already looking forward to the performance for so long it was hard to wait another day, but we took advantage of this break in their schedule to get a few words in.
UG: Nice to meet you guys, we are The Unpaid Gamers and provide coverage for video games and all forms of entertainment.
Oli: Nice! You are talking to two video gamer’s right here.
UG: Oh really…what kind of games do you play?
Oli: I used to…. I was a big World of Warcraft gamer for a good few years. I went to that in The Lich King era. XCOM as well, I was big fan of XCOM and I was obsessive for a while actually. I love the online gaming scene but I was like “I just couldn’t do it…..I can’t keep up with the world of Warcraft stuff.”
Kev: I’m rekindling my love of StarCraft 2 because they are just about to put out the new expansion. You know the new protoss one, so I’m really looking forward to that. I’m really into iOS games as well, do you know Kairosoft? Yeah Yeah, I got all those. I absolutely love all those games. Every single one of them is on my phone, League of Legends, Planetside 2. I’m really into my PC gaming. Discovering the Halo franchise… yes I know.. We’ve opened Pandora’s Box here.
Aaron: Kevin hasn’t said a word all day until he gets to the computer reviewer.
Kev: But yeah loads and loads of different stuff.
UG: That’s awesome guys! Now you know we aren’t here to only talk about video games, let’s get to talking about you guys.
Kev: Ah..Well..I’ll just go then (as he jokingly gets up from the table)
UG: You guys just in formed in 2014 right?
Oli: Yeah that’s right
UG: Now with Oli and Kev being from the U.K. and Aaron from Australia, How did you three come to meet? That’s kind of a little distance isn’t it?
Aaron: I moved to England about three years ago and started working with Kev. Oli was living in Canada and wanted to write some new stuff and form a band so he found Kev online, it was a YouTube clip that was on Facebook. He moved back to England and we sort of hooked up there. We went out a couple of nights, had some drinks, and had some fun.
Oli: A lot of drinks
Aaron: We played together and it was kind of undeniable, the chemistry was almost instant.
UG: Now you guys are pretty young. Not only a new band but also young in age. What kind of musical backgrounds did you have before joining the band?
Oli: Several years as a solo artist playing blues music. I had a record label at the time and brought albums out in that aspect of music. But I just needed a break I think from that.
Aaron: Yeah I went to Music College and studied Jazz and played trumpet and knew how to write from strings and horns and all sorts of shit. So I have thrown all of that away and I’m in a Rock Band!
Kev: I started off in a punk band and then to a blues band, rock band, and did all kinds of different styles of music, pop, country….all kinds of stuff.
UG: A lot of time musical talent travels through lineage. Do any of you come from a musical family?
Oli: None of us.
Kev: We just kind of spawned out of nowhere.
Aaron: We’re all anomalies.
Oli: Sorry about that question Jon.
UG: No worries, You guys just formed and you’re already touring the U.S. How does it feel to have come so far in a short time?
Oli: Incredible! I didn’t think there was any plan or any idea that this would happen quite like that. I mean, we started the EP to get out but that was meant to get the leg work done and be able to make sure a pub can actually book you. Even in just small pubs in England they don’t want you unless you got music. I didn’t actually think it would get to this point. I mean last year I was booking the venues for December and there was a bunch that wasn’t calling back or wasn’t answering and didn’t want to have any interest. I wrote a good hundred e-mails to promote to agents and all sorts of people. All individual e-mails, maybe only five or ten replied back. I was pretty defeated but I know this can work…I believe in this. Then things just kept happening and all of a sudden we had this opportunity to tour with Slash in Europe, then we got the U.S. dates. It’s changed for the better. Now we’re all just riding this wave and incredibly lucky to be on it. Yeah it’s just amazing.
UG: That’s amazing! Now Louder Than Life is your first U.S. festival. How are us “Crazy Americans” so far? Is it everything you have anticipated?
Oli: I don’t know yet I think we are still figuring it out. Like we had a good show in Nashville the other day. Today obviously the show was cancelled, but we play at 11am on the Main Stage tomorrow instead which is wicked. We are super stoked that we got that, so I’m expecting Americans to be as wild and crazy as I’ve heard them to be for that show. I’m looking forward to representation tomorrow morning.
Aaron: We have been walking around today and seeing some craziness, so we are up for it.
Oli: Yeah, we like it loud! We want people in your face and being loud and rowdy. That’s what our show is all about you know.
UG: There’s no doubt that just between city to city the music scene is radically different, but the U.K. vs the U.S. what have you noticed?
Oli: In England people are a little bit more reserved and there is definitely a different love of music. Like on English radio you don’t get anything like what you get on the radio here. English radio is just like a playlist of the top 1% musicians where it’s all the pop churning out, but here you get rock radio stations. You get that diversity of music where people actually do get exposed to that style of music at any age. You just don’t have that in the U.K. at all unless you go online and Spotify or anything like that. So I think that is what’s the most incredible thing about America is it’s very open to that style of music….To our style of music. So this is a better opportunity for us in terms of people actually caring about it because radio still cares about it.
Aaron: I think another thing about American audiences, I think they are very honest. I found when I moved from Australia and moved to England. People would sit in a bar with their drinks and sit in the back and look like they hated your guts. You play your set and then go up to bar and they would be like “Oh man that’s the best think I ever heard!” Where over here they come to the front and go “Fuck Yeah!” and they just love it.
Oli: They are going to have to censor you on this.
