Interview with Raven Lord vocalist Csaba Zvekan discussing ‘Descent To The Underworld’

Skullbanger:  First off Csaba I want to say hello from Kuopio, Finland and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for Skullbanger.net.  I guess the first order of business is can you introduce the band and tell us a little about Raven Lord?

Thank you for the interest in RAVEN LORD. It is amazing and I’m overwhelmed with all the positive feedback from the press, critics and fans. Never expected this much momentum for RAVEN LORD.
When I left KILLING MACHINE in March 2011 I was hungry for some more heavy metal.
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 the 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 meet a couple of Swedish guys from Stockholm Tobias and Peter who wanted to make band. Tobias introduced me then to Stefan a very talented guitar player and we 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 recently got replaced by our new drummer RICH SMITH. All though RICH 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. And 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”. 

 

 

Skullbanger:  So it seems like all you guys have had previous experience playing in other bands.  What were the major factors that brought you all together?  Did you know each other before Raven Lord?  What did it take to convince Mausoleum Records to sign you?

Management would throw a bunch of names at me where he thinks it might fit to RAVEN LORD. When I contact the players it’s all about gut feeling and impressions. It’s sometimes not easy as all of them can play their instrument very well. So it goes a little further in detail of the person. Does he fit optically? Is he nice guy? Many factors were taken into consideration and every detail counts. I wanted it to be a fresh start with all new members that I didn’t work with before.

RAVEN LORD seems to be the right thing at the right time. So we signed a two-album deal with MAUSOLEUM RECORDS that right there is your second RAVEN LORD album coming. The second album I estimate to be released around early 2014. It didn’t take very long for MAUSOLEUM RECORDS or for us to decide that we would work together.

 

Skullbanger:  Ok I have a confession to make.  I had never heard of Joe Stump before ‘Descent To The Underworld’ but when I heard him play I was totally blown away by his playing and thought it was one of the highlights of the album.  What an amazing talent he has.  Can you tell me about his influences, his musical background and what input he had in the song writing?

JOE STUMP came to the band when the record was already done. He will do his magic on the next RAVEN LORD. And as for as the solos in a live situation goes, he’ll be doing his version of it. You can expect some serious “shredding damage”! The guitar player on the record was becoming a liability to the band and we had to let him go so we don’t support him any longer.
JOE STUMP is a professional guitar player and teaches at Boston MIT. He comes with tons of studio and live experience.

 

Skullbanger:  Another highlight of the album I thought that helps keep everything grounded is the vocals.  I am really impressed by your range Csaba.  You can hit high notes but also have the low growls and edge to your voice that gives the album a nice raw and rough feel in contrast to Joe’s slick and precise guitar playing sound which I think plays well off each other.  Can you tell us a bit about your singing style in terms of who you model yourself after and have you had any sort of training?  And how do you approach song writing in terms of how you want to use your vocals in a song?

As the singer, founder and producer for RAVEN LORD I have many responsibilities. I come up with the sound, overall concept idea and of course the music arranges that has to fit my melodies. The lyrics are sometimes a tricky part as I want to describe things and we are sometimes very limited. Especially if you want it to rhyme. Sometimes it’s just words that give you an idea where the song is heading and the overall mood to the song. The rest is up the audience and their individual fantasy.
It seems like a few songs have very common grounds so I chose “Descent to Underworld” to be the title. How ever there are also current themes like fighting back against tyranny and oppression. The greed for money in the past with the knight templar and the very same is happening today. Also there is definitely a “Descent to the Underworld” in things.
I’m to the point where I can’t turn the Ronnie James Dio influence off anymore. It has become part of my style but also many other singers. Dio and his sound was with me from the very first time I’ve heard him on “Heaven and Hell” with Black Sabbath. I quickly realized how difficult his technique really was and it made me challenge to learn it. So I have been singing like this pretty much all my live. As far as the lyrics go it’s the same way. You are quiet limited on your writing skills when you trying to sing powerful songs. Not every word sounds strong in a song. You have to choose the right ones. Then occasionally you want to rhyme things as well making things even more difficult. At the very end of the day you end up with great stuff like “ As he is the Black Friar” where book authors and novelists scratch their heads.  Do we metalheads even care ? No, as it’s all fantasy to bring out emotions and the images you see. The thing is this; we don’t need to explain your fantasy about the song. As they’re yours to build.

I come from a very musically oriented family with classical music backgrounds. In my early age I’ve been tutored in violin, flute, classical guitar then later changed into more modern tutoring. Like the electric guitar with distortion and of course the fact that my father was a classical singer would definitely help in “home tutoring” sort of speak.

 

Skullbanger:  Let’s talk a bit about your new album ‘Descent To The Underworld’.  In terms of theme, it seems you draw from mythology, history and sci-fi a bit.  Can you tell us about what gave you ideas for the songs on the album? 

