If you’ve been paying attention to metal memes and viral videos, you have heard the music of or seen a video of Derby’s Raised by Owls. The quintent’s comedy grindcore has been a hit in the UK and has earned them a place on Bloodstock Festival‘s New Blood Stage. Before they hit the stage, I spoke to the band about their origins, grindcore, their unexpected success, viral videos, Ainsley Harriott and Bloodstock.
Jack: Hey, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you?
Raised by Owls: Hey man, we’re fine AND dandy… which we’re led to believe means we’re doing well. Just sipping on a cup of lovely Yorkshire tea, so can’t go wrong, really. Owl are you?
Jack: Raised by Owls was formed in 2015, how did you all meet?
Raised by Owls: We’re all from a small town in Derbyshire called Ashbourne. It’s a little bit like Royston Vasey from ‘The League Of Gentlemen’ which might explain quite a lot about us. We all went to the same school but all at different times; Tobias graduated in 1908, Mark has been the headmaster for the past 13 years, Alex helped build the school in 1585 and then got arrested for trying to knock it down in 1588, Lee has been selling cigarettes to students since the early 90’s and Sam is studying for his O.W.L.S right this minute!
Jack: What made you want to play grindcore?
Raised by Owls: A lot of the bands we love are grindcore or have grindcore roots and influences. There is a lot of grind out there that is not afraid to be silly and does not take themselves too seriously, that was a big appeal to us. We could never have been, and probably never will be a serious band. Howlever, I wouldn’t say we’re strictly grindcore per say. There is definitely some death metal influence that can be heard in our work, also hints of black metal sprinkled about. We’re bit of a genre melting pot, really.
Jack: What bands have been the main influences?
Raised by Owls: Carcass, they were a big one when we started the band. The first full song we properly wrote was ‘Rot Stewart’ in Alex’s bedroom which is just total Carcass worship! Other big inflowlences include: Napalm Death, The Black Dahlia Murder, Pig Destroyer, At The Gates, Behemoth, Mastodon, Morbid Angel, Every Time I Die, Municipal Waste & many, many more.
Jack: Do you think Napalm Death, ENT and Wormrot playing Glastonbury is good for the grindcore scene or is it just a one-off gimmick?
Raised by Owls: We think it’s cool. The thing is with this type of thing is you’re always going to get people moaning because Glastonbury is such a mainstream festival, but getting extreme metal out there onto new platforms and into new places is only a good thing in our books. The thought of your typical Glastonbury goer stumbling across Wormrot and just standing there bemused, wondering if they’re having a bad trip is also quite a funny thought. I hope it’s not just a one-year gimmick, it’d be cool to see it return. Who knows, you could see us playing there one day? Prowlbably not.
Jack: You released your album The Great British Grind Off last year, were you surprised as to how popular it became?
Raised by Owls: Yes, very. It’s insane owl many people it’s reached and how many people share the same weird sense of humour as us. I think giving it away for free helped a lot – people are less inclined to pay for bands they really like nowadays, so it’s even less likely that they’ll pay for a band they have never heard of.
Jack: What made you want to release it for free?
Raised by Owls: Because we genuinely didn’t think any owl in their right minds would want to pay for our stuff ha-ha. We just made a load of silly songs and wanted to put them out there into the great wide world for people to take and do what they like with. Also, if one of the celebrities found out and wanted to take legal action, giving it away for free might work in our favour.
In all seriousness, I think it’s done us the world of favours. By giving it away for free, it has meant a large amount of people have been listening to our music – which is amazing. When we recorded it, nobody knew who we were and by giving them something for free it only helped us get acquainted better – a bit like buying a stranger a pint of bitter.
Jack: How did you convince Jim’ll Paint It to do the artwork?
Raised by Owls: Sam got drunk and emailed him. That is literally the story. We thought he’d either ignore us or say no, he got back to us the next day saying yes. We were over the moon. He said he’s had a few album art requests before, but I think what swayed in our favour was the ridiculous song titles about British celebrities. That was our thought process when thinking of artwork, we always thought our song concepts and his artwork would go hand in hand. We’re glad it did.
