Ravenscroft is a seasoned foursome of alternative rock musicians comprising Ralph Buso (Vocals), Pat Magrath (Drums), Brett Octane, (Guitar) and Devin Baker (Bass). The band’s six song EP is set to be released January 2018. In the meantime the powerhouse unit has dropped two lead singles to whet anticipating appetites. Two of the band’s members took the time to answer some curiosities in the following interview.
- How long has the current line-up of Ravenscroft been together and how did you get together in the first place?
Brett Gorke (Guitarist): Approximately three years. Due to personal issues the original guitar player was unable to continue with Ravenscroft. At that point Devin Baker called me and asked if I would be interested in taking over the position of guitar player.
Pat Magrath (Drummer, Programmer, Percussionist): I’ve been in the band for just over three years and I believe Ravenscroft had started up a little less than a year before that. Devin and I had played in a couple bands that didn’t work out. When they decided to part ways with their drummer he gave me a call.
- Who musical influences initially pushed you towards your chosen genre?
Brett Gorke: For me the genre was already chosen when I joined the band. Fortunately I have a broad spectrum of influences. Every one of our songs are so unique, that I draw from many different influences on any given song. To name a few generally I would say David Grohl, Kings X, Devin Townsend, disturbed, ministry, 9 inch nails, Steve Stevens etc. etc. etc. you get what I’m saying?
Pat Magrath: Just good Rock N’ Roll. The band had formed and was in the line of Alice In Chains, Disturbed, TOOL, Black Sabbath, and a host of others that I love. So it was an easy fit.
- Which bands are you currently listening to and who, more than any other, would you like to share the stage with?
Brett Gorke: Oddly enough I have been revisiting Tommy Lee’s methods of mayhem album. A little bit of Sublime and the Allman Brothers. As far as sharing the stage with Another band with Ravenscroft, for me it would be Foo Fighters possibly and Disturbed.
Pat Magrath: A lot of the music I listen too has nothing to do with the style we play funny enough. And just about any of the bands that perform on bigger hard rock festivals. Qzzfest Knnottfest WACKEN and any of the bands I mentioned in the last question.
- Straight off the cuff, what do you feel is the one element Ravenscroft still needs more than anything else, in either its production, marketing and/or distribution strategy to make it a highly relevant act in alternative rock?
Brett Gorke: Funny you should ask, definitely marketing and distribution, which we just started attacking by the hiring of PR and marketing expert Donna Labate. Of course with limited funds we can only do so much. Since social media today only allows you to reach a small specific amount of friends, is important to pay someone like Donna Labate to help distribute our music to radio stations around the US. , And work or social media to get worldwide views not just local. We are also working on our new 6 song EP to be released and distributed sometime in January 2018, and totally revamping our website and setting up our email campaign. In doing this we can cross our fingers that we will be able to start making money off of Merch to pay for things like videos recording touring and Donna etc. All of this is still in its infant stages, but the work that has been done so far is really starting to show.
Pat Magrath: Money and backing to do those things. It takes a lot of work, time, and money to be able to put out high-quality music and videos. We have continued to DIY on these aspects, and when it’s out of pocket personally that can put limitations on our progress. We also just hired our 1st press person, Donna Labate, to help with the things in promotion we need help with. And she’s killin’ it!!! I’ve also put a lot into infrastructure investment this last year and a half to allow us to do more of this on our own. Being able to handle videos and music production in-house should be a big help in the momentum of the band.
- Where does the band do most of its recording and production work?
Brett Gorke: As far as production recording, we have chosen to stay with Shawn Sullivan at World Class Audio. Shawn is so talented I can’t even begin to say, but like our band he has all the knowledge and equipment of the old-school recording techniques as Well as currently updated Versions of DAW programs of modern Recording studios. He likes to bring old-school techniques and tricks and incorporate them into the new style of production and recording.
Pat Magrath: We’ve done all our recording with Shawn Sullivan at World Class Audio. I’ve worked with him for 20 years now, on tons of stuff from movie trailers and commercials to band and artist development, recordings, and production. The guy is phenomenal, to say the least!!!
- Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
Brett Gorke: I don’t prefer one over the other. We are very passionate about the music that we make, and equally as passionate about the performance and live show. We think they’re equally as important. I don’t think anybody wants to be in a band that has great music but are boring to watch on stage. Or vice versa, Crappy music but a great stage show. If you lack in either one of these you’re going to lose fans.
Pat Magrath: I do so much of both I can’t imagine one without the other. Performance without creation gets old. As does creation without performance. Betcha can’t eat just one! HAHA!
- Which one of your original songs gets your adrenalin pumping the most, when performing it live? And does it match the audience’s choice or do they fancy a different song from your repertoire?
