By Andrew Catania
Rock guitar player and singer Oli Brown is the RavenEye frontman, which I am sure you heard before with songs like Breaking Out or Hero. Oli Brown’s guitar work is full of killer riffs and killer melodies in any of his solo albums or his work with RavenEye. Found in the middle of different rock and roll scenes, Oli Brown stays confident as a creative artist who took the classic influences from guitar legends like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan and transformed them into a remarkable musical act named RavenEye.
His early influences are rooted in the blues and its evolution. Starting with a thumb pick, Oli developed more of his own sound as he was growing up as a guitar player. His blues work, from 2008 to 2013, was a journey in which he found his own sound and space, also developing his own identity as an artist, though he does not stick into one particular musical genre. In this particular subject, Oli Brown started to take singing more seriously.
By that moment, Oli’s song writing and musical interests were taking him towards RavenEye. The songs started to get heavier and to him, it just felt like a natural progression, as the logical step forward for his artistic development. Tired of the solo artist lifestyle, he became more and more interested in creating a big entity in which the music was going to be taken to another level: RavenEye.
So he went into the studio with Aaron Spiers and Adam Breeze to craft the band’s artistic concept, and it eventually evolved into a lifestyle that they breathe.
As for today, RavenEye has become Oli Brown’s artistic identity, and the power trio formula their musical statement. Oli, Adam and Aaron are looking to take the band’s sound beyond any categorization, where each song has its own point and meaning.Their forthcoming first album, called NOVA, is considered by Oli himself as a defining milestone, since it comprises all of his artistic influences and creative intentions into one well-crafted work.
In this way, Oli Brown has become a new breath of air for the modern rock and roll culture, in which he throws slam after slam in every song. An artist in constant evolution, Oli is frequently improving his own sound towards each new artistic dare that comes to his mind, and to quote him, he’s “meant to be intense and edge of the seat”.
We caught up with Oli and sat down with him.
Guitar Connoisseur: How would you define yourself as a guitar player?
Oil Brown: Hendrix was the reason I picked up guitar and I guess I stared exploring who inspired him as well as Stevie Ray Vaughn and what developed his playing. I play with a thumb pick and with that it helped me develop more of my own sound. I treat my instrument very differently for RavenEye as I do for my solo career. So for messed up fuzzed out rock, it’s all about the atmosphere and soundscape of the song. Where with the blues it was about the space and the journey of the solo.
GC: What was your defining point in your musical career?
OB: I don’t think there’s any true defining point in my music career, I think it always grows and develops, if I felt like one point defined it then I’ve achieved what I wanted, but there’s always the pursuit to push myself to the limits. The album release of ‘NOVA’ is an incredible milestone for sure! But I’m not ready to tick a box on defining my life yet! I’ve got a much bigger journey still to go ahead
GC: How is it to be a modern blues/rock musician among all the new rock genres out there?
OB: I don’t really consider myself as a genre, more just an artist playing what I love. I don’t get wrapped up on the ‘scene’ and what space we should fit into. My priority as a writer is just to write music I feel and see what comes from it. Plus this is the only life I’ve lived so I don’t know it any other way, we just do what we do and have a good time doing it!
GC: Regarding your solo career: how would you describe your evolution from Open Road to Songs From The Road?
OB: I think through the experience I gained through the years of living, life on the road and the different musicians that inspired me helped develop my own identity. When I started out I was still not keen on singing at all, I only had just enough songs to record the first album, I started taking singing more seriously as I developed. And now in RavenEye my voice has taken more of a ruling than my guitar in some circumstances. Though in the live show we go for those loose big guitar solo moments. Gotta have that free moment of creativity.
GC: How’s Oli Brown creative process?
OB: Riffs and melodies first, everything else comes after. The 2 most important things for me is a killer riff and then some killer melodies. Before a song is finished I usually have a good idea of what melodies/rhythms go where. Because of where I live I have to record them falsetto and sometimes forget how high things get melodically! But then we like the melody so much I just have to find a way of singing it. Take ‘Supernova’ for example. That bridge section… we couldn’t record it with any other melody, so I just worked harder on my voice to develop it to reach that range comfortably.
GC: What led you to start RavenEye?
OB: My song writing started taking me towards RavenEye. The songs started getting heavier and it just felt like a natural progression. As fun as it was being a solo artist, it’s a whole different life style and i started feeling a little tired of it… there’s too much focus on one person and I started falling out of love with it; I wanted it the music to be more than just one person, I wanted it to be this one big entity, which is RavenEye! Where Aaron, Adam and I take the music to another level, it’s a lifestyle as this band, we live and breath it. The music feels more real like this for me.
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GC: Tell us about how your gear evolved with your music
OB: I started out with a 30 watt Laney combo. It was the shit! But the shows started getting louder. I partnered with Blackstar and used their HT60 for a long while on the road, as well as doubling it with a VOLT AMP CO head and cabinet! They’re incredible, it’s like a ‘Dumble’ amp clone and for me I think it’s the best one you can grab. Now for RavenEye, I’m a big Marshall lover. We recorded NOVA with a JCM800 and an original Silver Jubilee. For this band Marshall just rocks the tones and gets as wild as I need it too. So I have a cranked JCM800 and my VOLT by it’s side as well, the B amp is like my second guitarist, I kick it on for the choruses. My pedals are always developing but I have a few staples that get that big riff sound, POG2 and the Slash MXR fuzz pedal; I actually found his fuzz really consistent when I was giving a fuzz pedal shoutout. A lot of the fuzz pedals compress and duck the level too much when trying to hit big chords but his pedal kills it!
GC: Why the power trio formula for RavenEye?
OB: I love the intensity of it! We have our own tricks on how to fill that sound out to make it sound beyond a 3 piece. We certainly won’t be changing that formula any time soon. It just makes it all about the band and there’s nothing to hide behind, when you’ve got 3 players slamming it hard on stage there’s something so much more real about it. It helps having killer players like Aaron and Adam slamming it behind you too!
GC: What can we expect from RavenEye’s first full-length album, Nova?
OB: A band of writers that want RavenEye to have more than just one category of sound! It’s rock but each song follows on one journey for the next. We didn’t want 5 songs to sound the same as each other; each song has a point and a meaning. We went into the studio with 25 fully written and ready songs and crafted the journey for this first record. It’s meant to be intense and edge of the seat, we didn’t want any songs to hold back.
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