We were, and still are, huge fans of his. We couldn’t have thought of anybody better to do our artwork. We’re incredible honoured he said yes and he did an incredible job, it’s an amazing bit of artwork. He’s been very lowlvely to us.
Jack: The album deals with many British themes such as queuing, the pub, Sunday Roast and fish and chips. What made you want to go in this direction as a band?
Raised by Owls: It wasn’t planned from the beginning. We knew the lyrics were going to be daft, when Sam started the first few were all about British celebrities. I think it was owlround the time that ‘The Great British Bake Off’ was on the tele and in a passing joke we coined the term ‘The Great British Grind Off’ and ultimately decided for it to be a loose concept about all things British from that point onwards.
Jack: One of your most notable songs is ‘Ainsley Harriott Advises You To Give Your Meat A Good Ol’ Rub.’ What makes Ainsley such a loveable figure?
Raised by Owls: His charming smile, his sowlthing voice, the way you can get lost in his eyes for hours, the way he runs his smooth fingers through our hair. His impeccable calve muscles, his svelte figure, but most of all – the way he makes us feel.
Jack: A lot of your music videos have gone viral on Facebook hitting millions of views, are viral videos the future of band marketing?
Raised by Owls: It really depends on what owl of band you are, I’d imagine if you’re an atmospheric black metal band then making a viral video on Facebook is probably going to be at the bottom of your agenda.
It’s done us a world of favours but we didn’t set out to make viral videos and we still don’t go in with the mind set of “What will go viral?” we just wanted to make silly videos that we hope make people laugh – just little sketches that are not to be taken too seriously. It’s very cool that so many people have responded to them and enjoy them.
Jack: You’re playing Bloodstock next month after winning the metal to the masses competition. How did it feel to win the final?
Raised by Owls: Incredible, one of the best feelings. It is definitely a band highlight for the five of us and a night that none of us will be forgetting in a hurry! We all ejaculated in unison when owl name got called.
Jack: Some people feel battle of the bands competitions like Metal 2 the Masses split the scene instead of bringing it together. How do you feel about these comments?
Raised by Owls: I can see why people might have that preconception but from our experience with Metal 2 the Masses we didn’t feel that at owl. It didn’t really feel like a competition, it felt like you were playing with bands rather than against them. All the bands were getting in the crowd and getting involved for one another’s sets, which was brilliant to see. It was a great experience, we met so many awesome bands and awesome people – we would advise any unsigned band to enter their region next year.
Jack: As a band you’ve attended Bloodstock before, what makes the festival so special?
Raised by Owls: I don’t think we’d label ourselves as a comedy band but we definitely don’t mind that label, it’s quite flattering.The atmosphere and the people who attend are the main thing that makes it so special. Everyone is so friendly and we have never seen any trouble. It’s just a good time, with good people, and good beer. The line-up is always fantastic owls well! Without a doubt our favourite weekend of the year.
Jack: Have you started on a follow up to The Great British Grind Off? If so what topics will you be covering?
Raised by Owls: After we’re done with ‘The Great British Grind Off’ we’re going to become the UK’s number 1 Spice Girls cover band. Owl.
Jack: How do you feel about being labelled a comedy band?
Raised by Owls: It’s an odd one, I don’t think we’d label ourselves as a comedy band but we definitely don’t mind that label, it’s quite flattering. None of us think we’re hilarious, we just wrote songs that make us laugh, and it’s just nice other people have found it funny owls well. I think if we went into writing really trying to make people laugh it would be too much pressure and wouldn’t be that funny.
Jack: What are your plans after Bloodstock?
Raised by Owls: Drinking, more stupid videowls, more shows, more drinking, then probably think about the next EP end of the year/start of next year.
Jack: Finally as you’ve sang a lot about British politicians and celebrities, which British celebrities would you like to collaborate with?
Raised by Owls: We’d like to team up with Davina McCowl for a fitness DVD.
Jack: Thank you for your time guys, see you at Bloodstock?
Raised by Owls: Thanks for the interview, hoped you liked the use of ‘owl’ in every answer? See you at Bloodstock!