THE RAVEN AGE
,,Sex, drugs and rock and roll is a load of bollocks at the end of the day, it is all about the music now.”
On March 8th The Raven Age released their second album called ‘Conspiracy’ and that follow up album got excellent reviews. The band, with new singer Matt James, went on a UK/European Tour and they are playing their last gig of that tour in Den Bosch in The Netherlands. Before the show I had the chance to talk to the “new’ vocalist and drummer Jai Patel. Due to major traffic jams I was late but the guys were still very willing to talk to me, so here we go…
How was the Conspiracy Tour so far, guys?
Matt: ,,Amazing, tonight is our last show of the tour…”
So, I hope it will be the best one…
Matt: ,,Well, I agree, It will be the best one I hope. We did a couple of last shows in Holland and it is actually one of my favourite countries to play, as there are no bad venues in Holland and the crowd are excellent as well.”
Jai: ,,don’t forget the excellent food, ha ha…”
Matt: ,,Europe and especially Holland is great to tour, the UK is bad, the venues are most of the time very old, not good preserved and the logistics in the UK are a real pain in the ass. It is much better in Europe and Holland is the best. People care about the arts here and in Britain, they don’t; they did but that was way back in the seventies. Actually I always felt that I was born in the wrong era; by the way…”
You are the new singer, how did these guys find you? Or did you present yourself as the new singer of The Raven Age?
Matt: ,,I am the new singer, yes, but I did not really present myself as such. I played some gigs with the guys for years and I have known them for a long time already as we kind of grew up around common friends. I always got on well with them and it was a really weird series of events that led these guys to me. My band at the time had come to an end in 2017 and I was really jaded by the music industry and done with it actually. I was really thinking of doing other things when I was at home with my parents during Christmas time when I heard that Mike, the previous singer, had left The Raven Age and out of sheer curiosity I got into contact with Jai. I was intrigued and my girlfriend said : “Matt, you need to be in a band again as you are a pain in the ass at the moment not being in a band.” So, we shared the same producer (Matt Hyde) and I asked him about it what he thought was the right thing to do and he said: “It would be the best idea ever that you join The Raven Age; you would be brilliant together.” So, my girlfriend thought it was a good idea, my producer thought so as well, so I got into contact with George and we did some rehearsals and jamming and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Where you in any way involved in the new album?
Matt: ,,To be honest, a lot of material had already been written by the time I actually joined the band. It all happened in a very short time, so I came on board and I am a different singer than Mike so they would adapt the songs to suit my vocal range; which is a bit higher. I was involved with some of the writing in a very limited fashion, so we kind of adapt the songs as they were, we changed the key and that kind of changed the dynamic of the sound of the band, which was really cool. The guys were very open and honest and if I had some ideas for the songs they actually listened to me and we talked about it. It was all quite natural indeed.”
`Conspiracy’ got raving reviews, how about that?
Jai: ,,Yeah, we were speechless, ha ha..”
Matt: ,,Yeah, to be honest, we all thought that `Conspiracy’ was a strong album, but you never know how the fans and the critics think about that, so we were really pleased as I don’t think that I have read one negative thing about the `Conspiracy’.”
Jai: ,,Everybody loves the album and if you ask someone what their favourite track is they all have a different one they really fancy; everybody comes up with another song.”
Matt: ,,Indeed, the whole album has been mentioned, every single track, which is brilliant for me as it means that there are no fillers on the album. It really means a lot and this album is opening so many doors for us as a band.”
Jai: “What is your favourite track of the album?”
Martien: ,,,,Grave Of The Fireflies’’ is my absolute fav.”
Matt: ,,Cheers, that is my favourite song as well and it is George’s masterpiece on the album, although I hate giving the guy a compliment, ha ha ha… It is a fucking great song, I love playing it live as well, it is a journey, I love it!”
Jai: ,,We have been playing it on this tour every evening and the crowd love it.”
Matt: ,,But we were worried a bit about playing it live as it is an eight minutes song, we were thinking if that would come done, but it is probably one of the best on the set list.”
