Call of the Raven... John Gallagher Speak's Out.
When you think of the N.W.O,B.H.M. you automatically think of Saxon, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath to name a few more, but there's a darker side of the N.W.O.B.H.M with the likes of Tygers of Pan tang, Girlschool, Avenger, Venom, Tysondog, and Raven.
Raven were one of those band that influenced the likes of Metallica who had opened up for raven in the U.S. before their stadium took place. Raven are 2 brothers Mark Gallagher (guitars) and John Gallagher (bass & vocals) who met up with drummer Paul Bowden from 75, but was placed by several drummers until they found Rock 'Wacko' Hunter in 79 up until 87 when he left to be replaced by Joe Hasselvander in 87.
The band had recorded and their debut album 'Rock until you Drop' in 81 and since then have recorded 13 albums to date and with their current album 'Extermination' released in 2015 the band are about to record their next album. I caught up with John and the boys at Headbangers Open Air in Germany to chat about the future and the past. here is what John had to say.
Hi John pleasure meeting you, this is the 1st interview we have done for Friday 13th, can you believe it? So I'm going to ask you some warm up questions. Firstly I'd like to ask you which of you're past albums are you're favorite and why?
"Hi Jason, nice to meet you mate. Well back in the days of the dinosaurs ruled the earth there were 3 young lads from Newcastle formed a band called Raven (laughing). We were on Neat Records from Newcastle when we 1st started out, who had put a single out by Tygers of Pan Tang which was played to a guy from Sounds Magazine and pretty much changed everything.
We had our 1st single put 'We Don't Need Your Money; in 1980 and Ozzy heard it and took us out on tour with him. We played with Motorhead, Whitesnake, and did our 1st album in 1981 'Rock Until You Drop' and our 2nd album in 82 'Wiped Out' which got us to go to Europe touring and went to the States in 83 and we had an unknown band back then open for us called 'Metallica' and in 84 Anthrax opened up for us.
In 85 we got a deal with Atlantic and released 'Stay Hard' and we found out Atlantic were a bunch of twats. So after they tried to change us we said no we will not change and left the company.
Our drummer Rob 'Wacko' Hunter left the band and we got Joe Hasselvander in the band in 87 and fought our way through the Grunge thing. We still had work to be had in the U.S. but it was better over here and so we concentrated on Japan. My brother Mark had a bad accident in 2001 and could not do anything for 5 yrs which but us on a back burner for a little while.
All our albums are my kids, so there are some albums I don't like as much as others and I'm not a big fan of 'The Pack is Back' from 86 as there was a lot of pressure from the label and it was a commercial album and Rob wanted to play to a click track and it is something we in Raven hate and we had Eddie Kramer who is known for a live sound in the studio and we made him do a very produced sound and we are a live band.
It was a bunch of wrong things that didn't work out. It was one album that we learnt from it and came back with the album 'Life's a Bitch' in 87, so Rob left and Joe came into the band.
The funny thing is we have always been 'Raven' and have never been any one else and we are not really a Thrash metal band or anything else. We are just a metal band. We are one of the 1st bands that played fast like Motorhead, Anvil."
Did you ever play with Metallica in later years?
"Yes we did we opened up for them in Brazil 3yrs ago in front of 70.000 and there the same guy they were back in the early 80's, they were very respectful towards us and they haven't changed with their attitudes since the early days which is a really good thing. We had problems with Live Nation who was bastards and didn't want us to do the shows but Metallica insisted we did it, so we have so much respect for Metallica. It's all about $$ ££, money talks sadly and if they want to take a band like Avenged Sevenfold on tour they will get more fans into the show then we would, it's a sad fact of life."
Moving on, do you miss you're home city of Newcastle UK?
"Yes we miss and it is is always good to go back home and we where there 2 yrs ago we have cousins back there and our parents are both dead and my sister moved to South Africa. (Ed: What did your parents think of you and you're brother doing Raven?) They were very proud of us, and supportive. We played in 2008 and they were still both alive and they came to see us and they were very proud of us in Newcastle. (Ed: Where do you live now in the U.S?) I live in outside of Washington D.C. and my brother live in Florida."
