Rook and the Ravens are a Manchester band who are receiving great praise from a variety of sources. They’re currently working on their second album, and have just released new single ‘Alpha’. In addition, they have an upcoming gig at Crawdaddy on October 2nd. I got the chance to speak to the head Raven (or should that be Rook?) about ornithological nomenclature, their influences, playing live, and that eagerly anticipated upcoming album, amongst other things.
Firstly, what’s the difference between a rook and a raven?
One plays the drums and the other plays the bass. They’re all pretty good at singing.
Who are your influences?
Neil Young is the main man. Obviously we all have pretty varied influences; Radiohead are difficult to argue about- they never stand still creatively. I think the career of Jack White has been quite an influence on all five of us. We’re big fans of The Raconteurs and generally anything he’s involved with. Neil Young is really where we all agree though. The man’s a legend.
You’re playing a headline gig at Crawdaddy on October 2nd, how do you prepare for live shows?
We tend to think a few weeks in advance, check out what gigs we have coming up and work on sets we think will work for certain shows. It’s important to take the audience on a journey with you. We spend a lot of time putting our sets together in ways that will flow well. It’s also good to have something fresh and new in a set; we get excited about new songs and the audience can tell when you’re excited and hopefully they get excited too.
And is there anyone you try to emulate on stage?
No not really, I think that’s a pretty dangerous thing to do. If someone came to see Rook and The Ravens and basically got an impression of Mick Jagger (not that there’s anything wrong with Mick Jagger) I’d hope they’d be disappointed . Coming to see us is different to coming to see anyone else. That’s the whole point really.
What inspires your songs?
The people around you are inspiring, not always in a good way but nevertheless it’s the things that you and the people around you do on a day-to-day basis that inspire us to write things down.
And how do you approach songwriting?
One of us will have an idea, a sort of skeleton of a song. It then gets taken to a practice and is given the full ‘Raven’ treatment. It’s an exciting process, we all have our input and we eventually end up with a Rook and The Ravens song.
What was it like being selected as a new artist of the week by the BBC? Do you appreciate the accolades?
There’s something quite special about the BBC so to be singled out by them is something we’re proud of. They came to the studio a few weeks ago to do a live radio piece on our recording session, it was a lot of fun. We always enjoy doing recordings or shows for them and we certainly do appreciate their involvement and their appreciation of our work. It’s something that we hope continues for many years.
What can you tell me about new single ‘Alpha’?
‘Alpha’ was the first song written by Rook and The Ravens and has featured at every single gig we’ve played. It’s been in my head for the last couple of years, hopefully it’ll be in yours!
How is the second album coming along?
It’s sounding great. Our relationship with our producer Andy MacPherson (The Who, Doves, Teenage Fanclub) has really developed since we recorded the first one. He totally gets what we’re about and we get him too. It’s making for some special recordings we think. It’s going to be a heavier, more mature sounding record this time (not that we’re fat and old, it’s just the way it’s sounding).
Should we expect to hear many new songs at the Crawdaddy gig?
Yes. It’ll be a mixture of old and new. One of the things we love most about playing in Ireland is how receptive the audiences are. They’ll be able to tell that we’re excited about the new material and from previous Dublin experience that tends to mean that everyone has a good night.
Tickets for the Crawdaddy show are just €8 and are available at the door. New single ‘Alpha’ is out now.