Artist: Lauren Harris
Label: Demolition Records
Interviewed By: Ken PierceInterview Date: 6/15/2008 Photo By: Ken Pierce (copyright 2008) for PiercingMetal.com
Lauren Harris is the daughter of legendary Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris. She is also a Rock and Roll singer in her own right and is set to release her debut album “Calm Before The Storm” on Demolition Records. Tonight she would be continuing her adventures as a solo artist by opening up for Iron Maiden as the band returned to the legendary arena Madison Square Garden. We met up with Lauren backstage to talk about her feelings about being the daughter of such a musician as well as being the opening act for his incredible band, her own career goals and thoughts on the music business from someone who is just now approaching this as a part of their life. Below is the full dialogue that we exchanged.
PiercingMetal: As the world knows full well, you are the daughter of the legendary bassist of Iron Maiden, Mr. Steve Harris. I am curious as to what that actually feels like for you being a performer. Do you feel you have a lot more impressing to do for the general public based on this relationship?
Lauren Harris: I think that in some cases you will find people who say “ok, impress me” because you are the daughter of a legend or kind of an icon or whatever some people kind of see him as but for me myself I try not to not even play up to that because I just think that with them having a twenty five year career and they’ve done so much and he’s done so much as well that I cant even begin to even stand up to what they’ve achieved or what they’ve done so personally I try not to think about it too much and instead try to just do my own thing and do what I do. I also try to have a good time doing it. I do sometimes get the whole nepotism thing and people kind of stick that out there but I think that I wouldn’t still be here if I was rubbish or not doing a good job or I couldn’t hold my own. He can really only get me so far and I have to go the rest myself because his name is not going to be able to carry me the whole way through for whatever I do so yes in answer to your question I try not to think about it too much.
PiercingMetal: Was it being the daughter of such a musician that led you to pursue this as a career path, and what is your earliest memory of when you felt you would follow in these footsteps.
Lauren Harris: Well, I’ve been singing since I was nine years old as I started out while in school and became part of the choir and stuff like that but then afterwards I carried on by taking professional singing lessons and then singing in pubs and stuff like that but I never thought that I would actually be doing this because I am quite a shy person really. I’m not an extrovert or anything like that and performing in front of people just didn’t come naturally to me and it kind of never has really. Even three years ago when I first performed with a band I didn’t know how to move or what to do with myself or carry myself. These three years I have had the chance to progress and grow and learn.
PiercingMetal: So you’re saying you’ve inherited the shyness from your Dad then are you.
Lauren Harris: Yeah I guess I have because he is actually a really shy person.
PiercingMetal: I was kidding about that, because you can’t tell from watching him.
Lauren Harris: Well no you can’t but he is quite a composed and private person in real life if I can say that so I suppose I kind of got that from him.
PiercingMetal: I really was kidding.
Lauren Harris: But he is I swear (laughs).
PiercingMetal: Outside of being on the tour with Maiden, how supportive has your Father been with you for this as your career?
Lauren Harris: He has been with me on this since day one and been really, really supportive. He loves the material himself and he really wouldn’t have put himself out there if he didn’t or put himself behind me if he didn’t like it 100%.
PiercingMetal: Well you know Lauren the reason I ask the question like that is because he has seen everything, and we are talking about the member of an iconic band who started when this was a building sound. While they have seen the stratospheric heights they have also been able to observe the lowest points in this business when it comes to other bands and that idea is what brings me to the comment.
Lauren Harris: He loves bands with melody and he said what you have is really good melody and really good songs at the end of the day no matter type of music it would be or what genre. A good song is a good song at the end of the day and he has totally been behind this since day one and he loves the material otherwise he wouldn’t have played on the CD as it is. He plays on four tracks of the CD and this is the first time he has ever played on anything else other than Maiden. So for him to do that is a complete compliment to me I think because like I said he wouldn’t have put himself out there like that if he didn’t believe in it. And this is because my Dad is not the sort of person who would just go along and do something if he wasn’t 100% behind it, he is totally one of those people who is always 100% focused on the goal and also a little stubborn when it comes to being like that. He wouldn’t have anything to do with it, even though I am his daughter, he still wouldn’t if he didn’t agree with it or didn’t like it.
PiercingMetal: This next one is probably a question that you have gotten a ton of times since going on the tour but how amazing have you found it being a relatively new artist on tour with a band like Iron Maiden?
Lauren Harris: Well the actual touring and doing the shows has been incredible and I mean its amazing, but being on tour with Maiden isn’t new to me because I’ve been around it since I was a kid and some of the people in terms of the crew members are the same who have been around since day one so its like being around one big family. As far as the performing sense of it, well that is really, really quite overwhelming and surreal I mean I am playing at Madison Square Garden tonight which is absolutely out of this world. I didn’t even think or couldn’t imagine that I would be playing here ever let alone on the bill with my Dad’s band.
PiercingMetal: Any special stories about this tour to tell outside of the nervousness of playing Madison Square Garden?
Lauren Harris: Probably a lot of things that I couldn’t tell you (laughs) but we have just been going out and having a good time and a few drinks afterwards, but nothing that is really that crazy, but again nothing I can say on tape anyway.
PiercingMetal: As a performer who influences you outside of Iron Maiden, are there any specific bands that you enjoy or singers who have helped you guide your own path on how you would approach this.
Lauren Harris: Number one for me and she is my idol is Anne Wilson from Heart and I just think she is incredible and her voice is amazing. There are not actually a lot of women in the genre that I do really and I think that she is really one who stood out and withstood the time as well. I mean her voice is just incredible it really is. Bands that I like well, I like the Old School Rock and Roll stuff like ACDC, Free, Gun, I love Gun and Def Leppard I love as well and Bad Company – bands like that and really just a lot of the Old School stuff.
PiercingMetal: Your album is called “Calm Before The Storm”, so let’s talk a little about the creative process behind it. Was it easy to get your debut recorded and what went into the deciding process of what songs you would actually feature on it?
Lauren Harris: I had met Tom McWilliams who is the producer on the album and who is also my drummer and co-writer as well right at the very start and he came over to England and we kind of sat down and talked about the direction that I wanted to go in and what I wanted to do and what I wanted to achieve and talk about. Stuff like that because I had never really done this before, I was really new to the whole writing process and everything along those lines. He really, really helped me and sort of guided me through that whole situation. I had to come up with lyrics and melodies and stuff like that and then he would take that and arrange it and kind of do the composing of the song. So I’ve really, really learned a lot from him for the first album which I will take with me to the second album and hopefully this will show me getting better and better at it because this is still quite new to me really.
PiercingMetal: Musically, the album sounds like some very accessible Melodic Rock and it is a clear difference from the kind of music you must have grown up on being around Iron Maiden so much. How important was it for you to take a slightly different approach to this?
Lauren Harris: It wasn’t really a big kind of deal because that was the stuff that I kinda listened to and it was that kind of Melodic Rock sound so it was a little easy for me to kind of go down that route or to choose to go down that road. I also wanted to stay away from anything that was like Maiden-ish anyway because I do really want to try and get my own name out there by doing stuff that is different from my Dad’s music. That’s just the way I wanted it to be.
PiercingMetal: The industry always sets labels for bands insofar as where the sound falls and who should take a chance on it. What do you consider your style to be and of course I have already labeled it as “Melodic Rock” but what do you consider your style to be and whose fan base do you think of immediately when it comes to a potential following for your own stuff.
Lauren Harris: I would kind of describe it as classic British Rock with maybe somewhat of a Poppier edge to it and the thing for me is to try and cross over to as many people as possible. Now I never knew that I would go down well on a Maiden tour and the first of the gigs we did I was so scared but I am happy to say that we have had good shows everywhere. I’ve never had a bad show and I have heard about some horror stories about previous support bands since Maiden’s fans are so loyal and know what they want. So far this has never happened with me.
PiercingMetal: I remember yelling at Queensryche once….a very long time ago though.
Lauren Harris: Oh do you?
PiercingMetal: And I love Queensryche….
Lauren Harris: (laughing) So why did you yell at them?
PiercingMetal: It might have actually been at a KISS show though because in terms of bands and the fans I always found it impossible to sit through an opener when KISS was going to play. If memory really serves me correctly by the time that Maiden had Queensryche playing with them I was more interested in actually seeing what they were all about. Anyways, now that I have embarrassed myself I wanted to say that as I listened to the record, I found a number of tunes that I liked and it was very easy to get into them. It has that classic rock sound like you said and I liked the opener right off the bat, “Steal Your Fire” which I felt was a solid intro and another one I liked was “From The Bottom To The Top” since I thought it had potential for the video single should you do one. So what would you say some of your own personal favorites were from the debut and why. Also we can speak about the UFO cover.
Lauren Harris: Well “Steal Your Fire” is my favorite because I grew up listening to Gun and “Gallus” is one of my favorite albums so that’s always been around since I was younger so to actually be performing it and singing it is something that I love to do. “Natural Thing” I just like because of the breakdowns and it’s just such a great song and also I really, really love “Hurry Up” which is like the ballad or one of the ballads on there and I love doing it live. I went out on the road with Within Temptation and Thunder and I got to sing that live in front of their audience and it went down really, really well. It just gives me chills as a song since I really love it so much.
PiercingMetal: What was the Within Temptation gigs like because I think that it is a great band for someone like you to be working with?
Lauren Harris: They were really, really great and also it was very different for me because Maiden has an audience that is predominantly men and theirs is women so it was nice to see how the music would go down with an audience like that, and yeah it went really well.
PiercingMetal: So what did lead you to cover the UFO song?
Lauren Harris: That was actually one of my Dad’s choices and he plays on that one. He is a great big fan of UFO and always has been. He just suggested that we do it and we did because we really didn’t have enough stuff to play live at the time so we picked up a couple of covers and ended up liking it so much that it ended up making the album as well.
PiercingMetal: How did you come to assemble the guys who made up your touring band? I mean outside of Tom McWilliams who were already know as your producer and drummer. I am speaking of Mr. Randy Gregg on bass and Richie Faulkner on guitar. Tell me a little bit about them. Also, were you happy with the final mix of the album?
