Glyn Beasley has been the leader and vocalist for the epic Viking metal warband Ravenage since its formation five years ago. Glyn is also the co-promoter for the Metieval Festival, an event which has seen bands like Hecate Enthroned, Blaze Bayley and Power Quest play. He’s also heavily involved with the Warhorns Festival – The UK’s premier folk metal festival. In an exclusive interview with Nico, Glyn reveals his thoughts on Hull’s metal scene, the UK’s folk metal scene and clears up his roles in both Metieval and Warhorns. Glyn also makes reference to his love for goat’s milk.
Nico: The internet is quite barren when it comes to details of Ravenage’s early day, so my first question is; how did Ravenage come into existence?
Glyn: Ravenage were formed in December 2007 from the remnants of Heathen Foray. Heathen Foray were formed a couple of years earlier by Sam and myself, first as just a recording project, but then a live band. Rich, aka Lord Legion, joined us on bass almost immediately and then later Chris on drums. We probably did about 10 gigs in total, mostly in Hull and Beverley, but we also played Derby, Wakefield, Scunthorpe, Birmingham and Withernsea. We also released an album and an EP and had reasonable success for a Hull-based band. Towards the end of 2007, we recruited Mark Wood as a second guitarist as Sam was struggling with commitment, at the same time Chris had also lost interest and there was a definite divide in the band. I didn’t feel comfortable continuing HF without Sam, so I put it on hold. At the same time I still wanted to be in an active band in a similar style and enjoyed working with both Rich and Mark, so over the Christmas period we wrote and recorded The Ravenage demo so that we could find a suitable keyboardist and drummer. A chance meeting in Spiders Nightclub secured the services of former Gwydion drummer Bruno, and then I think Elliot found us on Myspace via has solo project Nogothrim, and full rehearsals began in March 2008. Elliot tweaked the demos and re-recorded the keyboards, and we made our debut in Swansea supporting Annwn that April.
Nico: The band has seen several differing line-up changes through the years, how have these line-up changes affected Ravenage‘s sound?
Glyn: I think our sound has just been a natural progression since the Hardrada’s Fall EP, prior to then our sound was more raw and leaned more towards black metal, rather than the folky melodic death metal sound we have today. To be honest, though we’ve had a fair share of line up changes over the years, everyone has known what Ravenage is about and has adapted to our style. For our next album, I’m very keen to hear what Chris, Boxhead and Art bring to the table alongside the more established writing styles of Elliot and Danny.
Nico: Things have been quiet over the last year or so within Camp Ravenage, is there any reasoning for this?
Glyn: I wouldn’t necessarily say we’ve been quiet, it’s more of a case that we’ve not been gigging as often as we have in the past for number of reasons. We’re probably more selective of gigs now as without major label support, we’ve done as much as we can in the UK—we’ve played Bloodstock, Pagan Pride and Gathering The Clans, and most major UK cities, as well as some continental gigs and festivals. Like most bands we’ve had good turn outs and we’ve had poor ones. So, these days, it’s just a case of ensuring we play the right gigs and not the same place too often as we try to make every gig special, this year will probably follow in the same vein. Also, as well as Ravenage, I have a full time job, a beautiful girlfriend, a wolfdog as well as commitments to both Warhorns and Metieval, so I don’t want to burn myself out completely. Elliot also has his commitments to Alestorm, Danny to Aloeswood as well as being in full-time education alongside Chris and Boxhead, and Art is a full time music lecturer. This doesn’t mean that anyone is less committed to Ravenage – wait til you hear the quality of our new songs – it’s just a case of balancing things out and staying fresh both physically and mentally.
Nico: Ravenage’s latest album, Fresh From Fields Of Victory, was released in 2011. Is there a new album in the works?
Glyn: Absolutely, and the plan is to release it this year. We have about six songs written and have already performed Northbound Part II live. It’s unlikely we’ll air any others prior to the album release, but you never know. We’re also planning on releasing a video for one of the tracks, which should be a lot of fun.
Nico: A couple of Ravenage‘s members are involved with other projects – Danny with Aloeswood and Elliot with Alestorm – Has this made progress for Ravenage more challenging?
Glyn: Not now, though when Elliot first joined Alestorm we recruited Art as a session player to cover his absence. Art loved playing live with us and we managed to fulfil last year’s gigging schedule by essentially having two keyboard players. Art is a fantastic keyboardist as well as a great bloke and we all liked having him around, and after learning our set it did seem like a waste to just be a session player. Elliot is also an amazing all-round musician and vocalist and can play any instrument with ease, and as he now has his keyboard fix in Alestorm, playing bass with Ravenage enables him to have a lot more stage freedom and live presence. Also, during his absences, its easier for us to bring in a session bass player than a keyboard player. Regarding Danny and Aloeswood, it’s not really a problem as Danny is currently only playing select gigs. However, I have no doubt that Aloeswood will eventually become a huge part of the UK black metal scene. Danny is an amazing songwriter and is already beginning to receive the recognition he deserves. Also, while Boxhead is involved with other bands and projects, he still has enough energy to be in at least half a dozen more bands so that is not a problem either.
Nico: You’re involved with both Metieval and Warhorns and this has obviously confused people, regarding your roles within both. Could you explain what your roles are in each and how they differ from one another?
