Manchester’s Terror Hippies Raucous have been around for nearly 3 years now and deliver some seriously heavy riffage which is expertly intertwined with delicate & fragile melodies. With some high profile supports slots now under their belts, their debut CD hitting the shelves late last year and a split 12″ with fellow Mancunians Burnst due out in the first part of 2007, I pestered their guitarist Tay to answer a few questions for The Sleeping Shaman.
Top ‘O the morning to ya Tay, hope all’s well with yourself and Raucous, we might as well start at the beginning, so can you give us a brief history of the band, how you got together and a run down of your current members?
We’ve been going about 2 1/2 – 3 years now, there’s me and Dan from Burnst on guitar, Liam of the Fog on Drums, Creely from Year Of The Monkey on vocals and Andy who I was in Ripley with on Bass. I basically started the band wanting to do something a bit different from what I was doing with Ripley something more proggy, expansive and creative, and obviously something different from the other bands the lads were in. Liam was really keen as he hadn’t drummed in about a year.
How would you describe the music Raucous creates?
On the surface it is fundamentally just a load of heavy noise with plenty of big old epic riffs but we’re pretty melodic at the same time. Hopefully after a few spins the listener can begin to break it down to find the tunes and more subtle elements which lie underneath.
And what influences does the band take onboard from both a musically & lyrically point of view as well as on a more personal level?
Musically our influences are very diverse and as such we like to make this shine through in our music. When the band first started I looked to make it some sort of hybrid of Radiohead, Botch, Narcosis and Neurosis. There is also a healthy respect in there for bands like Burning Witch, Kyuss, OMG, Boris, Queen, Converge, Iron Monkey, Canvas, Melvins, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Coalesce etc… I mean, I could go on about this stuff all day, basically bands with their own vision that create something unique rather than following some text book idea of what a genre should sound like.
I wanted the music to be full of big time changes but ones that flowed rather than sounding awkward and thought out rather than being clever for the sake of it. It was also important to have big guitar parts that kept building over many bars rather than being boring several minute repetitions that just don’t hold my attention. I wanted it to be all over the shop, fast, slow, harsh, melodic, quiet and loud, brash yet subtle – hence the name Raucous. So many bands these days have no passion and no balls and there never seems to be any progression or signs of them pushing the limits of what they can comfortably play so we always like to challenge what we have achieved before, aiming to out do ourselves and we have all grown as musicians greatly because of this. We have learned so much from each others styles.
Lyrically I write the majority of the words and Creely fits them together and makes as much sense as possible from them. They’re all very personal really on the whole but we do have some less serious moments involving dinosaurs and Vikings; we take our music seriously but not ourselves. The words are full of hidden meaning and contradiction and I tend cram them with metaphors and references to various things. The common theme that runs through them is about trying to find hope in despair and on this album that’s mainly failed relationships, personal loss, bereavement, the value of money that’s attached to everything, the destruction of the planet, social decline, coping with being a wage slave, insecurities, bad habits, in general trying to move on from the things that hold us back in life.
In the latter part of 2006 you released you debut album ‘In The Name Of Moving On’ which last a staggering 70+ minutes! This was released as a joint venture between Future Noise and Roadkill Records so can you tell us how this deal came about and what kind of reviews/response have you had so far?
I have known the FN chaps for years and they’re good friends of mine as I was in Ripley/Levien and have played numerous gigs for them. I knew they were interested in starting their label and had expressed some interest when we were planning for the album. I have massive respect for what they’re doing and it’s been great to see how they have grown since their first gigs getting on for 5 years ago, they have shown us massive support and their gigs are highly thought of by the bands they put on and the folks who attend. Hats off to them on all fronts. With Liam being part of Roadkill naturally it made sense for their label to do the release as well. It felt right therefore to have both parties involved which also means we benefit from better promotion and more contacts.
So far the response has all been really positive, I don’t think we have had any serious criticism, not that I am arsed, we do this for us, it’s a very selfish thing (bar reviewers having a problem with our name; I am pretty sure people don’t know what it means and read it as couscous or something daft). We got 4/5 in Kerrang which was amusing and a nice surprise as it was the first review, also it was surprisingly well written for that rag and the dude obviously took the time to have a proper listen to it. All we used to hear or be described as was an Isis-a-like which obviously can be seen in small parts but that’s way short of the mark as we are no where near as linear, there is tons more to us than that.