Brett Gorke: From my experience so far, the audience seems to really like “Drama Queen” and a couple other familiar ones that they can sing along to. And they really like our new unreleased song “Stand Up” (which gets my adrenaline pumping the most) and The Chase Which also gets my adrenaline pumping.
Pat Magrath: All the songs we have are amazing to perform. I have a little more space to move around during “Into The Dark” so I’d have to say that’s a fav for me and one of our more popular ones with the fans as well!
- On which one of your songs do you feel Ravenscroft overall, delivered its best performance so far, from a technical point of view?
Brett Gorke: That’s a hard question to answer. We probably perform technically at about 95% at every show, where every song goes perfectly. But there was one show in particular, in fact it was at the Whiskey and it was my first show live with Ravenscroft, we played Cauldron of Deceit, and Ralph really engaged the audience, the lighters were in the air, it was an extremely packed house … it was just an “arena-moment”.
Pat Magrath: Of what has been released so far “Cauldron Of Deceit” and “The Chase” are up there for sure. But the new stuff we’ve written just keeps getting better.
- How essential do you think video is in relation to your songs? Do you consider visuals an important extension of the band’s creative processes?
Brett Gorke: Video is an extremely important element to most songs. We have a story to tell and the best way to help the fans understand where you’re coming from is to create a video. Whether it’s a lyric video or a music video. It’s important to help the fans get to know the band better on a personal level by telling the story from our perspective.
Pat Magrath: I’d say “Essential” more because they are expected today then our songs need them. It is a really powerful way to communicate a message, story, or concept, for sure. But I also like to project my own take on the meaning of a song. Like reading a good story. Stephen King Movies are BAD ASS because the story was BAD ASS! But now that I’m getting into audio and video production we’ll see how that changes. Check back with me in a year or two. I’ll either love it or hate it a whole lot more, hahaha. But I’m feeling like I’m gonna really enjoy this medium.
- Which one of your videos would you recommend watching to news fans of Ravenscroft?
Brett Gorke: I’d like to say the new video coming out sometime in January called “Stand Up” it is Epic … But until it is released I’d say watch these “Cauldron of Deceit” storyline video,“ The Chase“ and “Into the dark” lyric videos. But definitely be on the lookout for “Stand Up” We really took a lot of time filming the story line and performance out in the middle of nowhere. It has elements of post-apocalyptic chaos, mad max vs SOA style evil biker gangs, fire and nuclear explosions. We really went all-out on this video!
Pat Magrath: The one we’re getting ready to release for “Stand Up” is really cool. But for what’s out now any of the top ones on our Youtube page are great!
- Illuminate us on your songwriting, recording and production processes. Who takes care of what in the band?
Brett Gorke: As far as the music goes: Sometimes the song comes from just jamming and seeing what develops. Other times maybe it comes from a guitar or bass riff. A lot of the time it will come from Ralph’s a cappella and melody that he will write on a keyboard. He usually records it and sends it to us. Then we get together at Rehearsal to jam out or ideas for the melody. We have about 10 or 11 different unfinished songs, so we go down the list and choose the ones that are closest to being finished. Next, preproduction on those songs, finish them and go to the studio to record. As far as behind the scenes production; Ralph used to take care of 90% of Social media, until we hired Donna Labate to help us. Now we are each trying to pick it up and notch to help get involved with that. Ralph handles social media and booking, and Pat handles technical things. Devin is responsible for the merchandise and the bands income and I am responsible for the website and keeping it current. At our shows, we have a couple of roadies that are responsible for setting up the stage.
Pat Magrath: We all contribute and edit ideas really well together. Generally, a riff, melody line, or some form of inspiration will get us rolling and we just build off that. We’ll develop an idea until we get to the point where nothing good is happening anymore, record it, and let it marinate until the next rehearsal. Any points that need help/work will get worked on and brought back in for review, then we start the process over, rinse and repeat until we feel content with the writing and arrangement of the tune.
- If you could change one thing about how the music business works today, what would that be?
Brett Gorke: The one thing that I would change for sure is that musicians get paid their worth. There’s too much pay to play, music streaming etc going on. Of course there’s a billion good bands out there, but truly hard working independent bands need to somehow get compensated for the endless hours of free time they give to venues to entertain their audience. Often times a band will end up paying to do it, or doing it for free. Most of the time it’s just bad business. Most musicians are NOT business people and they get taken advantage of by greedy promoters. These promoters will pay for National acts by getting bands to “pay to play” with them, then lining their pockets with the extra money.
Pat Magrath: Being able to be fairly compensated for your work would be great. So much easier to produce when there’s something coming back in to continue the process. But I don’t want to get on my soapbox about this. It’s not a subject with a simple easy answer. I will say the openness of the internet to reach people is awesome, and for fans to find you it’s an amazing thing.
- What are your thoughts on all the digital downloading and streaming platforms like Spotify, iTunes and Amazon etc., as opposed to the good old corner shop record stores selling vinyl quite a few years back?
