Goldray: "One of the most outrageous things you can do is be a rockstar"

A press shot of goldray

It was only meant to be an informal jam. But when Reef guitarist Kenwyn House and vocalist Leah Rasmussen hooked up in 2008, the fusion of his riffs and her swooping vocals was potent, and their partnership impossible to put back on the shelf. By 2010 the pair had co-written their first music as Goldray, by 2014 House had quit Reef after almost 20 years with the Britrock survivors, and in May Goldray make their full-length debut with the heavy, trippy psych-blues of Rising. “I’m not holding back anything,” House says. “This band is our life.”

Do you think Reef fans will be surprised?

It’s probably going to be a fifty-fifty split. I suppose I was the riff-maker in Reef, so my fingerprint will transfer over to this. We wanted to be indulgent and see what comes out. So much music has become formulaic, because the record labels and producers are trying to get it on the radio.

Were any hallucinogens consumed during the making of the record?

I can’t lie. Yeah, there were. I think every human society has shamanic plants and herbs that are used, and these are now vilified in this modern world of insanity. But I believe that part of being human is to take Mother Nature’s psychedelic remedies. Y’know, we don’t do it all the time, and we don’t do it while we’re recording, but sometimes during the writing we do, yeah. It’s also experiences from the past. The acid I took in my teens is probably influencing my songwriting now.

Goldray have been described as Led Zep meets Kate Bush. How do you feel about that?

Well, if you’re going to get compared to other people, it might as well be the best. I mean, I love Kate Bush, and Leah does have elements to her performance that are comparable. Leah’s the ultimate rock star. She is, man. Live, I’m just watching her, along with the audience.

You’ve got guitar hero moments too.

[Laughs] Didn’t I say there was a bit of indulgence? Leah really takes it up there, and it’s similar to Zeppelin – if you had Robert Plant but you didn’t have Jimmy Page it’d be a bit one-sided. You need a break from the voice, but you still need the energy. This music is not about being reserved, it’s about ripping your heart out and throwing it on the table.

You’ve got quite a flamboyant look.

What can I say? I grew up looking at Jimi. It was beautiful to watch him, just being this crazy motherfucker who didn’t give a shit. He pushed a lot of boundaries. To wear flares that big and feathers in your hair and walk around in the sixties, that takes a lot of balls. It’s much easier to keep your head down, cut your hair and vote Tory. One of the most outrageous things you can do is be a rock star.

Was the Britrock era as much fun as it looked?

If you’re given the opportunity to travel around the world being a reckless scallywag, you will do that.I feel happy that I had those opportunities to be a crazy rock’n’roll motherfucker. In my heart of hearts, I had no intention to piss people off, but I was going to wave my freak flag high. If you don’t live that life when you’re in that situation, why did you put yourself in that situation in the first place? I think most musicians have a predisposition to party. HY

Rising is released on May 5 via Akashic Records/Cargo Records.

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Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.