And any idea on how many you’ve sold to date?
Not enough for some burly roadies to slug our gear out of the back of rented transits and I still can’t get in bars where Paris Hilton hangs about.
Considering ‘In The Name Of Moving On’ was recorded by yourselves and in your own practice room/studio, the sound you’ve managed to achieve captures brilliantly the heaviness and diversity of Raucous, so can you tell us how long it actually took to record, how you feel it went and are you pleased with the final recording?
It took us about eight months to record, mix and master as we were only able to work on it at evenings and weekends. From day one we were adamant that it wouldn’t be rushed. We went the route of doing it ourselves mainly down to the fact for the money we had to spend we were not going to be able to afford anyone decent to record it, so many recordings by young bands just don’t come across well cause its had to be recorded on the cheap by some clueless fool into country music who removes all the power and noise cause he hears it as a nuisance.
The time was right for us as we were renting an old studio stripped of all the hardware; it was just a case of hiring some bits in. I mean at the end of the day we know better than anyone what our band sounds like and that’s the biggest hurdle, I don’t think a lot of bands even know what they are trying to achieve. It got very difficult towards the end as there’s only so many times you can listen to such lengthy tracks and retain sight of your goals, it was very stressful as you just want to lay the thing to bed and it is tempting just to knock out a rush job, thankfully we persevered.
I am very proud of the record we created, when you consider it only cost us about £600 to do, I think what we achieved is special, I don’t think many bands could do it or would put in the time and effort involved to see it through. I am especially happy with the general presence of the whole thing and the fact we got it to sound massive without having to resort to double tracking and studio tricks we cannot pull off live. It’s also a bit of a personal victory down to the fact that most of the guitars used were in a terrible state, trying to get one that sounded decent clean was a nightmare. Our songs are written to play live and it was important to capture the energy of that. Like anything you learn from the whole process and if we did it now I reckon we could do it a whole lot better. More than anything the experience has brought us on a band ten fold. I am fairly certain however that we won’t be taking on such a big project again anytime soon for fear of going bald.
I can’t mention your CD without commenting on the amazing artwork Chris from Narcosis designed for you, so can you tell us how you hooked up with him, where the idea for the artwork came from and are you pleased with the end result?
We have all known Chris for a while through the mighty Narcosis and we were impressed with some of his work. It was nice as we know him and we were able to keep in touch on a regular basis to comment and give our ideas on how it was going and put our stamp on things. It is very important to us as a band to have control and input over each aspect of what we are doing. At the end of the day it is all one package and the art should reflect the music. To start with I just gave him a low down of the lyrical themes and asked for it to reflect we are and English band. I really think he has got across the feelings of hope and despair. After it was finished I found out that the photos he used he took up in Bolton which tied in lyrically as most of the subject matter regards time I spent living there.
Playing live is obviously important to Raucous and during your short life span you’ve managed to play with some high profile UK and Overseas bands such as 5ive, Red Sparowes, Torche, Baroness, Ufomammut, Made Out Of Babies and even Gwar! Considering you only released your debut album late last year, how easy/difficult was it to get these support slots and do you think being based in Manchester helped?
We have been lucky in that respect as all of us have been in Manchester bands for years so we already knew where to look to and have been helped out by many of our friends. At the same time though you don’t get gigs like those if you can’t cut the mustard. I feel we have earned them through hard work and being a really tight band, I can only think of one performance we were disappointed with and that was due to proper ropey sound. We work very hard at what we do (although if you see the shambolic states we get in at gigs you would probably wonder!) and have always had the frame of mind that we should be able to play with any band, no matter how good and still do ourselves proud.
You’ve also been using visuals courtesy of that twisted genius ‘Eman’ projected behind you during your more recent live sets, so firstly, how did the collaboration come about, are the visuals entirely down to Eman or does the band have an input in the end result, what do you think the addition of them brings to your live set and is he now a permanent member of Raucous or just something you will do from time to time?
