Fast rising metallers The Raven Age have been on a steady ascent since forming in 2009. Featuring George Harris on guitar – the son of Iron Maiden founder Steve Harris, the Londoners may have had a well-placed guiding hand along the way, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t worked hard for their success. Recently signing with BMG Recordings, and about to release their debut full-length album ‘Darkness Will Rise’, a new chapter is about to begin for the hard working five piece. We caught up with George at the start of the band’s tour with Anthrax, to discuss all things Raven. Eye among the blind; Eamon O’Neill.
How are you today George?
I’m fine, yeah, really good, thank you.
You’re currently on tour with Anthrax; you’ve shared a stage with them before, haven’t you?
Yeah, we were lucky to play alongside the guys in South America last year, so we got to meet them and watch their live set, and sort of get a feel for how they are on tour. So when we found out we got this tour, it just made it a bit more exciting for us. We all knew the guys, and they’re really nice to us, and very welcoming. Obviously it’s a big tour for Anthrax because they’re playing ‘Among The Living’, and I think all of the fans are going to be super hyped up for it. The slot that we managed to get opening up for these fans, it’s a great opportunity for us.
The start of the tour coincides with the announcement that The Raven Age has signed to BMG Recordings; does it feel like you’re at the start of something big?
Yeah, definitely. It’s all brand new to us; we’ve only had an EP [2014’s self-titled release] out, and we released that independently, so signing with a record label and having campaigns going out, it’s all very new and exciting. It’s worked out that it’s tied in with this tour; it’s a six week tour around Europe, in great sized venues – it couldn’t have worked out any better, really.
The band earned its strips in the most incredible way; travelling on Ed Force One and opening for Iron Maiden on their ‘Book Of Souls’ world tour; that must have been incredible to get that opportunity.
We were just as shocked as everyone else, I think, to start with. I think the biggest show we had played to date before then, was with Tremonti, to 2,500 people, and the first show with Iron Maiden was a 22,000 capacity. That step up was just unbelievable, but it’s something that we’d have been stupid to turn down; it was like an absolute no-brainer! It done wonders for us; not only for our profile, but for us as a band. We played seventy-two shows, and I don’t think we’d have gotten that experience had we not gone out, and tried to get other bits and bobs instead. The scale of it is ridiculous; it put us right up there, but we knew we still had some ground work to do when we got back because we were such a new band.
Did the fiercely loyal hard core Iron Maiden audience take to the band?
I think that with Maiden fans, they’re so hard core tuned into Maiden that that’s all they want. I don’t think they care who you are, even with the connection. If they thought we were useless, I think they would have let us know. I’ve seen them do that to a lot of bands before, and I was kind of expecting a lot more grief from the crowd to be honest. We got a kind of heads up about it, like; “in these countries it might be a bit more like this”, and whatever, and we were actually totally overwhelmed by the reaction we got form the crowds around the world. I really don’t have any bad memories from any crowd reception, we just went down really well everywhere.
How did it feel to stand on that huge stage and look out at those massive crowds every night?
I’ve obviously seen Maiden loads of times in great big stadiums and stuff like that from a young age, but it’s just completely different when all the eyes are on you, and you’re the performer. I think it was in Rio, when we stepped out to go on stage, and it was jam packed, and we couldn’t see one empty seat. I think it was a 44,000 capacity venue, so, that was just like; “wow”, looking around at all the lights and all the fans. We have in ear monitors, so before we came on I couldn’t actually hear the cheering, so I didn’t realise that it was that busy, so that was incredible.
You must be well used to going out on these large tours with your Dad over the years, but it must be something else entirely for your band mates?
Oh yeah, definitely! Like you said, I have been on tours since I was little. I kind of grew up going on the road, just to be with Dad bringing his family out, so I had a rough idea of how things worked and the scale of it all. I guess the other guys hadn’t really done that from the other side of being in a band, rather than watching the show, so it was like an even bigger thing for them, and they absolutely loved it.
You’re gearing up for the release of debut album ‘Darkness Will Rise’; are you excited to get it out?
It’s out on March 17th, and we’re very excited. It’s not a completely different direction from our EP, but it’s a broader spectrum of sounds within those songs. It’s a lot more dynamic; it has some softer, more ballady-type songs, it’s got some fast songs, and it’s got some longer songs. It’s just a bit more dynamic, and a bit more of a range of what we have to offer.
Are you debuting any of the new songs on this current tour?
Yes, we’ll be playing the single that was just releases – ‘Salem’s Fate’. We’ll also be playing ‘The Promised Land’, which we’ve released a video for, and a song called ‘The Merciful One’ as well.
Did Mr. Harris Senior offer any advice when you were recording the album?
He doesn’t live in the UK anymore, so we were sort of plugged in and away, doing our own thing. I don’t like showing him too much stuff until it’s how we want it and we’re happy with it. We just got the whole thing finished to how we wanted it to be, and I just showed it to him then, and he really liked it.
Will you be hoping for some more Iron Maiden tour dates in future?
I guess so, yeah, I definitely wouldn’t turn them down! I think it might be a little while yet. I think we had a good run.
I have to ask, are you a big fan of Iron Maiden?
I get asked that question quite often. I actually am, yeah. I do like their music. I don’t listen to them every day; I’m not like a crazy fan, obviously, but I really enjoy their music.
What would your top three Iron Maiden albums be?
That’s tough. I think my favourite is probably ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’ - that’s probably my top one. I also really like ‘Somewhere In Time’, and I actually really like ‘The Book Of Souls’ as well, I think that’s got to be up there.
Finally, what’s next for The Raven Age?
Well, obviously this is day one of our tour with Anthrax, which will be lasting about six weeks, then out album drops the day after the tour finishes, which ties in nicely, Then after that it’s just carrying on with the campaign for the album. We’re also waiting to hear about some dates in the summer, and we’re just going to be touring the hell out of the album.
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The Raven Age's 'Darkness Will Rise' is released on 17th March via BMG.