Glyn: Metieval was formed in 2006 by Stig and myself to bring a professional festival to the Hull and East Yorkshire region. Metieval organized the East Riding Rock Festival in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Due to struggling to find a suitable venue and over-estimating the local metal scene, we decided to call it a day in 2011 with the Metieval Requiem to finish things off. However, after a bit of a break and a rethink we decided to resurrect the festival in late 2012 with the Metieval Winterfest, and have plans for future events. Regarding Metieval, Stig and I are the founders and have equal say in all related matters . We do have a good support team around us especially Stig’s wife Lyn, Elliot Vernon and Hull Rockers Jake and Silver Back.
Warhorns Festival is the creation Marc Ollis – I work as his right-hand man alongside Shamsi Modarai and Elliot Vernon. However, all major decisions are made by Marc and I only book and contact bands on his behalf because of my previous experience co-running Metieval events. The difference between Metieval and Warhorns is that Metieval is regionally-based in Hull and East Yorkshire, and will book any suitable band that plays any genre of metal or rock. Warhorns, on the other hand, is purely a Viking/folk/black metal festival with a more national and international scope.
Nico: As you’re involved with Hull’s music scene, to an extent, as both a musician and a promoter, what are your thoughts on Hull’s music scene? How does it differ from the other scenes around the UK?
Glyn: I can’t really speak for other cities’ metal scenes as I’m not involved in any and I’m also a lot less involved in the Hull music scene then I used to be. Before the resurrection of Metieval Winterfest, I think I’d been to maybe two gigs in two years. I did recently self-promote and organise a gig for Old Corpse Road as part of the Northern leg of their UK tour, but that was a one-off, and a favour for a friend.
There are a couple of excellent local bands out there. Obviously Sworn Amongst have been very successful, although I don’t know how they’ll get on without Frank at the helm. Also, Infernal Creation are my personal favourites and are getting some well deserved recognition and good gigs of late. I also like Alice In Thunderland from Bridlington, and Innersylum have the region’s strongest vocalist in the form of Derk. I also thought Pastel Jack had some good ideas, and was surprised by their demise as I thought they were on the brink of getting to the next level. At Metieval Winterfest, I was impressed by some of the more hardcore bands, in particular Downfall and Battalions.
The problem I think with the Hull Metal Scene was actually pointed out to me by my friend Pip (otherwise known as Raeven Irata). She noted that the majority of metal fans in Hull are already in bands, and local bands don’t really support one another’s’ gigs. I’m no exception to this as I rarely go out and support other bands due to not having enough time I think this is why over the years the scene has divided and fragmented. Also, the loss of venues coupled with the fact that a lot of people appear to prefer to watch a bunch of imposters (tribute bands) than a band playing original music, has taken its toll, hence where we are now. I’d also say that without Darren Bunting and Music HQ, Hull’s metal scene would be dead.
There is still room I think for decent gigs in Hull and the surrounding area. Metieval, Valkyrian, Sunkfest, and Springboard all tend to be successful. Stig and I have also noted that there’s a new festival called Nukefest that appears to be a complete carbon copy of Metieval Winterfest.
Nico: Obviously being apart of the Warhorns family means you’ve got more involvement with the pagan and folk metal scenes. What are your thoughts on the current folk and pagan metal scenes?
Glyn: Since I’ve not travelled to a Euro Festival since 2011, I can only really comment on the UK Scene. There are some great UK bands out there at the minute. Old Corpse Road‘s album is amazing and they just get better and better each time I see them. Sheffield’s Northern Oak, also deliver the goods, and I’m always a fan of Shallow Intentions from Weymouth and Manchester’s Andraste. An up and coming band to watch out for are Morlich from Scotland. I also understand that the recent Korpiklaani tour was a huge success and hopefully Heidevolk, Cryptic Age and Celtachor will storm the Jorvik Viking Festival next week. I know that Warhorns has had over 50 UK bands apply and some of them are rather bloody marvellous, it will be a difficult choice selecting the right line up for this years festival, which is a good thing.
Nico: What’s the meaning behind the band’s name, Ravenage? Is there an image or concept behind it?
Glyn: Most of our lyrics and themes are set in the Dark Ages or at least pre -1066. This was the age of wolves, eagles and ravens – the beasts of battle. The name just came to me one day when I was enjoying a pint of goat’s milk and thinking of song titles, and I came up with Foretelling the Ravenage which was an early HF song.
Nico: If you could replace the soundtrack to any movie with your own music, which one would it be and why?
Glyn: I love classic epic movies from the 50s and 60s like El Cid and The Vikings. Miklos Rozsa is my favourite composer of all time, I also love Basil Poledouris hence the secret Robocop track hehe. Nobody could replace the soundtracks written by those composers. Maybe the movie for us do a soundtrack for hasn’t been filmed yet. Maybe that should go on the ‘To do’ board! Make a movie, that is.
Nico: Are there any bands from the folk metal scene that you’d recommend to our readers?
Glyn: Yep, I’ll recommend a couple of lesser known, but top quality bands. Please check out:
Æther Realm from USA (who are not from Finland).
Black Messiah from Germany (who are playing at Warhorns).
Elzevir from Moscow (I’m not sure if they’re currently active).
Nico: Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Glyn: Thanks for the supporting Ravenage these past five years, here’s to the next five and beyond! And remember to drink goats milk – as well as tasting good it will keep you healthy and full of inspiration!