Written and photographed by Rachael King
Being faced with a crowd of hard up, bearded metalheads eagerly awaiting Hellyeah to unleash their crushing heavy metal sound, it must be quite a daunting experience for an English rock threesome, but not these guys, this powerful trio is a force to be reckoned with.
Taking to the stage at London’s o2 Academy Islington for their antepenultimate show, they wasted no time getting into their stride. Opening with “Inside” from their latest album Nova, their energy and charisma beams, getting the crowd moving immediately.
This dynamic trio are not ones to hide behind their mics and instruments and just play, oh no, even with Adam’s mighty drumkit taking up most of centre stage, Oli and Aaron didn’t let that confine them to their corners. There were some heart stopping moments when their balance was tested, with Oli climbing over mic stands on the edge of the stage and Aaron impressively balancing himself between the stage and crowd barriers, but these pro’s had it under control and their energetic stage presence kept the audience captivated.
Oli’s powerful blues voice filled the room RavenEye blasted songs from Nova, such as “Madeline,” “Hero,” and “Come With Me,” as well as pulling out some older hits from their Breaking Out EP. The guys went full throttle with every song and the tight trio flaunted their talents with some extended instrumental explosions. All members were making a huge effort to engage with the crowd at every opportunity.
The strong connection between these three is obvious; with each one of them cheering each other on, it shows these guys have a tight bond and belong with each other on stage. Their smiles and laughter throughout was contagious. It’s hard not to feel drawn in by them.
Taking charge of the mic, Adam cheered the crowd on before kicking into “Hey Hey Yeah.” Midway through, Oli and Aaron left the stage, jumping into the crowd with Oli on Aaron’s shoulders. Aaron wormed his way through cheering bodies, still rocking out on his bass while Oli thrashed out a solo from above. If this didn’t impress those stubborn metalheads, I don’t know what would have. After making their way back on stage, Oli encouraged the crowd to sing along with the chorus. Faced with little effort at first, Oli’s persistence paid off, and the crowd screaming ‘Hey Hey Yeah’ threw them back into the song.
Continuing with their stage antics, midway through “You got it,” Oli jumped up on the kick drum while Aaron and Adam continued to stir up the crowd. Now, I’m no expert myself, but I know it takes talent to balance on a kick drum while singing and slaying on a guitar. Oli made this look easy. There was a comical moment when a mic stand fell onto Adam’s kit. While still playing, Adam eventually managed to throw the stand off, but unfortunately the mic itself was thrown off stage. Oli’s humorous side shone through when he proceeded to sing into a micless stand, which had his fellow band members laughing at him.
As the set came to an end, Aaron took the opportunity to go over to a young fan in front row and let him pull a few strings on his bass. I’m sure this made this little kids week. This was a heartwarming moment that just showed what a genuinely great bunch these guys really are.
Shockwave Magazine: RavenEye! How are we all?
Oli: Hell Yeah! (laughing) I couldn’t resist.
To be fair you can’t just say ‘Hellyeah’ normally can you?
Oli: I know, when I’m tweeting and replying to people you kind of say it without means like ‘ah hell yeah!’
This is your fifth show with Hellyeah tonight. How is it on tour with them?
Aaron: Yeah it’s awesome.
Oli: They are an incredible band, absolute incredible band, like really intense show. We’re two kinds of genre’s really and it could be, in ways, a musical clash but it kind of works. It’s just different colours of rock, and we’re from different places, and the guys and the crew are all really welcoming to us so it’s a really sweet tour to be on.
Yes I was going to bring that up. They are quite a different genre to RavenEye. What is it like playing to a crowd of Hellyeah fans?
Aaron: I think at the beginning people were looking at us like, who are these guys? But by a couple of songs in, we are usually able to turn the tide and get people into it.
Oli: (Agrees) Able to connect to them.
You try to interact with your fans quite a lot on stage. Is that really working with them?
Adam: We’ve just got to work a bit harder I think, most heavy metal fans like what they like but we try and push it in their faces quite a lot.
Oli: Yeah they know we are still going to be in their faces, we’re like Yeah we will get them singing! So it’s good fun.
So far you’ve played, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Norwich. Which one was your favourite?
(Oli jumps at this one)
Aaron: His hometown.
Oli: It was awesome. I always love playing in Norwich.
So you had a lot of your friends and family there?
Oli: Erm, no actually, none of my friends were there.
Adam: There were loads of people like “I know you, I know Oli Brown’.
Oli: (laughing) Yeah! I used to do a load of blues stuff so I think they know me from that, and they didn’t realise that I went to this band. Occasional funny conversations like “Oh it’s a new band” and I’m like “Well it’s not very new anymore, it’s been going for almost 3 years.” It’s like, when does something new, stop becoming new?
Aaron: I came to the Hellyeah show to see your blues gig!
Oli: Haha yeah.
Have you found the crowds have been different in the places you have played on this run?
Aaron: I think it depends on the day of the week. We were in Glasgow on a Saturday and everyone was smashed and loving it.
