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John Gallagher, Mark Gallagher (Raven)

Interview with John Gallagher, Mark Gallagher from Raven
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 03 November 2010, 2:11 AM

You never forget your first love no matter what age you were. So, RAVEN happened to be the first band I saw live on a Metal concert and I was literally blown away! So, there was absolutely no way I would miss their return to the US celebrating the 35th anniversary. And on top of that, I had the privilege and honor to discuss with these NWOBHM legends like we were friends. You know what? After this honest and hearty conversation I feel like the Gallagher brothers (John (J.G.) and Mark (M.G.) as my own very good friends!


How is the tour so far?
J.G.: It’s great, we haven’t been in America for so long you know. We have done a few gigs in East coast, and in this leg we are going to do the Middle West and then we are going to do North West and Texas and we feel we owe this to the fans to show them that we are alive and kickin!

Yeah, of course! What about the summer festivals that you did?
M.G.: It was great! I think this year we played in front of more people than we did in the past. We consider ourselves as a live band that records albums. We just love to be out there. We would be out there 365 if we could and play. We play long sets, we usually liked to get out there and do it, so, that’s the way we live and we like it.



As I said, the first time I watched you were back in Greece, last summer I watched you in ‘Graspop’, Belgium. You are absolutely amazing on stage. What’s the driving force behind that?
J.G.: We just act like we did when we were kids, I mean when we are fans; we started this band by watching STATUS QUO and SLADE
M.G.: That’s the foundation of this band. The first band we saw live, like you saw us, we saw SLADE, the band SLADE and….
J.G. (interrupting) …and the opening band was Alex Harvey and those were the best bands that you could ever see!
M.G.: And they had albums that they were heavy and they were having a huge success back in England. Watching that was mind-blowing! In fact, we just wanted to be a band with three guys who are really into it! And that what it keeps us going no matter the problems.

The fact that you’re brothers, does kept you that long together?
M.G.: I like to think so, you know, because we could not play for so many years together we have an ESP going on between us and can understand each other. It’s just a good fit. Joe also is with us for 23 years and he is now like a brother for us, too. So, it’s a very tight thing to have a three piece like that.

Ok, let’s go to the new album; you have released “Walk Through Fire” in Japan in 2009. Why only in Japan?
J.G.: Yes, we had to because we did that demo and actually got money from Japan to do the record. Obviously, we’d like to have a simultaneous release in Europe and America but the labels wanted to put it down for a while; and the only labels that were any good were SPV and Metal Blade. Metal Blade wasn’t ready for it, we were having negotiation problems to get the right people and SPV wanted to do it but had all that financial problems, so, we say ‘ok, we are going to release it in Japan’.

So, now you’re with Metal Blade for one release or you have signed?
J.G.: At the moment, it’s for one. And we are going to see how it is going.
M.G.: There are still options but we’ll see what happens. It’s good to have people like SPV to work or like friends of ours who can work ahead of us and make things happen. And Europe was very good to us and settled situations with festivals and stuff like that and we could not believe what happened to all these festivals, and that’s good, you know. It’s good, like a reward for us because we put so much in that album and now people like you telling us ‘this is the best album’. So, it’s like an exciting time for us and we want to be band that is happening right now. We don’t want to be just a band playing only the new songs; there are way to many bands like that. Like TWISTED SISTER that are playing only old songs.



What about the UK? How is the UK?
J.G.: We played in 2008, we toured there and it was good. There were a lot of die-hard fans out there. But it’s really hard and financially are in a worse place than in America. I mean, the prices are high and this causes a lot of pubs to close; and in England, when a pub closes, it’s like a death in the family because that they all do; so, I don’t know how the things are now, but 2 years ago we were over there and it was hard.

How long did it take you to write the music for the album?
M.G.: Couple of songs we had for at least 2 years before recorded them but other songs just came up the very last minute and we also have a lot of songs that not included on the album because when you have too many songs, it’s kinda hard to make a solid record. We wanted to make sure that all that staff was cohesive and heavy and we also wanted that RAVEN edge. And that’s what the reviews and most of the fans are saying: “This is the real RAVEN and I think it has all the things that characterize us. It was weird but after we had recorded it, we waited a while, listened to it, remixed it and make it just the way we wanted. And that’s actually quite different than before. Before was like, “record and release”. So, it was kind of a unique situation and we are happy about it.

