Welcome to the LOUDEST DOT COM ON THE PLANET!
KNAC.COM
LISTEN NOW!WATCH NOW! LOGIN JOIN
MAGAZINEON-AIRDOWNLOADSCHATBOARDSCONTESTSSTORE
Features

Brought to the Slaughter: KNAC.COM Goes Up close and Personal with Lauren Harris

By Shelly Harris, Chicago Contributor
Monday, July 14, 2008 @ 3:41 PM


"My granddad went to me, 'I can’t believe you swear like that on stage!' And I’m like, 'Well, I get it from your side of the family!"

- advertisement -
- advertisement -
Prior to the following interview with Lauren Harris (via phone from Lisbon, Portugal, on one of her band’s off days between festival dates), I’d met her, face-to-face, exactly twice during all of her 24 years.

The first time – though poignant – barely counts, since she was a mere babe in arms behind the stage at New York City’s Radio City venue, back in the days when her dad’s band, Iron Maiden, had a several-night stand there during the now mystic and exalted Powerslave tour. Then, only just recently, we finally crossed paths again, just before her self-named band’s opening slot on one of the U.S. dates on the current Somewhere Back in Time world tour.

To say she’s “come a long way, baby” would be an understatement. Sure, publicity photos on various websites had already made it clear that she’s grown up to be quite the stunning English rose (guy-talk translation: Hot Babe). But, in person, she’s also exceedingly petite and a touch bashful … which somehow served to make later witnessing her commanding, firecracker performance all the more jaw-dropping.

And, during the course of this interview, it became clearer yet that Lauren Harris truly is the real deal in more ways than one. She’s direct and genuine, but she also emanates tough resilience and palpable confidence, too, both onstage and off – despite the fact that her initial career start may actually have been delayed by a lifelong struggle with acute shyness. She has since faced down those fears in short order – which has also very evidently helped to accelerate her highly compacted artistic development over the past three years.

As she acknowledges, “I haven’t changed into a different person or anything like that, but I feel I’ve learned to handle myself, and I’ve learned to stand up for myself more – and my whole confidence and my persona, I think, has gotten bigger, really.”

In part, she’s referring to the tough moxie she’s developed in progressing from her early training gigs in south Florida “snooker” bars all the way to the recent tour dates at mega venues like London’s Twickenham Stadium. But, throughout all that, Lauren (and collaborators) also intermittently wrote and recorded the cuts on her new debut album, Calm Before The Storm [see www.knac.com/article.asp?ArticleID=6374], a disk that definitely fills a puzzling genre/gender void in the current music market. It’s exemplarily melodic, lively, straight-ahead female-fronted rock – the kind that appeals as much to the chicks as it does the dudes, and her dynamic live show (wherein she prowls the stage barefoot) actually ratchets up that raw rock quotient yet another notch.

But, there are plenty more intriguing insights to be gleaned about the unfolding Lauren Harris story, including the blowing away of many general misconceptions about her life and career beginnings. Read on for a candid discussion about her musical background and obstacles, the makings of the Calm Before The Storm album, her plans for her artistic direction going forward, her recent touring experiences, and life on the road as a female front-person in the macho world of hard rock ‘n roll:

KNAC.COM: I’ve seen some things about your career-related background already – that maybe you can elaborate on or clarify. For a start, I see that you’ve actually been into singing since a young age, and that you’d always been interested in acting and drama-related things, too. So, what you’re doing now didn’t totally and suddenly come out of the blue, or on a whim, as some people might think. In a sense, it just seems like you’d been preparing for this all along, consciously or not. I’ve also read about the Russ Ballard incident [renown British composer and producer who spotted Lauren singing at a pub several years back, and, not knowing her family background, asked her to sing on one of his demos], and that just seems like it must have been an “epiphany” kind of experience for you. Was that actually the inspiration you needed to really give you that extra bit of confidence to finally just go for it?

HARRIS: Yeah! To be honest, when I was a kid, I was always really, really shy. So, I couldn’t really do things that well, like when I used to do the musicals in school, and that kind of thing. I would always get kind of a lead role, but I’d never get THE lead role, and I always really, really wanted it. The other girls in my class, they were always a lot more confident than me. And I think that’s why they got one over on me, if you like. And I really wanted to get into acting and stuff like that as well. I remember actually saying to my dad, when I was a kid, that I really wanted to go to a school in London called Sylvia Young, that does singing, acting, and dancing – and I wanted to do all of it! And he was like, “I don’t think you’d be able to handle it, you’re way too shy,” and all that kind of stuff. So, I never did it. So, after school, I did two years of Theatre Studies at A Levels. And, while I was doing that, I was singing in pubs and clubs, and things like that in the evenings. But I was still really, really shy at that point, and so I used to do it with a friend. And she used to kind of take the lead role in talking to everyone, and I used to just stand there and sing.

KNAC.COM: And the Russ Ballard encounter happened around that time, didn’t it?

