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The Raven Age interview – Download 2017

I spoke to The Raven Age at Download 2017 to talk about their appearance there, and touring plus the current album.,

You played the second stage here at Download this year. Download is becoming quite familiar for you isnt it?

Third year in a row.

You started on the fourth stage, moved up to the third and now the second.

We just need main stage next and we’ve done the lot.

How does it feel walking out onto a stage in front of all those people?

There’s no feeling like it, especially with crowds like we got today, it’s such a buzz, such a massive buzz.

With a festival there must always be that worry that you’ll clash with a big name

There are a lot of good bands playing today. I think I could hear Sabaton playing on the main stage when we came on, so not a great clash for us but we still pulled a big crowd.

It doesn’t feel like Download this year – it’s sunny.

I’ve only ever been once when it was sunny and that was something like five years ago. Every year it’s poured down.

Most of you came the usual way, but one of the band cycled didn’t he?

Dan and George both cycled here as part of the Heavy Metal Truants ride. I spoke to George this morning when we got up on the bus and asked how he was feeling. He said “my legs have had it, they’ve absolutely had it”. It’s all for a good cause at the end of the day so it’s worth the pain.

I imagine though once you get on the stage, adrenaline kicks in and the aches and pain fade away.

Yeah, you don’t notice anything at all like that.

Until you come back off stage…

Then you’re going “Oh my god I’ve been running around for half an hour and my legs have had it”.

Your current album, “Darkness will arise” came out in March. Where did you record it?

It was all recorded at our studio in Harlow. It was all done self contained along with Matt Hyde, everything was done there. The process was quite lengthy because we have the luxury of time – we’re not paying for studio space so we were able to take a year recording it and mixing it. It is a long time but we wanted to make sure our first record that we put out sounded like a record from a band that’s had ten releases before. We’ve had great feedback on it from people, saying that it sounds like a record from a really experienced band.
For a debut album that’s what’s going to draw in your core fanbase and it needs to be perfect in our opinion and that’s what we strive for in all our music.

When I joined the band six years ago, the majority of this album was already written. There were a couple of tracks that got added on later. Dan and George do the majority of the writing themselves then bring the tracks to the studio and we rehearse it through with the band then make any final tweaks to it. Then obviously when we get to recording those tweaks then change again as things don’t work quite how you thought they would.
It’s a funny thing, you play it in the studio and it sounds great, but as soon as you start to record it and you can isolate stuff out, it’s not quite right and you have to make tiny adjustments.

It must be quite difficult when you’ve done several takes and all sound very similar, trying to decide which is the one to use.

George is brilliant for that. We all went in individually, and as I said, George engineered the whole album, so with my parts it was myself and George sitting in the studio while we were recording, and I’d record a bit and think it sounds ok but I’d ask George and he’d say “I think you can do better”, so there’s quite a back and forth with making sure it’s the best it can be.

Earlier this year you toured with Anthrax.

Yeah we did five weeks of intensive touring with Anthrax. They really cram in the shows with their tour schedules. It was unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable.

Does it put extra pressure on you opening for a band like that, particularly with them being quite different musically?

They’re more thrash metal than we are. We’ve got a couple of thrashy type tracks in our set, and at the very start of the tour it was a bit nervewracking wondering how well we’d go down with the crowds and would they respond well to the music, but after the first couple of shows we went down so well with their audiences that it just became that natural tour flow. It’s the same with any band you go out and support, that concern that maybe you might not suit their audience that well, but we’ve been really lucky with our tours.

We like to think we warmed up the crowd pretty well for Anthrax on that tour. We’re back out with them again doing a bunch of shows in Germany and Europe between festival appearances.

We’re also doing Graspop, Novarock, Tuska open air and Copenhell. A bunch of new ones for us. We did Rock am Ring and Rock im Park the weekend just gone which we’ve never played before and they were unbelievable.

And you got to play whereas some didn’t when the festival was suspended.

There was a terrorism scare, yeah. We were actually in the bar at Rock im park when it happened. George was on the phone to his girlfriend and we heard rock am ring had been evactuated due to a terrorism alert so we didn’t really know what was going on Friday night, so we decided to just make our way there and allow plenty of time because security was going to be tight. We got there and it was just playing the waiting game and at 11am they told us we’ve got a show so we cracked on and got our stuff set up and off we went.

Thanks for your time

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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