The Ravenna Colt. A powerful name for a powerful band with an album full of pure emotions and reverberated atmospheres. We reviewed it quite recently and thanks to the very kind people of Karate Body Records, Tonan and Sam got to email Johnny Quaid, who answered our questions post haste.
Thank you very much for taking our questions, we loved your album!
Hey Tonan and Sam, Thanks so much for your interest in my work and for the thoughtful questions. Hope these responses shed some light on the record.
1.- Why did The Ravenna Colt chose music to be its means to communicate to the world?
I’m a terrible painter and athlete, so music seemed like an obvious choice.
2.-Your music has a high content of texture and detail, providing the listener with a multi-layered experience. What’s your philosophy when mixing your tracks?
I love simple music, but as an artist, I love to create texture and depth. My philosophy on mixing is to create layers that allow all of the sounds in the song to exist on their own plane but also be harmonious within the song, finding a home for each sound.
3.- You have given to the world a spacey (as in trying to reach the skies), dreamy type of country like no other. In this sense and while writing songs, what’s your main driving force / inspiration? How do you complement your main idea / riff?
Thanks! I don’t think I can put a name on any specific inspiration or driving force, I guess just a love of music and similar therapeutic desires. I honestly think it’s a culmination of life experiences and growing up in such an amazing place as Kentucky, it exudes creativity.
4.- Behind any piece of art there’s a story. From all your songs in Slight Spell , which one is the story you enjoyed telling to the world the most and why?
The first line in “South of Ohio” is “I lost my drawl in California.” People in California were surprised that I didn’t have a thick, southern drawl. I just started to tell people I lost it when I made a wrong turn in Albuquerque.
5.- If it’s okay, could we talk about the lyrics in Slight Spell? They feel very heartfelt and I’m intrigued by ‘If Josie wails can fail’ (feels really heartbreaking), ‘Now to begin’ and ‘According to the Matador’.
Sure. That’s a very accurate observation. When I write lyrics, they are painfully personal. I just don’t know of another way to write. ‘Josie’ is heartbreaking and sobering. It’s the realization that your heroes are flawed and human and possibly not heroes at all. ‘Now to begin’, and ‘Matador’ are similar in message. They speak of time and its disappearance and of starting over.
6.- Talking about music success and bands. What is more enjoyable for you, playing for a big venue or small auditorium?
I have been very fortunate in my career to perform at both. I love the thrill of a huge festival or theatre, but there is nothing like connecting to an audience in an intimate atmosphere. I love performing in a dark, cozy little club.
7.- Can you tell us some history about Removador Records and your current plans? Really enjoyed The Fervor (we reviewed them in February).
Removador is just an infant in this musical jungle. Jim (James) and I really wanted a platform for artists that are near and dear to our heart. I like to think of it as a collective, a community of artists working together, introducing their friends and fans to each others’ music. The Fervor is some of Kentucky’s finest exports and possibly the hardest working band out there.
8.- It feels like vinyl is becoming more and more the standard format of release for albums these days. What do you think of the format? On that note, it seems some bands are embracing tape cassettes too, would you consider them too?
Vinyl is amazing! I’ve heard records on vinyl that I’ve heard all my life digitally, and when I hear the vinyl, it feels like I’m hearing it for the first time. I don’t get too excited about just a digital release, my primitive mind refuses to believe it exists unless I can hold it in my bare hands. I’ve played in bands, in my youth, that released cassettes, and yes, I would love to see a resurgence in analog media! Maybe the next album will include a tape!
9.- Any plans for touring, not only in America, but countries like Mexico or the United Kingdom?
Yes. I’ve done some selective touring in the U.S., and I plan to perform more next year. I would absolutely love to tour abroad again. I’ll keep you posted.
10.- I read about your move to California and then going back to your studio, Above the Cadillac . What drove you back home?
Yeah, that was a great adventure for me. Well, to be honest, my brother and I took turns driving my 2000 Chevy Silverado. We ate ribs and BBQ and drank the cheapest beer we could find. It was truly a bonding experience, and highly recommend it. On a side note, we made the trip without and iPod; we only had a cassette player. I put all my cassettes in the back seat, and we just dug through them as we drove.
11.- Last one, we’ve been keeping an eye on the Kentucky scene since February this year. Loads of great acts ( The Fervor, Shipping News and a long etc) there. Any other bands you’d like to recommend to us? How’s the arts scene in Kentucky?
Art is synonymous with Kentucky. In Kentucky, we create art the way some people create food or drink, and inherently it keeps us from eating and drinking too much. But sadly we somehow always drink too much. You HAVE to check out Wax Fang, and a band called the Debutantes a.k.a. Les Debutantes. They released a box set of 100 songs featuring every local musician in Louisville for their debut. I’m waiting to see how they can follow that up for the second record.
Thank you guys so much. Please come visit KY someday!
Words: Sam J. Valdés López (additional questions by Tonan).
The authors would like to thank Mat (Karate Body Records), Johnny Quaid and Removador Records for making this interview possible.