Last night you told me Joe had left the band due to a bad heart attack, how is he doing? Also who has replaced him?
"Well he had the heart attack on 14th May 2017 so we got a guy in from Chicago to do one show and Mike to do 3 shows from Fear Factory. For Europe we used a guy from Annihilator who did a great job and then Dave from the band 'Kill Ritual' for the rest of the European tour and they all did a great job. We really clicked with Mike and we will be playing with him for the rest of the future hopefully, we get along really well.
Joe has been with us for 30yrs and I don't think he will be coming back sadly as he really need to take care of his health, he is a great drummer and good friend too. He wasn't happy been on the road towards the end, he was missing his family and we were suppose to do a 3 month tour with U.D.O. and he would turn around to us and say 'No I'm not doing it', so somebody upstairs took that decision out f his hands."
So let's talk about the last album 'Extermination', why the title and did you have any other titles for this record?
"Well that came out with the song 'Destroy all Monsters' and I shuffed with word 'Exterminate' in front of it, because we love Dr Who or at least did. We did a great album with 'Walk through Fire' in 2009 which was a great kind of come back after Mark been injured and his legs were nearly cut off in a accident in 2001 so he had to learn to talk and walk again which he still has a little way to go still, but he's getting there. We worked with Kevin 131 in the studio and we took it up to another level and worked very hard on the songs.
We did the album in the same studio in the U.S. where we did 'Walk through Fire' and we did a lot of pre production and we did 3-4 sessions as were scattered all over the place. It took 2 wks to record the album and we go in and out very quickly."
How do you write songs, is it a team effort or do you write the lyrics and you're brother write the music? Do you argue a lot with you're brother?
"Well the last album was done by Mark and myself wrote most of the music and Mark wrote lot more music than usual. Joe came up with a song and a half and Mark wrote a lot of lyrics this time around. The new album that we are working on now I have wrote a lot of songs for that about 30 and we have 5 really good ones.
Yes we sometimes argue, but we fight and get over it. We were in Spain in 72 and he got an acoustic guitar and mine followed and we told our parents we wanted electric guitars so they bought us cheap ones."
Are there any songs from the current album that you really like and why?
"I like 'Destroy all Monsters' its a real brainier of a song and great live song, I also like 'It's not what you Got' which is a typical raven rock song and I like 'Fight' and 'Tank Treads' which is a little heavier. We will be using Mike for the next album to record with us and he is enjoying playing with this band and he's a great guy."
How many videos have you recorded for the last album been promo videos?
"We just did the 2, the 1st song was a lyrical video for the song 'Destroyer of all Monsters', and and we did one for 'Tank Treads' ."
Do you have any plans to record a live DVD in for the next album?
"We did a DVD called 'Rock until you Stop' with explains the whole story of the band and it is really cool. We will have to see what the future brings. We filmed our set at 'Bang Your Head' but there were some cock ups with the sound which can be up and down, we might be able to use some of that we will see."
How is you're relationship with SPV?
"Well it's great, Olly is very honest and upfront with us, we did leave the label for a short time and we regret that but we are back with them now so all is good. There a good team."
Are you looking forward to be playing tonight at 'Headbangers Open Air'?
"We have played here before and I am looking forward to be playing without getting food poisoning this time. Its a great crowd and their die hard metal heads at this festival. After this show we go home for a week and then we play in Spain and then a month tour in the U.S. and then a tour with U.D.O. which is all good fun."
Well John thank you for the interview was a pleasure to finally meet a fellow countryman. Do you have anything to say to the fans?
"Yes thank you very much for you're support, I will wear always as I would say and if you like the last album then wait for the new one as you're really going to like that and will see you on the road."
Thank you to John and also Mirko who sadly passed away recently R.I.P. my friend.