The chance of a chat with Raven frontman John Gallagher is never to be passed up, but when it’s a chat about what the band themselves regard as the best album they’ve ever done, well… it’s a no brainer. Off to Metal City we go!
A few reviews are starting to surface for the new album now – are you nervous about the reception for Metal City? “No… I mean, it’s great to see people really “getting” it. But we know we have recorded pretty much the best thing we have ever done… great reviews are fine, but the reaction of the fans to the two songs we have released… that’s gold! Wait til they hear the whole thing! ( release date is September 18th).
Yes – it’s definitely going to blow a few minds! COVID notwithstanding, how differently did you approach the recording of this album to, say, your debut album from 1981? Are you big harnessers of technology or are the old ways still the best? “We were dragged into the 21st century on this one… kicking and screaming! (laughs). The big change was Mike (Heller) did his drums in his studio first. We had reservations at first, but when he sent a few drum tracks as examples, we were blown away! We had major issues with the initial tracking sessions so somehow we ended up starting over using our old friend Michael Wagener (Accept, Skid Row, Raven’s All for One etc) at his studio in Nashville. We needed that country edge y’know? (more laughter). It was so great to work with him again, we did the guitars, basses and vocals there with him engineering. Had a great time and captured exactly what we needed. So although this was recorded one guy at a time, using digital recording, Kemper profiling amps et cetera… with the way we all play… there’s always twenty five to thirty per cent that’s seat of your pants improv. That’s the “x” factor that gives the energy I think!
It’s a very energetic record! Looking back for a moment, it was quite hard to spread the word in the early eighties, especially internationally if magazines like Kerrang! didn’t feature you. Are you embracing modern social media platforms much this time around to help publicise the new record? Or are you happy to use tried and tested ‘traditional’ methods like interviews with magazines such as Sentinel Daily? Do you forsee a time, especially post COVID, when bands deal direct over platforms such as Zoom to talk to fans? Will there be more of your bass noodles for the kids even when this is all over? “Well, you have to use what is out there. The great thing about the internet is the increased connection with our fans… but we will always interact with traditional print media. Metal fans like a physical product, whether it’s the actual music or being able to pour through a mag. I’m keeping the bass noodles on my Facebook page going at least for a while… people are enjoying it and any excuse for me to play is great. I can’t put them all up though as I’m getting too many cool song ideas!”
Tell us a bit more about the recording of the album – and what was the motivation behind the Metal city title? Are you happy to take on all comers who think their own city is the Metal City? “We knew we had to raise the bar after ExtermiNation… and we ended up with a huge treasure trove of new songs. I came up with thirty to forty myself. Mark (Gallagher, guitars) brought a ton of killers along and we quickly determined we had a monster on our hands. Then Joe (Hasselvander, the band’s previous drummer) has the heart attack et cetera… and Mike Heller came into the picture! His performance on this album is … astounding. It elevated our game and we basically took that “ bar” and chucked it over the roof! Metal City was written with Newcastle Upon Tyne in mind, but it’s a lot more universal in theme. Wherever metal heads congregate – that’s Metal City!”
So true! Now, Here’s your chance to sum up in one sentence what each song on the new record means to you:
The Power – “Mission statement!”
Top Of The Mountain – “Like 1982 all over again!”
Human Race – “Is us moving forward!”
Metal City- “An anthem for us Geordies”.
Battlescarred – “An anthem for me and Mark”.
Cybertron – “Watch out for A.I…”
Motorheadin‘ – “Love ya Lemmy”.
Not So Easy – “Some rock n’roll Raven style”.
Break – “An anthem for NOW… anger!”
When Worlds Collide – “An epic – our ‘heavy’ side”.
Thanks for that. As I’m sure our readers noticed – there are a lot of anthems on the album! When things start getting back to normal, will there be plans to support the album with live shows worldwide? I see you’ve pencilled in a tentative first run of shows… “Absolutely… we have a European tour booked for February and will be playing everywhere on the planet as soon as they allow us!”
Good news indeed – we can’t wait to see you back down here in Australia! Anything else you think the readers of Sentinel Daily should know about the album? “For a band that’s been around forty six years to come out with an album that’s not only “ a soggy retread of past glories” but also the best thing we have ever done? It’s unheard of – we are so proud of this record, and it’s a symbolic throwing down of the gauntlet to the other old guard bands… ‘Beat that!’ They are putting out ‘ok’ albums.. but this is fucking great!”
Well, a lot of those bands read Sentinel Daily – and we’re happy to facilitate the challenge! Thanks for your time!