The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
The Rockpit 2013 Interviews RAVENLORD'S Csaba Zvekan




talks about the debut album and plans for 2013





Mark: Thanks so much for talking to the Rockpit.



Csaba: Hi Mark, thank you for having me and the interest in Ravenlord.


Mark: So sorry we had to postpone this one, I have to apologise, it was for a good reason though, we got to hang out with Thin Lizzy.


Csaba: That’s a pretty good reason.


Mark: Back to Raven Lord though, the main reason we had to do this interview is the album 'Descent into the Underworld' – It’s amazing, I’m not sure how else to describe it.


Csaba: Thanks for your kind words, the response so far has been overwhelming, they’re calling it ‘a masterpiece’, ‘the best record in decades’ and ‘he sings like Rob Halford in his best years’. I mean I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve never experienced such an interest in a band, it really is overwhelming.


Mark: I think I can join that group. When I first heard the album I thought it was that complete and sounded so composed that it had to have been by a band that had been around for years.  The sound is so full, it’s beautifully produced and I think that if enough people hear it they are going to get back into traditional Metal in a big way.


Mark: You mentioned that you’ve been on the scene a while now who were the early influences for you.


Csaba: Of God pretty much everything from the eighties and nineties, but Sabbath with Dio especially and Halford and Priest, but also Glen Hughes when he was screaming with Purple and bands that had little to do with Metal like Chris Thompson, Graham Bonnet. I mean I pick up things really easily and store things in my brain to pull out those references when I need them, and I think that is what music is about to me taking the stuff you love so much and taking it and moulding it to your needs – to create something new.


Mark: I completely understand, but I think with Ravenlord the difference is that you do that so well, sure you can feel the influences but it doesn’t sound like you are copying them, more channelling them to create something just as good, but new and that is so very hard. That’s why the CD is still in the car and has been since I first listened to it! It’s been taken to the next level. The most interesting thing for me then is that a lot of the record was put together over the internet!


Csaba:  (laughing) Yes, the original idea was to make a record as a vehicle to tour. When I left Killing Machine I quickly realised that I needed the stage and that there had to be a way to continue this. And I realised I needed a few songs, to get me back on stage but most of all I didn’t just want a local garage band, I wanted professionals who knew what they were doing. So I spent a lot of time selecting the musicians, but not just a band that could play, but who had life experience and could sing and help me with backing vocals. So we ended up with great musicians and great showmen and all of a sudden it was a real band, and we got so much interest that we are going to be touring in October and I’m really looking forward to it. There are a few Festivals this Summer too, to introduce us.


Csaba: Getting back to the question, sometimes it is hard just swapping files back and forward over the internet and video conferencing and chatting online but we’re in 2013 and this is the way we work, we’re not shipping tapes back and forwards anymore.  We’ll make use of modern technology and what you also get from that is privacy and the ability to get on with your home-life and keep work separate. And sometimes you feel like ‘I don’t want to practice today’ and you can, then you can work double tomorrow, and if you can schedule your time effectively it works. You have to just make sure that the time doesn’t run away and that’s where the producer helps keep you on track. But when this started I was the only one who knew what I wanted and what it should sound like so we talked and gradually everyone realised what I was after, I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel , I just wanted to do what interested me the most musically. Music should come naturally, and that’s what the audience can feel. With Ravenlord I think the audience will feel that we are doing what we want and just having fun.
Mark: It’s great to hear you say that because these days we get hit with so many side projects that are put together on the internet that never do anything so it’s great to hear that Ravenlord is a real band that will get out there and tour. I noticed in your bio that you spent the nineties in the US but that you’re back in Europe now.


Csaba:  Yes, I came back in 1999, but I was there for a decade, it was a great time, I lived in Los Angeles and played in bands, played in studios, with all the good and the bad in life that goes with it. Then I left and went to live in Australia for a while, I lived half a year in Perth and loved it there but it was hard to get a Visa at the time so came back to Switzerland where I’m originally from. Then it wasn’t quite what I wanted so I moved out to Spain. And from that you might think I’m a bit of a nomad and I guess I am, but I had to find the spot on the planet where I could say I was home. And that’s not necessarily where you are born or where you grew up, you have to get out of the nest. The problem today is that there are these boundaries set by laws and Governments and you can’t just choose where you live and I think that’s really sad as this planet should be free for all of us.    


