We recently had the pleasure of reviewing the debut album from Raven Lord (check it out here on the site) and enjoyed it immensely. Following on from that, vocalist Csaba Zvekan took the time out to give us a bit of background on just how the band came into being.
Hi Csaba, thanks for taking the time to chat to us today. Before anything else, for those readers of the site who maybe haven’t heard of you can you give us a bit of background about Raven Lord?
How would you describe the band? Where are you from? How long have you been together?
First of all I would like to thank Planetmosh for the interest in RAVEN LORD and for this interview. Well, let’s start from the very beginning… my name is Csaba and that is Hungarian pronounced “Chawbaw”. My last name Zvekan is Croatian and I was born as a Hungarian minority in the old Yugoslavia now Serbia. My musically oriented family moved to Switzerland when I was four years old. I grew up and went to school in Basel, Switzerland. In very early years my parents had me tutored in the Music Academy on rather classical instruments. When I was a teenager I listen to a lot of Hard and Heavy bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and many other bands.
Around the time when I was 18 years old I joined a local band called EMERGENCY on which we later got signed to a German label called Big Max. After that experience I founded my own band called SARDONYX and with some distribution contacts I established my own record label called DREAM RECORDS. SARDONYX – Open Gates was my second album released in Europe. Shortly after that I moved to Los Angeles to further my career as a sound engineer and sang in many Hollywood based local bands. On a few attempts, Peter Scheithauer and I were trying to record albums together that always resulted in him changing the vocals by a different singer until 2009, when Peter asked me to sing and write songs for KILLING MACHINE. Said and done, a full album was written and we were ready to play shows that following summer. We opened up on AC/DC’s Black Ice Tour 2010 in Nice and Paris, France followed by Graspop Metal Meeting, Wacken and Foire aux Vins. We played alongside the likes of Soulfly, Europe, Saxon, Alice Cooper and many more.
There was no real interest from the record labels for KILLING MACHINE so Peter and me decided to part ways and try different line-ups. This is when I met Axel Wiesenauer from ROCK’N GROWL promotion. We shortly ended up working together and decided on making our own band called RAVEN LORD. The band name came up through brainstorming and to differentiate things a bit the word was split up purposely to make it kind of unique.
I met a couple of Swedish guys from Stockholm, Tobias and Peter who wanted to make a band. Tobias introduced me to Stefan Lindholm, a very talented guitar player and I started working with him. JAMIE MALLENDER was working with ex-Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin before and when my manager proposed him to me I was like “Hell yeah”. JAMIE is a multi instrumentalist and has his own music school in Sheffield, UK. He has been with RAVEN LORD from the very beginning and contributes a lot to our common work. LARRY PATERSON our drummer was found through an online audition and fits the band like no other. Although LARRY is not on the record this time, he sure will be our recording drummer for the second album and our permanent drummer for all our live engagements. GEORGE KARAFOTIS is a shredder and talented guitarist from Greece. George handles rhythm guitars and brings cool riffs to the RAVEN LORD table. ALESSANDRO DUO now comes from Italy and fills the slot for the Keyboardist. Also he will be our future recording and live player. Last, but not least, the mighty “shredlord” JOE STUMP who recently joined up with RAVEN LORD after the record was already done. We all are looking forward for his shredding techniques in the live situation. His interpretation of the songs and most of it the future RAVEN LORD songs are going to be off the Richter scale!
You’re quite a united nations of musicians. How did the idea for Raven Lord come about?
The main idea for RAVEN LORD was to melt the ore and blend the different influences and forge it into a shiny piece of heavy metal! JAMIE MALLENDER played in the TONY MARTIN BAND, who previously played for BLACK SABBATH. I certainly wanted that sound on the bass and, with that, JAMIE in the band. A Swedish guy played the guitars on the record and was replaced by JOE STUMP as he fits better to the band. We don’t need to tell or explain to JOE what metal is as he lives and breathes it.
The production was planned in a very traditional way. We would work on compositions and the pre-production tracks. I would then try to sing over it and change the arranged segments to the needs of the melody. Some parts would need changes from the chord progression side, some would need trimming or extending or even complete replacement of the actual part.
Once the basic structure of the song has been established I would then give it to JAMIE to play his bass on, followed by our drummer LARRY PATERSON. The very same goes with these guys as there is no need to tell them what to play. LARRY is a very experienced drummer and has extensive live experience with bands like BLAZE BAILEY. Over the course of production we had some line-up changes in keyboards but have now settled with Italian born ALESSANDRO DUO. The layers of keyboards are very important to me as it really kick starts my creative process for vocals. For some reason I adjust easier and therefore come up much quicker with topics for the songs.
Let’s not forget our youngest member who is only nineteen years old and already shreds like hell. GEORGE KARAFOTIS joined the band during mix-down. That is, the final phase of a production. He will not only support us with mean guitar riffs during our live shows but we can expect some guitar mayhem form him on the very next RAVEN LORD album.
After all the pre-production tracks are complete I would compile them together and make the rough mixes. We all then would listen to them individually and pick the best and “Lucky 13” songs from that. Once that was done it was all about the search for the right guy to do the final mix-down.
Was it challenging getting everyone together to write and record the album?
