Exclusive interview – hellfest.fr: RAY BROWER [Ray Lawrence (vocals)]
“As this being possibly the largest crowd we have ever played to I don’t think there is anything that could prepare us for what is to come”
Ray Lawrence – February 28, 2017
HELLFEST 2016 – DEEZER OPEN HELL STAGE
How did you get to know about the Deezer Competition in the first place?
From a Facebook advert posted from the Deezer page, we applied a day or two prior to the competition closing.
The registration was a bit hectic, wasn’t it?
It was very daunting for us as we’ve never played an event anything like it before and weren’t sure where we were allowed to go, do, say, but everything calmed down when we got to speak to the guys from Deezer.
Did you manage to enjoy the whole festival despite the pressure due to the competition?
To be completely honest we didn’t feel pressured at all. We said to ourselves that we would just enjoy the festival for what it was, play our show and take the experience as a learning process and no matter what happened we were happy to say we had made it that far. We were just grateful for the opportunity given to us. We obviously didn’t expect what was going to happen over the course of the weekend!
Was the festival like you expected it to be?
We drove over 24 hours in a car from Scotland across the channel on a ferry just hoping that it would be as good as we had made it in our heads but it literally exceeded all expectations! It was so well organised, the music was amazing the people were amazing and everyone we spoke to was so positive about our music. We don’t think it could have been any better.
How and when did you get to know that you were actually the winner?
As much as we could we tried to check out all the other bands playing the Open Hell stage, we hung about speaking to the bands and the guys from Deezer (who kindly bought us a couple of beers, which we are going to repay them this year with a nice bottle of Scottish whisky). When the last band came off on the Sunday we were told to meet the guys from Deezer at the VIP bar at 3pm and they were going to let us know how we got on. I think we had to wait about an hour before they met us, which was possibly the longest hour of our lives. To calm the nerves we had a few drinks and prepared ourselves for the worst. Fortunately Antoine walked up to us with a large smile and broke the good news to us.
What was your main feeling then? Pride, happiness, relief, too drunk to realise… and I guess you celebrated with style?
We couldn’t actually believe it after seeing exactly who we were up against. We were all completely overcome with happiness. We all took turns phoning home and telling the people closest to us we had won. A feeling of unadulterated pride swept in making the last 5 years of long nights practicing, writing and gigging worth every minute knowing that we were in some way given recognition for our music. We had a long drive home that night, so the people that could celebrate – celebrated in style. We were invited above the VIP bar (to a private bar above the festival, not sure what you would call this) by Deezer to watch Black Sabbath play their set. This was just a surreal moment for us, standing above 90k people (not sure how many it actually was) with the Hellfest elite watching one of the most iconic bands in rock and metal. It was an amazing ending to an absolutely unbelievable weekend, in that moment we actually felt like rock stars.
You obviously have a great event to look forward to now. But have things really changed on a daily basis for the band since you won that competition? Was there some more media coverage or people attending your shows since?
Day to day life hasn’t changed – we all still go to work like normal and live our lives as we did. The uplift in media coverage has been mostly driven by ourselves to try let as much people know how big a deal this is to us (and to any band at our level in fact). There has definitely been more people attending our shows and we hope that this continues on the lead up to Hellfest 2017 and afterwards too.
I’ve always thought that British metal/rock press was not really supportive towards British bands. Is it just a view of mine?
We’ve had little to no involvement with rock/metal specific press here in the UK. We sometimes wander what it is we actually need to do to get recognition in our home country. However other local media outlets here in Aberdeen have given us some attention; and we’ve done an interview with Legacy Magazine based in Germany. We’re hoping by the time we play Hellfest the press in the UK won’t have a reason to ignore who Ray Brower are!
What are the band’s current plans? I’ve noticed a couple of dates in Northern Scotland as well as some new sound with a brand new track “First Fifteen Minutes”…
Our plans are to continue writing new material for further releases this year and next. The new recording of First Fifteen Minutes is actually a revamp of an existing track, we did this due to our line-up change to show the change to our sound and show things to come.
You have a new line-up now. Why the choice of James as your new axeman?
We had seen James play in other bands and even been on the same line-up before. We thought his style was very like what we had previously and we knew from the first time jamming with him that his sheer dedication and understanding of what Ray Brower meant to us were exactly what we needed.
