An interview with Toby Michaels of The Broken Ravens.

In March, The Broken Ravens announced a personel change that saw Toby Michaels and Derek Healey join band stalwarts Thrash MacAulay, Lotto Ferguson and Kevin Clark. They have played a host of festivals with the new line-up and continue the momentum with a gig at The Eagle and two festival slots ( Jocktoberfest and Orkney Rock Festival) on consecutive days in September.

After catching up with Kevin from the band last year, it was the turn of one of the new guys, Toby Michaels, to chat to us.

The Broken Ravens - Photo by Christopher Lonie
The Broken Ravens – Photo by Christopher Lonie

The new line-up for The Broken Ravens was announced in March how are you and Derek settling into the band, how did you come to join the band?

Yeah, things are going great. Me and Derek have both being performing for a number of years now, so adapting to this new band and adding to it wasn’t too difficult. Of course that is in large to the support of Lotto, Kev and Thrash too though.

I was approached after the band where recommended to check me out by another musician. I talked on the phone with Kev, went for a jam and it just naturally clicked I think.

The demos of The Broken Ravens 2.0 to an untrained ear sounded as if you were a bit more restrained than in your previous band (particularly Toby Michaels Rolling Damned), have there been changes in your vocal performances and if so, why?

My voice has developed over the years so I would rather call it a progression. The band definitely needs a more serious tone than some of my previous work though for sure.

I can assure you it is not restrained though. I have found more notes in my range I previously didn’t think I had. The live shows will definitely show I haven’t lost the energy I have always put into shows, I am definitely controlling and channeling it better though.

Last time we reviewed The Broken Ravens was at Brew at the Bog, how has your summer been, what are the highlights?

The summer has been an absolute delight. Since you last reviewed us at Brew at the Bog we have been songwriting for the upcoming album, planning a few music videos and working on our plan of attack later this year and into next year. I have been back and forth practicing with the guys and we have also played the Stramash Festival and Belladrum Festival, both to large and loud crowds. At the same time we have been raising funds for the year and next year with the selling of t shirts, our last order was over 100 after 2 days. It is obviously a nice feeling to be in demand in that way.

You are fitting in a support slot and a couple festival appearances, on consecutive days,  which acts are you looking forward to catching at the weekend?

Next week will be crazy, with The Eagle Bar hosting us and Warrior Soul(a band my lot are big fans of, as am I) on Friday 4th September, Jocktoberfest will be getting a taste of The Broken Ravens on Saturday 5th September and Orkney Rock Festival will be the last leg of this run on Sunday 6th September. Warrior Soul, Iain Maclaughlin and the Outsiders, Silver Coast, Woodentooth and Ten Tonne Dozer are definitely some picks for me over the course of the 3 days, but as you know with the scene in Scotland, that list could include any and all of the acts over the 3 days.

The Broken Ravens at Brew at the Bog 2015
The Broken Ravens at Brew at the Bog 2015

Which of The Broken Ravens’ songs that were written before you joined the band do you most enjoying singing?

That is a two sides of the coin sort of question. For me I love all the original material the guys have let me sink my teeth into, but I also love the progression into new material we have made. If I was to pick one old and one new I would certainly have to pick Black Knuckle Ride and Burn (see video above). Two very contrasting songs but both with core elements of what made me want to join The Broken Ravens in the first place.

New material for the band is being worked on at the moment, what can you tell us about the process and what time frame are you working towards to getting it released?

We have probably one of the most bizarre song writing systems on the planet for a band all from the same country. Being that I am Highland based and the boys are Island based the general approach is the guys work a basic idea together into a full instrumental song and then email me it to let me sink my teeth into it. We then all meet up on Lewis and jam the songs and work out anything that can be improved upon whilst we keep the set tight and interesting.

Lyrically the new material is left to me to have fun with and work on, but the guys will always pitch in with ideas and potential lyrics, as will I offer musical suggestions back to them.

The time frame really depends on us being happy with the sound of everything and having the correct PR in place to really hit the ground running with this debut album we are working on. We could be finished and recorded as early as next month but we are not afraid to “sit” on the material until our discussions with PR companies, other musicians and venues get us the correct tour and press to go with it, alongside any videos we hope to release (probably best to keep an eye on their Facebook page for details -Ed).

This means it may not be until the start of next year, but we will give people tasters online along the way and people will still be able to see us live before the year is up.

The Broken Ravens will be supporting Warrior Soul on the 4th of September at The Eagle, playing Jocktoberfest on the 5th of September and Orkney Rock Festival on the 6th of September.

Our previous coverage of Jocktoberfest can be seen here, and buy tickets for 2015 here.

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A lifelong passion for music matched with a geeky fascination for social media and websites resulted in the creation of Inverness Gigs back in 2010. The aim of the site is to help promote, support and generally raise awareness of the local music scene.If you want get in touch you can contact me direct at chris@igi.gs