RAVEN Frontman: No Other Band Sounds Like Us

Rock & Rolla recently conducted an interview with bassist/vocalist John Gallagher of the veteran British/American heavy metal trio RAVEN. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Rock & Rolla: You guys have been kicking since 1974. 36 years later here you are. What's the secret behind the band's longevity?

John: Yeah, we've been playing since '74. We're going into our fourth decade of our career. As for our longevity? It's pretty simple really; we enjoy what we do. We feed off the energy of the music. When we hit those big power chords, it's like getting a shot of 240 volts into your body. We put on a very physical show; there have been times where I've been sick and I've been walking around prior to the show like a little old man, but when we get on stage we have a show to do. We have a reputation as a good live band and when we are on stage we deliver.

Rock & Rolla: Your vocals have held up pretty well. You sound much like you did 25 years ago when I first heard RAVEN.

John: I take care of myself. Singers are, at times, hypochondriacs. I'm no different. My voice is my instrument and I have to take care of it. It also helps that I'm healthy. I don't drink, I don't smoke and I've never done any nasty stuff, which certainly helps. When people are partying all night, the first thing to go is the voice. We have a reputation, therefore I have an obligation to deliver live. When someone has paid his hard-earned money to see us, we need to give them a show.

Rock & Rolla: RAVEN are one of the pioneers of metal. One of the bands that lead the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. You've made a contribution to the metal scene world wide yet you're still the underdog. What are your thoughts on this?

John: Yeah, that one of those things that you can look at it in two different ways. The first would be on a business level and the second would be on an artistic level. We didn't get into this on a business level we got this on an artistic level; no one sounds like us, we're the best RAVEN-sounding band there is because no one sounds like us. That was one of the cool things about the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands; they were different from one another — DEF LEPPARD, SAXON, IRON MAIDEN, DIAMOND HEAD and RAVEN. We were all heavy but we all had our own identity. These days that's harder to find because everyone seems to be copying each other. We have a lot of music left in us as you can hear in the new album, "Walk Through Fire". This year has been a great year for us as we have played in places that we haven't been to in a while because of the trials tribulations that we've had over the course of the past few years.

Rock & Rolla: You've released 12 studio albums, the latest, "Walk Through Fire", on Metal Blade Records (for the United States). You've been on a major label in the past (Atlantic Records) and you been on indies. Which do you prefer and why?

John: With the major label we like the fact that the distribution was there, but the fact was when the guy that signed us got fired and things changed. Then we have the department looking at us like a commodity; they thought, "Hey, these guys are good, if we dress them up like clowns and we make them sound commercial maybe we can make a lot of money." The communication thing with a major was that we were dealing with people who had no idea what we were about and didn't know what to do with us. Thinking back they didn't care what we were the just wanted to make us different, which was ridiculous. I like the communication with smaller labels, they know what they are getting with us, they know what we are about and we're happier. It's been a long tortuous process but we figured it out.

Rock & Rolla: Do you keep in touch with your former drummer Rob Hunter? What's he doing these days?

John: When Rob quit, he did it through a third part and naturally we were upset by it. 10 years went by before we talked. We had a conversation for a couple of hours and he was doing well for himself. On occasion I'll get some message from him on Facebook about what he's up to. He's worked doing production and engineering music by Branford Marsalis, the saxophone player. He's basically become a studio guy. It's funny he quit the band to be close to his family and now he's away from his family because Branford tours all over the world and Rob is doing the live sound for him. Rob's a very talented guy, he a good guitarist, drummer and producer. We wish him well and we're very happy for him.

Read the entire interview from Rock & Rolla.

Video footage of RAVEN 's performance at the 2010 edition of the Tidal Wave free outdoor metal festival at John McLaren Park's Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in San Francisco, California on July 25 can be viewed below.


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