Introducing The Twee-Pop Sensation, Ravetank, Through An Insightful Interview.
Ravetank is the alias of Twee-Pop admirer and maker Nathan Alexander Howard. The Lo-Fi recordings make you admire the light humoured subject matter with captivating song titles like ‘American Ninja Delivery Girl’ and ‘Ted The Radical Westy’ as well as delving into pretty humane subject matter such as the the boredom that comes with work on ‘Don’t Be A Slave To The Grind’.
Ravetank, in his own words – ‘is best enjoyed on a warm summer’s day, after you’ve just been dumped or if you’ve been fired from your job. When none of your friends are available for hanging out, and a nice, refreshing can of the cheapest, nastiest cider and a packet of questionably crunchy and overly salty cashew nuts are your only form of solace‘.
So, A few months ago it was the Twenty-second anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s passing. I hear it was Kurt Cobain who got you into Twee-Pop to begin with. How did this happen?
Well Kurt Cobain got me into a lot of things… Heroin wasn’t one of them.
He basically championed all these smaller bands. He’s how I found out about stuff like Bikini Kill. The reason I got into Twee-Pop because of him or at least the american stuff. He once said that Jamboree by The Beat Happening was one of his favourite albums, so I was like ok, I’ll go give that a listen. He also had a list of his top albums.
(Editor’s Note – I actually have a compilation of his influences and The Beat Happening feature on it. He was always very good at wearing his influences.
Is that one of the numerous lists he had in his diary?
Possibly, I just read it on Wikipedia and if it’s on Wikipedia it must be true… right?
I can’t remember what song it was I listened too first, it was either ‘Indian Summer’ or ‘Bewitched’. I was kind of like what the fuck is this shit it sounds terrible, then after about five or six listens I was like ‘oh ok this is pretty cool’. I think I eventually acquired the self titled album which isn’t as good but it’s still pretty cool. So I just listened to that obsessively.
He also had the ‘K’ tattooed on his wrist which was a dedication to ‘K Records’. Which a lot of people think is just ‘K’ for Kurt.
Yeah, I didn’t realise that until you said.
Can you imagine if he got to high and used that to remember who he was ‘Hey I’m‘ *lifts wrist to face* ‘I’m K‘ *winks knowingly*.
So whats your earliest musical memory?
I stole my dads Iron Maiden CD, it was Best Of The Beast, a best of compilation of their material at the time. I used to listen to that as I went to bed because I had a little stereo in my bedroom. My Dad’s a massive Iron Maiden fan so I suppose thats how I got into them.
This is actually pretty funny, so I used to listen to their album and I looked at their album cover for Fear Of The Dark and I eventually got nightmares because of it, so my Mum was like ‘you can’t listen to this anymore’. So after that I had a regular musical upbringing so like the typical Britney Spears and all that.
So when did you start playing guitar?
I was maybe six or seven and it was this really big classical guitar which I couldn’t get my fingers around properly. My parents then bought me a little three quarter-size one, so I started taking lessons but the guy would only teach me crap like ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, so I kind of just quit.
So how does the kind of geek/nerd culture play into your music?
Obviously. I talk about it in my lyrics sometimes.
Is that coming from the more Twee aspect which is meant to be child-like?
I think so. The way I approach lyrics, I like to try and be descriptive which fills out this sort narrative, so I’d say it plays into the child-like nature of what I try to do. I did spend a lot of my childhood and early adolescence playing video games after all.
I usually start by thinking of phrases like an idea. A good example of this would be ‘Villa 838’ which is about my job at Centre Parcs. I came up with it because the actual villa I’m talking about is actually a contingency villa so it’s always free and tidy unless someone isn’t happy with the one they are given. So in my mind it started of like an in-joke with myself.
It’s kind of similar to how Mac Demarco came up with ‘Ode To Viceroy’. He wrote the song about how he loves this cigarette brand. I don’t smoke but my girlfriend does and she was saying how it’s the Canadian equivalent to Pal-Mall, so it’s kind of shit but now people think it’s good because of his song.
So like Mac Demarco, your personality and humour comes across in your music, so in the way it’s easy to like Mac so it’s easier to get into his music. Do you find that the same with you because your humour kind of plays into your songs as well?
Possibly, I guess music-wise I come across pretty approachable. In actuality I’m kind of super-shy and would rather be in a corner somewhere. I find that when I’m onstage I can play it off a bit more bold and just be a fun guy. It’s weird doing the Ravetank stuff because it’s just me at the moment so I’m the front person, so people focus more on me. When I’ve been in other bands it’s easier to just kind of lose myself because I play bass so i don’t have that problem.
So you try and partake a massive role within the local scene, so you do things like putting on gigs which involves promoting and all the other endeavors which go along with that. So why do you put on your own gigs?
I started putting on shows because I found that there weren’t a lot of out of town bands coming into Bath and there’s probably less of the D.I.Y scene. The options for that sort of stuff is a bit more limited now than when I started about four years ago now with a lot of venues shutting down since then.
From my experience of Bath, everything’s so insular in the music scene so every ones played with everyone else all the time. I do like it but it becomes a bit of a circle-jerk after a while, so you need to bring in something fresh so I’m trying to bring in out of town bands.
So who do you admire musically?
I quite like Don’t Wake Me Up by The Microphones. After The Microphones they changed their name to Mount Eerie and what I found with him, was that what he wrote wasn’t like anything else on this planet. It’s a bit hyperbolic but there’s genuinely no one I can compare Mount Eerie to.
Guided By Voices as well, they don’t do anything new but they’re like an amalgamation of all their influences from 60’s British Invasion right through to things like Post-Punk and everything in-between. Musically they’re not new but their approach is.
And finally Where did the name Ravetank come from?
Basically in the first year of Uni, because it was in the evening my friends and I would go down to the Pub and have a pint afterwards. We’d go down to The Bath Brew House a couple of times, it’s a nice place but a bit expensive.
We sat down at the lounge area with nice sofas and they had a little table with Scrabble o it. So we played this joke game of Scrabble where you’d just place the letters down so it’s done in real time instead of waiting like you would within the real game, and one of the words was Ravetank, so I thought I was going to have to save that because it’s kind of cool, and it was better than the other word, Ziptitty.
Zipttity is cool but I thought I probably can’t use this, it might offend someone.
Ravetank can be found below:
- Head to Facebook for updates.
- Ravetank’s debut EP can be found on bandcamp.
- You can also stream his music via SoundCloud.