Adam: Smashed by like 7 o’clock as well.
Aaron: Yeah coming in the door totally trashed! Norwich was an interesting one because it was on a Monday.
Oli: Because we played better.
Aaron: Maybe yeah! Tonight’s going to be sick but London’s always a wicked show for us.
Well, even though it’s a Thursday night, it’s the Bank Holiday…
Oli: That’s true.
Adam: Oh yeah didn’t think about that.
Aaron: Bank holiday, nice!
Oli: Club night after as well so we’re all going to be getting our (beat boxes while throwing some shapes) on! Getting dead down in the club!
Aaron: Go boogey!
As well as the UK, RavenEye have also played Europe and the US on previous tours. Do you find the crowds differ between countries?
Oli: It kind of varies, there’s no consistency I don’t think. You can never predict it. You think it could be a quiet crowd but actually like the last time we did New York it was one of the wildest crowds, so I really think it’s pot luck. But also how familiar people are with us, I usually find the territories that we’ve returned to people kind of know what we’re like, it’s kind of like they know what we give, we want back, so it’s kind of like this reciprocal thing. It’s like when we did our first UK tour, everyone was kind of just staring at us thinking, what are these idiots? What are they doing?
Aaron: Haha yeah all sitting on chairs.
Adam: Yeah like “What is this tomfoolery”.
Oli: Haha and now people are into us and they know what to expect so really the energy is already there, so it carries with us when people are familiar with us. We’re not a party band, I don’t really like to use that term, but we have a good time.
Yeah RavenEye just have a lot of fun on stage.
Oli: Yeah exactly.
Aaron: If people are happy, we go down well. If they are grumpy…
Oli: They will probably hate us.
Do you meet a lot of your fans when you go on tour?
Aaron: Yeah all of them. If anyone reaches out to us on social media to meet up, we always meet up. We always hang out at merch at the end of the night and talk to everyone and sign stuff.
Oli: Until security get annoyed.
Aaron: Yeah we pretty much always get thrown out by security from the merch.
Oli: “But we’re in the band, we’re in the band” and security are still like “Get out”
Aaron: We went over to Paris one weekend for some press stuff and met up with a whole bunch of fans and we went to a vegan burger place. But yes, definitely, we love meeting our fans.
Oli: That’s the plan on the next tour that’s coming up, we’re planning to do a Raven Lunch thing. I’m going to pick a vegan restaurant and force everyone to go vegan.
Oli: So yeah we’re going to try and do that as well on the next tour that’s coming up. It’s just a real cool way of connecting with everyone and we love this bit, it’s kind of our family and when you go on the road it’s kind of what counts for us.
So what is the strangest thing a fan has ever said to you?
Oli: I enjoyed your show.
Adam: Yeah, you guys are great!
Adam: They’re not that weird are they, haha they are really normal.
Oli: Yeah, in a good way! Oh there was that lady in Glasgow who was like (putting on a husky scottish accent) “Ohh who’s your drummer? I want your drummer!” She was ferociously hungry for Adam. It was quite hilarious.
Adam: I was packing away and trying to hide.
Oli: Yeah she was great, she was just hungry for the Breeze.
We mentioned briefly before, you guys have a lot of high energy on stage. The last time I saw RavenEye, Oli you were on Aarons shoulders in the crowd… have you had any accidents so far?
Oli: Amazingly, no.
Adam: I have.
Aaron: Ohh yeah!
Adam: Second gig that I played with these guys, I think it was Gravesend, I ran to the front of the stage and put my foot up on the monitor … (Adam is acting this out as he’s explaining. I’m not sure why as no one can see this through audio!) … then the monitor pushed over and I literally went headfirst over, smacked my head on ground and I was dazed out for a while. Everyone stopped to see if I was alright and I got back up and was like “Yeahhh!”.
Oli: There were tears of laughter, it was so funny.
Aaron: Yeah that was awesome. We’ve had a couple of close calls as well, Oli gets up on the bass drum and he’s jumped off once and I’ve thrust my bass up, the end of it is quite pointy, as he’s jumped off and I think I pulled some of his hair out! Literally cm’s away from taking his head off.
Oli: The only time I’ve fallen off was from a riser on a kick drum, when I was standing on the kick drum singing on it. I have my own equilibrium and everything but like if a crew decides to get involved in holding my mic stand, because I use it for my balance as that’s kind of like my center — so some guy was trying to move it about. I’m like “F*** off”, I’m almost falling over the kicks. I’m trying to sing into it and he’s like dancing it around my face.
Aaron: We’re always on the edge of balance.
Oli: You know today it’s all going to go tits up, we’re here now like “No that never happens…”
Do any of you have any pre-show rituals?
Aaron: Actually it was interesting the other night watching Hellyeah get ready to go on stage, man they get up on intensity, they are all jumping around, there’s lots of energy, high fiving each other and getting prepped, and I was like… we just like sit around!
Adam: Yeah listening to Beethoven.
