Something wicked comes

Raven Black’s Dark Metal Carnival at Fairfield’s The Tavern


Photo: Raven Black (l-r) Raven, the ‘Doctor’, Muppett, and Stiches. Photo: Cruella Photography

By Mike Ritchie

Cuter than Chucky and more bewitching than Annabelle, Raven Black’s family tree could be traced back to The Twilight Zone’s Talky Tina. Though she conjures more creepiness than the average possessed porcelain princess.  The L.A. band has brought the misanthropic dark carnival atmosphere to the stage with vocalist, Raven. A performance personality cracked and split into half-doll and half-human. Playful and teasing, yet demented if provoked. The stage is their grindhouse playground with the crowd supplying fresh blood.

The band is still young to the road, “We’ve only gone out since last October,” Raven says. “This is our first year out in the world.” The first two years were spent writing, perfecting the new lineup. “We took a hiatus to get new members fully engaged in the vision.”

Starting as the Raven Black Project, playing rock music sans makeup or theatrics, Raven was unsatisfied.  “The first year and a half, the music never connected with me. It wasn’t the vision I had.”

Local at the time, she and drummer, Muppet, discussed long-term plans. “We decided if we wanna do this we have to do it now.” They amicably split with former members, forging ahead, “We’re happier now doing our passion.”

The image and makeup were Ravens creation but asked Muppet, Stiches (bass), and The “Doctor” (guitar) to explore their various mainstream-closet interests through the characters, making it theirs.

Raven explains her character, “It’s circumstantial, a duality I’ve had my entire life. There’s a side that’s mainstream, and a side that’s against the grain.” She’s now free to bring out the dark anarchy within for all voyeurs to see. “I feel complete and I’m happy.”

Early inspiration came from Pippi Longstocking as a strong, female archetype. “Pippi Longstocking is why I wear pigtails.” Who wouldn’t want a pirate for a dad? She also took reference from the strong storybook maid Amelia Bedelia. Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and Pat Benatar also helped forged what Raven would become.

She’s a product of L.A. culture, quoting deep inspiration from Dave Grohl. “Do what you really love, the rest comes later. I truly believe him.”

She’s worked with Prince and Janet Jackson among other big names, hung out on Sunset during the ‘80s but doesn’t consider herself a rock star. “So much happens in L.A., it’s a melting pot, for everyone around the world.” They call the Whisky home and though they get a different crowd at the Troubadour, her favorite spot is The Viper Room, “I used to hang out there before the music. It’s a personal attachment, it’s a very intimate venue.”

Their shows are an event. They want to play at big festivals, challenged by diverse crowds, “I like breaking the ceiling on crossing over in different genres.” Their strongest markets to date are California, Michigan and Ohio. They’ve continued the traveling caravan winning audiences in New York and Florida.

Raven wants females of all ages to know it’s OK to be a little imperfect, “I’m a tomboy. I stick up for the girl being bullied.” She’s always working and will keep going until she can’t anymore, including envisioning an all-female fronted tour with Butcher Babies, September Mourning, One Eyed Doll, Stitched Up Heart, and Unsaid Fate.

Her stage props are popular, “I always have new toys,” she says. “I like playing with toys, being half-doll it’s fun and creepy.” Their fans want to be played with, “People started saying I wanna be your toy.” Some fans like being playfully used and abused.

Fans visually associate props with their songs whether a teddy bear or hula hoop. Ravens not into costume changes but does adorn a funeral dress during “The Blackening.” “I’d rather spend stage time with fans.”

“I’m very animated, always moving, never in one place.” Whether teasing, seducing or playfully torturing fans, in-the-moment, spontaneous crowd interaction is her top priority.

Fans enjoy the shows mystique, makeup, and mystery as Raven’s inner sweet, wicked and demented side comes out. “Get ready for a fun, quirky, dark metal carnival, key word, metal.”

Everything done is for the show, “I created a blender, added each member’s favorite things, hit go and the collaboration is what we are.”  They’re an acquired taste, “Not everyone’s gonna love us. We’ll just focus on the people who do.”

Their fans are known as The Psyche, “I never wanted to make something up telling them who they are. The fans keep my psyche healthy and I hope I do the same for them.”

Their fan site will be up next year, with different ‘toy’ categories and levels of devotion with story and history explained more in the comic.

Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, In This Moment have all influenced her art. Though she’s a fan of Motley Crue, her grand vision won’t be a Carnival of Sin, but rather a traveling Dark Metal Carnival big top show with fire-breathers, burlesque, and magic. An actual circus with them as the main attraction. Creepy red balloons—optional. They’ve already begun at their table with the Merry Scary Go Round, where fans can spin the wheel, make the deal, and win cool prizes. Raven’s confident that with a budget, major label support, and some fame that her ideas will come to life. “That’s what we’re aspiring to do.”

They’ve given fans a twisted and sweet musical taste with videos “Twinkle Twinkle Little Scars” and “Seven Sins.” They’ve toured with Mushroomhead, playing Cleveland, and just finished a tour with comedy metal heads Psychostick. “We were deeply engaged in their world.”

Vintage horror sticks a boney finger in their art with massive influence from Tim Burton.  “Our comic book is very Burton influenced. Burton’s also atop Ravens meet list with Maria Brink and Lita Ford.

While recording, mixing, and mastering in February, the record, 13, the comic is coming in March, based on the Seven Sins EP song “13”. “We spent two years writing the EP. We’re releasing something with an underling meaning and storyline.” They don’t believe in filler. “However many songs it takes to make it complete is what we’ll do.”

Though demand is high, they’re gonna wait till 2019 to go international, “We don’t wanna go for just a week, we wanna go for a month and really tour it.” They’ve played Mexico but want to give Europe and everywhere else a seasoned Raven Black experience.

Their long-term goals include an infinite number of records including a concept record along with the red and black tent with all money going into the carnival creation.

Raven chose metal to voice her passion, “I love performing and connecting with people and try to have fun with it. If you hear us, you’ll know its Raven Black. The show gives a visual connection but the music is priority. It moves people, It’s a universal language.”

Raven Black plays Friday, December 15, 8PM at The Venue Event Center, 26 Donald Drive, Fairfield, OH. $15 presale, $20 day of show, 21 and up, BYOB. Blood of Heroes, Secret Circle Society and Prometheus are also on the bill. Hosted by DF Productions and Events. For more information please visit https://tinyurl.com/y7hb8jbu

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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