Mark: I’m the same, a constant traveller, but I’ve been in Australia for twenty years now, but never in the one place. It’s funny that you mentioned Perth as that’s where I am at the minute.


Csaba:  I lived in Wanneroo.


Mark: (Laughing) That’s where I work the day job – one of my offices is in Wanneroo, it’s a small world! There’s a decent Metal scene here at the moment but as you know it’s a pretty isolated place and hard to break out of western Australia. I do get to shoot over to Europe though this Summer and might be there for your Festival dates.


Csaba:  You should come and hang out, we’re doing it all ourselves, driving ourselves, looking after our own gear and before the shows we were going to rehearse in Spain but now we’re  relocating to the UK to rehearse for two weeks. We’d love to do more Festivals but it’s timing – the record only came out in February and even though there is so much momentum it’s the timing really. They’d love to book us but they’re full, it is what it is! If it’s not happening, it’s not happening, but you can catch us on the tour. 


Mark: If we go back to the album for a second, you’ve given us an idea of what the process was like and how at least some of it came together on the internet, the reviews as you said have been glowing, are you pleased with how it’s all going so far?


Csaba:  I’m assuming it’s going well based on the reviews, and we’ve been building momentum for some time, starting with the free song ‘Black friar’ which went down well and in a few days there’s another free surprise for the fans to mark the two year anniversary. I’m sure the numbesr will come in in April and May but I assume it’s all going well.  


Mark: Let’s just have a look at some of the songs. Now that I’ve had a few listens, my favourite I think is ‘Revelation’ it’s such an intense song – where did the inspiration for that one come from and how did the song pull together?


Csaba: Well of course the inspiration came from the great stories of the Bible, but make no mistake I’m not trying to be Christian or impose anything, but there are some great stories and inspiring stories, and even though I grew up as a Christian, over time I may have changed my philosophies on subjects like God or who we are and stuff. You know you grow, and you change, but this book: and I’ve read it now in three different languages, is amazing! Especially the book of Revelation, there’s so much great fantasy stuff in there and there’s so much great material, so much to write about, the rituals, the gold, if that doesn’t affect you as an artist, well! I’m just trying to be neutral and the same goes with other lyrics, if we sing about the Devil or Hell it’s just the concept, it’s up to you to decide what you believe and how you believe. I’m not imposing anything.          


Mark: It’s great source material and of course it’s the lyrics that give it that other dimension. When I first listened I was blown away by the music but then I started to listen more closely to the lyrics on songs like ‘The Rebel’ and I think it’s those lyrics that lift the songs. That one I guess is about sticking it to those in power and standing up for yourself, not that I’m trying to take the words out of your mouth!


Csaba:  No exactly, but at the same time we’re not trying to be political either, as a musician it’s not about being political, or religious, it’s about the story and the song.  It’s all about what’s happening in this world – about how we treat our animals, how we treat each other, how we are blind because of the greed of money. And how we don’t realise that it’s actually destroying us and it’s not about giving a solution it’s about standing up and saying ‘no’ this isn’t good for the planet, or this animal, or my family. And even if you get branded a rebel or a terrorist, are you really bad if you stand up against tyranny or oppression? And people out there are trying to manipulate us into doing things we don’t want to do, but this planet is supposed to be free and that’s what it’s all about.


Mark: Lyrically also one of the other interesting ones for me was ‘Promised Land’. Which seems to tie in with the title of the album?


Csaba: ‘Promised Land’ is actually is about a near death experience, where the Priest has been called in and you are almost ready for the journey to the afterlife but then some force of nature steps an and says ‘you know what?  No – I’m not happy with this – he’s not supposed to be here’. And you get a chance to have a second chance to live. And I guess very few people will have experienced what I’m saying but it really doesn’t matter, the thing is you can paint the picture in a song the way you want but the listener is free to interpret what they say or feel or hear.    
Mark: I think that is the great thing about the lyrics – you touch on those eternal themes and you are free to interpret them the way you like. One of the ones I love is ‘Let the Show Go On’ which I have no idea what that is about!


Csaba:  Well that one is about the final scene of a Disney movie – and now you’re thinking ‘oh my God what is he going to say now!’ Pirates of the Caribbean – the third one, I was watching it and had this song in my head and watching the final scene with this swirling ocean and battleships and storms and sword-fighting – and that’s what it is that final scene with the massive duel.


