Introduced by Monk

Artwork for Silent Sound by Ruled By RaptorsNewcastle post-hardcore quartet Ruled By Raptors first came to our attention back in the summer of 2019, when they released their debut EP, ‘Ouroborous’. In my review at the time, I summarized that, while not perfect (but then what is these days?), the Romesh Dodangoda-helped offering was a “defiant statement of intent”, using phrases such as “brash and gnarly” along the way.

Now, the four-piece – vocalist/guitarist Chris Bradley, guitarist Matt Dewar, bassist Nick Oliver and drummer Will Robson – are back with their second four-tracker, the admittedly somewhat ironically titled ‘Silent Sound’, as there’s nothing quiet about this extremely worthy follow-up, which definitely shows the progression I hinted they needed in that initial review… So, what better time to catch up with the guys to find out a bit more about them and what makes them tick. I started by asking them how they came together…

Nick: Chris happens to run a rehearsal studio and did a great deal of promoter work prior to that. I believe myself and Matt both had our bands practice at Chris’ studio and played on his regular night in Blyth, before those bands fell apart.

PR Pic of Ruled By Raptors

Chris: Actually, Matt’s old band never practiced at my studios. If I recall correctly, they disbanded not long after I got the rehearsal rooms and that couldn’t have been long before he moved to Leeds for university. I actually didn’t see Matt at all between 2013 and 2016 when he auditioned for us and at first actually didn’t recognize him. I suffer from a partial face blindness. It can be really awkward and was at first when Matt realized I had no idea who he was! Will is my fiancée’s little brother, so I’ve known him since he was a bairn, he’d be a little harder to forget.

Nick: We eventually all got together when Chris asked me and Will to join his former band.

Chris: People in my old band were settling down and moving on for work, marriage, etc. We’d just released our second EP and had some great reviews in Rocksound and Big Cheese Magazines and I really wanted to tour it. However only months after Nick and Will joined, our guitarist, who had been my long-time writing partner, was getting too busy with a tribute band he was in which was becoming very successful. There was a bit of a falling out at the time, as I feel I kinda pushed him to go, but as I said to him he couldn’t commit to both bands and I wouldn’t ask him to choose between the two. He later said he realised I was right and he was just pulling himself in too many directions. He took the photos that I used for our artwork, actually. At that point I figured the band was wrapped up, but Nick & Will along with the original members of my old band, encouraged me not to give it up if it was something I still wanted to do.

Nick: So the feelers went out for a new guitarist and Matt got in touch to audition. It’s odd that me and Matt had never met before being in that band together, seeing how we went to the same high school… small world I guess!

Chris: After a year or so of playing that EP though, I think we knew that we were heading in a slightly different direction and called time on that band to start something up that had no expectations. When MC Lars contacted us in 2018 to ask us to tour with him the following year, we knew then that it was now or never if we wanted to draw a line and start something that was just ours.

Personally, as a historian, I have an interest in etymology, so I feel have to ask about where the band name came from and if it has any special significance…

Chris: It’s not a very interesting story how we came up with it to be honest. My last band suffered from other companies, magazines and even another musician sharing the same name. So I was insistent that whatever the name was, it be unique and that all of the social sites and the domain name be the same. When we picked it however, it did feel apt, especially with the political nature of the band.

Nick: We’re pretty nerdy too when it comes to words. Honestly it took us a while to settle on a name. But we all have an interest in conspiracy theories and the people who believe in them. Eventually, while chatting about some of David Icke’s conspiracies, we landed on Ruled by Raptors. Personally I really like the fact that you can take it to mean we’re ruled be single minded dinosaurs or ruled by birds of prey picking off the weakest in society.

Chris: Just to be clear, when Nick says “an interest in conspiracies”, he doesn’t mean we’re flat earthers! Just that we’re interested in why people get into conspiracy theories and get led down the garden path by them. One of the things I really liked is that there is a lot of use of ornithological imagery in a lot of imperial and fascist iconography. So for me, we’re the ones being ruled by the raptors, we’re the down trodden, the working class at the bottom. The Raptors are the elite, preying on those below them.

Does the name reflect what you are seeking to do/achieve as a band?

Matt: Thinking about it, yeah it does. It’s a ludicrous, brash, all of nothing kinda statement, which is how I think we try to write, and how we drive to succeed in the depths of music in 2022.

Music is categorized into various genres and sub-genres. How would you define your sound? What individual and collective influences do you draw on for your sound?

Nick: Ah, the eternal question. What genre are we?

Matt: Loosely, we could be described as post-hardcore. We all take cues from bands like Reuben, Enter Shikari, Fightstar… we’ll switch genres mid song, throw ambience adjacent to mathy riffs or breakdowns or whatever. It’s all from the heart, whatever matches the emotion or point we need to convey.