Brett Gorke: Yes the age of the computer has arrived. Unfortunately it has really taken the wind out of the sails on one hand, but on the other it has expanded the horizon. Unless you have money and lots of it to market your product only a minimal amount of fans will be reached. There used to be some sense of mystery and excitement of getting up and going down to the record store to buy latest release of say Judas Priest or iron maiden. But the key is, you bought the music that is how you were able to hear it back in the day. Now anybody can just stream your music for free. It’s very hard for bands to make money on their music. This is why it’s so important to make sure you cater to your fans. Fans are the most important part of Ravenscroft. We do everything with the fans in mind. Our fans support our cause for this reason.
Pat Magrath: It’s a very different experience, one that reflects why the resurgence of vinyl happened. People enjoy the visceral experience of liner notes, photos, credits that are generally lost with most of the digital platforms. I was really resistant to a lot of the newer technology for mostly that reason. The iPod didn’t have anything but the song to listen too. It still lacks in so many ways honestly.
- Do you think there is still any sense in recording Eps and Albums, when almost everybody seems to be purchasing and downloading only their favorite songs from the above-mentioned streams now?
Brett Gorke: We went through the thought process of releasing only singles at a time. Most of it just boils down to having enough money to record the whole album. One of the things I think it is important to creating an EP or an album is the creativity you get from writing multiple songs. If I put out one song a year my writing style is going to change the next year. Another thing is your fans get more for their money when you create an EP or an album.
Pat Magrath: Releasing an “album” isn’t necessary for today’s market, but what it represents for an artist is something different. Originally it was called an album like a photo album, and the songs were pictures that represented the artist at that point in their lives. That collection of songs, like photos, were assembled into an album. You kinda loose that with a single.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Brett Gorke: I can really only speak for Ravenscroft itself. Social media is one of the most Fundamental parts of our career. Engaging with the fans is done on social media for the most part and at our shows. I like to encourage anyone to share their talent Copy and paste or not. Who am I to say who is mediocre or not… I just wouldn’t do that. It would really just be a waste of time to get mad at the flooding of the Internet, but more productive to find your way to the top through it.
Pat Magrath: It is the way most new music is discovered by people making it a necessity, but it has created a lot of noise out there. It really doesn’t take much to record and release music and videos because of the accessibility of inexpensive gear, like all you need is a phone to do it. But that in no way means it will be good. We have lost the suck filters that existed before which also gives access to a lot of amazing music that might never have seen the light of day. It is a trade-off, but I do wish more of the DIY I hear was done better…
- As you work your way through your career, which more than any other fires-up your spirits – A Grammy award, Multi-Platinum music sales, or some other tangible milestone we don’t know about, besides fame and fortune?
Brett Gorke: We all dream of hitting the lotto don’t we lol! A milestone for me would be to play any sold out arena or festival. And multi-platinum record sales wouldn’t hurt a bit ha ha Ha!
Pat Magrath: Self-expression and creation are the big drivers for me, but I’m more than ready for any of those to happen. Hint hint, nudge nudge.
- What is the best piece of advice regarding the music business that you actually followed so far, and what is the advice you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Brett Gorke: Patients and timing in releasing music and videos is the advice we are following now. And the advice we didn’t follow is just releasing music at the wrong times, and without video or marketing and social media to get the views maximized.
Pat Magrath: Educating myself about the industry so I don’t get screwed was more of a getting screwed prevention plan from getting screwed. A.K.A. Got Fucked, that sucked, how do I not do that again.
- Some bands are trying to be the best they can be artistically, others are simply trying to win the masses over and sell as many records as they can. There are of course a handful of bands able to do both. In your opinion, is art separate from entertainment or are they one in the same?
Brett Gorke: Art and entertainment are two completely separate things. But they are both equally as important! The band that can you both of us are the bands that will succeed.
Pat Magrath: Well, they can be one in the same and separate. There have been lots of “Formulated Acts” done simply for money. And some amazing “Art” that became successful. Our goal is much more to play and write music we believe in and hope to become “Successful Art”.
- Of all your achievements what do you think can be considered as being a high point for the band so far?
Brett Gorke: Having people in high positions in the industry take interest in us enough to fly out and see us play, or continue to help us as we get closer to success.
Pat Magrath: Charting in the top ten in College Music when we did a radio promotion. Need a lot of money to sustain those kinds of campaigns, unfortunately. But to do it and be so well received was SUPER AWESOME!!!
- What should Ravenscroft fans look forward to for 2018 and beyond?
Brett Gorke: 2018 starts out with a strong six song EP and a new epic music video for our song stand up, and to be followed up with more videos and events stay tuned!!
Pat Magrath: Lots of new music and videos, if I do my fucking job anyway! HAHA!!!