Eyes Of The Raven are a Midlands based Groove metal band featuring the talents of, Dave Horan (Voacls), Damon Cartwright (Drums), Matt Walters (Bass), Ross Pickett (Rhythmn Guitar and Vocals) and James McHugh (Lead Guitar).
The band has its origins back in 1998 when Matt joined the band 'Hybrid' which featured Ross on vocals, Mike Lea on guitar, and Stuart Marsh on drims. In 1999 Dave joined Hybrid and took over the lead vocal duties with Ross moving on o Rythmn Guitar. Shortly after Mike quit the band and was replaced by Dan Hinton (Master Warbeast), and the band changed their name to 'Deviant'.
Deviant recorded a three track demo but unfortunatley never gigged. Deviant split up in 2000.
Skip forward nine years and in April 2009, Matt and Ross along with drummer Ulrich Pflanz (Footgang) decide to form a new band. Ulrich is working in the Uk at the time on an industrial placement whilst studying at university. During this time the band write the basis for the song 'Im Gone', which will later feature on their debut live demo. Autumn 2009 see's Ulrich returning back to his native Germany, with his place being taken up by new drummer Damon. 'The Bass Song' and 'Buffy Song' (working titles)are written at this time and shortly after Dave joins the band to take up the lead vocal duties. The band felt that they needed a second guitarist, so they placed an ad on bandmix, one guitarist auditioned but sadly didnt work out. A month or so later Matt saw an ad for a guitarist in Birmingham and decided to get in touch. James quickly joined the band, quickly learning the songs that were already written, adding his own touch to them, and the band descovered a natural chemistry which ensured that they were quickly writting new songs.
Early 2010 saw the band enter Basement studio's oin stourbridge to record their debut live demo, which they made available as a free download via the bands website. (http://eyesoftheraven.freeiz.com/)
They soon hit the road recently completing a short series of headline gigs, and I was privilidged to be able to interview them for this article, so now we'll let the band introduce themselves.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here are Eyes Of The Raven -
How would you describe Eyes Of The Raven?
Dave - 5 blokes who like their beer and metal far too much!
nah, joking aside, we've all (well almost all, but you'd never tell!)been in different bands before, but to be fair back then we were too busy trying to emulate the current trend, instead of doing what we were all comfortable with. Now we're a band that writes what we want to write as opposed to what we thought everyone wanted to hear. Whilst that may lose us some fans, the people that do like what we're doing will be appreciated more for the fact they understand what we're about.
Ross - I don’t know, it’s a name of a band, a no Bullshit band who come from the heart and fucking soul of metal, and I don’t mean born of black wind fire and steel though the black country is also the home of industry, I’m talking about the birth place of Heavy Metal, We are a proud bunch of people and to say I live less than a mile from where it all started is a very cool thing to be proud of.
James - Just five guys coming together to play simple, catchy, metal tunes. Have a laugh and see where it takes em.
Damon - I Would describe Eyes Of The Raven As Beer Influenced Metal lol
Matt - Five mates who enjoy playing the music they want to hear and don't follow what happens to be in trend at the time.
How would you describe your music?
Dave - The bastard love child of Down, Metallica and Entombed (don't ask me how there came to be 3 parties involved!) We've always had a thing for making music with a groove to it, whether it be underlying or more prominent, it's always been there in some capacity.
Years ago, as I said in Q1, we were more concerned about popularity compared to the current state of metal as opposed to being ourselves. We try and make sure we write and play tunes where people can either mosh, headbang or simply stand at the end of the bar and nod along to with a beer in hand.
This I think will go a long way to at least showing some originality in what we do.
Ross - Beer drinking sounds from Hell? All I want to write are tunes that people will drink beer to and remember, put on their iPod (spits on floor – long live Zune) and show their mates, u know I had a kid ask me at our first gig if I was Ross from Eyes of the Raven, I was so fucking stoked and I don’t mean I was like fuck yeah people know me, all this kid wanted to say was you’re a pretty cool band, a big smile came across my face as I said cheers dude.
James - You know it's hard to pin us down, sometimes we'll have a groove style going on and then it'll go all old school like on 'My life'. 'I'm Gone' is another style again, with a more rockish feel with big riffs. don't get me wrong I mean we have our softer tracks as well, with a little bit of heaviness in there. One of the new tracks we're doing has some great dynamics, starts off up there, drags you along, and drops you off to chill for a second or two before picking you up again and running with.
