Sunday 9 December 2012

20 Questions w/ Ravens Creed

Ravens Creed 2012
Following on from having my arse kicked by the blistering new record by Ravens Creed, I hooked up with Al Osta from the band to talk about the past, present and future plans of The 'Creed'.  If you didn't catch the brilliant review by Richard Maw, you can read it here. Enjoy!

Al Osta
 Hi Al, How are you?  I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord. Firstly I have to congratulate you on a stunning new record with Ravens Creed.  It’s safe to say, we fucking love it!!

Q) What are you up to at the moment and what are you doing in terms of the band?  The record release, seems long overdue?  Was there a delay, as I initially thought it was coming out in the summer? 

A) Hi mate, I’m fine cheers. Thanks for the kind words on the new record, we’re chuffed with it too.

Yeah, pleased that the album is finally out, took a while but was worth the wait as it looks and sounds ace, Doomentia Records have done a great job.

Q). So, Ravens Creed’s music is more akin to death/thrash metal, For those readers who may not have heard of you, could you tell us a little bit about the aesthetic of the band?  Your music has the aggression/attitude of early punk such as Discharge?  What are you thoughts? 

A) Ravens Creed play negative, aggressive thrash, the death label we get must come from the overall heavy sound. Definitely agree with the Discharge reference, we are a an in your face kick your head in type of band, we’re big fans of bands with such an attitude – Negative Approach, Cro Mags, Sheer Terror etc

I think that hardcore/punk edge really comes across in the new record, more than in anything the band has done before.

Q). Were you trying to make a statement with The Power? As it is a pissed off, in your face record? 

A) Don’t really think we are trying to make a statement, but I do see the new album as a kind of antidote to much of the rubbish heavy music that is out there. It does sound pissed off, but none of that anger is aimed at anyone or thing in particular, we’re all nice relaxed people even if the music might suggest we’re total maniacs.

Q) Since the inception of Ravens Creed, there have been many line up changes and you recently recruited Rod Boston to replace Fraser Caske, does the loss of members affect the momentum of the band? 

A) Not at all really, Ravens Creed has always been about Steve and Jay, they started the band, they write the music, they are the heartbeat of it all. There could be a revolving door of other members but it wouldn’t matter as long as those two are together, if and when one of them decides to call it a day, then the band is dead.

Saying that, Rod joining the band has given us all a kick up the arse I think, the man is a true heavy metal warrior!

Q) With all the changes in the music industry, it genuinely does appear harder to make a commitment to a band, what with potential for constant touring, promotion for very little financial reward, what motivates Ravens Creed?

A) I think what motivates us his being able to make music without having to get involved in any of that shit! The other guys in the band toured extensively with other bands in their younger days, they’ve paid their dues so don’t feel the need to do it again. And I’m just a lazy and miserable man who doesn’t like being away from home for 5 minutes, so no chance of me touring or promoting anything.
I can’t speak for the others but I’m motivated by making heavy music the ‘proper’ way, for the enjoyment of a (very select) audience.

Q) Presumably you’re not millionaires from the music Ravens Creed produces, are there pressures to juggle work and then make time for the band? 

A) Sadly, the band does not make enough money for us to indulge in the mid 90’s gangsta rap lifestyle that we genuinely would like to live. So yeah, we’ve all got jobs and family commitments, not a huge pressure though because we’re all pretty relaxed and on the same page, the band wouldn’t work if one of us wanted to be a full time rock star.

Q) I read that Nestless and Wild was very rushed, do you feel that you were able to put more of your own imprint on this record?  Like this is what I’m capable of?  Perhaps stepping out of the shadow of Ben Ward? 

A) I’d say that’s fair yeah. The EP last year was a little bit rushed, as I was drafted in and put the vocals down without any real practice or rehearsal, but it turned out decent. The new record is a different beast for sure, obviously having as much time as we wanted to really get stuck in makes a big difference. Doing Nestless and Wild was a nice introduction for me, but with this album I’ve been able to give it the full on heads down rhino charge! Ben’s shadow is a big one; his vocals on the previous album Albion Thunder are awesome and suit perfectly. The new album is nastier and more aggressive than anything the band has done previously though, so calls for a different vocal style. Ben’s mighty roar has been replaced with my rabid bark, and it seems to fit rather nicely if I do say so myself.

Q) You got the gig, after sending an email to Steve saying "I don't sound like a ten year old girl" and after he heard a rough recording of you shouting in your garage to Negative Approach?  Is that your recollection and how did it feel to get the gig?

A) Yeah, I’d seen the band play Leeds the year before so knew what they were all about. My mate alerted me to the fact they needed new vocals, so I got in touch with Steve and we bonded over our mutual love of Darkthrone and Ice Cube.

Q)  Who would you say are your influences/heroes both musically and artistically in terms of the bands sound and subject matter for your lyrics? 