You said that you have some songs that didn’t make it to the album…
J.G.: Yes, it would be probably, I don’t know, 25 – 30 songs and we have to choose between them and decide which would be in the album. So, you have to make an album from what you’ve got. Some songs were extremely good, others were good too, but didn’t work really well with the rest staff.

Are there any plans to release them in the future?
M.G.: We all are democratic, so we have to see if we all the three of us like these songs for a future release. So, you’ll never know. Some songs passes the process, others don’t. We’ll see what is going to happen with the rest of them.
J.G.: A good song is not always an actual snapshot of where you were right then. Just like VAN HALEN who were releasing songs that were recorded ten years ago in demos. We also have songs in demos and it comes a time when someone says” “Remember that song? If we did this and that it would sound better” and then boom you have a killer song!



What about the lyrics? Is there any meaning behind “Walk Through Fire”?
J.G.: Actually we worked a lot on that because it’s a common theme trying to face bad all the difficult situations and fight against all this shit. A lot of people do, so it’s actually a good theme.
M.G.: Everyone finds something to connect in this album. Everyone is fighting to make a stand, step up and make it happen. So, it’s kind like doing “Rock Until You Drop” over and over again (laughs).

So, are you still playing ‘athletic rock’?
M.G.: I don’t even know what that means (laughs)!
J.G.: Maybe it arthritic Rock now (laughs). This came up because we were running on stage and having that athletic gear. We are still running on stage, so, I don’t really care as long as our name is spelled right…

(addressing to Mark) You used to take your brother on your shoulders onstage. Are you still doing that?
M.G.: Yeah I did but not anymore (laughs)! I guess you know the reason (laughs)!

Ok! What about a DVD; have you ever thought of shooting one?
J.G.: He is working on it (pointing at Mark). We have a lot of stuff to get in it.
M.G.: It’s going to be like a documentary or something, it’s going to deal more about the music and our live performances. We have a lot of stuff through years, from the studio and backstage that it’s really cool and people actually will have the opportunity to see what’s RAVEN. We have staff from ’93 in Chicago, at Metro, we have a lot of footage from concerts, and so, all these are going to be in the DVD. Even last year we got some HD footage from our in Tokyo and that’s going to come out.

Japan loves RAVEN, right?
M.G.: Oh yeah, it like THE BEATLES. For some reason, we are quite successful there. I had a conversation with Uki, a good friend of ours who is a photographer and she told me: “You don’t understand, it doesn’t happen to everybody, it’s amazing”. The first time we played there it was great; it was 30 minutes to get on stage and they were chanting the band’s name during the whole time. They know every single lyric of every song better than John!
J.G.: You were in Athens and that was special. This is special too, maybe a little more but the Japanese crowd chooses to whom are going to be crazy for! They were like crying and were very emotional.
M.G.: They are great and this tour was like a shot in the arm. But in this tour everybody is so warm and showing the love that they have for us, you know. It took us three years to go on tour because of the new album and now it’s kind of party for us and people too. Last night we were on Cleveland, Ohio and people come up and talked to us after the show and that’s what we wanted; to see the reactions of the people for the show and our record, that was very encouraging, you know.



Last question: you have 35 years of career; if you wanted to give one piece of advice in a new band, what it would be?
J.G.: Basically I would say to stay true to your ideas and try not to have somebody pushing you to the wrong direction against your beliefs and your desires. Follow your heart. We had a period in our career when financial reasons and the fact that we were an English band in the US we were pushed in the wrong direction. And it was not worth it! You have to make music for the shake of music and not for how much money you will earn. If you want money go play Rock or be Madonna, whatever. Do that or get a proper job (laughs).

Ok guys, that’s it; if you want to say anything, feel free to add whatever you want.
J.G.: We want to thank everyone out there for the support and check out the new record “Walk Through Fire” and we’ll see ya out on the road!

Ok. Are there any thoughts about the next album or it’s too early?
J.G. : Basically we are going to take this album as a jump up point and set a higher goal. We have to take everything in a higher level. We are going to have stronger more intense songs and we’re gonna experiment a little like we did with this one.



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Edited 27 June 2019
 

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