Haha we're the Frankenstein of metal.
Damon - Hard But with a melody
Matt - Heavy groove based riffs which a strong emphasis on melody. We draw on each band member's influences to create a sound unique to us.
What are the origins of the band’s name?
Dave - Ha, this'll make you chuckle! I was at work one day and popped out for a smoke. On the roof opposite were a load of seagulls fighting over scraps of food. Then, out of nowhere, a huge raven appeared on the roof, stormed through the middle of em all and grabbed the food. Looking at em all as if to say 'you want it, come get it!'
I penned some lyrics to a song and called it Eyes of the Raven. When I told the rest of the band they thought it was a good name for a band too. We stuck with our original name for a while though, Fractured in Five Places. I came back from a weekend away to find they'd decided that Eyes Of The Raven was a better name. A move which I totally agree with, as the previous name was far too emo when looking back in hindsight.
Would you say that Eyes Of The Raven is a natural progression from your previous bands of Hybrid and Deviant?
Dave - No, not at all. I'd been in a couple of different bands between those two and getting back together with the guys. Whilst they didn't last, they did give me the mindset that we should be doing this for us as much as anyone else. And as I keep saying, we're not trying to be the next best thing with Eyes Of The Raven. We're just making tunes we hope people will enjoy.
Ross - Fuck yeah, from the very start we have always gone for a groove to the tunes, the last band Dave and myself were in was with a dude called Warren Taylor he played guitar and I moved to Bass was called moment of isolation and I wasn’t a million miles away from this sound either.
Matt - I would say that Eyes of the Raven takes the best parts from those two bands; the catchy metal riffs from Hybrid and the heavier groove based riffs from Deviant, and merge's them together. For example, 'My life' was written back in '98 in Hybrid but has been remolded to fit our current style. We have all matured as artists since those days and have a better ear for song arrangements and catchy tunes. Also, James has added a new dimension to the band in terms of harmonized guitar leads that form an essential part to Eyes of the Raven's sound.
What are your main musical influences?
Dave - Entombed are major influences on the parts of the writing process I can be involved in. They were the first proper heavy band that showed you can be heavy and still have a groove to the tunes you write. I'm also a big fan of Corrosion of Conformity, mainly from Blind onwards. Best thing they did putting Pepper on vocals.
Ross - Growing up I think every kid has a bit of their parents influences in them mine was county from my dad and t-rex/zeplin from my mom with a touch of soul thrown in for good measure....yeah I know were aint it but as I grew I couldn’t stand the shit that was in the charts, common bros and new kids on the block fuck it was shit, I found Guns and Roses and took it from there then one day I was in a local boozer (kings head – Pensnett) and I met up with Dave, we hadn’t seen each other for years and I had just found out about this stuff called heavy metal and been as how Dave had hair down to his arse and he was stood next to a dude from a well known bike club.....I asked him “Dave I wanna be a rocker” (he aint let me live that sentence down to this day) he gave me a mixed tape! And took me to see anthrax!!! Fuck yeah I was hooked from that second so you could say Dave influenced me to listen to metal, soon after I found Pantera and Sepultura these 2 bands shaped me musically and Dime bag gave me all the inspiration I needed to go buy a guitar..
James - ah mine ain't so many, Metallica( Hetfield's downpickin' skills) Zakk Wylde, I wish I could play half as well that dude. Hendrix is all ways a must in my eyes, ain't anyone you loves guitar and don't like the Hendrix...
Can I say myself?
Damon - Slipknot, Metallica, A Day To Remember Etc
Matt - Bands: Metallica, Bullet For My Valentine, Iron Maiden, Machine Head, Pantera
Bassists: Cliff Burton (Metallica), Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Duff Mckagan (Guns N' Roses)
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your lyrics?
Dave - I try not to be too cliché (although occasionally a little might creep in) and sing about hating people, wanting to kill someone and how shit life is, that just gets monotonous after a short while. I try and take situations, emotions or things that happen to everyday people and twist them slightly so when people hear or read my lyrics they can either take their own meaning from them, relate to them on a certain level or both.
You have your debut live demo available (from the website) and you have you have recently played your debut headline gig’s, what’s the reactions been like to
a) The Gig's
Dave - The people who've seen us live have been very generous with their praise. Take the A&B gig, when we sound checked, some of us (mainly me)were suffering from a slight case of nerves. We sounded a little subdued. After a couple of cheeky halves and the chance to get our shit straight, we came on and shocked/surprised a few people. We had folks who came to see us exclaiming they never expected us to be so a) accomplished and b)energetic. We had people saying it was like watching a signed band play, which was very humbling and pushed us on to keep the writing going on the same level as we have done so far!