How would you describe Ray Brower’s music? Some say “heavy music”, “metalcore”, “hardcore” or just “metal”… And if there was a band I could compare you to so as to please you, which one would it be?
We get asked this a lot and to be honest we can’t really put ourselves into one genre. We don’t really class ourselves as anything in particular. I suppose we have a heavy influence from the nu-metal phase of the early 2000s and added our own hardcore twist to this. I would say Rage Against The Machine meets Machine Head. Various influences and aspects go into the mixing pot and whatever comes out is what we are. We are limited only by our own imagination and creativity.
What’s the motto of Ray Brower? What does the band want to express beyond its music?
Speaking Truthfully. Thinking Brave! No matter how bad things might seem it’s the people around you and the situations you create that will make all the difference. None of us have come from privileged backgrounds, actually far from it, but we like to think we’ve done the best with what we’ve got and are humbled to think it has even got us this far.
HELLFEST 2017 – MAINSTAGE TWO
Hellfest 2017 is going to be the biggest concert of your life so far. How will you get prepared?
We will continue on as we have been so far. With relentless practicing and a few warm up gigs prior to the event to get us in the right frame of mind. As this being possibly the largest crowd we have ever played to I don’t think there is anything that could prepare us for what is to come.
Are you planning to stay for the three days in 2017? What’s gonna be on your agenda apart from your gig? Promo stuff? Boozing? Watching as many bands as possible? Selfies with hundreds of musicians?
All of the above! We plan on being there the whole weekend taking in everything Hellfest has to offer and possibly meeting some of our heroes in person. Hopefully not making too much of fools of ourselves but everyone loves a drunk Scotsman.
What can the crowd expect from Ray Brower on that day?
We bring an immeasurable intensity to any of our shows but for this we are definitely going to step it up so much more. We are not a band that focuses on lights and gimmicks, we are simply all about the music and making sure everyone remembers who we are. We are going to prove why we won our place on the main stage.
Is the line-up to your taste, by the way? What would be your top 3?
There is definitely something for everyone in this year’s line-up. We all had different views on our top three so we’ve divided into our own personal favourites:- Ray (vocals) – Primus, The Devil Wears Prada, Alestorm; Gordon (drums) – Alter Bridge, Ill Nino, Skindred; Jon (bass) – Steel Panther, Five Finger Death Punch, North Lane; James (guitar) – Slayer, Autopsy, Decapitated.
And here’s a nasty question to finish this off. Please, finish that sentence for me: “I’ve never told that story before and I probably shouldn’t but…”
I’ve never told this story before and I probably shouldn’t but… One time the four of us (with our previous guitarist) travelled to Glasgow, about 150 miles from our home town, to see Machine Head. We got to the gig and the beer started flowing for two of us – this was fine as we were staying the night to catch Parkway Drive the following night. As for the other two, they were supposed to share driving home, so one stayed completely sober thinking of the long journey home but the other one decided to have “one or two”. At the venue they were selling 3 pint jugs to save going back and forth to the bar; this resulted in an abundance of beer swallowed between the three of us drinking. So the gig ended, Machine Head played a blinding set, and Mr OneorTwo decided he would meet us outside, so we finished our drinks and proceeded to go outside… and guess what? No sign of OneorTwo. But you can imagine a venue emptying, thousands of people walking about so we decided to hang about and see if we could find him. To no avail he didn’t show up, fortunately for us this resulted in Machine Head coming out the back door and we managed to talk to them and get photos etc. So after a couple of hours waiting (yeah we are nice guys) we decided he was big enough to look after himself. The two of us that were staying had a few more beers and went back to our hotel and the other guy started his long lonely journey home. The next day as you can imagine was brought by worried phone calls from OneorTwo’s family and us having no answers and last thing seeing him do was downing a whole 3 pint jug and rubbing his topless body on some scary metal fans. We went and saw Parkway Drive who were absolutely amazing and headed home the next day. So what happened to Mr OneorTwo you ask? Well as far as anyone can make out he came out the venue and turned the wrong way into a not so nice part of Glasgow. He was found in a door way (where he’d probably set up camp for the night) by some helpful police officers. Did he accept their help and move on quietly? Of course he didn’t, he proceeded to assault one of the officers and was put in the cells for the weekend. We’ve kept this quiet for quite a while but thought this would be the perfect time to share it. HAHA!