Interview with Lauren Harris

- Nov 10, 2008 at 06:04PM
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Historically, the offspring of prominent rock and roll stars usually don’t amount to much of anything in terms of commercial musical success. Some have been complete failures (e.g. Julian and Sean Lennon), while others have had at least temporary success (e.g. Jacob Dylan), while very few have actually maintained a long lasting career. One brand new rock artist that might very well break these trends is Lauren Harris, the daughter of founding Iron Maiden member Steve Harris. Lauren’s debut album Calm Before The Storm was just released this past summer and she and her band have been touring pretty much ever since. Despite her relative inexperience, Lauren has been receiving rave reviews for her onstage show, backed by a band of very accomplished musicians. Recently we were fortunate enough to catch up with Lauren for a few questions about herself, her musical career and what it was like growing up as the daughter of a rock star.

Although you’re making quite a name for yourself, you’re of course the daughter of Steve Harris, one of the founders of Iron Maiden. What was it like growing up as his daughter and discovering music at such an early age?
Lauren: I really didn’t know any different, it was never weird to me because I was just always around it. I like took my first steps on tour when I was nine months old, so I was just kind of out there all the time. And I didn’t really start to realize, you know the way my life was until I was about eight or nine years old, you’d see people coming up to you and totally freaking out and screaming and crying, not at me but at my dad which was really, really strange. But I mean we had a really kind of normal upbringing and we weren’t around a lot of kind of craziness at that time or anything like that, but I mean we use to travel with him all the time and it was so much fun.

What advice, if any, have you received from your father that you think has really helped you out in your own career?
Lauren: I mean he’s probably the most focused person I know and he’s so, so driven at what he does. There have been times and stuff where you get kind of down, you know “oh god you know I hope this goes well” and that kind of stuff and he’s just really a strong person. He just says to me you know you have to forget all the bullshit and just do what you do and enjoy it and that’s what I’ve been doing. And I mean he gives me advice on stage and stuff like that, you know stuff like “oh you should do this more, you should do that more, you could get them pumping there...” On the whole, I mean he just kind of just says you gotta listen to yourself and not pay attention to crap other people say, just be strong and just have fun with it at the same time.

Now you’ve been recently out on the road touring and opening for your father’s band. What has the crowd reaction from all the Maiden fans been like towards your music?
Lauren: It’s actually been really good, I mean I was really kind of worried about it at first because I thought oh god, our music is just not going to fit with what they do, you know we’re not a metal band. And... it was actually my dad’s choice, he kind of said you know, “your songs have got great melody and an Iron Maiden audience loves melody” and that’s really what we’re about. And he said a lot of the fans have grown up on classic rock and stuff like that so he thought that we’d go down really well. And he also said we’re different than most of the other metal acts that they always get all the time so he thought it’d be a nice change and go down well. And you know, he was right, we’ve actually had pretty good or really good reactions everywhere we’ve been, we haven’t had a terrible gig yet so we’ve been really, really lucky. There’s probably an element of respect there as well so yeah it’s been great.

Your considerable musical talent was of course discovered by British producer Russ Ballard, a legend in his own right. What were the circumstances surrounding Russ hearing your music and then you ultimately meeting him? How did it all unravel?
Lauren: When I was younger I had singing lessons and I was singing just in pubs and bars with a friend of mine, that’s kind of how it started out and I just happened to be in this pub that was local to Russ’ town. I think it was one of his friends that came over to me after I had sang and said “would you be interested in singing a demo?” and of course I said yes and you know we exchanged numbers and everything. So then I went to Russ’ house, I didn’t actually meet him on that night, I went to his house and he had a studio in his house and he had asked me to sing a demo that he’d written for a band I think. So I did the demo and everything and then I went home and I didn’t realize who he was at the time and I was talking to him dad and said to him “oh it was Russ Ballard” and he was like “oh my god, do you know who he is?” I didn’t have a clue at the time and I’m actually really pleased I didn’t know because I was so nervous already but yeah, that’s kind of how it happened.

