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Raven interview

August 27, 2013

Raven interview

Originally from Terre Haute Indiana, members
of Raven played and toured with bands such as REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Dan Fogelberg etc.. George Phelps who had joined The “Carnations” met up with
“Goliath” members in a studio and through a myriad of circumstances, teaming up
with drummer Robert Wolff (ex “Micah”) these musicians merged into “Raven” in
Louisville KY in late 1972. From this moment on, the band toured extensively
through 24 states non-stop for the next 4 years before recording this material
in 1976, unreleased until today.
The material was recorded in Atlanta Georgia
at a studio called “The Sound Pit” Memories of going into the studio at night
and working until the sun came up and feeling like I was floating on a cloud
because it sounded so good (Doug- Raven’s lead singer) Soon after the recording
was completed, Raven got a record deal with Capricorn records. 2 weeks later,
they went bankrupt. The tapes were subsequently destroyed in a fire.
With Disco sound moving in in the mid
seventies and with the bankrupcy of Capicorn records, Raven was literalylike
fish out of water, and slowly but steadily what had felt like the beginning of
something unique, was lost.
First Raven would like to thank Klemen
Breznikar, owner and editor of
Psychedelic Baby Magazine for this interview. Thank you for getting the word
out on so many great music projects that would be other wise lost. 
Raven Members:
G. Charlie Egy, Lead vocals and writer
George Phelps. Guitar, vocals and writer
(Founder and Fearless Leader)
Doug (Funky) Mason, vocals and writer
Tim Allen, Bass, vocals
Robert Wolff, Drums (things to bang on) vocals
Raven was originally from Terre Haute
Indiana. The band was formed under the name Raven in Louisville in late 1972. You toured for almost 4 years. How did it all began and who were the original
members of the band? What was the scene in Terre Haute? Any good
bands you would like to mention?
Raven was originally formed form Terre Haute
Indiana musicians, George Phelps, G. Charlie Egy, Doug Mason, and Tim
Allen,with the exception of Robert Wolff who came to Indiana to attend ISU, but
was from Hudson NY.
Doug Mason: There were so many excellent
musician’s in Terre Haute, it was a great time to be musically involved and
being in an agency in Champagne Ill. I got to play in shows with REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick and a band called The Guild who had
as their singer Michael McDonald and Dan Fogelberg was also part of this….Not
only did they come to play Terre Haute but being in the same agency we all hung out together….Looking back it was absolutely
incredible….
Charlie Egy: The group formed under
the direction of George Phelps, guitar player. He added Doug Mason keys, Tim
Allen bass. They formed in Louisville KY, under the name The Carnations a
well-known horn band in the area, in 1972. We auditioned for a booking agent
from Atlanta, and we were off and running. We toured through 24 states non-stop
for the next 4 years. In those days, in Terre Haute, was a hot bed of musical
talent- goliath, America, Kicks, Massachusetts Assembly, Hurry, and many more
bands had plenty of places to play- the town was good to musicians.
Robert Wolff: After the band Micah
disbanded. I spoke with old friend George Phelps whom I had known while
attending ISU in Terre Haute Indiana. George was adding musicians to a group he
was part of in Louisville KY. I was in upstate NY at the time and decided to
move and join the group.
George Phelps: A bit of history of the formation of Raven: 
Doug, I and Charlie were in a band in Terre Haute named Goliath. We were
blessed with the opportunity to have as much recording time in Louisville KY as
we desired. Great experience but to no avail. I took leave of absence from the band
summer of 1971 to spend a month in Maine. I was replaced and when I returned
looked for a new beginning. I went to Charlie and Doug and initiated getting
back together and writing material to build a band with. We call on a local
bass player we had known for years, Tim Allen, jammed once together and there was
that piece to the puzzle. We started working on a piece of music that was titled the Suite, 25 minutes wonderfulness.
This is where it gets complicated.
