Left to Right: Aaron Spiers, Oli Brown, and Kev Hickman of RavenEye
I had the opportunity to sit down with the very enthusiastic rock band RavenEye at Louder Than Life in Louisville, Kentucky. Hailing from Milton Keynes, UK, Oli Brown (vocals/guitar), Aaron Spiers (guitar), and Kev Hickman (drums) are currently soaring through the American leg of their tour in support of Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Fans may recognize Brown from his celebrated solo career as a blues guitarist, but these birds of a feather have flocked together to bring us a soulful rocking trio. Though their set was bumped a day due to inclement weather, these mates merrily roosted awhile with Shockwave to chat about their music, their bond, and the beauty of a good pun, which I’ve taken good liberty with in this intro.
Shockwave Magazine: Alright! Guys, oh my gosh, I’m so glad I got to talk to you, and even more, I’m going to get to see you tomorrow!
Oli Brown: Are you for real?
Aaron Spiers: Yes!
I’m sorry you got bumped. I wouldn’t have seen you today though, so not sorry!
OB: Awe, that’s perfect.
I’m really excited because everybody that I’ve talked to about RavenEye says,“Wait until you see them live.”
OB: Oh yeah?
AS: No way.
Kev Hickman: Yeah, alright! That’s awesome.
I already love the sound. I just dig it like crazy. People keep saying to me, “But you’ve got to see them live.”
What do you guys bring to the live show that makes your already-loving-you fan base go crazy?
OB: Energy. I think the one thing that we love with this music is that we want to make a show. I think it’s very “what goes, goes.” We don’t really have much of an idea what happens, but it’s just fun, you know? I think the main thing about performing a live show is that you’ve got to make it something that isn’t the EP. You’ve got to make it something that people can’t hear on the CD or hear in recording.
AS: I think we want the audience to see that we’re actually working as well, you know, like getting up a sweat and running around and putting on a show, getting some energy happening and getting into the crowd. Like, we’re trying to come up with ways of engaging with people.
OB: Yes, it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun, you know? That’s what we like to do.
Here’s the thing: you had this amazingly successful solo career. Everything is best of this, best of that. And I was going to ask you “why a band?” But I’m starting to get it.
This energy that you’re talking about on stage — you always were energetic on stage, but are you pulling in more together?
AS: Yeah, absolutely.
OB: Yeah, it’s just there’s something about it that you can’t really beat when you’re on stage and you’ve got people there watching you. I think there’s something that naturally just happens. I think this music lends more towards it. I think with the blues music I was doing previously, it lends a certain kind of energy. But this is a whole different kind. At show time it’s rock and roll and what goes, goes, and I love that. Like, it’s a kick you can’t beat at all.
Who put the bug in your ear? Or did you just get up one day and say, “Let me just do something different?”
OB: I did. I kind of got tired of the scene I was around. I just didn’t really feel like I was being myself or what I wanted to do. I felt very much under the vice of other decisions and other choices. And I was actually like, “you know what, screw that. I know what I want to do, I know what I want to sound like, and I know what I’ve got to do to change it.” So that’s why I changed everything,I left everything, and just hit the reset and just started from scratch. And I’m eternally grateful for it because I got to meet two great musicians, and now I get to tour with them through America, and I’m incredibly lucky for it.
How did you guys meet?
OB: It was actually on Facebook. Kev and I have crossed paths a couple of times before in different bands, made evil eyes towards each other.
My god, it’s so romantic!
OB: No, it was malice.
See you can meet online.
OB: Malice and hate.
OB: Look how well we’re doing. But no, he was doing drum cover videos, and I found one. I listened to it because I was looking for a drummer that day, and all of a sudden he was like — I actually didn’t need to look any further. He was a monster player. And then I moved over to England to live with Kev, and Kev put Aaron forward, and we all got together, got drunk, and decided it worked. You know?
See, that works out too. No hangovers, no morning afters, no regrets.
OB: Yes, yes!
This is a love story.
AS: We’re still drunk. There’s no come down because we’ve never stopped drinking. As soon as we sober up we’re going to be like “what the fuck!”
KH: A year-long hangover.
Didn’t you guys just play with Glorious Sons in Nashville two days ago?
OB & KH: Yes.
AS: We did indeed.
Are you guys buddies? Did you know them before?
OB: No, it was the first show we had with them. They’re a wicked band as well. We really enjoyed their live show. They’ve got a really cool energy about them and good songs as well which is kind of cool, you know. You’ve got the bands that are a bit showy but don’t have the songs, but these guys they have the whole package, so it was cool to watch their gig. They seem like really nice guys. I think they were busy before, and we had a few gear issues that we were trying to organize, so we didn’t get a chance to really talk and hang out too much, but we watched each others’ shows and that was really cool. They’re class lads.
What are you doing now? What’s next?
OB: We’ve got a tour out with Slash. We go do the rest of the US dates until the 30th of October supporting Slash, which is gonna be incredible for us. It’s our first foot into America and I think on the back of Slash, I mean, we couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity that we’re so grateful for.
And you’re picking up fans like crazy, I’m just going to tell you right now.
OB: Laughs. Hopefully, that’s incredible.
KH: That’s cool. Yeah!
