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Interviews Raven Lord

Interview with singer Csaba Zvekan

Interview conducted by MetalMike

Date online: March 30, 2013

MetalMike: Congratulations on the release of your debut album Descent to the Underworld! It must feel good to get your music out to the masses.

Csaba Zvekan: Thank you, Mike and thanks for the interest in Raven Lord. It feels absolutely stunning to have our music out there especially with the great reviews that are coming in on an almost daily basis. Never have I experienced such great feedback from the press and fans. They are calling the record a "masterpiece," "best record in decades" and saying we are "leading the Heavy Metal genre." It's like, "wow!!!"

MetalMike: The members of Raven Lord are from several different countries. What brings musicians of such varied nationalities together? Can you give us some history behind the formation of Raven Lord? Was it one person's vision or a series of chance meetings?

Csaba Zvekan: Yes, it was my vision to have an international band. This would make things more interesting as all the musical metal cultures would melt into one band. The members would be able to give interviews in their own language and spread the Raven Lord news. All the members were handpicked and had to fit many criteria.

MetalMike: Each member seems to have at least one other band they are associated with, so is Raven Lord a full-time band or more of a "project"?

Csaba Zvekan: Raven Lord is a real band for our fans with a yearly release they can look forward to, appearances on summer festivals and touring planned. We have signed a two-album deal with Mausoleum Records so the second record is already in works and should be released early 2014. We want to work hard and show continuity. It wasn't always easy for me but with this team that we have now for Raven Lord things are just happening very well. We're gaining a lot of momentum day by day.

MetalMike: Who did the songwriting for Descent to the Underworld? Is there one main writer or writing team or did everyone bring ideas that ended up on the album?

Csaba Zvekan: All songs are by Raven Lord and it is a group effort where everybody is allowed to express themselves with their instruments. However in order for my vocals to happen seamlessly there are some adjustments that must happen first to the structure and the overall arrangement of the songs. I'm talking chord progression and length of the pieces. But occasionally, I would also come up with some guitar riffs as I play all the metal instruments, more or less, hahahaha! In the beginning of Raven Lord it was quite important to explain the sound I wanted as the players all came from different musical backgrounds and metal genres. So when they would try to do something progressive metal I would immediately steer in a different direction. This is called producing and only I knew how I wanted to present Raven Lord's debut album.

MetalMike: With six band members, all with their own musical ideas, you've still managed to produce a focused and cohesive album. How much of a challenge was it to get everyone on the same page with how the album was going to sound?

Csaba Zvekan: It was very challenging in the beginning. For instance the guitarist had to play a totally different style than he usually would. Stefan comes from a very progressive/instrumental background. I had to remove all that complexity and simplify things so I can build the melodies that I had in mind. After all, good songs had to be written, not just an instrumental solo record. So that took most of the time producing. But once that was set in place and the vocals were on top, the rest of the musicians pretty much knew what to do and the rest of the tracks fell into place. Drums and bass came naturally, the musicians free to play whatever they felt was the proper style. The very same goes for the keyboards, something that I was very happy with.

MetalMike: What are the band's influences?

Csaba Zvekan: Ah, there are so many bands that we like and you could hear bits and pieces melted into Raven Lord. Bands like Dio, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Malmsteen for the overall band mood. As far as my vocal style goes, Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Tony Harnell, Glen Hughes and Ian Gillan are the main influences but Chris Thompson and Graham Bonnet have influenced me, as well.

MetalMike: Speaking of influences, how does a band like Raven Lord go about NOT sounding like all the other bands out there? Was this even a thought as you wrote and recorded Descent to the Underworld?

Csaba Zvekan: Yes, this was a great concern of mine. I didn't want to sound like a tribute band of some sort. The idea was to melt classic power metal with neo-classical elements, but just a touch of these things. I didn't want to become a progressive metal band or something symphonic, either. I wanted "meat and potatoes," down to earth and in your face; the traditional metal that works the best in festivals and live shows. This music should move the masses to raise their fist and bang their heads while everybody is shouting the chorus!

MetalMike: Are there any plans to tour? Maybe some festival appearances, which would minimize travel time and increase the bands exposure, perhaps?

Csaba Zvekan: The interest is high in Raven Lord and, although the record just came out, the demand for live shows is very high. I get this question asked a lot. We want to play major festivals in Europe during the summer, 2013. I started out proposing Raven Lord for festivals and the workload with various regional booking agents was so much work that I needed help from a professional booking agent. When I contacted R-MINE Production to see if they were interested in working with Raven Lord they didn't hesitate to put us on their roster. This is a professional outfit and is setting us up for a tour in October 2013. R-MINE Production is also the main promoter who does the R-MINE METALFEST in Tongeren, Belgium where they got us a spot playing the main stage on Saturday 22nd June 2013. It is totally amazing to be part of this Raven Lord team.