OK, so let’s see: “Black Friar” is about the Lord of the Underworld the RAVEN LORD that is. He can travel back and forth from the world of the living and the dying world. Bringing messages to and from loved ones. These are mythological ideas and totally fascinating to me. ”Promised land” is about a near death experience while the “Sun God” is about the hidden tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs and their treasure that we haven’t found yet. Then we praise the glory of heavy metal but even more so the fans that stand there to the thousands and sing with us our metal songs. These I call the “Metal Knights” as they don’t care about wind and weather as long as they can see the metal gods playing. “World out of steel” is about the city of WACKEN in Germany where every thing is made out of metal. It’s your anthem and should be a lot of fun when we get to play it live. Input comes from all sorts of experience mainly from day to day experience but also a lot of themes that interest me.

 

 

Skullbanger:  What can you tell us about Raven Lord’s immediate tour plans?  I notice you have a few dates scheduled.  Are there more shows to come?  Possibly Kuopio, Finland? HINT HINT

How would “Tuska Festival 2013” sound to you? And how far is it from Kuopio ? We’ll have to talk to those promoters then I guess hahaha. Perhaps if there is enough interest we might meet you there. For sure we’re going to be playing all the festivals that we get in Europe. It starts out with R-MINE METALFEST 2013 on June 22nd 2013. We play the main stage Saturday night then we shall continue with summer shows in the Netherlands and expanding to other European countries. It’s going to be a blast to perform this stuff! OK here is the hint Italy, UK, SPAIN. We’re working hard for the Scandinavian Countries. Believe me that. A soon as you guys buy the record then there is interest. And if there is interest the promoters will book us. It’s that simple! So go grab your copy of the CD today !

Skullbanger:  Let’s talk about the current metal scene today.  I come from Tennessee where, well, metal isn’t that strong, even though it is better known there now than what it was in the 90’s, when people would hear me play Iron Maiden and ask if they were the guys who played Cum On Feel The Noize?!   I come over here to Europe and it’s refreshing to see that it still has a very strong presence here and is just as viable as other forms of music.  I know I tried to get people together to play metal in Tennessee when I played guitar…it wasn’t so easy and actually received a phone call or two making fun of me.  As musicians do you find it easier to locate, form bands like Raven Lord and play with like-minded people who like metal music here in Europe (Even though you have members from America in the group)?  And why do you think the metal scene stayed as strong in Europe as it has?

 

That is a very good question. Yes, for some reason it’s easier to find likeminded musicians based from Europe. That doesn’t mean they all have to be European. The nice thing about it is the festivals during the Summer. If you are lucky you get to play for a few thousand or even with a few festivals 100 thousand people during one season. That helps tremendously promote the band that you’re in. The tricky part is you need a release first and it better be a good one too. I’ve played in Hollywood all the clubs, was in a lot of magazines etc. but when I think about it now it’s all local based. It never had the impact on what we did when we toured with KILLING MACHINE in 2010. So it is a big difference EUROPE vs. US at least festival wise. But make no mistake the metal scene in the U.S. is huge. It just seems so tiny because the country is so large. By the way a lot of metal stars live in Tennessee now days. For some reason it has become the new “Metal State”.

Skullbanger:  I noticed you have just recently had to change drummers.  Can you tell us about what brought about the change?  Certain bands here of late have been having drummer drama.  Are you trying to emulate a certain thrash band we have heard about lately?  Is a band member looking for a 90% of the profit?  Haha!

That’s a good one hahaha. I know you’re applying to JON DETTE now being with SLAYER. We played with JON DETTE with KILLING MACHINE in 2010. That was kind of his come back year from all the years in hiatus. We had a good time! I believe good drummers are high in demand these days so they tend to take on more bands that they can handle timewise. In our case LARRY PATERSON left because he writes a book and does a big documentary called “Scars”. A Second World War investigation that he is very passionate about. We had dates clashing left and right then trying to find a substitute drummer. So then we decide this is to complicated and would need a permanent solution. RICH SMITH has the time as the band he is in right now calls it the quits in MAY 2013. So I wanted to have him before somebody else grabs him away. The band needs to perform the what I call “summer shows”. And we have to do what we have to do to get the heavy RAVEN LORD train going. At this point it’s not easy to stop this heavy machinery. As far as the percentage goes hahahahaha. Everybody gets the equal share!

 

Skullbanger:  Ok I’m going to list 3 things and tell me which you prefer or first thing that comes to mind.

  1. Stormwitch’s Ravenlord or Hammerfall’s Ravenlord cover? I have honestly no idea about both of them. I would have to look it up. Management came up with the band name. So you tell me ?

2. Band you would most like to Tour with? Dead or living ? Black Sabbath with Dio, Judas Priest   3. Since I’m from Tennessee I have to ask.  If you covered an Elvis song, which would it be? “Hound dog” hahahaha

Skullbanger:  Well Csaba I think we can wrap it up and thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions, but before we go is there anything you would like to say to the Raven Lord fans out there and what we can expect in the near future from Raven Lord?

I would like to thank Skullbanger for the interest in RAVEN LORD. Thank to our Finish RAVEN LORD fans, readers and supporters. Go get the record in your store so we get to play in a venue near you. I hope to see, meet and greet you all out there very soon. Thanks \m/

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