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Interview with George Harris from The Raven Age

It is a rainy night in Manchester, before the gig I was very lucky to go and speak to George Harris, guitarist and co founder of The Raven Age. The lovely tour manager found us a nice quiet spot to have a quick chat about life on tour and all things The Raven Age.

Photo by Heather McNeil
Heather Mc Photography

So George we are on the second day of the Raven Age’s first headline tour, tell me how is it going so far?

It’s been really good so far, it’s all been absolutely manic but we’ve really been looking forward to it for such a long time, now it’s here, we possibly could have sorted more stuff out and it’s kinda of like, err we still have loads of stuff to sort out. We have had a few issues today surrounding late access to the venue, so we needed to set up mega quick and get things done, then we needed to be ready for the meet and greets. That was really cool, we are totally new to that, we have never done anything like that before. This was for the people who bought our annual supa pass membership on the website. We wanted to do something for them, so yer, So yeah just done that, pictures, signed things and just hung out. It was all a bit made and kind of a bit surreal really.

It’s very different from being stood behind the merch stand as you would have been previously as a support band to being the main act?

Yeah, yeah definitely, it’s very weird, you know being, we are the band that people are coming to see. We are playing and then that’s the end of the night. Usually we are playing, then have loads of time to pack our stuff down, whilst someone else is playing, have a shower, laze around and meet people. It’s literally way more manic being the headline of the tour for us. Instead we are trying to get stuff sorted on the merch stall, setting everything up in general. I don’t know it just has been as its new in some ways.

It is only the second night of the tour, I’m sure you will perfect those things by the end.

Yeah, exactly, at least I hope so! We had a little technical hitch last night, which didn’t help on our first night, but it went well, really well, the crowd reacted really well and we enjoyed ourselves on stage.

Well I’ve spoken a few people who had their meet and greet earlier, and they are really excited for tonight’s show and happy to have met you guys.

That’s great! We are really excited for this tour!

There are a few super fans in there ready which is always lovely to see. You guys have supported some awesome acts, Anthrax, Tremonti, Maiden the list is very long, how does it compare being on different stages and headliner for your own tour, as you said earlier, knowing you’re the ones that people are paying to see.

It’s really strange, we are really not used it, second show not even done yet, so we are not used it at all. It’s not really the size of the stage that’s different, obviously, as we are used to playing on smaller stages anyway from the past. It’s just the fact that there is added pressure really, as the fans have paid to watch US but it’s really exciting as they know our songs, I have never played in front of a full audience that know all of our music before. It sort of gives us way more adrenaline, I think last night especially as everyone was singing the songs, moving to the tunes, knows the cues,  fist bumping in the air, you know when they are supposed to. It’s wicked, I really, really enjoyed it and looking forward to the rest of the tour. It’s quite a good vibe at the moment.

So for those that don’t know, you and Dan Wright first started playing together back in 2009, tell us a little more about the start of Raven Age to you playing your first gig in Feb 2013?

It’s very mad, it really was just a muck around, we played guitars, listened to music we liked and had a jam together. I never expected to be sitting on this bus on our own headline tour playing our own music.

So you never intentionally set out to make a band?

No, not at all, it just literally started as friends having a bit of fun. I think the first few sessions we wrote like a riff or something and it just kinda went from there, we got excited about it and thought let’s just kept on doing it. Then we upped our sessions to a couple of times a week. Then the idea of a band came about and to it did to be fair take ages to find the rest of the guys, the name of the band, to get the artwork together and the songs and all that sort of stuff together, so we didn’t release our EP until 2…0….13…14? 2014 yes ok, we released it on Jai’s birthday thinking about it. It’s just been mad really, since then we got our first tour, touring with the British Lions. Around Europe, we played at a huge festival in Faro. All these experiences have sort of come our way and we have been really, really lucky on some of tours we have played on. We toured with Skarlett Riot, played with Delain, then we got on the Tremonti tour which was another huge tour which was really good. Then obviously the Maiden which tour came up and that was just like was ……. (mind blowing?) yes definitely, it really was. Obviously the shows were unbelievable, not even that, we got to travel around the world and see all these places which was pretty cool for us and hanging out with each other. We also did some pretty cool stuff on the road as well. That brings us to now really, second show in on our headline tour, knowing that people wanna come and see us. It’s weird.

March 2017 saw the release of the album Darkness will Rise. Can you give us an insight into the album, the thought process when you write it, is it chosen or a go with the flow?

We are a more go with the flow I’d say definitely, some bands say I want a concept of this or to sound like this or I want to match this audience and write the album to match. Where as were aren’t, especially with us, as you know, being newer to this, it was kinda just a this is how it’s going so let’s roll with this. So after the EP we started and decided to move those 3 tracks onto the album because you know, we were picked up a label and stuffs and we wanted those tracks to get a bit more exposure, (The EP was released as unsigned, wasn’t it) yer it was so from the EP we had carried on writing and so the album was fairly old riffs and stuffs, I am trying to think of one in particular, Age of the Raven for instance, which was one of Dan’s riffs. Which I think was one of the best on the album. That was done ages ago, we didn’t really know where to go with it at first, because it wasn’t one of those songs that you get in the studio and it just flows. It was one of those songs that you do and then listen back and decided it needed to be better, as the others are better, so we stitched some of own ideas together with the riffs to create the full song.

Do you work separately on the different parts of music and lyrics? Then bring it back together?

We do a bit of both actually, like in terms of structure, we definitely write the music first. It goes back to how we started really, as two guitarists, we never thought it would be one of us doing the lyrics and melodies, we just thought we would do the music and guessed a singer would do the lyrics but it took us such a long time to find a singer. That we had these songs and thought we would give it a whirl so I gave it a crack adding the lyrics to them and we were fairly happy with what I got. Well the first a few I did I just thought, nah, scrap those, to the bin. So I sort of persevered with that a little bit and ended up doing it that way and it worked so ended up writing music, write melodies, then write lyrics and that’s just how we do it.


I’ve had 6 months to think about this one, my favourite track is Age of the Raven, do you have a favourite track from the album? Are you allowed to say? If not which do you prefer to perform?

I………… yer I’ll tell you which is my favourites on the album, performing wise, I think, a few of the boys will agree with me on this one, would be The Merciful One, because it’s quite upbeat, its got a bit of everything it in, like fast riffs, a big chorus, quiet bits in it. I get solo’s in it so I’m happy. Jai gets to go crazy at the very end so he is happy. I think, Behind the mask is probably my favourite track on the album, I don’t really know why, possibly the epicness of it really.


Tony is a new addition to The Raven Age, give us a little bit of gossip on your new guitarist.

He’s fired (George is laughing a lot as he says this), no, no, we tell him that every day, jokingly, (awww, hahaha) just to wind him up, because he is the newbie and the youngest so he gets the brunt of the stick. He does get some stick to be fair but he takes it well. He is getting better as he goes on. It’s his third tour with us in the band but it is his first tour as an official member, so he is well excited about it all and he is fitting in really well into the band.

You have played your fair share of festivals, from indoor local Manchester SOS festival, to outside Bloodstock, Download, Wacken… is there a festival you have attended as a punter that you would like to play?

Yes, I would love to play Reading and Leeds, but I didn’t go this year, I went the year before with loads of friends and a couple of times before with mates and being there as a punter I know the atmosphere, it would be amazing. Or Hellfest as I have heard it is great, if you want to put a word in for us.

Thank you very much for talking to me, and I look forward to the show later.

No problems.

Good luck with the rest of the UK tour.

Darkness will Rise, out now.
The Raven Age
 

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Aaron Emerson Heather McNeil