MetalMike: Descend to the Underworld has an excellent sound and no doubt Fredrick Nordstrom (In Flames, Dream Evil) and Maor Applebaum (Sepultura, Yngwie Malmsteen), who handled the recording/mixing and mastering, respectively, helped. How did Raven Lord secure the services of these Metal titans?

Csaba Zvekan: I am amazed by the sound every time I listen to the record. Both "metal titans" have done a tremendous job and I thank them for them. I met Maor Applebaum in the very early days of Raven Lord. I remember he contacted me as soon as we posted our very first press release introducing the band. When I checked the credits on his website I was like "wow" that's the guy I want to work with. We talked and later became friends so it was pretty obvious that he would do the job. During production I realized I wanted to bring a heavyweight producer on board. I was looking for somebody real good in the business. I discuss pretty much every detail with my general manager Axel Wiesenauer from Rock'N'Growl Management and he takes the credit for a lot of things in the Raven Lord camp and that is the case with this one. Axel gave me names of producers and, with a little luck, Fredrik Nordstrom found a slot for Raven Lord in his busy schedule. I'm very pleased with the outcome of the record and had a great experience with both "titans".

MetalMike: According to your bio, Joe Stump (lead guitar) "recently" joined that band. Is this a permanent situation? What does a talented guitarist like Joe bring to Raven Lord?

Csaba Zvekan: Yes, Joe Stump is a permanent member as of August last year, so it's not very recent anymore. Hahahah, time flies. Joe is our mighty "Shredlord" and has a lot of experience. Musically, he is much appreciated and his advice is very valuable to me.

I like to consult with Joe on all aspects as he keeps me focused on things. As you can imagine, he is so busy with his successful solo career, being a professor at Berkley, the band HolyHell and he just recently finished his book. Still, he finds the time to work with Raven Lord and tour and record the second album. Remember a day has only 24hours. His guitar playing style is aggressive, technical, well thought through and fits perfectly with Raven Lord. We're glad to have him.

MetalMike: What are some of your favorite tracks from the album and why?

Csaba Zvekan: I like "Revelations" as it is so dynamic but also "Black Friar" as it is so powerful and the image behind it is so strong. Hell, I love them all or I probably would have not released them.

MetalMike: One of the songs that really stuck out for me is "Sun God." It has that Middle-eastern vibe like you hear on Rainbow's "Stargazer" and Dio's "Egypt (the Chains are On)." Was there a conscious effort made to pay a little homage to the late Ronnie James Dio?

Csaba Zvekan: What do you think? Hahahahaha! Of course, but without ripping off these great songs or copying anything. It's just the mood that is so great about these songs. My heritage is Hungarian/Croatian and my musical background includes listening to Balkan folk music while growing up. My father listened to a lot of Hungarian Gypsy music when I was a kid, so it comes very natural and is so much fun to put the "Hungarian minor," or what they call "the gypsy scale" into my songwriting. It gives this foreign and far away feeling of mystique, secrets and the unknown. There are a lot of dreams and fantasies triggered only by this particular music scale.

MetalMike: What are the short-term and long-term plans for Raven Lord? Do you see members shifting in and out, almost like Tobias Sammet's Avantasia, or is everyone "all-in" at this point?

Csaba Zvekan: I've been doing Raven Lord for two years now. A lot of the changes in the line up happened during production. And it was certainly not my intention, as I like a steady line up where the members can melt and grow together. Still, let's remember this is an international band and you don't always know how these people will turn out to be. One thing is for sure "let the show go on" and the show must go on as we have responsibilities to our fans and the music industry. The good thing is, and it's pretty much set in stone, that the singer will stay in the band, hahahahahahaha!

MetalMike: I would like to thank you taking some time to answer a few questions for the readers of The Metal Crypt. Is there anything else you'd like to let the readers know that we haven't covered? Where can they get more information about the band?

Csaba Zvekan: I thank you MetalMike for the opportunity to be in The Metal Crypt and, of course, the interest in Raven Lord. I had a lot of fun with your questions. In the name of Raven Lord I would also like to thank The Metal Crypt readers, our fans who bought the record and our supporters. Come out and see a show in a venue near you and meet and greet us.

MetalMike: Thanks again and congratulations again on Descent to the Underworld!

Csaba Zvekan: Thank you for your support Mike and all fans out there!

Other information about Raven Lord on this site
Review: Descent to the Underworld

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