Aaron: Yeah I know I’m really sorry. So in that sense I think the American audience is really honest and we love that.
UG: Now obviously your dates are close together and things can get very hectic. Have you gotten a chance to do any sightseeing while in the U.S.? Or is it just media tents and stages?
Oli: No because we got here a few days early, but we had to get the rental gear and during the day because we had a Kickstarter campaign and one of the things we offered was this video documentary on us like daily shorts and we have been keeping up with that….Like doing a video every day. We film a lot and we are just being idiots on these videos but it’s cool to do them.
Aaron: We saw one sight, we went to Venice Beach in L.A.
Oli: Yes that was wicked.
Aaron: We sort of walked up the strip and went and saw the skaters and…
Oli: Got offered all sorts of paraphernalia.
Aaron: Oh yeah got offered some fun stuff.
Oli: Yeah, none of it we were interested in but it was just really funny. It was wicked and that was a bit exciting but I think that’s pretty much all we are going to get because the three of us are the only people on this tour. We do all the driving for the next leg of it and there are some really rough drives on that and America is a lot bigger than England. But we will fine, we have our routine. We do like a two hour shift where it’s two hours driving, two hours passenger, and then two hours sleeping and like everyone has a role. If you don’t sleep in your two hours of sleeping you’re screwed really. So we won’t have time to see much….other than what we see through the windows.
UG: Obviously technology has played in part in getting your music heard in the U.S. and brining you more exposure. Do you have plans on using technology more in the future?
Aaron: I was just going to say.. I don’t know if this is a faux pas but there was another gaming reviewer that featured one of our songs and gave us a massive boost. FrankieonPC I don’t know if you guys are aware of him? Maybe you guys could connect up or something but….
Oli: He’s like a playthrough gamer. Like a let’s play gamer and he’s a guy called FrankieonPC and he’s wicked at first person shooters and is one of those guys that just massacres everyone, he’s wicked! But he actually featured Breaking Out on one of his let’s plays and that blew the song up ridiculously on SoundCloud. Like all of a sudden I was like “What has happened to our SoundCloud?” We got like 4,000 listens in like 5 minutes.
Aaron: I think after a month it was at like 150,000. So yeah that was a big boost! Technology otherwise, we are massive on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all the social media sites. We handle all of that ourselves so if you want to talk to us, we want to talk to you back. So just engage.
Oli: We’re completely into it…. like daily. We are losers because we will go have dinner and we will go eat and just sit on our phones and catch up with everyone and its fun. You know because you can get lonely and it’s kind of cool to connect with everyone and chat.
UG: Seeing footage of your performances you have such a huge amount of energy and connection with the audience. Is that something that comes natural or have you had to work at it?
Aaron: Probably a bit of both right?
Oli: I think coordination because the energy is natural. I think that’s something we want to be really comfortable with and I think the music lends towards that and we want to make a show. We want to make it a performance that … You know the songs are there, let’s just have fun with it. I think it is a rule of anything goes and we keep trying to push ourselves as performers on stage. But the coordination I think we did a few rehearsals and didn’t realize when we played the gig and was jumping about and like “No one knows what we were playing!” I think at that point it was just a mess. But yeah I think the coordination side of it we needed to practice.
UG: Now you have dates scheduled across the U.S. and Canada through the month of October. What comes next for RavenEye?
Oli: We are writing a lot at the moment and we are going to be writing a lot more on the drives since we got nothing else to do for twenty hours on a trip. There will be a lot of prep for the next record whether it’s an EP or an album. We really want to get more content out sooner rather than doing an album….Just keep it coming. So we are recording demos and putting stuff together and we have given a few private releases to subscribers. We are trying to figure out various options because there are so many options that we can do now as a band that doesn’t involve anyone else. We can make this our own entity and right now it’s staying our entity. We are very previous on how we want to release the next project and release the next things. We want to keep ourselves involved in every aspect of this. We love every side of it and we love the challenge of the work as well as the music.
I can literally say that this was one of my favorite interviews that I have ever done. The band was extremely open and friendly and I would love to have had more time with them. RavenEye just seems like that fun group of friends you look forward to hanging out on the weekends with. We wrapped up our meeting and finished out the day looking forward to their performance the next morning.
After a slow start the next morning, we finally managed to get to the venue in time to catch them take the stage. The best part is we managed to get to the fence and watch from the first row giving us the perfect view of the show. One thing is for certain these guys are easily a hundred times better in person. I had been listening to their music and watching YouTube videos, but seeing them put everything they have in their performance is truly something to witness. With so many well-constructed tracks I had felt like I could easily sing along with the majority of their set.
As luck would have it we ran into Kev in the audience of the Goodbye June performance and got the opportunity to tell him how much they rocked! That doesn’t really happen so often with bands, but I’m really glad it did.
He wasn’t able to stay and chat since they were about to head out on the bus and make their way to Chicago for a show. I realize we only had a brief moment with these guys, but because of perhaps their young age or personalities we couldn’t help but feel a connection with the band. You know that feeling you get when a teenager moves out on their own for the first time? You start to think about how hard the world can be or even just the dangers of traveling across country and can’t help but want to look out for them.
With saying all of that I really feel that it’s a testament on RavenEye’s ability to make that connection with their fans. Providing us with an excellent interview and such a stellar performance they managed to bring us into their world and made long term fans out of us. I even purchased their EP (Breaking Out), which I highly recommend by the way and have been keeping up with their experiences on social media.