Unkindness Of Ravens (Tipperary/Offaly)
Species was delighted to welcome the darkness that is Unkindness Of Ravens to our line up for Species 2016 and then even more delighted to welcome them back for Species 2017. They were incredible both years and true professionals with an amazing quality of sound and stage presence, definitely one of the highlights both years.
We are enraptured that Unkindness Of Ravens will be returning for their 3rd year at Species 2018 and with their new Album ‘Beautiful Tragedies’ recently released in March this year on Wolftrap Records, this years performance promises to be extra special! We love them!
We recently spoke to the band to dig a little deeper into their sound, themes and inspirations.
Members: Danielle Egan (keys/synths), Darren Keegan (guitar/vocals), Daryl Hogan (drums) and Shane Fitzgerald (guitar until early 2018)
Photos: Unkindness Of Ravens Live at Species 2016 and 2017
An Interview with Unkindness Of Ravens
- Tell us a little about yourselves as a musical artists living in Offaly and Tipperary :
Living in Tipperary and Offaly provides many unexpected Gothic-tinged opportunities – the dramatic landscape and sites rich with dark history are very inspiring.
- How long have you been making music? How did you get into it? And what drives you to do it?
There is quite a large age gap in our band – the youngest member is only 25, while the eldest is almost 40, so between us all there are many years of music clocked up. Our vocalist joined his first serious gigging band in 1995, while Unkindness Of Ravens is the first band of our keyboardist – so the distance in years is great.
- Is there a story behind the name ‘Unkindess Of Ravens’?
Our name is an old redundant phrase for a flock of ravens. We felt it has a poetic quality that suits our music well and as creatures ravens are a species we all relate to.
- How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
We’ve been together as a band for four years and met through music.
- What can you tell us about your instruments?
Our instruments are our pride and joy. We have a fetish for nice equipment, particularly old amplifiers and synthesisers.
- Do you compose all your own music? If so tell us a little about the steps you make within a group dynamic to bring a new track into existence?
We compose and record all our own material. Its always been very fluid and easy process for us, because we communicate well and there is never any tension, so we’ve been more prolific than most bands, having put out three full-length studio albums in four years and several self-produced and very elaborate music videos.
- Are there any particular thematic concerns that captured your imagination for the music we heard from you at Species?
Dark romance is a strong theme in our music and we like psychedelic, the occult, experimentalism and found-sound.
- If you could bring any other elements to your music and/or performance through collaboration across the arts, what would these be?
We’d like to have live strings – a cellist and violin would be lovely.
- Your music has an occult-rock presence. Which artists have been influential to the development of your sound and what aspects of these inspire you most?
Yes we like the occult and paganism. Its a well-ploughed furrow now though, so we like to step outside that when we can. Surrealism – Samuel Beckett style surrealism – that’s what we’re about in visual terms, or at least try to be. We’re well versed in everything from Greek tragedies to the Beats and have a wide breadth of literary influences that have more inspired our band, than taking inspiration from other bands. The Doors have had a massive influence on us – I sometimes see us as being like an angrier, heavier (and uglier) version of The Doors sometimes. Organ driven rock, with literary driven lyrics.
- You work collaboratively as band; do you ever have creative differences? If so how do you work through them?
Differences are surprisingly rare in our band. The worst arguments we’ve ever had have been over a slight change to a reverb on a recording or something like tiny like that! We are always respectful and nice to each other and see the band as a rock to derive confidence from when dealing with ‘reality.’
- What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge?
Our biggest challenge has and always will be trying to juggle work with the band and get time together when everyone is off work. It take real dedication just to overcome that – before a single note is played there is a mountain of stuff that has to be done first. Getting all your ducks in a row and arranging a successful practice can be very difficult. Time is never on our side – but ironically it inspires us to work harder when we can be together. Laziness is impossible.
- What’s your ultimate dream direction for your band?
Our ultimate dream as a band is to make some music that stands the test of time – to contribute something worthwhile to the musical lexicon. After that our dream is to just tour and see some of the world – but see it together.
- What are your views on the internet in the music business?
There are a lot of drawbacks to the music industry today compared to only a few years ago – but really its a double-edged sword. In many ways this is the golden age of music – when anything is available and nothing is beyond your reach. Musicians can share their music in an instant and 20 years ago nobody had pockets big enough to buy the sheer quantity of music available to stream now. Service like Spotify have expanded all our musical tastes and allowed us to check out and enjoy so much more than was ever possible before.
- What are your rehearsals generally like? What kind of environment do you practice in?
