When The Broken Ravens plug in their instruments and launch into the opening bars of their début single ‘Pressure’ they emerge like a snarling beast – but one which is knee deep in sweet melody and all the traditions of classic rock n’ roll.
It is difficult to restrict the emerging Hebridean quartet to one particular genre as they boast a sound like the love-child of Queens of the Stone Age and Motley Crue but raised by Johnny Cash.
That’s not a good thing – it’s an outstanding thing. Metal enough for the metal heads but rocky enough for the foot-tapping classic rockers and melodic enough to infect the ear of the casual listener.
The Broken Ravens - singer and guitarist Bugsy Maclean, guitarist Thrash Macaulay, bassist Lotto Ferguson and drummer Kevin Clark. - are a band the rock world should be hearing a lot more of.
And it looks like they will be as the fledgling four-piece are currently fielding a host of record deal contracts from across the globe.
“Things are going so well,” grins Clark in his garage which is doubling up as a makeshift recording studio in Stornoway.
In the sleepy Gaelic-speaking town of Stornoway on the Scottish island of Lewis, a rocky outcrop in the Atlantic Ocean with no other land between it and America, it is the most unlikely of birthing grounds for an emerging rock n’ roll group.
But The Broken Ravens are no ordinary group. Showing steely resolve and a stealthy glare at giving this their best shot, they are resisting the undeniable lure of contract offers and interest from the likes of Roy Mayorga from Stone Sour, Beau Hill (Ratt, Warrant, Alice Cooper), Sterling Winfield (Pantera) and Paul Wilson from Snow Patrol.
Instead they are taking aim at the charts with a self financed and produced single out in December, with a Scottish mini tour in support.
“We are doing everything from recording to promoting ourselves,” began Bugsy, leaning forward in his chair.
“The band was started as therapy to get away from everything else we do. We got together and banged out a few tunes which is all it was intended to be but its becoming a lot more which is good.
“We were invited to play goNorth (A Scottish Creative Industries festival) and we attended a lot of the seminars which gave us so many ideas about how to do everything ourselves. The whole industry has changed since we started out in the 80s. We took all our ideas home.”
“But we totally did it in an 80s style though in terms of fliered everyone, and every place we found,” interjects Kevin excitedly.
“We were the only band there to do that and everyone knew who we were, regardless of whether they had heard us play because we were everywhere like the old Sunset Strip days of posters everywhere. It worked in our favour as our showcase was packed.”
With such world renown music luminaries banging on The Broken Ravens door the future looks bright for the band who have all the swagger and rock n’ roll mojo of a band who have been together for years.
“Its almost like a sixth sense which we call unagi,” says Clark before Bugsy corrects him, “no, that’s just what you call it.”
“Our single, Pressure, came about when I played a beat and Thrash instantly had the riff over it. “Then Bugsy recorded it, took it home to put on his laptop and interprets it before Lotto adds to it and the songs finished.
“We all bounce off each other and so far we haven’t fallen out.”
Written on the vast expanses of the Braighe, on Lewis, a long empty stretch of sand, shingle and shoreline, the track is an homage to blowing off steam and coping with the trials of everyday life – something everyone can relate to.
“It is the song everyone seems to lean towards,” Bugsy says, “ It has commercial hooks but it also has that ‘wow’ bit like a train hitting you in the face. The lyrics are very local as I wrote it on the Braighe. Its about everyday life and the pressures and finding a place like that on a windy day where you can go and feel that spring unwinding and let the pressure unwind.”
Pressure is due to be released before Christmas as part of a four-track EP which will include a B-side as well as an acoustic version of Pressure and possible a remix too.
Also in the pipeline for the band is the exhausting process of recording and mixing all their own material on a laptop before promoting the single and a handful of local gigs. Add to that a performance at The Black Star Riders after show in Inverness and an HMV-instore and the rest of the year is swamped for the boys.
