Where does one even begin when trying to explain a band with as much history as Raven? Formed in Newcastle, England by brothers John (vocals/bass) and Mark Gallagher (guitar) all the way back in 1974, the two have kept the band going since the formative years of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene (or NWOBHM) along with a succession of drummers. So it was truly a thrill to get a chance to pick the the brain of long time front man John Gallagher regarding the band’s upcoming live release, Screaming Murder Death From Above: Live From Aalborg.
When asked how said new recording came about, John tells me; “Well…it was an accident! We had no idea we were being recorded! Back “in the day” as they say, a live recording was a tedious affair with many extra microphones and much checking & testing…nowadays a digital multitrack recording can be made direct off the stage! We came off stage from our show in Aalborg Denmark & the soundman gave Mike a memory stick & said ” here you go!” We never even got to check it until after the tour & we were blown away..this recording really captured the energy of our live show!”
I also had to ask how the band decides on what songs to play live these days, for which he had to say; “That’s a tough one. You always want some continuity and there will be a few songs you will always want to play…and are expected to play! Since Mike has come on board we are changing things up, and did so pretty much immediately by adding some older songs we had not done in ages, such as “Hell Patrol” and ” Hung Drawn & Quartered.” And we have been playing a brand new, unreleased song as well, ” Top of the Mountain,” so it’s a bit of a balancing act!”
In 2017, longtime drummer Joe Hasselvander unfortunately suffered from a career-ending heart attack. I asked John if he knew the status of his former bandmate, for which he said; “I’m assuming he’s doing well, we have not been in touch for some time. He is where he needs to be, and where he wants to be, which is at home with his family. The split was an upcoming thing as he really was done with touring and the heart attack was a wake up call for him to change things…we of course wish him nothing but the best.”
After several fill-in’s, the band finally settled on Fear Factory drummer Mike Heller to take the place behind the drum kit. John informs me,”Mike’s quite a force of nature and has been a real shot in the arm…he brings astounding technical prowess & bags of enthusiasm. He is a lot younger than us old dogs (lol), and although we have some common ground, he has a different set of influences and is bringing a lot of cool ideas to the table!”
And finally, I asked John if the band had plans to get back in to the recording studio in the near future; “Yes! We basically have the new album in the can after a lot of stop/start nonsense over last year. We do need to tweak a few small parts such as an intro here & there and then mix the album. The live album is a great bridge between the last album and the upcoming new one. We really have lifted the bar yet again on this new one in regards to pretty much everything, the songs, the playing, the energy…we are excited!!!! Hopefully this will be out late 2019.”