Lauren Harris: Well, Tommy I met through a friend of my Dad’s when he went over to Miami to buy some furniture.
PiercingMetal: That’s a long way to come for furniture from England I have to say.
Lauren Harris: No, (laughing) it wasn’t for England it was for over here and he hadn’t seen him for awhile and he had asked what the kids were up to and things like that and he gave him a demo of me singing and he felt that it would be really great to put me in touch with Tom McWilliams so that’s how I met him. He came over to England and then I went to Miami to work over there and do the small clubs and stuff like that. I met Richie in the airport at the time and my Dad knew him from a band he used to play in called Dirty Deeds and he put me in touch with me and I met him in the airport on the way to Miami and we spent the summer together and he has been with us ever since. He is such a great guitarist and Randy came in about a year or so later and we met him through management since he used to play in Angel and there was a sort of a connection there.
PiercingMetal: How have the crowds for the Iron Maiden shows been treating you, let’s talk about that a little more. Have you been finding a rough time from them or have they been a little more accommodating than you might have expected. I caught most of your set at the Izod Center, and didn’t detect any negativity from my vantage point.
Lauren Harris: Yeah well it’s been really, really good on the whole to be honest. I mean I might have gotten a few middle fingers here and there but this isn’t speaking of the majority of the audience and only the odd one really. So on the whole it’s been really, really good and everyone seems to be receptive to it.
PiercingMetal: Now my next question while sounding a tad sexist is not really intended this way but as a beautiful young woman how important would you say image is for a band nowadays?
Lauren Harris: I think it’s very important and I think it works even better sometimes for the band if they are all kind of made up and have the right clothes or the whole theme going on and stuff like that. I think it is a lot easier. Yet also we are finding nowadays that people are just wearing the t-shirts and jeans onstage and it’s very different to what it used to be like with everyone dressed up in costume and having this whole kind of majestic thing going on.
PiercingMetal: Go see some of the Viking Metal bands, you won’t find a t-shirt anywhere.
Lauren Harris: Oh yeah definitely, but we don’t get as much of that anymore which is a shame really.
PiercingMetal: Thinking of promotions and stuff along those lines, currently, I believe there is only a MySpace page for you and I wondered just how effective you are finding the medium as getting your music around. It seems as though everyone and their immediate circle of friends has a page and with so much I am wondering if you are finding it loses too much as opposed to helping it out.
Lauren Harris: I still think it is a great tool because I mean I don’t think you would be able to reach as many people as you could without out it. The industry is obviously changing because of downloads and all that and it’s obviously a really big thing. Like I said before in countries like India are places that I wouldn’t be able to reach at all, and the same goes for places in South America without these things on the internet. It makes it all easily accessible and it’s only going to grow more as I don’t think we will ever find it back tracking or becoming something that is not cool to do. I think it is only going to grow upward and further. At the end of the day I feel it is a really good thing and I don’t have any negativity towards it at all.
PiercingMetal: Are you going to build your own “Lauren Harris dotcom”.
Lauren Harris: Yes we are and you might actually see it over the next few weeks.
PiercingMetal: Success in the music business today seems to be a double edged sword and we always hear how bad it is doing. Based on some of these reports, what are your hopes for the new album and how you will be approaching its delivery to your fans?
Lauren Harris: I think that the download thing is a really big thing to get across to people nowadays (Lauren is of course speaking of the legal means in doing this) and also touring as much as possible because in doing the shows you get people involved and feeling that they are a part of something. Obviously we are selling the CD’s at the shows and stuff like that and just keeping at it and trying to get the CD into as many hands as possible. Now I know that the sales of CD’s has declined a lot as opposed to back in the day because of the illegal downloads and stuff like that which is a shame, but I have heard that vinyl is coming back for some people.
PiercingMetal: I guess I will have to buy a record player again then.
Lauren Harris: Well, I did hear that there are people now really interested in collecting records so maybe that is another way to get the word around.
PiercingMetal: What other stuff does Lauren Harris like to do. Hobbies, TV, Etc.
Lauren Harris: I love “Heroes” and I love “24” and all of those kind of drama shows, I love them all, and think they’re great. Other than that I don’t really watch a hell of a lot of TV but I do also like “Desperate Housewives”. I guess I just like going out with my friends and my family, going to cinema or out to dinner. Socializing and having a good time.
PiercingMetal: Any closing thoughts or things you want to direct to the general public that I might have left out of the questions?
Lauren Harris: I think you’ve managed to cover everything to be honest but we can always ask people to please buy our CD.
PiercingMetal: Thanks Lauren, good luck with everything tonight and in the future.
Lauren Harris: Cheers.
Lauren then did some radio promo spots for both terrestrial and satellite stations and after deciding what she would wear for the show would hit the stage with her band for a very energetic thirty minutes. There was no visible signs of nerves for her debut visit to the hallowed stage of MSG and that was something to be noted. She is a talented young lady and was quite pleasant and positive to talk to so any fans of Melodic Rock with cool riffs and catchy lyrics should give her a try.
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Official Web Site: www.myspace.com/laurenharrisuk
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