Not at all. Thanks to the internet we save a lot of time and resources. We can work independently and with our own pace. This makes things more fun. Of course there are hours of video conferencing telephone calls and emails that also take time, but overall I would say it’s the work of the future.
Can you give us a brief description of what each track is about?
OK, so, “The Rebel” is about us standing up against the tyrants of this World. I sing that “we all are the rebels” and should “take things back in our hands”. We should think about our future and find ways how to better this world without violence and oppression. Basically an equal society where there is no suffering for humans, animals or nature.
“Atilla the Hun” is about the Mongolian ruler that terrorised Europe in the 1st Century. They came from the east on their horses, pillaged all the gold, burned down villages and rode off as quickly as they came into the sunset. Another horrifying image of death and destruction and a great way to express all this with some heavy metal screaming \m/.
“Let the show go on” is the image or the final scene for the Walt Disney movie “Pirates of the Caribbean “ hahahahaha. Believe it or not I watched and liked that kid’s movie a lot so it ended up in this song. However, there is also a little mix of anger and fiction in the whole song.
“The seal of the cross” is the story about the knights templar and their destructive and criminal ways in handling the pope’s holy war back in the days.
Now “Promised Land” is a song about near death experience and fits very well into the overall theme for “Descent to the Underworld”. It is about slowly fading out from this world but eventually “I’m back from the Afterlife and back to the Promised Land”.
“Settle the score” is a very current topic. It’s about the riots we have had in Europe lately .
Alright, “Black Friar” is pure mythological and fictional. It explains the RAVEN LORD flying down to the gates of the Underworld knocking on them doors, entering and bringing messages back from the dead. “As he is the master of life and death”. Definitely one of the main and favourite topics for this album!
I am also having fun with “World out of steel”, it’s the city of metal where everything is in shiny armour. The song is about the little city of Wacken and its yearly festival with all the metal fans and metal gods out there \m/.
“Revelation” is my personal favourite as it is intense. It tells the story about the “eternal flames of fire” or hell, the apocalypse as it is described from the book of revelation. Many classical composers like Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Grieg have written about this subject. Must be a very popular theme as it is for me too.
“Metal Knights” is your typical true metal anthem. It is for all the metal-heads out there who like our music and stand proud under the light of the morning star.
“Sun God” is all about the Egyptian pharaohs that lie buried and hidden from us for all times. I believe there are still tombs out there that we don’t know about.
Who did you work with on the production and creation of the album and cover work?
We’ve chosen so many professionals from the graphical field to make us our logo, web designers to make the MySpace page layouts, another web master for the official website and of course Caio Caldas who was doing our wonderful RAVEN LORD mascot, cover artwork and 16-page CD booklet. What a great piece of art! But before all this was to happen, we needed a musical product that was mixed well and mastered to today’s specifications. When evaluating for the right producer who can mix the record management came up with Andy Sneap or Fredrik Nordström. Andy was busy as usual and had no time and only with a little luck Fredrick Nordström liked our pre-production and found a slot that was available last Summer. So we shipped up the rough tracks to FREDMAN Studios and they then did a miracle job and sent the mixed music back to us. Right after that the whole production was sent to Los Angeles for further processing. Maor Appelbaum was our chosen mastering engineer and what fantastic job he did. Amazing! Thank you all who contributed to the record. Thanks Caio, Maor and thank you Fredrik!
What are the plans for the rest of this year?
So around June we begin with real rehearsals here on the island of Mallorca, Spain where I live. Then fly to continental Europe and start in Belgium with R-Mine Metalfest 2013. We’re also trying to play a few smaller shows in between if that is a possibility. Then hopefully continue to other countries to play some more festivals. I can also imagine JOE STUMP playing some clubs with his solo album in between. LARRY PATERSON is also confirmed for various Festivals this summer with his band IRON KNIGHTS. And our latest member ALESSANDRO DUO who is also double billed at the R-MINE METALFEST 2013 with his second band VOODOO HIGHWAY. So you’ll see a lot of us in one form or another. When the summer is over we might come together again and prepare to rehearsals for our first EU/UK tour. That will be a blast and hopefully see you all out there.
Do you prefer being in the studio or going out on the road?
We’re passionate about both scenarios. But this is a great question. I personally like to sit in the studio and work on songs when it’s cold out there, although my voice seems stronger during summer months. Still, it doesn’t really matter, it’s all good. Festivals in the summer, tour in autumn/winter and composing/recording during winter/spring months. Something like that would be good conditions.
Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to our readers?
Well I would like to thank Planetmosh for their great CD-reviews earlier this month and the interest in RAVEN LORD, also for these interesting questions. In the name of the band RAVEN LORD I would thank to all Planetmosh readers, our friends, fans and the press for their continued support. We really hope to see you all out there on some of the shows we might have in the future. And most of all come and see us at the R-MINE METALFEST 2013, in Tongeren, Belgium. Thanks!
Descent to the Underworld is available now through Mausoleum Records
Raven Lord are:
Csaba Zvekan – Vocals
Joe Stump – Lead Guitars
George Karafotis – Guitar
Jamie Mallender – Bass
Lawrence “Larry” Paterson – Drums