At the beginning of the pandemic, mid-March 2020, I posted an offer to independent Melbourne-based musicians on my Facebook page. As most of their live performance opportunities got cancelled within just a few days, I wanted to feature emerging artists on my socials to help them reach new audiences. To my surprise, quite a few musos made use of that proposal. One of them was Ash Ravens.
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Being a professional guitar player, Ash mostly caught my attention because, amongst other things, he plays instrumental music – a genre that is vastly underestimated in the music landscape today. So when he asked me to review his album, I thought it would be much more interesting to talk to him directly instead. We caught up on Zoom at the beginning of May. And before you watch our chat, let me do a bit of introduction.
Ash’s story is one of determination and dedication. Born and bred in Bangladesh, he started playing guitar when he was in high school. Eager to take his mostly self-taught skills to the next level, he’d saved up enough money working in the corporate world to enrol in the prestigious LA College of Music. His instructors in the States included Jody Fisher (world-renowned jazz educator, author and performer) or Tariqh Akoni (guitarist for Chaka Khan). Equipped with awesome new skills and the American music industry experience, he decided to fully dedicate his life to professional guitar playing. After a brief episode back in Bangladesh, he arrived in Melbourne in 2013 and has been involved in the local music scene ever since.
Ash keeps himself busy. Apart from performing as a solo guitarist under his brand Ash Ravens, he also sings in a blues/pop/rock cover band Ash Ravens Trio, is a member of a Beatles’ tribute group, works as a producer/sound engineer for a psychedelic rock band Southbound Snake Charmers, teaches guitar and occasionally tours with other artists. And he does all that without even having a manager. Because it’s “all about the discipline and a lot of planning”, according to the musician.
“Melodic, soulful, groovy and guitar heroism often don’t go together”, says Ash on his website. But he seems to be able to combine them all just fine, swiftly changing between styles and different projects. Sure, he does have his music preferences but is also convinced that being “fluid” in the art of guitar playing is what makes him such a versatile artist.
Amongst his greatest inspirations, Ash lists Andy Timmons, Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani. He has, nevertheless, managed to find his own, unique sound, blending blues, rock, country and lyrical vibes. His craft and musicality are best reflected on his self-titled album, released in 2017, and particularly in the opening song, “Around The Corner”.
Although the album is entirely instrumental, Ash has already taken his musicianship a step forward. In recent singles, recorded in his native Bengali (Bangla) language, he has committed some singing as well. This is his next big music challenge: learning to express himself vocally. He’s already working on new music and hints that future compositions might not be only instrumental.
Like many other artists, Ash is trying to embrace the “new reality”. He didn’t find the lockdown easy at the beginning. With live gigs being a distant memory, limited jamming possibilities and severely reduced income streams, the artist has not lost his spirit, though. We talked about all those things and much more during our Zoom call. Watch it below.
To finish off, Ash has also shared a few more insights about Melbourne, fellow Australian artists and his guitar world.
• – Silly: Flat white or long black? Ash: Never Flat white! Either long black or mocha.
• Fave music venue in Melbourne? The Corner Hotel.
• The South or the North side of Melbourne and why? North! More culture and further North it’s more hilly, which I love.
• Fave Aussie act? Frank Gambale.
• Any Aussie guitar players you admire? Yep, Joe Robinson – a fantastic young guitar player.
• Fave instrumental album of all time? Joe Satriani, ‘Time Machine Live‘.
• A song by another artist you wish you’d written Oh, so many! “Ghosts” by Big Wreck and “Like a Stone” by Audioslave are the top two.
• Your fave era in music and why? The ’80s. Mostly, I grew up on a heavy dose of the ’80s Heavy Metal – Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden, and also on the ’80s “Guitar Hero” culture – Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen.
• If you could perform with any musician in the world, who would it be? Richie Kotzen – my ultimate musical hero.
• Fave female guitar player and why? Bonnie Raitt – she’s the OG! What a fantastic player, and what a powerful voice!
• Fave guitar solo of all time? Oh, too hard!! I have way too many to mention but right now Slash’s solo on “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is on top of my list.
• Fave guitar effect? Definitely Overdrive & Distortion (right now it’s a Mooer Rumble Drive & a Ramble Fx Marvel Drive).
• Fave song of yours to play live? San Junipero [from the self-titled album].
• What’s the most rock’n’roll thing you’ve done as a musician? Can’t say it publicly hahaha. But I’ll settle for stage diving.
• What’s been the best opportunity (as a professional musician) in your life so far? Playing at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne and the House of Blues in Hollywood are the top two highlights so far.
Check out Ash Ravens on his other socials:
Source of all imagery: courtesy of the artist
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