They have even taken a pot-shot at the big screen with a handful of demos fired off to the licenser at Lionsgate Films for consideration for one of their projects in TV and film.
“Everything we have done we have ourselves and the feedback we have had has been great,” grinned Clark. “Beau Hill asked where we recorded our demo and was so impressed we did it ourselves on a laptop which is a huge boost, especially to Bugsy who has been doing all that.
“We have around 20-unfinished tracks already and 10-finished so we have more than enough for a full album and the interest is huge.
“Charlie Benante from Anthrax, Niko McBrain from Iron Maiden have all said how much they enjoyed our songs. People I met before have helped me get access to people I would have no way of reaching.
“When Roy Mayorga emailed me and asked to record us I couldn’t believe it.”
But interest in the band is far stronger than mere emails and verbal pats on the back with the band facing concrete offers in black and white which they are battling the urge to ink.
It helps the band refrain that Clark has been burned by the record industry before as part of Our Lunar Activities. They were a band who landed a record deal in America and toured with Blink-182 with Mark Hoppus actually producing their debut album but the record has never seen the light of day and is unlikely to do so.
It was a steep learning curve for the stickman who is now well aware of the perils of signing to a label to eagerly or quickly Clark and the rest of the Ravens are biding their time.
“We recorded with Blink-182 and as we had a manager we didn’t know what was happening from day to day,” recalled Clark of his days on the road with his former band.
“There is money going here, there and everywhere and you wake up to a call saying you have to be at the airport to fly somewhere.
“We wanted to do it all ourselves and we have been getting great advice from people.
“For the Ravens the pull in the States in unbelievable as for every five people who respond to our demos, videos or emails at least four of them are in America.
“In Britain there hasn’t been much although a few bands have liked our page.
“Hill and Sterling Winfield have both sent us contracts but we are wary of losing too much control and getting too much debt. People may give us the money to record but then we would have to pay so much back and perhaps lose 50 per cent of our music and all our royalties. So we have had them all send us contracts and advise how much they are going to charge us, what they are willing to do and how we can make that work for us.
“Hill has even offered to travel to Stornoway to record us which shows how much he sees in his.
I’ve learned before you have to hold off. Of course it is very exciting and you want to sign but you need to take a step back and think about it.”
Gloria Cavalera has also expressed an interest as has Sandra Araya – both of whom have tremendous metal pedigrees through their superstar husbands Tom Araya (Slayer) and Max Cavalera (Sepultura / Soulfly).
“The longer we postpone biting the carrot the more control we will have in the end,” explains Bugsy. “It is so tempting and hard to resist but it would be great to have an album recorded without signing anything. We are looking at decent producers with guys like Mayorga and Hill.
“If we can into a rehearsal studio as a band for a week without any distractions we would have that difficult second album out of the way and half of the third album written too. It is a cliché to talk about chemistry but it just happens with us.”
That confidence, vitality and clear camaraderie is rare to find in a band but then The Broken Ravens are a band who appeal across both genres and demographics.
All four have served their time in the trenches of the local pub and club scene and have earned themselves a shot at the big time.
“We seems to appeal to all kinds of people,” remarked Clark as he busily fidgeted on his stool in the garage.
“We are not metal but we have such diverse influences. I’m metal, Lotto is metal, Bugsy is bluesy and Thrash is an all-rounder. Its when we get together all our sounds go into a blender and we get our sound – The Broken Ravens.”
“I feel we are quite accessible and I don’t think you can pigeon hole us as we fit a few different sounds,” says Bugsy. “Other people like to label us classic rock, desert rock or stoner rock but we call ourselves rock rock.”
Kevin is also quick to extend thanks to the huge list of those who have stepped up the plate to help the band locally as he insists: “without them we would never have got this far or maybe even have been noticed.”
As we pack up the interview and prepare to finish up Bugsy adds what is both his own, and the long term dream for all four members of the band: “What a great life it would to have enough money to quit your day job and go into a room to make music every day.”