Almost all tracks from Conspiracy are on the set list except for ,,Scimitar’’…
Jai: ,,Yeah, right, apart from that one…”
Matt: ,,Well, a lot people have said I can’t believe you are not playing that one!! We try so hard to please everyone, ha ha…. ,,Scimitar’’ is one of those songs that a lot of people mention as their favourite one on the album but we really thought of it as a real album song and not a live track, sorry guys….”
Jai: ,,We might stick it in on the tour with Iron Maiden….”
How do you feel about singing the older Raven Age songs from the debut album?
Matt: ,,Obviously, they are in a low register, so, but it does not feel strange. I prefer singing the new stuff because I had a hand in that but I feel so comfortable playing with the guy that I feel I have already been in this band for years. So, it does not feel strange to me singing the older tracks.”
`Conspiracy’ is not a concept album but there are some connecting themes, I think..
Jai: ,,There is a story, yeah…”
Matt: ,,It is kind of interesting as some people already asked me if `Conspiracy’ is a concept album and when you start playing around with historic themes and that sort of things that we do then it can lend itself to a concept. If I am honest I do not think that there is a common theme; there is a common subject matter we write about, like a lot of history, Helen of Troy, The Crusades and so on, but also about modern personal issues as well. ,,Betrayal Of The Mind’’ deals with a personal issue and in that song Wright wrote about suicide, which is a big thing in our time, and that was very important to him and he really wanted to do that. So, we also deal with topics close to home and that makes a nice mixture. ,,The Story Of Conspiracy’’ is also about The Raven Age as a band thought out by George; there is a story three and that one will return on every new album.”
How important are lyrics to you?
Matt: ,,Very important. I am so happy that I am able to work together with one of the best lyricists I have ever worked with, being George of course, as he is sheer brilliant. Take for example the lyrics of ,,Grave Of The Fireflies’’, that is actually a genuine work of art. His dad writes in a similar way as they both do not think about the singer too much when they write their lyrics. So, it is quite hard for the singer but I would not want to change anything, as his lyrics are so good. The whole album is lyrically very strong indeed and that is down to George.”
When did you start singing?
Matt: ,,I was never good in school. I was picked for the choir and that was the first time in school I was ever picked for anything…ha ha… But I really enjoyed that and my best friend was into music so I really got involved into music as well and I loved it.”
How about role models or heroes?
Matt: ,,I really am into old school role models from the seventies and eighties as I like Robert Plant, David Coverdale and Steven Tyler. You know, balls to the walls, high ranged singers.”
Ambitions in life?
Jai: ,,Headline a great festival…”
Photo by Rob van Dalen
In 2017 I had a talk with George about that in 2017 and he said that The Raven Age will be headliners at Wembley in 2022…
Jai: ,,Laughs really loud: “Oh, yeah I am going to confront him with that, let me make a picture of that statement, please, do you have it with you….”
Matt: ,,We are not there yet, ha ha ha.., three years left so..”
Jai: ,,We are on the way!! We really went down well with the Maiden crowds and fans and that was great as we felt we were really accepted as it was a hard nut to crack for us being a support for the mighty Maiden. Goals we have a lot and I am positive about our music and the rock business at the moment, so..”
What sort of music do you listen to at home?
Jai: ,,Well, Avenged Sevenfold and the older stuff like Rainbow, Led Zeppelin, I am a Bonham fan and I like a good grove in music; and melody of course.”
Matt: ,,Melody is the key. I try hard to get into the new stuff but I prefer the old music, I love it as my heart lies in the seventies. I love Purple, Lizzy and Zeppelin and then the bands from the NWOBHM like Maiden, Saxon and Priest.”
How about sex, drugs and rock and roll?
Matt: ,,I just watched `The Dirt’ DVD and really man, that is not us, ha ha ha… Actually I did that a lot in my early twenties but it is a load of bollocks at the end of the day!!’’
Matt and Jai: ,,Cheers, mate.”
Live Review TRA show W2-Den Bosch 2019 here
The Raven Age Facebook here
The Raven Age Website here