Ross - everyone that went even the guys that didn’t like metal said they enjoyed it so very fucking well thank you.
James - I had a few friends and family there that wasn't really into our kinda music. But having said that they all seemed to get what we were about, the energy and flow of the songs had folks talking the next in detail, as to what the lyrics were about, which I mean I dunno I’ve never asked Dave myself to be fair. They though we are a good band and they'd all becoming to O2 Academy 3 show in Birmingham, and that means a lot to me for sure.
Damon - Amazing Everyone Was Really Nice And Gave There Honest Options Which Was Nice So We Knew What To Work On For Future Gigs
Matt - Really positive, good crowd reactions to all our songs.
b) The Demo
Dave - The reactions to the demo have been a little less favorable in places, not so much for the content or our ability, simply for the recording quality. Yes, we state it's a live recording, but we realise it could've been better. Hence the reason we're off back into the studio at the end of May to record at least 6 songs properly. Hopefully with a better, improved in quality sound, we can push on further. As for the content/ability itself, people have been very encouraging and supportive. They have said the songs and performance of them are extremely good.
Ross - I think putting it up for download for our site has helped a lot, people liked it and want more, so were gonna give ‘em more and do a proper one!
James - In my eyes the demo could have been so much better, and I’m gearing up for the real deal recording that we have planned. Don't get me wrong it's served its purpose but I know we can do so much better.
Damon - Yeah The Same As The Gig, We Knew It Wasn't Going To Be The Best Sounding Demo In The World But The Fans Seemed To Enjoy It
Matt - People liked the songs but criticised the recording/production quality, which is fair comment as it was only a cheap live recording.
Would you care to describe Eyes Of the Raven's song writing process?
Dave - Eclectic! Another jest, we have a couple of different ways we write. James, Ross and Matt get together regularly to jam out ideas. These have proved to be our main source of material, although the tunes usually end up sounding totally different after we've spent a couple of weeks at practice refining them. We've also just started trying writing the lyrics first, obviously I’ll have a vocal pattern in mind when writing, so I’ll try it out and see what the guys can come up with.
Ross - We all write stuff at home and bring it in to the studio where we can further evolve it. And what James said
James - We all seem to come to practice with ideas floating around, I know a few of us knock stuff up at home and post it to our mesh folder. And from time to time someone will say you know that riff you did on the day on that track let’s try that out....and that's where I forget how to play normally.
But then sometimes you just have this mad thing where the song just forms outta nowhere, there's this one track we're on and after a few discussions it just popped into place without too much effort, and that's when you know a band has clicked cause you get those magic writing sessions that just work
Damon - Ross, James And Matt Will Show There Riff Ideas And Come Up With Something And I’ll Put A Beat Over Which I Think Will Work And After We Got The Song Down Dave Will Put Lyric Ideas Over It.
Matt - Everyone contributes to the song writing process. We each have ideas and then jam them out at the studio to see what works and what doesn't. The songs usually end up sounding very different from conception to finished product. Dave will write lyrics to fit the riffs and contributes a lot to the song arrangements and structure to suit his vocals.
Anything else you would guys would like to add, messages for the readers etc just add here!
James - Line6 get in touch and endorse me please!!! haha nah I just want to thank everyone for the support and to keep loving the metal. Cheers.
Matt - Just to say thanks to everyone who has taken the time to come to our shows and listen to our music. We hope to continue getting the support we have, and intend to put on bigger and better shows with each gig we do, as well as showcasing some new material for you all....
Damon - Feel Free To Come To Our Gigs And Say Hi.
Ross - Thank you for supporting us we will always stay true and always deliver!
Dave - Yes, to all the people who are fans or just caught us on the off chance, thank you for your continued support. It's extremely humbling!
Catch Eyes Of The Raven live at the one of the following gigs
April 23rd 2010 - Varsity Wolverhampton
May 8th - Base Studios Stourbridge
June 3rd 2010 - o2 Academy - Birmingham
August 5th 2010 - Gifford Arms -Wolverhampton
(more to follow)
Eyes Of The Raven - From The Ashes available to download free from http://eyesoftheraven.freeiz.com/downloads.html
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