Our rehearsals are always something we look forward to. We practice where we record all our music – in a 200-year-old lodge house at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains in County Offaly.
- How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
We’ve learned when less is more and that sometimes its more about emotion and atmosphere than about technique or musicianship.
Our music has become darker and more personal as each album comes out. It takes a little time before you learn how to communicate properly through music. You must learn people will appreciate you when you are vulnerable and lay your soul bear.
- Is there any new projects, recordings, events etc coming up or you have recently been involved with that you would like to share with us? Tell us the news!
Our new album ‘Beautiful Tragedies’ was released in March of this year. It took six months to record and was released on the exciting new Irish label Wolftrap Records.
- What advice would you give to new artists who would like to pursue a career in creating music?
Practice hard, believe in yourselves and ALWAYS be nice and respectful to each other. Be a rock of strength for your bandmates and go out of your way to tell them how good they are at what they do and how you appreciate playing music together.
- What are your views Gothic and Industrial culture in Ireland today?
The whole Gothic subculture was always the underdog of the underdogs in Ireland. Even when our numbers were greater and small flocks congregated in Dublin on Saturdays, we were always the weird black sheep of underground and extreme music.
- What parts of Species did you enjoy most?
Gothic Species is our favourite event in Ireland. It might not be the biggest, but it is by far the best and we have played at most of the small festivals around the country. The atmosphere and people who attend are just tops and the venue is spectacular. We’re so lucky to be asked back again and are really looking forward to it. We always try and have something extra special for Gothic Species.
About Unkindness Of Ravens
Formed in Tipperary, Ireland, in June 2015, Unkindness Of Ravens create dark music.
Synths and organ-driven, reverb-drenched rock is the core pillar of the band’s sound.
A nod towards modern proponents of darkwave and gothic tinged heavy music is evident in the band’s music; as are traces of doom, psychedelia, occult-rock and vintage celtic rock.
Between those fault-lines surfaces verbose post-rock influences, juxtaposed with unlikely comfort alongside torch-ballads and minimalist laments.
However, even more curious is a strong undercurrent of Beckettian surrealism and darker themes, explored through the band’s self-produced artwork and music videos, as well clear influences from the black-kaleidoscope of sounds emitting from the thriving avant-garde and dark ambient scene.
Originally performing live as a retro-rock group which began in December 2013, the band widened their sound when Danielle Egan (keys/synths) joined founding members Darren Keegan (guitar/vocals), Daryl Hogan (drums) and Shane Fitzgerald (guitar).
Fitzgerald departed the group soon after and the remaining trio pushed the band through a complete remake, emerging with over an hour of recorded material in the winter of 2015.
Subsequently, ‘Under Stolen Skies,’ the band’s debut album was released.
The album was self-recorded in a 200 year-old house in the shadow of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the Irish midlands, with Hogan, a qualified record engineer, overseeing the recording.
Soon later the band teamed up with Dura Gesta Records, a subsidiary of Domestic Genocide Records, based in Michigan in the United States.
This early trans-Atlantic relationship saw Dura Gesta Records release Unkindness Of Ravens first album, ‘Under Stolen Skies’ in November 2015.
A video for the song ‘Leanan Sídhe’ was also released, which was filmed and produced by the band and set in the other-worldly karst landscape of the Burren and their home in the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Filming the video saw the band visit the Pollnagollum Caves, which inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to create the character Gollum in the Lord of the Rings.
The video became a showcase for the band’s style and aesthetic; with down-tuned string arrangements as a backdrop to organ and distorted violin, vocal harmonies and reverb drenched distorted guitars.
In 2016 the band took to the road and expanded the lineup to include Philly Brett on bass and the return of Shane Fitzgerald on guitar. In 2016 the band played at the Siege Of Limerick Festival and visited Eastern Europe for the first time to perform at the Electric Meadow Festival near Lviv in western Ukraine.
February 2017 saw the band release their second album – a 100-minute-long double album titled ‘The Perfect Dark’ on Domestic Genocide Records.
The album’s release was accompanied by a video for the first single – ‘The Wolf and the Hound’ and again the entire album was self-recorded in the same old house in rural Ireland.
The video was filmed by the band in nearby Leap Castle and the infamously haunted Bloody Chapel, a site known worldwide for its dark history and reputation for paranormal activity.
In early 2018 Shane Fitzgerald left the group and Unkindness Of Ravens announced they intend to continue as a four-piece group and release their third album, ‘Beautiful Tragedies’ on new Irish label Wolftrap Records.
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