Alex Hagen is the singer/songwriter and one of the guitar players in Baltimore Punk ‘n’ Roll band Ravagers who just managed an impressive romp across some of Europe showcasing their latest record ‘Badlands‘. We tracked down the frontman and threw a bunch of questions in his direction because we love Ravagers and everything they stand for. It’s Rock N Roll baby and these guys live it and breathe it and we want to help spread the word because the world needs Punk ‘n’ Rollers like Alex and his bandmates. So settle down and check out what went down when RPM Online caught up with Alex Hagen…
Give us a bit of a background to Ravagers. When did you put the band together? I notice only you and Ray survived the band from the first record to the current ‘album and tour.
Ravagers began in 2013 when me and Ray dropped out of high school to dabble in illegal activities and start our own street gang in Baltimore. All the corners were taken in our neighborhood so we started playing rock music to get rich. We’ve been through a couple members since then. Some ended up biting the bullet and others realized the harsh reality that is the long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.
When did you first pick up a guitar? Did you always want to be a frontman handling vocals and playing an instrument? I played my first power chord in middle school on a neighbor’s busted practice amp and thought it sounded SICK but I ended up joining my first band on bass till I was confident enough with a guitar to write my own songs. That band ended up falling apart and I had started writing some songs on an old brown melody maker style guitar Matt Gabs set up for me. I got a corporate job for a short while to save up for a Marshall JMP and some celestion greenback speakers that I put into an old ampeg 4/12 cab and I still use it to this day.
When Gabbs joined he’d done the production on previous recordings was it the case of right time right place? I moved into Matt Gabs house around 2011 and when I was working on music I’d show him my ideas. We’ve always collaborated and bounced ideas off each other. When we would record I’d make him come in the studio to listen in and make sure everything was sounding good. He joined the band in 2018 when our guitar player at the time left.
The recent run through Europe you had Sam fill in on Bass is that a permanent thing now? Personally I think the pair of Gabs and Sam are perfect for the band both sound and look. Sam is working out great. He has a cool look on stage and loves the same music that inspires the band. On top of that he’s always down to play and go on tour. As long as he keeps it up he’s in!
You recently did an impressive shift around mainland Europe but missed out the UK are there any plans to visit shit island for maybe a couple of shows next time? I travelled to Barca for the show and thought the performance was excellent but the venue not so. How was the tour? This was our first time in Europe and it was hard enough to get the shows booked that we had working with two different booking agents. We had a great tour manager Gwinny, who on top of driving and selling merch actually booked some of the shows for us before the tour started. The tour seemed to be a gamble and we wanted to at least make the money to pay for our plane tickets back. We heard the UK taxed merch, required visas, and the shows wouldn’t give us places to stay so we opted out of it this time. The tour was a success so we are hoping to go back soon and do some UK dates next time.
Touring Europe was it what you expected? What were some of the highlights? We didn’t know what to expect. Gabs had been over a few times with Biters and Sonny Vincent so he knew but as for us I was shocked at how well the shows were attended and how well the venues and promoters treated us. Some of the gigs we were the only band and people expected us to play an hour every night so we gave it our all. I think it pushed us to grow as a band. Some of the highlights was a sold out show in Dresden, I had cut my finger that morning on a razor blade and when we played that night blood was gushing everywhere! With 28 shows our 2 days off were certainly highlights. Visiting the H.R. Giger museum in Gruyere Switzerland and having a relaxing day in Barcelona was awesome.
Going back to the recent album ‘Badlands’ how did you come to hook up with Wanda in Germany and Spaghetty Town Records two great fits for the band. We have been with Spaghetty Town since the 2018 Drowning in Blood single. They are based in Atlanta where we’ve played a lot and our great friends of ours. They partnered with Wanda on the new release so we would have European and US distribution. Q8. When coming to record a record with you being the main songwriter is it easier now there are other players in the band who also write will it evolve the sound of the band at all? We’ve always collaborated as a band. For the most part I’m the one who brings a song to the table. For example. Here’s the name of this song, Here’s the melody and hook I have in mind. Then we all play it and it grows from there. Things almost always change last minute in the studio when you hear everything over the monitors. We had a great producer (Tuk Smith) who also pushed us to take the songs to the next level. He helped a lot stepping in as a 5th band member and not letting anyone slack on their performance. I think we will do the next record with him as well.
You played some pretty cool covers on the tour from the UK Subs to the Lords of the new church what was it about those songs that made them fit into your set and what others would you love to play? Those songs are bangers and I feel like I have a deep connection with them ya know? They are dark and have powerful hooks with great lyrics. I’m not sure what we will cover next. Maybe something nobody knows so we can say it’s ours.
What are your plans for moving forward and the next album? Will this line up get recording soon and have you many songs already written? So far the plan is to keep coming up with new songs. We have lots but we only record the ones we think are worth it. We will see what makes it on the next record. I would like to get in the studio asap.
You hail from Baltimore is it a good place to hang out in a rock n roll band and is there much of a scene for you to feed off? Lots of great inspiration in Baltimore. I saw a guy last week try to rob my local grocery store with a machete and got chased out buy security with their guns out. I wouldn’t say there is much Rock N Roll these days, mostly hardcore and stoner metal, but there are some great bands. Total Maniac is my favorite Baltimore band and we like playing shows with them. Matt and our new bass player Sam live in NYC so we are going up there to play a lot now. We like playing with Mala Vista, The Trash Bags, Wyldlife, and Tuxedo Cats.
The two EPs you released is there any plan to press them onto one compilation album maybe? Do you have a favourite track you like to play live? I like those two EP’s as separate records. I don’t feel the need to consolidate them onto one vinyl. I like that they are pressed at 45 RPM because they sound better. I also like the art on each of the covers. The first record “Livin in Oblivion” is getting repressed and will be out this summer on Spaghetti town. It’s been remixed and mastered and sounds great.
Good luck to Ravagers for the future and hopefully I can catch you again on the road in Europe or the UK who knows and I look forward to your next record release. Keep on Keeping on. .