Sometimes success isn’t as satisfying as it should be, and can even become a limit to personal growth – it happened to musician Oli Brown when he was touring as a blues star. Rather than just taking the plaudits as they came, he threw away his success to risk finding meaning in a new challenge, forming the band Raveneye, as he reveals to RSNG...
RSNG Why did you make the move from more traditional blues to RavenEye?
OLI BROWN, MUSICIAN ‘It was a bunch of reasons really; I wanted to write music that wasn’t just for blues, while I loved it, after writing the same style for eight years I just felt limited. I also was tired of being a solo artist and having hired players, I really wanted to be with a band rather than it just being about me. There’s something more exciting about playing together with three guys who are all putting everything on the line, and for a band that’s more than just about one person. RavenEye is so much bigger than the three of us now and it’s just progressively become more exciting.’
‘Sometimes you’ve got to just focus on what YOU need rather than worrying about others’
RSNG Was it scary or did it feel bold to leave a very successful career behind to do something different?
OB ‘I’m a 100% or nothing kind of guy so I felt confident in it. I knew what I had to do and I also knew that I was ready to make the jump. I knew it would upset a lot of people, but at the end of the day I wasn’t happy with what was going on around me and sometimes you’ve got to just focus on what YOU need rather than worrying about others.’
RSNG Do you think it’s in the power of music to be this transformative force?
OB ‘Totally! To be honest the song writing really started leading this direction. I had a room where I was recording drums, bass, guitar all by myself and everything I started putting down was heavy, so much heavier than anything I wrote before. It all started with the song Breaking Out!’
RSNG How important is showmanship to you and what you do?
OB ‘For our show it’s everything. We want people to come to our shows and have a party so we bring that vibe every night. We vibe off the energy, so the wilder the crowd gets the wilder the stage gets – it’s that kinetic vibe that just perpetuates to madness. It’s not a forced thing where if we are having a shit day we force ourselves to have a good time on stage, it’s just the best feeling when we go on stage together playing the music we love to a crowd we love.’
RSNG Which figure in music most inspires you?
OB ‘Chris Cornell, I’m still not really over his death, it’s such a strange feeling. I used to listen to 4th July before every show to get myself pumped but now it’s just not the same. But he really introduced me to rock – Audioslave’s Cochise; that song blew my mind! Then someone introduced me to Soundgarden’s Superunknown, which then became my favourite album ever.’
RSNG Can the mindset of being a performer be a tough one to deal with in normal life, just going about everyday stuff?
OB ‘I like it. We always say touring is just like the dream world and then when we get home it’s back to reality, nothing ever feels real when we are away. But there’s something nice about the calm; I get to write music, cook good food and get some sense of stability. Both lives are the antithesis of each other, and that’s the beauty of them it brings balance.’
‘I’ve gone past the time of waiting for ‘inspiration’ – it takes too long and is too inconsistent’
RSNG How do you come up with new ideas for songs and how collaborative is it?
OB ‘We all work together on the music, I usually put a light demo vibe up to the guys and then we shape the song together from there. We just write music as much as possible. I’ve gone past the time of waiting for ‘inspiration’, it takes too long to come about and is too inconsistent!’
RSNG How important is telling a story with your songs to you?
OB ‘We’re not a story band as such but the lyrics are all personal. Whether it be about people in our lives who we’ve crossed, or our own self destructive minds, we wanted to focus more on that side of lyric writing. I love a good story don’t get me wrong, Tom Waits is one of my favourite songwriters of all time and I love him because of his stories and imagery. But for how we write it just isn’t the vibe. But who knows where future songs go?’
RSNG What does it feel like when a performance is totally in synch with the crowd?
OB ‘That’s what we live for, that moment where the crowd takes over the show. It’s the best feeling ever, I think every live band keeps touring and keeps on the road for those kinds of moments.’
RSNG What’s the craziest gig you’ve ever played?
OB ‘Probably Houston Texas when we did our first USA headline tour. It was the last gig of the whole tour and we had no idea what to expect for a turn out and the venue was rammed. From playing together relentlessly throughout the whole tour we just became so tight as a band and everything came together that night.’
‘The crowd were so rowdy and the energy was insane, whatever we could climb or swing off we’d be on it, our gear was lucky to make it through the end of the night. We’re not a band to break things or throw things about (I hate it too), but the atmosphere took over us, the show became more than just music and it became the most surreal experience I’ve ever gone through as a player and us as a band.’
WHAT NEXT? Watch Oli Brown and Raveneye’s video for their single Hero...
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