Oli: Haha yeah having a cup of tea
Aaron: We like have a drink maybe, but we’re super chilled. It was quite interesting to see the difference
Oli: I wiped the music off my phone and couldn’t be bothered to put it back on but I used to listen to 4th of July.
Adam: I’ve started listening to Pearl Jam before I go on, just to get a bit hyped but that’s it really.
Oli: Yeah I’ve got to get back into that actually, it was always a good little mood setter. I have a warm up but usually by the change over time I have just enough time to do my vocal warm up and then we’ve got to go.
Aaron: Actually, the one thing that we do every time is we have a hug. A Little squeeze, look into each other’s eyes…
Adam: A little smooch!
Oli: That little last moment before and we’re like.. We are all in this together, If you mess up, we’re all gonna mess up!
Oh no pressure on one another then! What do you like to do between shows? You had a day off from tour yesterday, what did you get up to?
Aaron: We all just stayed at home. We do our own merch and stuff so we sent out a bunch of CD’s and T-shirts and stuff.
Oh so still working then!
Oli: I worked out, I think we all did.
Aaron: Adam made a video as we do our own videos as well.
Oli: That was meant to go up on Facebook but that got blocked because we are using copyrighted music … RavenEye, we’re using their songs.
You’re using a RavenEye song for your Facebook and you haven’t asked them first?
Oli: I know, how stupid is that? Our own music and Facebook says “Well this song belongs to RavenEye” and I’m like “Yes and who’s posting it, you idiot.”
Aaron: Yeah look at the profile.
What’s your dream venue to play?
Adam: I’ll go Brixton (Brixton Academy, London).
Aaron: I want to play in Australia, because I’m from Australia and we haven’t been over there yet.
Oli: Have you seen the spiders out there?
Aaron: Yeah Oli’s too scared to go out there. He’s like “There’s too many things that can kill me”.
Oli: Yep, I’m totally fine with that. I have no shame. Snakes though, they’re cool.
Aaron: You almost die every night on stage and you’re scared of a little spider.
Oli: That’s the problem, the little spiders are the worst! The smaller they are the more deadly they are!
So Oli, I hear you have a new custom guitar? Tell us about that!
Oli: I do, the Little Bird!
Awesome, are you using that on tour?
Oli: Allll the time, it’s the new favourite at the moment. It’s been fun. I sourced all the parts. I wanted a custom guitar but without the price, haha. So there’s some places you can do it at, so I just sourced it all, all the hardwares, all the pickups are custom, so I spent money on other bits. I love it, Little Bird, she’s a monster.
Great! I look forward to seeing her on stage then! Van Hangs! Let’s talk about that! I have seen your latest episodes. Are you recording another one while you are on this tour?
Aaron: We do need another one.
Oli: The next one on the episode that we’ve got absolutely sucks. It’s ‘Favourite Cocktails’.
Aaron: Oh yeah that was awful.
Oli: We we’re all so hungover and we needed to do something before Aaron went away so we decided to stock pile them up and that’s when we did the Christmas live stream thing, and we all got really really drunk and then we did a bunch of the Van Hangs. Most of them worked out quite well, I think it was because we were a bit delirious, but then it got to the next episode which was Cocktails and we just couldn’t be bothered.
Oli: Yeah we were like, let’s put a halt on that, let’s find another episode 9… There’s still ones after that are pretty good actually.
Aaron: We will do some more on this run I think.
Oli: Yeah I love the Van Hangs.
RavenEye is releasing a new single, “Come With Me” from your new album, Nova. You’re asking your fans to help create the music video by sending in their own videos? Have you seen any of them yet?
Oli: We have seen some of them, we are waiting for more to come in, we need to make another couple of posts about that as well. This tour we’ve been trying to balance out between the Fledgling Campaign as well as the tour. Sometimes it’s quiet for a couple of months, like the first part of this year, we were just taking it easy then all of a sudden it’s like, one tour starts and everyone wants you to do everything. I’m like yeah ok we’re on the road right now, let’s just figure it all out. But yeah, we can’t wait to get the video together, that should be super fun, we’re getting people to go in front of the camera… most of them are like “I don’t want to be on it” and we’re like “Yes you do!”
RavenEye have the European Kiss tour coming up! You’re also playing Download Festival in Spain and France? What’s next for RavenEye after that?
Aaron: We’re also playing Reading and Leeds Festival! We’ve got a couple of festivals in Europe… Bulgaria I think?
Oli: And Poland!
Aaron: We have some pending stuff too but we can’t mention that yet. But yeah Kiss is kind of the pinnacle of the moment for us, everything is geared towards that.
Oli: Yeah we are trying to work out transportation and a vehicle at the moment, what we do there, so yeah it’s like everyone’s mind is like what can we do to be prepared for this. Just get all the transportation and the flights and hotels… that’s kind of the main priorities for us at the moment.
So that’s it guys! Thank you for spending some time with me today and good luck with your show tonight!
All: Thank you!