Mark: Some of the songs, even though I’ve never heard you live, I can imagine going down really well. I mean’ Black Friar’ and ‘Metal Knights’ and I guess the Power-Metal tinged ‘World of Steel’ seem to be made for getting a live crowd involved! 


Csaba:  Well that was the idea – how can we produce it with the guitars especially, to hold and pull back until the time comes after the music builds. And I guess that’s the idea, to build the music, build to a chorus and at the end everyone can sing ‘Metal from dusk to dawn’  and with the crowd behind you live there’s nothing like it!


Mark: I imagine that once people do hear you you’ll be at all the big Festivals as like I said its music that people just need to hear. One of the things for me when I was first about to review the album was that I felt like I was a kid again listening to the first Lizzy Borden album. We’re they a band that you’re familiar with?


Csaba:  No.


Mark: (laughs) I suggest you have a listen then!


Csaba: I think the thing for me is this: I’ve been compared in the reviews to names that I always have to look up. And when I check them out sometimes I get it, sometimes not. To be honest with you I stopped listening to the newer Metal some time ago and when I talk to Axl, our manager, he’s  always enthusiastic, telling me about all these bands, and I’m like ‘who?’ and some of the bands have been around ten years and have six albums out. The thing is I know my influences and that’s all I need.


Mark: And I think that’s the key you already have the best – you don’t need any more! I guess I’m lucky in that each year I get to see a bit of the world and last year I went to the US and the one thing I knew I had to do was pay my respects and see Ronnie’s grave. He’s someone I don’t think we will ever see the like of again, and to me to say that when I hear Ravenlord that it makes me think of Dio I don’t think there is a bigger compliment I could pay you. You have that essence and I’m going to be watching you so closely over the next few years! It’s a wonderful album and I expect big things.


Mark: You’ve been a musician for a long time and there must be easier jobs out there what keeps you going?


Csaba: The crowd. When you are on the stage that’s the payoff it’s not the money or the fee, it’s the sweaty kids screaming, and you get the chills. You have a cocktail of chemicals in your brain on that stage that you cannot recreate artificially in any other way and it can be like a drug, wanting that sensation over and over again. And if you are not on stage for a while you miss it and you do get withdrawal symptoms. And that’s what gets you going – the attention you get from the fans and the appreciation of your work. Every rational mind would tell you to do something else, but if you want to be in a band and your parents support you and the band tell you you’re a singer and you get a record deal , and people tell you it sounds great then you eventually become a musician and there are no questions about wanting to do anything else with your life.  


Mark: I know this might be a hard one to answer but is this the most excited you’ve been about a band you’ve been in and did you expect something so big to come so relatively late on in your career?


Csaba:  Oh yes, absolutely, I’ve been in so many bands, and played some cool shows, I once even played with AC/DC , but now I get goose bumps and it’s good, but it will get even better, there will be another record and I can say that now. There’s so much momentum and you can feel that people really want this. I never imagined it, and I think it all came with the choice of going back and not consciously trying to do something new, but go with what we felt and knew.  I think that was the best choice we made. And that I think was what was missing in my music all these years, I’d been trying for something new, trying to experiment with synthesizers and all these things – but nobody wants that.


Mark: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head; everyone is trying to do something new but why not just do what you feel and love really well.  We’ve just got a couple of standard questions to end if that’s OK. If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any album at any point in time, just to see how the creators interacted what would it be for you and why?


Csaba: Oh my God… It would have been the ‘Heaven and Hell’ album by Black Sabbath, definitely.  


Mark: And I think quite probably mine too.


Csaba:  That’s a good question and I can tell you! (We both laugh)


Csaba: The meaning of life is realising that we are forever. And that we have been forever and that we always will be, and that Death is just another episode, or page, or chapter, but is basically a new beginning. Because energy is eternal, it never disappears, it just changes. So even if we get enveloped by a black hole and get spit out into the Universe again we will still be us. If you continue the thought you can then say who is God? But That I’m not going to tell you. But we have always been around and always will be but in a different form. We will be always available… 


Mark: Always online….


Csaba: Always with a full bandwidth! Well that’s mine anyway and it takes away a lot of fear.


Mark: Well thank you for talking to us, it’s been an absolute please. And next time we want an interview I fully expect that you’ll be too busy talking to Rolling Stone and the like!


Csaba: Never too busy to talk to you Mark.


Mark: Keep doing what you do and enjoy it, and if I get a chance to stop over and see you I’ll be in touch.     







By Mark Diggins April 2013




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