Eman is a friend of ours and we had seen him do some visuals for Day For Airstrikes which I was really impressed with. With us being fans of bands like Neurosis, Tool and Radiohead we had seen how much a visual element can bring to a live performance, especially when you’re playing such long songs, it gives the audience some kind of focal point to concentrate on, an extra depth. We mentioned it to him in passing one night and he just popped up one day with some stuff he had worked out and we were really impressed, we have just left it up to him thus far but as the relationship progresses I am sure we will start to have some input towards it. We haven’t discussed if this is a full time thing, he is a very busy chap and does various things for club nights and the like so we just do it as and when he is available which suits us fine.
A couple of your members are also involved in other projects, namely Burnst and The Freezing Fog so can you tell us a little about these and does this help or hinder the creativity of Raucous?
There is more than enough creativity in our band to go around; we always have new songs on the go and a surplus of ideas waiting to be worked on. We all just love to make music and each band is fairly unique so there is no problem really. We all love jamming and spend a lot of time doing so, swapping instruments and generally making a racket, I think this helps with the writing process and tightness of the band just as much as solid practice. If you can play when you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s not so hard when you do. Thankfully were not one of those bands that find the whole thing a chore and struggle to get anything done. Were very receptive to each others’ ideas but we never tell each other what or how to play, our songs develop naturally and then the structure gets finalised later. Most of all it’s a lot of fun and something we all look forward to and more than anything that’s the point of it all. The more ideas the better as far as we are concerned, variety is the spice of life and all that jazz.
Speaking of Burnst, you’ll be releasing a split 12″ with recently formed Slow Riot Records based in Lancaster, so can you enlighten us as to how this deal came about and when it’s likely to see the light of day?
We played a great gig in December in Lancaster with loads of mates from Manchester/Barrow, organised by the chap from Slow Riot. Burnst, Freezing Fog, Thade, Run Like Hell, Volition and Tigers. It was an awesome day full of ridiculous strength cider. He dropped into Roadkill Records (Liam’s shop) a week or so later and asked about releasing a 12″ for him, which of course we jumped at with most of us being wax junkies! We had been banding about the idea of a split with Burnst and the guy thought it was a great idea. The Burnst half is done and sounds fantastic, a real treat. I have a serious giddy on about it, more so than when we did the album as it is being released on vinyl. Also I think the newer stuff we have done is a much more pure representation of what Raucous is and what to expect on our next opus. The recording is hopefully being done to tape which should sound really warm and it’s going to be a total wet dream as far as Creely is concerned.
As with most bands in this day and age, Myspace plays a big part in promoting your band, do you think this has helped spread the music of Raucous not only here in the UK, but Internationally as well?
I could not honestly say. I think myspace can be a very useful tool in the way it allows you a simplistic webpage people can check for news and gigs etc and when you hear of a band it’s an easy point of reference to check out new music, as most bands will have a page. However it is totally impossible to gauge what people make of you by looking at a number of plays or number of ‘friends’. I mean half the plays on there are probably clocked up by the same small number of people who are genuinely interested in us and check the page, and half our ‘friends’ wouldn’t know Raucous from Keane. On the whole I’d say the thing just gets used a popularity contest by the vast majority of bands on there, an idiotic competition of sorts which is not something we are interested in being part of. It is just there for people who want to get and ear full of Raucous and as far as we are concerned, in this day and age it’s a necessary evil. There is nothing wrong at all with wanting people to have access to your band and there is no shame at all in making music people might actually like, but trying to be some sort of high school hero/local scene star is just a load of shite. These kids want to try spending the money they pump into their haircuts and bollock oppressing jeans on their music and whilst they are at it get a fucking clue. On a positive note though we have had interest from a label in Sweden which I think came about through myspace so obviously it’s serving its purpose.
And lastly, besides the split 12″ with Burnst, what else does Raucous have planned for 2007?
Bigger amps, more tone, groupie orgies, stadiums and a 7″. We may even start recording the next album towards the end of the year. Hell we might even make some shirts!
Thanks again Tay for taking the time to answer my questions and please use this space for any final words, thoughts and comments…
Play it like you mean it and don’t be a musical sheep. Evolution gave you ears and a mind for a reason.
Check out the latest goings on with Raucous at: www.myspace.com/raucouspimp
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards