INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Rage Cave are a metal band from Stoke-on-Trent, comprising of Max Jefferies on vocals and guitar, Justin Miller as the bassist and Zak Eyrolles on drums.
Having only got together towards the end of last year and playing their first gig a few weeks back, where they were given a good reception at local rock venue The Underground, it seems the fledging group, with their diversely-influenced sound, have a bright future.
I recently chatted to them about what lies ahead.
How did the band first get together?
JUSTIN MILLER (BASS): Me and Zak used to hang around jamming at a studio in Stoke called Star Trek, which is run by a mate of my dad’s.
We began looking for a guitar player and one day, Max turned up.
MAX JEFFERIES (VOCALS/GUITAR): We all used to go to the same school.
I knew Justin had been playing music for a few years, didn’t know that
Zak had been playing the drums for ages and we got together that way.
We initially had a singer, but he never showed.
JUSTIN: He turned out to be a bit rubbish anyway.
MAX: So I had a crack on vocals and it stayed that way.
How did the name Rage Cave come about?
JUSTIN: I was in a band before called The Carriers and when we were thinking of band names, Rage Cave came up.
I thought that sounded cool, so I brought the name with me.
MAX: It kind of goes with what we’re trying to do to be fair.
ZAK EYROLLES (DRUMS): We’re upbeat. We don’t really have that many songs at the moment, even though we do have Secular Sabbath.
MAX: A slowish one yeah. I don’t play guitar on that one, I’m just singing.
It’s a slow part of our set.
How would you describe your music?
MAX: You can kind of say it’s rock. From there, I don’t really know.
JUSTIN: It branches off a little, doesn’t it?
There’s some funk influences there.
MAX: Also Jane’s Addiction, Primus, that sort of thing.
ZAK: Sort of like punk rock, isn’t it?
MAX: The bassist from one of the bands we played with, Lovesick for Mina, said we were quite punky.
It’s kind of straightforward, but there’s also a lot going on at the same time.
How did you get the gig at The Underground?
MAX: I got in contact with Dominic Webber, who’s one of the booking people there.
He told us there was a vacant support slot for a gig headlined by Silverchild, and we just basically said “Yeah”.
ZAK: At the moment, Max is basically the manager.
MAX: Yeah, going on social media etc…
ZAK: He’s getting us all the gigs to be fair.
How long have you all been together?
MAX: We only got together around December, January. Since then, we’ve been practising once a week, for about four, five hours.
During the gig at the Underground, Max’s guitar string snapped. That must have dented your confidence a bit, what with it being your first gig.
MAX: Yeah, it was pretty appalling, and it happened just when we were really getting into it.
ZAK: To be fair, I don’t think a lot of people noticed.
MAX: I think it ruined it for me rather than for others, because as Zak just said, nobody really noticed.
For our next gig, we’ll be much better prepared.
We’ll be playing at The Full Moon, a pub in Newcastle-under-Lyme, supporting a band called Chokehold, which Justin’s dad is a member of.
With the recent European Union referendum resulting in the UK deciding to leave the EU, can you see it affecting the British music industry in any way?
MAX: I think it will in terms of British bands touring Europe.
It’ll definitely be more expensive and more difficult.
It will be more of a nightmare for musicians to come here from overseas, what with visas, work permits etc…
Is it an aim for you to tour Europe one day then?
MAX: Yeah, definitely. Europe more than America really, because they seem to have better crowds, especially in places like Norway and Sweden.
Also, the audiences over there seem to be more dedicated.
What bands/artists are you inspired by?
MAX: I like listening to a lot of stuff. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of Blink-182, Twenty One Pilots and everything.
I’m also into prog a lot, I went to the Techfest warm-up gig recently, and I like instrumental music, so I try to keep some of that feel in my solos, but it’s very difficult with just one guitarist to try and do that kind of stuff, because the harmonious lead doesn’t really work in a one guitar scenario.
JUSTIN: I listen to a bit of everything. Jazz, funk, that’s what I listen to in my spare time, but it’s not the kind of music I play in the band.
I just love music, to be honest.
ZAK: I don’t really have a specific musical taste. I like all music really, put any radio on and I’ll listen to whatever music’s on it.
MAX: We just collate it all into one thing really.
ZAK: It isn’t about musical taste really. We just see what’s the best fit for our songs.
We all had ideas for riffs before the band started, so we brought them in and put them all together into songs.
MAX: Rather than have just one idea at practice and try and put it all together, we like the idea of jarring it all together.
In a few of our songs, there are jarring differences in certain parts.
We kind of like that, because it represents all of us rather than as individuals.
You’re from the Potteries. What’s your view of the local music scene?
MAX: It’s pretty good really. At the moment, there’s a few bands around that are quite good.
Sertraline, the band we’re supporting when we play at The Sugarmill in August, they’ve been on a massive tour of places like Manchester and Birmingham and now they’re returning to Stoke.
There’s a few other local bands, like Psyence, which we saw at the Lymelight festival a few months back, they’re really, really good.
There seems to be a lot of indie bands as well that I don’t listen to myself, but it’s good to see so much music coming out of Stoke at the moment, because it’s not really a place you would normally associate as being known for music.
In terms of songwriting, is it a group effort or is it down to just one or two of you?
MAX: It’s mainly me and Justin.
ZAK: Yeah, they usually come up with a melody and rhythm, and I’ll add a drum beat to it.
MAX: Zak will sometimes chip in, telling us “It’ll sound better like this, it’ll sound better like that.”
But it’s me and Justin who come up with most of the ideas.
It’s not often we’ll write an entire song in one go.
ZAK: It’s usually a three-week progress.
MAX: Three or four practices and then we’ve kind of got a base for a song.
ZAK: In the first week, we’ll bring our ideas, see what works, what doesn’t.
Second week, someone will bring in ideas for lyrics.
Then in the third week, we polish it all up, see how it works.
JUSTIN: I’m all about the breakdowns, me!
MAX: Yeah, you’re good at them! They’re not as in metal breakdowns, where it’s all chuggy.
We do have a song like that, but the rest are all like, you slap a lot in the breakdowns, and I try to keep up what he’s playing, because he’s really, really good with the bass.
JUSTIN: I make some complicated riffs. I sit there and I’m like “how can I make this more complicated?”
Have you got anything lined up for the near future?
MAX: We’d like to something out by the end of this year definitely.
Whether it’s all the songs we’ve written so far or not will be an economical thing, whether we can afford to record them all.
JUSTIN: We’ll try and do as many as we can.
Personally, I’d rather wait until mid next year and then release an eight track EP, rather than do a four track EP out this year.
MAX: Yeah, it’ll probably end up with something like that, and we’ll want to get the best recording we can, because there’s no point half-arsing it.
ZAK: If we do it for mid next year, as Justin said, it’ll give us more time to polish it all up and make everything sound the best it can.
What’s the long-term aim for Rage Cave?
MAX: Personally, I’d like to go on tour around the UK, that’s kind of a minimum really.
That is where I would feel successful, as it were, like I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do, and I can probably see us do that in the next year or so, going round pubs and clubs playing gigs.
I’d be happy with that, but I think everyone’s ultimate goal is to get to Europe, then maybe America, play academies, then arenas whatever.