In 2007, from the embers of three local Liverpool bands, rose Rook and The Ravens. Guitarists and vocalists Joe and younger brother James added their mutual best friend Dave on bass and poached drummer John from a local psychedelic rock band. They set about distilling their influences - in the process, creating a different sound to their contemporaries. Upon moving back home to Manchester later the same year, having already played Glastonbury and toured the UK as a four-piece, they recruited singer/songwriter Tom on piano and organ, creating a three-strong vocal section. Tom's first gig with Rook and The Ravens was on the main stage at 2008's Summer Sundae Weekender. Their sound evolved as they added Tom's prodigious lyric writing talent and unique vocal delivery to an expanding collection of songs. All three members began sharing songwriting and lead vocal duties in the style of their key influence, Teenage Fanclub. They were prolific, and always have been.
The time came to enter the studio. After considering Norman Blake from the aforementioned Creation Records legends as producer, they were introduced to esteemed producer Andy Macpherson. A month-long stint in his Revolution Studios - where Andy had worked with The Who, Debbie Harry, Teenage Fanclub, Corey Hart and Eric Clapton - yielded the band's first collection of songs, Sixteen Holes in Sixteen Souls. After a triumphant album release, they were made artist of the week on BBC Introducing and set about playing anywhere that'd have them. Sell-out headline shows, tiny acoustic gigs in country pubs, churches, European music festivals, big support shows with people like The Futureheads and The Twang, British music festivals, local working men's clubs, Ireland, village halls in the middle of nowhere, illegal raves, makeshift stages, stages made of straw bales, stages made of crates, flatbed trucks, big venues all over the UK. they gained a reputation as one of the hardest working bands in Manchester, and indeed the UK. Influences melted together, from the powerhouse crunchy garage rock riffs of The Raconteurs through Neil Young's country grunge, the melancholic euphoria of Manchester Orchestra and Radiohead, to the lyrical astuteness of Bright Eyes. They used the money from selling out of CDs on the road to go back in the studio, at Andy's insistence, to start work on a follow-up.
An EP and accompanying video for "The Judge" soon arrived with support from local radio stations and peers and a copy wound up in the hands of Andy Morris and Tamara Martin at Sound Merchants management in New York City, who put their faith in the band. They added a video for "Little Rib" in June 2013, shot around some of the band's favourite bars in Manchester's hipster Northern Quarter.
With proven hard-work and resilience, Rook and The Ravens is an unsung band proud of their creative freedom, free from industry whims. They are bringing their new record to an expanding legion of loyal fans across the UK and, in an exciting twist, the United States.
'The Judge' EP Tracklist
1. The Judge
2. Little Rib
3. Miss the Boat
10.08 - New York, NY - Bowery Electric
10.09 - Pittsburgh, PA - Garfield Art Works
10.10 - Cleveland, OH - Wilberts
10.11 - Chicago, IL - Elbo Room
10.13 - Minneapolis MN - Cause Spirits and Soundbar
10.15 - Lincoln, NE - Knickerbockers
10.17 - Salt Lake City, UT - Burt's Tiki Lounge
10.18 - Boise, ID - Neurolux
10.22 - San Francisco, CA - Caf' DuNord
10.25 - Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ - The Rogue Bar
10.26 - El Paso, TX - The Lowbrow Palace and Sunset Heights Block Party
10.31 - Charlotte, NC - Halloween - The Evening Muse
11.01 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fire
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.