OB: I think everyone is so friendly here. That’s the coolest thing.
AS: Yeah, I love it.
OB: There’s a different kind of energy to us than touring in Europe. I love touring Europe. I think Europe is incredible and they support music really well. But there’s also just something really beautiful about the American culture, and how they are towards British music as well, which I love. It’s incredible. There’s a lot of passion for a variety of music in America. Where in England you have a few radio stations that play the same play lists. You know, you get one rock radio for like one hour at like Sunday at 9pm or something like that.
AS: Yes, that’s true.
OB: But then here you listen to radio, you’ve got so many different rock stations and rock people. It’s just a different love for this music which is where we belong because we’re a rock band. We’re never going to be a pop band. It feels at home.
You guys did some crowd sourcing to get here.
Are you just going stay now?
AS: Yes, we’re definitely staying. We bought a condo, all over the country.
So I guess we can all take turns doing like the meal delivery thing and make sure you’re all fed.
AS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s it. Excellent.
So you’re with Slash. Guitar player to guitar player, is this blowing your mind?
OB: Yeah, I think its — we had a few European dates with him which were incredible. And we’re like, “Okay, that’s great, we had such a good time, what’s next.” And then it was like a few weeks later we’re like, “Oh we’ve got the US tour.” And I think — yeah, I — that’s the best news we could have really been given. I don’t think we ever expected this to happen quite like this. I mean, we were stoked. The EP was really just a feeler record to kind of get people to pay attention to the band. It was independent. We weren’t going with anyone. I think it was just a way to get a chance to get heard. But I didn’t expect this. I didn’t expect a year later we’d be sitting here chatting in Louisivlle. I mean, its incredible. We’re so, so lucky and grateful for it. That’s why, you know, the three of us all are very close because we’ve all worked very hard to get to this point, you know, and we love it. We love every aspect of the work. We love the music side, but we love the business side. We all sit down and plan our days together and give ourselves tasks to do.
AS: And we do each others’ hair and everything. It’s really fun.
OB: But you messed up my nails.
Okay, so the name?
I’m not going to put words in your mouth, but I did notice that you social-media’d some Edgar Allan Poe stuff.
OB: Oh yeah, I did, yeah!
So how did you come up with the name?
OB: Growing up as a kid I loved birds. I was a big bird dork. I loved every kind of bird.
A bird dork?
OB: Oh yeah. Not like the girl kind of bird dork, just the bird, quite literally the birds. And I loved ravens. They’re intelligent birds. Out of all the corvids they’re just incredibly intelligent, they’re macabre, and there is something cool and dark about them. And obviously with the Poe — the Poefluence, we’ll call it — I love that as well. There’s just something about the name which kind of keeps it ominous. It doesn’t really say it’s too heavy or anything. I really wanted a neutral name that sounds good. And ravens are wicked birds, and there’s some cool things you can use puns for, which I love. The fans are ravens as well … they’re all part of our flock … we’re leaving the nest to go to America … I love that stuff. I love that, because it brings people in with us as well. They’re part of our team, but it’s better than saying team. Your’e a part of the flock, you know? And all the dumb puns you can say with it.
OB: Oh yeah.
AS: It’s great
So you guys are really just digging your fan base right now.
KH: Oh yeah.
How much do you get to socialize with the fans after shows? Are you going to be out and about?
OB: All the time.
AS: Oh yes. Yes.
OB: We’ll be the last people to leave the venue, and security is sick of us after every gig. Because I think it’s the most important thing. You know, our music is only fueled by the people that actually want to care about it. And that’s important to us. We work hard in the social media to keep in touch with everyone, and we pretty much know everyone, you know? If someone says hello to us on Facebook, we’ll know the name and we’ll hang out at the end of the night. We’ll always, at the end of the show, hang out by the CDs, just chill out and talk. I think that’s important, you know? We love it.
It is important, very important, and very appreciated. Once they love you, they’re rabid.
Can birds be rabid?
AS: I’m not sure.
OB: Yeah, I’d say so, yes.
AS: Yeah, I could say.
OB: Peckish. Let’s say peckish.
Now I love you. I love the music, I love the energy, but the puns …you got me at the puns. So what do you want to say to your fans before I have to say goodbye until tomorrow?
OB: Be ready for a rocking show tomorrow. We can’t wait to get crazy. You’re going to be the second show played in America, and we have high expectations of how loud and rowdy Louisville can get. So we’re looking forward to it.
Yeah, it could get rowdy.
OB: We want everyone a few bourbons in before 11am.
AS: Definitely. 11 o’clock.
That’s what I was gonna say. Let’s hit the bourbon tent and get warm.
Thank you all so much. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
OB: I’m stoked you can check it out as well. That’s amazing.
Alright. Stay warm. Have some bourbon. Stay warm and drunk.
AS: Yeah, will do. See you, Darlin’.
OB: Yeah, we will do it. Appreciate it.
You can follow RavenEye on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can listen to the track “Breaking Out” on SoundCloud and download the record of the same name on iTunes. Check out tour dates at www.raveneyeofficial.com.
This is Robin the Raven, sparrowing you anymore bird puns … for now. Look for more quotes from RavenEye in the near future.