Oklahoma band Q&A: Rainbows Are Free answers call of almighty riff

Oklahoma band Q&A: Rainbows Are Free answers call of almighty riff

Oklahoma band Q&A: Rainbows Are Free uses its classic rock and metal roots to answer the call of the almighty riff.
 • Published: February 14, 2014

Q: Rainbows Are Free is unique here in that there aren't a lot of current Oklahoma bands that have their roots in classic rock. In terms of the Oklahoma scene only, how do you think R.A.F. fits in with what else is going on?

Photo - Norman-based doom metal band Rainbows Are Free performs in 2012 at the Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. Photo provided <strong>Kevin Pyle</strong>
Norman-based doom metal band Rainbows Are Free performs in 2012 at the Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. Photo provided Kevin Pyle

Richie Tarver, guitarist: If you visualized the Oklahoma music scene as a cross-section of the greater cultural influences at play within the country, I suppose Rainbows Are Free would be the banner carrier for heavy music within our community. There are relatively few other bands who channel this bygone era of classic heaviness here. I believe that's to our advantage. While our roots are in classic rock/proto-metal, I suppose we feel we have something novel to offer from our reinterpretation. There is little introspection involved in this process — it's more like an unconscious calling to do our part to answer the almighty riff. Norman is rife with musical diversity, and I think being engaged with this variation is healthy.

Q: You're a talented guitarist, and also pretty stylized. What's your personal history with playing guitar, and how did that lead you to this band?

Tarver: I grew up playing music in bands in Tulsa, beginning at age 13. I was originally a bass player. After taking one lesson from the Philharmonic bass player, I decided I would be self-taught, and twenty-some years later, I am still unlearning bad technique — but it is all mine. Eventually, I started focusing exclusively on guitar because I felt it was more conducive to songwriting. Once I moved to Norman, it was easy to operationalize my interest in writing music and carrying on in rock bands. In my experience, like-minded musicians who “rock out heavy” tend to gravitate to that type of music with some degree of fanaticism. Rainbows Are Free evolved organically.

Q: One thing I like about you guys is that you have super memorable album artwork. Was the artwork for “Waves Ahead of the Ocean” done by the same artist as “Believers in Medicine” ? Tell me about the process you guys have for choosing artwork for your records and merchandise.

 

Tarver: Yes, the art is amazing. For Waves, we again sought out our friend Tony Roberts, who has become somewhat of an international artistic phenomenon for metal/doom bands. We basically supply a rough idea, sometimes with reference imagery, and Tony takes it from there. We are lucky to have this guy in our camp.

Q: Many people are familiar with you guys from your Norman Music Festival performances. How do you guys prepare for your stage antics, costumes, etc.?

Tarver: We are of the mindset that trumping up the stage dress can only positively contribute to the energy of a show for all involved. However, there is a fine line between gimmick and showmanship, and we try to be conscious of that when we plan a show. Our stage planning process usually involves one-upping an idea that makes us laugh until we reach the limits of human decency.

— Becky Carman for The Oklahoman

 

Becky Carman