Q)  Speaking of the lyrics, you got some pretty controversial song titles? Obviously you’re not going to sing about puppy dogs and unicorns, is the intention to shock?  Are the lyrics your department or are they a collective?    

A) No intention to shock really, the music is dark and aggressive so lyric subject matter is obviously gonna reflect that. Me and Steve write the lyrics to different songs, so we can blame each other when someone questions us, my wife was reading the album lyrics the other day and was particularly horrified by some verse or other, “Steve wrote that” was my immediate response – easy way out!

Q)  Can you shed some light on the Tenko Studios, that’s the band’s home studio right? Was it named of the early eighties TV series?  

A) I was obviously not around when Tenko studio was initially formed, but I have heard terrifying tales from the early days, the infamous ‘Headmaster’ barking orders whilst the guys were broken down by the stifling heat and incessant abuse by Japanese militia guards. So yeah, there is a resemblance to the TV show, and although the studio has now moved to a plusher location, anything other than an atmosphere of violence, intimidation and hostility would not have been enough to produce The Power.

Q) There is an outstanding underground metal scene coming out of the UK at moment.  Where do you think you think Ravens Creed fits within that? In terms of touring with other bands? 

A) Hmmm, I agree there are some top bands in the UK right now, but Ravens Creed don’t fit anywhere. I don’t think there’s any band that sounds anything like us really, but that’s not such a bad thing cause when we play we seem to be appreciated by thrashers, punks, death metal types and other vagrants. Touring wise, we don’t and won’t do that, but we’ve played festivals with loads of different kinds of bands and fitted in ok – we’re a pretty simple band to ‘get’ – no nonsense riffs, shouting, short blast of songs, no fannying around.

Q) You recently played Damnation Festival, how did you go down?  Has it been a highlight for you, since you joined the band? 

A) We all really enjoyed Damnation, very well run and organised festival. We were the first band of the day so had a captive audience but the room was rammed and we got a great response during and after the gig, sold a fair few records and shirts and had some nice cheese and ham sandwiches in the dressing room – top day all round.

Wouldn’t count it as my highlight as such, every gig and festival has been a highlight, but it was enjoyable.

Q) How do you feel your band is generally received and does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?

A) Yeah we’re all proper chuffed that anyone enjoys listening to this racket. Like I mentioned, there’s no money in this so any positive feedback is the only reason to keep doing it. Seeing someone wearing a Ravens Creed t-shirt is always a buzz, and we’re selling stuff to people in the States, Asia and all over Europe, which is pretty cool.

Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite’s places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with?

A) No.

Q) The excellent Doomentia Label released The Power, can you tell us a little about them.  They’re based in Czech Republic right? Is having a vinyl release important to you and the band?

A) Yeah Doomentia is run by Lukas in the Czech Republic - great label, best quality vinyl, artwork and packaging out there. It’s great to share a label with such awesome bands as Machetazo, Salute, Tangorodrim, Bunker 66.

Yes, important to have vinyl release, just sounds better, bottom line. And having different artwork in the LP’s/cd’s is nice too.

Q) The Power is a no nonsense fist to the face kinda record.  What are your thoughts about it now that it has been unleashed on the unsuspecting public?

A) I hadn’t listened to it since we finished recording a few months ago, so when I heard it a couple of weeks ago I was a bit shocked, it’s an intense record and hard to listen to straight through, even though it’s less than half an hour long. I really like it, pretty much every track is under 2 mins but they’re all killer songs in their own right, and that’s down to Steve’s riffs and Jay’s drumming and arrangement.

The album seems to have been very well received so far from reviews and punters which is great, it’s never gonna be widely heard, even by people into heavy music, but those in the know should enjoy it.

Q) We have to talk about the artwork; it is awesome, but bonkers at the same time. Was having a large bird like claw coming through the ground, at the forefront of your minds? 

A) Ha, yeah it’s nuts. Andrei Bouzikov is the artist -

Obviously a ridiculously talented guy, don’t think we even gave him a brief, he just heard the music and came out with that monstrosity – fits perfectly!

Q) What was your agenda when you began writing the new record? Was it fulfilling experience and can we expect more anthems of hate? 

A) No agenda, just aimed to write a nasty hate filled noise that would be appreciated by psychopaths. It was a fairly painless process, at least for me who just had to stand around shouting my face off, less so for Jay who put in all the real graft producing/mastering. We’ve got loads of songs lying around half finished, Steve churns out riffs like a man who knows the world is close to total extinction…

Q). In terms of the band, do you feel that 2012 has been a good year for the band and what are your plans for the rest of the year and 2013. 

A) Yes, 2012 has been the year of The Power, so has been good so far. No plans for anything next year yet, possibly an EP and a couple of tasty gigs, we’re easily pleased.

'You can call me Al'

Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?

A) Cheers for the support, get the album and try not to go on a killing spree when you listen for the first time.

The End

Thanks to Al for taking part in the interview and thanks to you guys for reading.  Check links as always for details on the band and where to buy their merch.  Cheers Aaron