Chris: With the new singles from ‘Silent Sound’, we’ve been pegged a lot as “prog alt rock” or “prog alt metal” which we find interesting. We also get a lot of “Biffy Clyro meets Deftones with Enter Shikari for good measure”, which in all fairness describes us to a T.

As you’ve just mentioned, you’ve just released your second EP … can you tell us a bit about it?

Matt: We recorded these songs with Romesh Dodangoda in Wales just before the pandemic hit, but it didn’t feel right putting this out in the midst of everything. These four tracks are the best representation of what we are as a band right now, and we want to share them live.

Are there any particular lyrical themes/personal issues you are addressing in the song(s)?

Chris: I’m a very politically motivated person, a lot of my lyrics are an expression of my personal view, however on this record I’ve touched more on my own mental health issues. I suffer from a condition called Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, something that I’ve generally avoided referencing in my music, however in recent years I’ve seen merit in sharing my experiences with it. The chronic over thinking, the noise, the anxiety that comes from it.

‘Oxy’s Moron’ on the record tries to convey what the noise is and how exhausting that noise can be, whereas ‘Dance of Wolves’ is about as close to a love song as I think I’ll ever get. It documents the importance of my fiancée in being there for me, we always talk about the suffering of the individual going through depression, but I tried to cast a light on the strength of character of our loved ones that have to be there for us, especially to stay with someone like myself who has cyclical cycles.

In all honesty, I found the experience of talking about the songs on our recent tour with MC Lars daunting and a bit like picking at an open wound. However I was struck by the sheer number of people who came up to me after we played and shared their similar experiences. Especially following on from the pandemic, there’s an awful lot of people out that said that they just needed that connection with someone they felt could understand.

How important is social media in getting your music out there?

Will: Social media has been really important for us, not just because it lets us gain global reach but because we can see what does well in terms of posts, music, videos etc. it also opens up networking opportunities to us that simply wouldn’t be a thing without it!

Chris: I don’t think we’d be able to function without it. It’s very much a necessary evil these days. Sadly it used to be easier, the pay walls on certain socials are increasingly making it more difficult. MySpace was still very new when I first started in bands and I don’t think we appreciate how much we’ve lost by not having it.

Matt: Social media will be the death of us all. It’s became an all encompassing tool that can really help for sure, but I still think engaging with people face to face at shows is the number 1 way to grow as artists and as humans. People will forget an Instagram post after a minute, maybe even a few seconds, but might remember a gig for years.

Chris: The problem with social media these days is that if you have 1k of fans, you can only really reach five – ten per cent of them, IF THAT, without having to pay for ads. There’s a well-known band that we’ve played with in Newcastle, they played Slam Dunk when we did with MC Lars, and they told us that at one point they were paying £1200 per month just to reach their current fanbase and attract new likes from friends of those fans. Bands shouldn’t be having to pay 14 grand per year just to get to the point where they can make a living out of their labour of love.

Is it more important than, say, streaming outlets especially given the fact that the financial returns for streaming can mean a band doing a lot of work for relatively little reward – i.e. you earn very small percentage returns, with the services themselves taking large chunks of your potential income. Is it worth the effort, or is it a fact of the business that you just have to accept?

Chris: Ha! We had around 40k streams throughout all of our streaming services and earned £99 in return, so you’re not kidding. CDs are still the biggest earner for us. A single EP at £6 is worth around two and half thousand streams which is just ridiculous when you think about it.

Will: Absolutely, I feel that streaming services are a double edged sword for artists, on one side yeah you’ve got global reach and accessibility to fans, but on the other side you go out to a studio spend a fortune to get the best representation of your music you can, pay for PR and what not and then don’t really see a decent return on that as a smaller artist. It does highlight how important live music is to maintain the financial viability of bands and artists, most of the money to cover these costs at grass roots levels comes from ticket and merch sales. But I’ve also found loads of new bands through streaming services, so from a consumer side they’re good, just a shame the returns for artists aren’t great for the most part.

Matt: Streaming is the noose the industry will hang itself on. It’s incredible for the consumer, incredible for the service providers, but as you said, provides little back for the artists. It’s something we have to accept as the norm now, so it’s something we’ll all still have to apply effort to.

While we’re seemingly coming out the other end, the pandemic of the past two years led to a lot of bands having to explore other methods of generating income marketing themselves. I’m thinking of how many bands found themselves having to go down the live streaming route. And a lot of them charged their fans for watching the shows. I know there are pros and cons to “free” versus “pay per view”, but as a young band I’d be interested to know if, given the shitfuck of the past two years, it is more important for you to get your music out there than to make money out of doing so? I guess the point I’m making is “is it worth some short-term pain for long term gain”?

