Along with Motorhead, Saxon and Iron Maiden, Raven were the pioneers of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Their 1981 debut album Rock Until You Drop and their follow-up in '82, Wiped Out (both originally released on the British indie Neat Records and later re-issued on CD courtesy of Roadrunner), were two of the most influential albums in underground thrash/speed metal. We sent veteran industrial/thrash-metal drummer and Shockwaves correspondent, GENE HOGLAN (formerly of Testament, Death, Dark Angel, and currently drumming for Strapping Young Lad), to go Raven-mad with Joe Hasselvander (drums) and the legendary Gallagher brothers: John (bass/vocals) and Mark (guitar), as they discuss everything from their homeland, their influence on modern metal, and their latest smash effort, Everything Louder. (BN)
SW: So what was it like growing up in Newcastle, England?
JOHN: It's kinda like...what's that prison movie?
MARK: Some call it the Bronx of Europe...if that gives you any indication...
JOHN: It gives you a good grounding for this kind of business...that's for sure.
SW: Here in America, we call it the place you can't understand anybody! (Damn good observation, Gene! For any of you who question that, why don't you try to transcribe this frickin' interview! - Ed.)
JOHN: Have you seen our part of England? It's like, the English didn't want us and the Scots wouldn't have us!
SW: You have a new album out (available on import) called Everything Louder...
JOHN: And it is. The album really speaks for itself. We put out a live record called Destroy All Monsters, which makes Live At The Inferno sound asleep...and that's how we wanted this studio album to sound. So, we spent a long time writing, and spent no time rehearsing, because we wanted to catch that spontaneity.
SW: Do you realize the influence you had on metal bands in the eighties?
MARK: Definitely in Europe, more so than the U.S..
JOHN: We don't really know how much of an influence we made in America since we're not here much. But I was just talking to one of the guys in Galactic Cowboys and he was telling me what an impact we had on a lot of these bands, like Flotsam And Jetsam, apparently they used to play Raven cover songs. People have told me Billy Sheehan is a big fan of ours, as well as the guys in Skid Row and Phil from Pantera.
SW: Your first three records were a big-time influence on me, and I think on thrash metal in general...especially for a lot of young bands coming out at the time (early '80s) in the US, like Possessed and Slayer, and my first band, Dark Angel...
JOHN: I think it really hit us when we did Foundations Forum three years ago. We walked through the door and people were on us like flies, it was really unbelievable. People told me they traveled from across the country just to see that performance. During the show, the crowd went nuts; in fact, Machine Head went on right after us and the crowd were still chanting "Raven!" The drummer from Machine Head said after he set up his drums on the second stage he came up to the front of our stage and was headbanging to Raven.
MARK: When we recorded the live album in Japan last year, all these kids came to the show with the cut-out "backstage pass" which we inserted in the sleeve of our first album, released back in '81.
SW: Back when I was in junior high...this was in the early '80s, when punk really started to explode, the punks would lay all their punk-rock records on me, and I would play them the Raven record, and they were like "What the f**k is this?!" Raven was like the bridge between punk and metal. Did you realize the crossover potential you had?
JOHN: We weren't really trying for that. We used to play with the punks when we were kids...we opened for The Stranglers in '77. We've actually been together since '74. We used to play clubs and it was wall to wall punks, there were very few metal bands at the time...you had Priest, Motorhead, and Sabbath, and Iron Maiden and Saxon were just starting up. We all played the same clubs.
MARK: The grunge movement was a lot like the punk movement...the "we could care less" attitude, where the musicians weren't that good. And I think a lot of the metal bands are up against that right now; it'll all turn around and come back from the underground, just the way it did in 1980. People always say how big metal was in the '80s with the poofed up hair bands, but that wasn't true metal.
SW: So, I guess your influences would be the bands from the early '70s?
JOHN: Yeah...Groundhogs, Budgie, Status Quo, Black Sabbath, Slade...all that stuff.
SW: What about the new music out there...
JOE: John likes techno...
JOHN: You're a lying son-of-a-bitch, I hate techno!
JOE: I like Type O Negative.
JOHN: I'm sure there are some great new bands out there, but it's nothing like it was back in the early '80s where nearly every release was different. And now, it's like nine times out of ten, the band is a piece of crap.
JOE: Put it this way, Mythra (early '80s underground British metal band who released one, limited edition, EP entitled Death & Destiny - Ed.) were genius' compared to what's out there today!
JOHN: With any "new" form of music, the originators are usually good bands that have good music and good ideas, like Nirvana. But then you get all the followers and wannabes, bands like Silverchair, etc...and that really sucks.
RAVEN Interview Part 2