I joined a horn band in Louisville KY, named
the Carnations, they had a few hits in the 50’s and 60’s. Two of the founding
members had opened the studio that we had the run of with Goliath and got me
this job. Coincidence I think not. In Terre Haute Dog, Timmy, Charlie and I put
a horn band together to work on our original music. Then fate took control:
first the band in Louisville needed a bass player, enter Timmy. Then we needed
a singer and keyboard player, enter Charlie and Doug. We played everything from
Chicago to Edgar Winter’s White trash……….and kicked but a bit different
than the band was before. We would still play concerts with the band in Terre
Haute and write, it was like an alter ego. We then had the opportunity to go
into the studio, with both horn sections and the drummer from Louisville and
did a demo of Fallacy and Myth, the Suite, which to me are the best piece of
music we ever wrote. After this session it became apparent to us that we need a
more skilled drummer, the one in Terre Haute was not interested in devoting
fulltime to music, so I called Robert whom had moved back to upstate NY with
his band. We had jammed with Robert a bit when he was in Terre Haute and we
knew he was a fit. We talked him into packing up and heading to KY. Charlie,
Timmy and I had moved to Louisville to devote all attention to music, when
Robert got to town we started playing as a three piece with front during the
week and the horn band on weekends. It took us a while to convince Doug to move down but we finally did and about that
time the Carnations broke up and we became Raven the 5 piece band. I could go
on and on but that is a brief explanation of the start.
We were a band of brothers that set out to
conquer the music world. We all could sing and play like demons. Live we were a
spectacle. Timing was not good.
Tell us about unreleased material?
Doug: There was a lot of material that didn’t
get recorded and quiet a lot was lost….
Charlie: In the archives, we have a few songs-
Bathsheba, 40 days and 40 nights, sadomasochistic picnic- and I may have the
long-lost demo of Onto Her Pillow.(should we mention the suite, jester 1 +2,
and fallacy in myth- 1593?}  I was
inspired by the late sixties- everything was wide open, the only thing that
mattered was being in a band, and I was in the baddest band around. The heavy
English bands were a favorite- we pushed ourselves to outdo everyone in our
musicianship and stage show, and when we started writing, the sky was the
limit- so much creativity from these guys.
Robert: Raven was totally open for anything
and everything; no one was ever restricted we never over produced each other. I
believe that is the reason many bands fail. If you hire someone let them be who
they are. That is why you asked them to join in the first place. I developed my
drum parts for the songs the band wrote and I gave my interpretation.
What inspired the band? I don’t mean just musical influences but more like the whole picture.
Doug: There was such closeness amongst us that
we inspired each other….
Having written a few of the songs on this
album they were personal and reflect situations that came up during our
travels….I am so proud of every song and feel fortunate to have had the privilege of playing these songs
with these guy’s I call Brothers….
Charlie: George and Doug wrote much of the
material, I just sat listened and began writing lyrics. Doug also added on some
songs as he wrote lyrics as well. I play keys and bass so I would write some
passages and work with George and Doug on completion.
Robert: I just played along with what they
wrote. I had many influences, there were so many groups with great drummers. I
was all over the map on who I listened to. Jazz, rock, funk, fusion. I loved it
all. I remember driving and listening to Chick Corea, then ELP, Aerosmith,
Billy Cobham, Hendrix…the time was great for music.
Where did you record material and what
are some of the strongest memories from producing and recording this album?
Doug: The material was recorded in Atlanta
Georgia at the studio called “The Sound Pit” Memories of going into
the studio at night and working until the sun came up and feeling like I was floating on a cloud because
it sounded so good….
Charlie: In 1976 after recording this album,
we got a record deal with Capricorn records. 2 weeks later, they went bankrupt.
The tapes were subsequently destroyed in a fire. I believe we recorded at the
Sound Pit in Atlanta, GA
Robert: It was too perfect we had total
support of our agents and manager. We were at the end of our journey. We had
worked very hard and spent much time playing each song on tour for years. The
songs had morphed to what you hear on the recording.
Did you play any shows or even go on a tour as
‘Raven’? Did the name come from ‘Edgar Allan Poe’? Why did the band split up?
Doug: Raven played many dates with national
groups and also did some small headline performances as well.
The band split up because the Bass player fell
in love and moved to North Carolina….The recording company wanted the
original members and he said….No he wasn’t coming back….everyone lost the spirit
and one by one we drifted apart….
Charlie: 4 years was one long tour-I think we
may have taken 3 or 4 weeks off the entire time- 7 actually, when Robert
joined, we needed a name- White Raven was kicked around, and we finally settled
on Raven. Later, we would take to the stage to the song by the Alan Parson’s
Project, so I guess we did align ourselves with good old Edgar. After the
disappointment with Capricorn, disco was surging. We hung on for awhile, but we
were like fish out of water- rock appeared to be dead.
Robert: Capricorn produced many fine groups.
We signed with Allen Walden one of the owners. We completed the record.
