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The Lockdown 2020 – John Gallagher (Raven)

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Interview by Paul Monkhouse for MPM

The importance of Raven can never be understated when the history of hard rock and heavy metal is spoken about.

Other bands playing fast may have come before them but when the Newcastle trio emerged into the public eye in 1980 came to define what speed actually meant, their own brand of ‘Athletic Rock’ (as they dubbed it) setting the template for what was to follow.

Arguably, most of the thrash bands that started appearing in the early to mid-80’s owe their existence to the Geordies, their inspiration so powerful that it captured the imagination not just in the UK but across the world and particularly in the States. 

It was over the other side of the Atlantic from their North East home that the band found themselves touring extensively across America, a young emerging band called Metallica opening for them on the San Francisco outfit’s first major outing.

The ‘Kill ‘em All For One’ tour was a turning point for Hetfield and crew and the power of the two acts together truly opened the floodgates. Continuing to be busy throughout the rest of the decade and into the next, constantly touring and releasing albums that continued to build upon their ferocious reputation, it was only the terrible accident of a wall falling on guitarist Mark Gallagher, leading to the band taking a hiatus of three years until 2004 while he recovered that slowed them down.

There was no keeping the six stringer down though, as he played some US shows in a wheelchair until fully fit and back to his old strength, the gigs being hailed as a triumphant return.  

Whilst drummers have come and gone, Mark and bass playing brother John have always been at the centre of Raven, the pair driving the metal warriors ever onward.

Tour followed tour and album followed album, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake as they went out to prove that they were still innovators and the touchstone for countless bands around the globe.

The newly released ‘Metal City’ shows a band at the peak of their craft and stands amongst the finest of their output and, indeed, of the genre. With ten phenomenal tracks of fast and furious riffage literally melting your face off, the trio have once again shown the power of self-belief and an intensity that goes beyond the music itself.

With another landmark recording under their belts, we caught up with John Gallagher to see what he and the band have been up to this year. 

First off, and most importantly: How are you doing? 

Doing just fine thank you!! 

How have you been keeping yourself busy? 

Well I just flew back to the States…spent the last 6 months in the U.K. with my significant other…that was kinda nice actually! I did get to write a lot of music…to work on my playing… recorded my “bass noodles” …a short bass piece every day for the last 150+ days…and some session stuff! Then there’s been video work and promo for the new album “Metal City” that just came out September 18th! 

Have you been doing any online live shows or seen any good ones? 

No…I haven’t. I’ve seen some of the session stuff people have done and a lot of it is very cool…Charlie from Anthrax with his pals have done some great stuff! 

Have you had to change your way of writing material? 

No! Just plug in and find out what I’m playing today y’know??? I’ll either just record the ideas…or maybe flesh them out a bit & see where we end up! 

Do you keep in touch with your fellow bandmates / other musicians much? 

Yeah…with the stuff for the album we have been in touch at least every other day…and I’m in touch with other musician mates on FB… 

What plans have you had to change this year? 

We were incredibly lucky in that we postponed our album etc. before the lockdown was a thing…initially we’d looked a May for an album/ tour…but scheduling issues and the album art problems made us say “we’ve waited this long…let’s do September“. 

What do you think of the social distancing gigs (like the one that happened in Kansas fairly recently – 229 people in a 1,100-seat venue) or the thought of drive-in gigs? 

It’s a poor imitation…we have a full European tour booked for February 2021 as we reckon all this nonsense will be over by then… 

How do you think the music industry will have changed after this period of lockdown? 

It’s gonna be tough. A lot of venues have closed their doors for good…but we will adapt and move on…we have to! 

What plans have you got for when the isolation finishes and gigs start back up again? 

Well these Euro dates…and literally everywhere else once it opens back up. we have a few festivals in Europe later in 2021. Recording wise, we are looking at another “party killers” covers project…and recording new music! 

How can people support you during this time?  

Go buy “Metal City” …it’s the best thing we have ever done…and it’s out now! 

Taken from the forthcoming album “Metal City” – out now! Order Link: https://Ravenlunatics.lnk.to/MetalCity

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