Oli Brown on D’Angelo, Open Roads and the beautiful game

With over a decade in the music profession, guitarist and vocalist Oli Brown has sussed out how to keep himself artistically engaged. His hard rock outfit RavenEye have transferred their sound to humongous arena stages, while his own Blues-rooted outfit have continued to work the smaller clubs into a frenzy. Brown was something of a guitar prodigy, only a couple of years separating his first encounter with the instrument and his first U.S. support tour. But rather than allowing the sudden transition to go to his head, his steadfast loyalty to his craft kept him grounded and his music, moving forward. We’re excited to welcome Oli back next month and had the pleasure of talking about supporting Kiss and revisiting the back catalogue with him, ahead of the show.

You’re celebrating ten years since the release of Open Road and it’s a good eight years since your first Band on the Wall show. Do you find it easy to look back and is it nice to revisit the older material from time to time?

OB: ‘Yeah it is nice to look back. I will be making some changes to some of the older material to give it a bit of a take on how I’d approach the song now, to bring a different life to the songs. But I always look back on my past work positively, it’s out there and gave me some incredible opportunities.’

Can we expect some Open Road material in the set for the forthcoming tour? Is pulling together the set a long-winded process or something you prefer to do in the spur of the moment?

OB: ‘For this tour it’s a more long winded process as I’m really thinking it through. There are so many songs to choose between and only so long to play in a show! Haha, so I want it right. I also want to touch a little on some acoustic songs as I really want to make this show more like a journey through from where Open Road started to where I am now.’

You’re a big D’Angelo fan – did you come to his music pre or post Black Messiah and can you picture yourself ever attempting what he attempted: to take full creative control over a record and lay down all the instrumentation yourself?

OB: I’m all about Voodoo! I think Black Messiah is absolutely killer though. There was just something special about Voodoo. I don’t think I’ll ever be playing all the instruments myself, I already spend all my time writing at the moment, so dividing my time even more to learn more instruments would break me, haha.’

You have the good fortune of having a few different creative outlets: you can play some bluesy stuff when you feel like it, some heavier rock stuff when the mood takes you – what has been the prevailing mood for you in the last few months?

OB: Right now it’s all heavy rock, as my band RavenEye is getting ready to go into the studio, so it’s riffs all around at the moment. It’s fun to get into this world for a bit when writing, plus lyrically we are going places we haven’t touched before, which is exciting.’

You’ve been on some huge tours with RavenEye during the past 12 months. Have the logistics of those tours: the travelling, venues and atmospheres of each gig, taught you anything new about yourself as a performer and you preferences, night to night?

OB: We learnt a lot when going on tour with Kiss, as they were full arenas across Europe. Learning how to own a stage that big with just 3 guys was so much fun. We’ve tour managed ourselves from the beginning and spent most nights sleeping in the van to keep budgets low, we do all our own accounting, run our own social media and now we have an app. For us, we’ve always wanted to keep a lot of what we do in-house. While we do have an awesome team, we want to keep real with each other and keep each other grounded, it also means budgets don’t get blown out of proportion on the road. A nice hotel room from time to time is definitely a preference!’

The England football team will face Belgium in the World Cup on the day of your Band on the Wall show, so we simply have to ask: where do you stand on football? Love, loath or indifferent?

OB: ‘Completely indifferent, I’ve never really watched football. I played it when I was a kid for maybe a year, pretended to be into Arsenal to fit in but I don’t care for it at all. I don’t remember the last time I’ve ever caught a match! Boxing is more my thing’.