Matt: Artists should be fairly compensated for their work, full stop. At the end of the day, it’s a job, growing an audience is one thing but it’s unsustainable to do everything for free, now more than ever.

Chris: I think at our level you don’t look to really make a profit. You know you need to record with someone good, that’s not going to be cheap, it needs to look good, that’s either going to cost a wedge or you’ve got someone in your band who is going to spend a lot of chargeable hours on it where they could have been making money doing something else. The PR, the merch for touring, etc, etc. You just look to get as close to breaking even as possible. In all fairness, we finished this EP two weeks into lockdown and we decided that we’d spent so much on it that we just couldn’t afford to release it, so we sat on it for two years.

Life does seem to be getting back to some form of normality, but do you think the option of things such as lives streams will continue to be used by bands, especially to reach into territories where they may not be able to play, or afford to go to?

Matt: Yeah I think live streams will become more normal, even streaming gigs on social media as they’re happening to reach more people will become norm. I remember Black Sabbath streaming their last ever show on Facebook, watched the whole damn thing. Was incredible.

Will: We did look into live streaming etc. but with everything else going on we only managed to get into a room together towards the back end as we rehearsed for the “post covid” gigs. We did do a pre-recorded gig that was streamed in the venue when that was possible to do, people got a ticket like they would for a gig and then got a link to watch on their phones or watched it on the venues screens, which was different but nice to still be able to go out and play in a venue in some capacity!

So, what is next for the band? What is the plan for, say, the rest of 2022 in terms of getting out there and bringing your music to new and expanding audiences?

Chris: We’ve been given a tremendous opportunity from MC Lars with this latest tour; having played Slam Dunk with him we’ve met so many people in the industry that now we’re fired up to chase that light. We’ve got some awesome gigs lined up and we spent much of 2021 working on a new EP, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we followed up this release within the next year or so! Certainly a number of small tours over the next year are very much in our plans.

OK, now a bit of fun, and a couple of quickfire “out there” questions to give us a wee bit of an insight into your personalities:

  • Ice cream: vanilla or strawberry?

Chris: Strawberry. Unless it’s Arrighi’s Ice Cream in Seaton Delaval at which point it MUST be vanilla at all costs. There’s no one that does it better.

Matt: Both.

Nick: Vanilla.

Will: Vanilla.

  • Gravy or curry sauce on your chips?

Chris: Gravy. No question.

Matt: Curry.

Nick: Neither, it’s gotta be cheese!

Will: Be a rebel and have both.

  • Salted or sweet popcorn?

Chris: Why not both?

Matt: Both.

Nick: Sweet.

Will: Salted.

  • Buckfast or Iron Bru

Chris: Irn Bru obviously. I introduced Schaffer the Darklord to it when we played in Glasgow on the recent tour and I think he was impressed. Possibly confused. I’m pretty sure he finished the can!


Nick: Buckfast.

Will: Iron Bru, Buckfast is the devil’s blood!

  • Smarties or M&Ms?

Chris: Ooo… Peanut M&Ms, otherwise, Smarties.

Matt: Peanut M&Ms exclusively.

Nick: M&Ms but only if it’s the peanut ones

Will: Smarties, before the E-number change preferably

  • Pineapple on pizza?

Chris: I like a good Hawaiian. I won’t order it often, but people overreact about it because they have to hate something, don’t they?

Matt: It’s a free world, do whatever you want.

Nick: Yes. Do it! Make the internet cry.

Will: I recently discovered that pineapple has an enzyme that eats meat so that’s put me off it. My food shouldn’t eat me back!

Final question: If you had your choice of any bill to be a part of, who would be the three other bands (signed or otherwise) you would choose to play with?

Chris: Shit we get asked this a lot. If it’s local it would involve our friends Kkett, Tired of Fighting, Hivemind… Crux, Kulpa, These Broken Temples… There’s so many of them. If we’re talking big bands, Biffy Clyro, Hundred Reasons, Hell is for Heroes, Failsafe, Enter Shikari, Deftones… I think it would be a festival. We’d be the perfect segue between them!

Matt: Enter Shikari (best live band in the world, no further questions on the matter), letlive (rip), and our pals in Kkett.

Nick: I’m gonna throw this as a bit of a mix. I think we’d have Kkett, Reuben and Enter Shikari. Dunno where we’d be in that bill like, ha ha!

Will: As said already definitely Shikari, probably Stray From The Path from a lyrical motivation perspective and raw performance energy, and just to force a reunion show, Reuben!

  • ‘Silent Sound’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.