Your debut record is called Calm Before The Storm and came out just in June. Now that it’s been out a couple of months, how do you personally feel about the album?
Lauren: I’m really excited about it. It’s my first album and I’ve been playing now for a couple of years and I kind of did think the wrong way around, I’d never sang with a band before and I kind of recorded part of the album and did touring later and then did a bit more of the album. So it’s really exciting for me to have it come out and for people to grab hold of it and you know, people actually have it. And I’m starting to see people in the crowds and they’re knowing the songs more and more because it’s out there. It’s pretty scary at the same time, pretty nerve-racking, you don’t know what people are going to say, you don’t know what people are going to think, especially Maiden fans, it’s not really their type of music so there’s that part to it as well. But I’m really happy with it myself and I’m really pleased with how the build up to it went and I’ve seen some reviews, some of them have been really good, some of them have been not so good, but you can’t really worry about that stuff.

What was the writing and recording process like for the album? Did you write all the music yourself or was it more of a collaborative effort?
Lauren: It was kind of more of a collaborative effort because of me being really inexperienced, I’d never sang with a band up until three years ago. I had plenty of vocal ideas, but I was doing more of the vocals, melodies and lyrics and then it was Tommy McWilliams who took the lead role in doing the arranging of the songs and the actual composition. He really helped me through it actually because I’m still learning and putting my ideas down for where it was needed. And then we recorded part of it in Miami and part of it in England so it was done in two separate parts. And Richie Faulkner did the musical based parts, the guitar parts and that type of thing.

To produce Calm Before The Storm you worked with Tommy McWilliams. Why did you decide to work with Tommy and what was it like working with him?
Lauren: I had heard some of his work and I had really, really liked it, I met him actually through a friend of my dad’s, my dad happened to be going out to Florida to buy some furniture and he asked my dad “oh what are your children doing now that they’re older?” and my dad told him “oh they’re singing now.” So I actually met Tommy through him and Tommy came over to England and we talked about material, what I was in to, what I liked, that kind of thing. Then I started writing and starting doing a little bit of recording and we started playing more clubs and stuff like that so it was to get experience for me basically.

Now speaking of Tommy, he’s also part of your live band as the drummer in addition to Randy Gregg on bass and Richie Faulkner on guitar. How did you end up deciding on this lineup for the live band?
Lauren: Well basically, Tommy was never originally going to be the drummer, he was my producer and he was the guy doing the writing with me and the recording and the stuff in the studio, that type of thing. And he ended up staying because when I went over to Miami, I went also with Richie, I met Richie actually at the airport, my dad has known him for years so I met him through my dad. So Richie and I went over to Miami to work with Tommy and that’s where we started doing the smaller places and it was just easier to have him play drums because that’s what he does, he’s a drummer. And then he kind of just carried on and it stuck, we didn’t want to change it. Then Randy came in maybe a year later than everyone else and we met him through management basically because he use to play in Angel and there was a connection through that so that’s how it all came together.

I just wanted to touch on another issue before we wrap up. Despite all your success, the fact remains you’re in a genre and style of music that is very male dominated, you know, rock music and especially heavier rock and metal. Do you see more girls and young women getting interested in rock and metal maybe because of your influence?
Lauren: I mean I hope so. I definitely see girls in the audience and they’re rooting for me and stuff like that. I get girls on my MySpace as well writing to me a lot. I think women are breaking through more now, especially the style of music I’m doing, Paramour, Within Temptation, bands like that who might be more metal but I think there’s more women doing it and more men accepting it as well. I mean to me it’s great, when I’m up on stage I feel completely empowered because I’m up there, kind of shouting, screaming and singing and men, they’re getting into it and responding to it in a positive way. And the women are too, they’re not thinking oh you know, she’s some little bitch or whatever, they’re with me as well.

What are your touring plans like for the rest of this year and what do you have planned into 2009?
Lauren: Um for the rest of the year, we finish this tour on the nineteenth of August and then I think I’m going to go home and take a couple of weeks off, it’s been a pretty much, really hectic year. And then from October onwards, we’re planning on doing more touring; we’re going out as a support act for a band I can’t say yet because nothing has been confirmed yet. Hopefully then we’re going to do a small headlining tour as well. We’re going to go to Europe to do some kind of small club tour and then next year, I think we’re going to be doing more supporting gigs, hopefully we’ll be doing some more support in America as well, I’d love to come back over there and do that. Then I’m also planning on starting writing the second album as well.

We’re actually a publication based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Have you had the chance to come up to Canada yet?
Lauren: Yeah actually I’ve been up there a bit; I’ve been up to Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton. Yeah it was really cool, it was lovely, I love Canada.  [ END ]
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