RAVEN bassist/vocalist John Gallagher recently spoke with Australia's Heavy magazine. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the band's international momentum:
John: "It's a big world, but it's getting smaller these days. After we kind of got over [guitarist] Mark's [Gallagher] accident [Editor's note: in 2001, a wall collapsed on Gallagher and crushed his legs, leading RAVEN to take a nearly four-year hiatus while he rehabilitated] and we did the 'Walk Through Fire' album, pretty much every year since then, there's been a lot of firsts. We got to go to South America for the first time. There's a lot of European countries we hadn't even done, [and] we did a whole bunch of them in 2017 with U.D.O., and then when we toured with SAXON, we did a few more. We are going to Mexico for the first time at the end of this month; we're [also] going to Ecuador, going to Chile, and then we come over to Australia."
On whether it's difficult to perform for foreign crowds who have never seen the band prior:
John: "Not really. You try to tailor it a little bit. If there's people out there and they've heard of you, you try to accommodate that to a certain extent — it's not going to be, 'Let's play all five sides our of triple new album that we're doing.' We're entertainers, and that's very much missing, especially in our genre of music. A lot of people just like to make their heads go around in a circle and look at the floor. We're very much about engaging with the audience and dragging them in, and exchanging energy backwards and forwards, and really making an event out of things. That's what we're about... We're not the kind of band that goes out and meticulously recreates their records. We don't play the same solos; we don't play the same fills. It's an event. We make it special. We improvise. We're a three-piece, so we love to fool around and play tricks on each other and stop songs in the middle and start other ones... We're musicians, we're creative, but we're crackers, we're crazy and we're entertainers. We like to go out there and grab an audience by the short-and-curlies, and pull very hard."
On the group's forthcoming fourteenth studio album:
John: "[We're] all done [recording]. We're awaiting final mixes. We finally found the guy to do it, so we're waiting on that. It's going to be awesome... I've been writing pretty much constantly. I went through a whole upheaval personally in my life — divorce and stuff like that — so it actually cleared my mind. I had loads and loads of ideas that I hadn't completed. You always write bits — 'Here's a great riff,' or, 'This could be a chorus' — and I just had all this stuff laid out and finished, like, 30 or 40 songs, which was crazy. We did a lot of them. This inspired Mark — he came up with some of the best stuff he's ever come up with this — so between the two of us, we had all this [material]... this new album is going to have [fresh] energy, and it's a step forward from the previous album. More energy, faster, more complicated, better hooks, more melody. It's that blend of what makes RAVEN — the chaos and the organization, the noise and the melody, the looseness and the structure. All the opposing things all coming together. We're very, very happy with it, and I think it's really going to surprise a lot of people that a band that's been around as long as we have are coming out with something that's so fresh and full of energy."
On how the band keeps things "fresh":
John: "We have a great love for what we do. We don't take it for granted. This is not a job. [When] a lot of bands get to our age, they check in — it's a job — they check out. This is not a job — this is life and death. This is blood for us. We have a long body of work, and a standard. When I see an older band go out and go through the motions, or you see them barely able to walk from one end of the stage to the other, it's like, 'No.' I turned 60 last year, but we're as energetic as we were back in our 20s."
On touring with METALLICA during the group's early days:
John: "In '83, [we were told], 'We've got this band to open for you. They're the biggest band in San Francisco.' We're saying, 'Who — Y&T?' They go, 'No, METALLICA.' We got to hear 'No Life 'Til Leather' before the record came out. It sounded like MOTÖRHEAD played at the wrong speed... They were a crazy gang of young, drunk kids. They were great, but you couldn't imagine them being what they are today from that. They were great — they were like a gang; they were heavy; they were thrashy; they were crazy — but they did change. They changed by the second album. The first album did great, but by the time they changed in the second album and got their stuff together, then you could see — 'Maybe. Maybe it's going to be different from here.'"
RAVEN's forthcoming new album, the follow-up to 2015's "ExtermiNation", will mark the band's first effort with new drummer Mike Heller (FEAR FACTORY), who replaced Joe Hasselvander in 2017.
Earlier this year, the group released a live album, "Screaming Murder Death From Above: Live In Aalborg", via SPV/Steamhammer.