Perfect. The IRS came and shut them down. We were stuck where we were and
couldn’t do a thing. We had a record, our manager and agent met with us and
told us to go back on the road and work up a different show with more DANCE.
WHAT!!!! The record was never released and never had a master mix with the
changes we would have like to make. It was recorded for the most part live in the
studio, there were very few dubs of any kind.
We were built for come sit and listen, you
don’t dance to ELP, Yes, Genesis, and groups like this. Our material was sit
and listen. The music scene was changing; Disco was moving in, live venues were
shrinking. It was becoming a bad time for live music. Disappointed we all
struggled and this led to members leaving in frustration.
What gear did you use?
First we had a giant PA too much to remember
with sound board out front and separate mix side stage and lighting system. We
filled a 22 foot truck to the ceiling and could hardly close the door.
Doug: I played a Hammon B3 , Clavichord, Minimoog, with Two Leslie speakers a
board and Amp.
Tim: Tim played a Fender Bass, with a Separate board and Amp, with two Ampeg
cabinets one with 10’s the other with 12 inch speakers
Robert: All Ludwig eight toms single bass, 4 cowbells, chimes, woodblooks,
anything I could hit.
George: My gear was two 100 watt Hiwatt custom heads with 3 Hiwatt 4×12
cabinets. A 1973 Stratocaster with Alembic preamp, 1961 Gibson 335 and a 1972
BC Rich Seagull. I use heavy gage strings with a wound G. For pedals: a crybaby
wah, dynacomp compressor and a phase 90.
Do you have any regrets if you look back?
Doug: No, I haven’t any regrets. Just wish the
timing wasn’t against us. I have continued to play. Three of us (the
guitar player,drummer,and myself) got together and recorded 3 of my 9 songs on a
CD called “Hello” which was released November of 2009 still available on CD Baby, Amazom, itunes and
many others….I am currently working on new material with George Phelps and
hope to release this some time in the future.
Charlie: My biggest regret is seeing Robert
leave without convincing him to stay- {Timmy had just left}- there went the
best rhythm section on the east coast. My second biggest regret is not
returning when the band re-formed- I was gonna be a rock-n-roll star on my own.
HA! I’m very pleased for this music to see the light of day- it deserves to be
heard and enjoyed. Many thanks- Charlie
Robert: I should have considered staying, with
Tim leaving the group I felt like the chemistry was lost. But, when you are
young you just don’t think things out. I continued to play with various groups
some good some bad. I finally said I have had it in 1990. I had a son and moved
into another world. I decided after about a10 year lay off to set up the kit
and start to play along with the radio. How fun, not really. I went out to sit
in at open Mic events in the Atlanta area but no one knew me and I was ditched
and would be put off. Who’s the old guy that wants to play. Very funny. Well
because of my tracks with Raven and Micah on FB I made contact with some great
musicians in Europe. I spoke with Colin Tench. www.Bunchakeze.com.  He invited me to record some tracks on a
project with Corvus Stone. That has turned out to be a success. On November
3rd  2012, we had a debut of there new
record on www.aiiradio.net. It was a total success. I only played on 5 tracks
but will now play on their future projects as well. I also have completed a
track for another group Murky Red also from Europe. The musicians in Raven, and
Micah are also talking about doing other projects and recording new material.
Rock seems to be gathering a new audience and live music considered composition
rather than dance tunes seem to be resurging. Let’s hope, as I always have said
music has many different flavors taste them all. I hope everyone will enjoy the
soon to be released Raven recording, and look for more to come with my other
projects. Raven was different and never boring, such
great music should never be lost and thanks to the Internet will now take it’s
place with many other great bands.
George: What happened……..it was simple Disco and
the fact that we were hard to harness. The last song we wrote was silver screen
I think this was us starting to turn the corner for a new direction,that never
came to pass.
Regrets; I do have. I have been a fairly
successful business person for the past 30 years but it does not hold a candle
to the feeling I would get when the 5 of us hit the stage. I should have held
the band together and put a harness on us and controlled the beast. Because
although I have played with many talented musicians over the years it was
never even close to what the 5 of us could do. I just have to wonder what could
have been, how good could we have gotten, did making money mean success or was success the
magic.
Thanks to everyone who supported Raven and
helped with this project and enjoys Raven music. RavenBand on Face Book.  Special thanks to old friend Don Wrege
http://www.linkedin.com/in/donwrege who helped us put this all together.
Raven….
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
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http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013
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