Raven interview: John Gallagher talks ExtermiNation
When Newcastle, U.K. brothers John and Mark Gallagher first formed Raven in 1974, they had the same goals as most young rock musicians—to party, meet girls and play loud and fast. The latter would lead them to major players in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement in the late 70s and early 80s. Mark’s fast guitar riffing was a catalyst for the speed and thrash metal genres, but Raven simply called it “Athletic Rock”.
The band’s larger than life, over-the-top sound would make an impression on many up-and-coming young bands, including legends like Metallica. When Raven first hit the U.S. touring circuit in 1983 in support of its third album; the seminal, All for One, they took Metallica out as the opening act, in support of its debut record Kill ‘em All.
Like many bands of that era, early albums on backdoor labels led to major label contracts. Raven was no exception, signing to Atlantic Records for its 1985 album Stay Hard. The band shifted its base of operations across the pond to New York. Also similar to many bands of the 80s metal scene, the record label began putting pressure on to become more commercial. The change in direction fell flat for Raven and its fans, significantly hurting the band’s forward momentum, something they never regained. After three albums with Atlantic, the trio parted ways with drummer Rob “Wacko” Hunter as well as their label.
Current drummer, Joe Hasselvander joined in 1988 for Raven’s first album on Combat Records, Nothing Exceeds Like Excess. The record found the band returning to its raw, hungry, and thrashy roots. Several more albums would follow leading up the beginning of the new millennium. The band would then go on hiatus after Mark was seriously injured when a wall fell on him, crushing his legs. He would spend several years recovering and rehabbing.
Fans would wait a long nine years between records, before Raven stormed back with Walk Through Fire in 2009. The album was a critical success a brought a resurgence of interest in the band. Mark spent several years pouring through old footage of the band spanning nearly four decades, and in 2013, the trio released a DVD documentary, Rock Until You Drop – A Long Day’s Journey. The DVD retrospective cataloged four decades of the band’s history and performances, pulling out all the stops, and giving fans raw footage of the group through the years. The two disc set clocked in at an amazing four hours and forty minutes.
This year finds Raven marking its 40th anniversary on tour in preparation for the release of its 13th studio album, ExtermiNation, due out in early 2015. For the first time in the band’s history it is using a crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter to raise funds for completing the record. As part of the recording, and as a reward to Kickstarter supporters, the band has also recorded an album of cover tracks, Party Killers, which features the band’s take on songs from the likes of Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, Slade, Deep Purple and Queen. Only fans who support the Kickstarter campaign will be album to get a copy of the Party Killers CD.
You can get a taste of some Party Killers clips below:
Metalholic recently caught up with bassist and vocalist John Gallagher to talk about the new albums, the current tour, how he came to play 8 and 12 string basses, and 40 years of Raven. The full interview can be heard in the video below.
Gallagher hails ExtermiNation as “hard, heavy, and faster than the speed of light! In short, the best Raven album yet. We think we’ve written it, and now we need you Lunatics to help us record it!”
“Our good friends at SPV Records fully support Raven and have agreed to release the new album ExtermiNation in early 2015, but with the current state of the record industry, are only able to partially fund the album. We’re not willing to cut any corners or sell you, the fans, short, so we are asking for your help to cover the expense of extra pre-production, rehearsal, travel, and studio time. Most importantly, we’re not just using any studio or engineer, we’re reuniting the team responsible for our last album Walk Through Fire! With your help we’ll return to Assembly Line Studios with producer Kevin ‘131’ Gutierrez. Our promise to you is an uncompromising album that will tear your head off!”