HARRIS: Yeah, that’s when we happened to be singing in this bar, local to Russ Ballard’s town. And one of his friends said, “Would you be interested in singing a demo?” And I was like, “Of course!” So, I went to his house and sang the demo, and he kind of gave me direction and all that kind of thing. Oh, I was so nervous! I was probably so rubbish! (laughs) And then I went home and spoke to my dad about it, and he said, “What was his name?” When I said “Russ Ballard” – he was like, “Oh my God! – Do you know who he is?!” And I had no idea at the time! And that incident did kind of push me, to think maybe I can do my own demos, and to maybe start doing stuff.

KNAC.COM: And did things really get rolling when you finally did put that first demo together?

HARRIS: Yeah, that’s when my dad actually went over to Florida to buy some furniture, and he got in contact with a friend that he hadn’t seen for years, a guy who used to be his guitar tech. And he kind of said to my dad, “What are your kids doing?” and stuff like that. And he said, “Oh, Lauren’s singing” – and he gave him the demo. And that’s how I met Tommy McWilliams, through a friend of my dad’s. He put him in contact with me, and he said, “I think he’d [McWilliams] be really great to do stuff with Lauren, and he’s looking to do another project,” and stuff like this. Then Tommy came over to England, and we spoke about material and what I liked, and what I listened to … And he knew I’d never sung with a band before, and so we went over to Miami. And that’s when I started putting the songs together [for Calm Before The Storm]. And then we started going out playing clubs – really, really small clubs – like snooker [billiards] bars, and stuff like that! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: I had several questions come to mind from what you just said. First, in a way it’s kind of ironic – but very normal, too – that it was an encounter with someone else in the music business, outside your own family, that actually gave you the initial push you needed to go down the road you’re on now. Do you think maybe you just needed some outside validation?

HARRIS: Yeah – yeah! I mean, when I was still singing in pubs and stuff, my dad would come and watch me, but to have someone else kind of pick me up on my own merits, that kind of pushed me to think, “Okay, Maybe I can do this on my own.” Because before, I never even wanted to be the front person when we were singing – I just let my friend kind of do everything. I don’t even know if my dad knew that I actually had it in me to do it. I don’t know … I’ve always seemed to be one of these people that always wanted to do it, and I thought, “Well, I can do it!” – if only given the opportunity. Even though people would constantly say, “Oh, she’s too shy” – when people take a chance on me, I end up just doing it! And I’ve kind of proved that to myself, as well.

KNAC.COM: That is very important – probably the most important thing of all. But I can relate to what you’re saying – probably a lot of people can: Growing up very shy, but at the same time, being most attracted to doing the very things that won’t allow you to be shy. As you say, once you get out there, you’re fine, but the worst thing is the sickening stage fright before it! (laughs) Did you have that, too?

HARRIS: Oh God, yeah! I was actually just going to tell you about an incident that happened when I was in school. I used to have singing lessons, and my teacher put me forward for this singing competition outside of school, and a couple of my friends did it as well. And I remember I was at the piano – and there were loads of people there – and I was going to be singing, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair.” (laughs) And I started singing it, and I literally went blank! It was my mum there, that came to watch me, and I couldn’t remember any of the words, and I just ran off and I was like, crying in the toilet! It was like, “Oh my God!” I was so embarrassed! (laughs) That made it worse at that time – I thought, Oh, I can never do this again!

KNAC.COM: Yes, that kind of thing can almost make you turn off of it for life!

HARRIS: Yeah, it can, yeah!

KNAC.COM: Or at least not want to put yourself in any position where you’ll be humiliated like that again? (laughs)

HARRIS: Yes, exactly. (laughs) And I always had that at the back of my head. So, I’ve come from that, and then actually getting on with it and doing it, and standing up to the challenge of whatever the next challenge is. I’ve always kind of just done it, so I’m a lot more confident in myself now.

KNAC.COM: Yes, and you’ve also said you did do things a little backwards – “bass ackwards” as we call it! (laughs) Because you did some of the recordings for this album first, and then a bit later you went about progressively refining your stage presence from the little “dive bars” you mentioned earlier – and then on up to the bigger and bigger shows.

HARRIS: Oh, yeah, I can remember playing one gig in Florida where there were like three people there! So, we did the smaller places, but it was really cool because they have a vibe about them, too. I did some of the recording before those gigs, and then some of the recordings after, and I think you can see on the album where the later stuff came in, because I had more live experience, which then changed my voice. It did take me awhile to learn how to move and really feel comfortable with that kind of stuff, because I didn’t have a clue what to do when I first did it, I honestly didn’t. I didn’t know how to move, I didn’t know how to interact with the guys, and speaking in-between the songs was like a nightmare for me as well – because that’s what I really hate doing, getting up and publicly speaking!

KNAC.COM: Well, taking the whole of what you’ve said now, it really looks like your current career was destined in a way. All those things that might have seemed unrelated at the time, all the interest in singing and acting, and so forth, was actually excellent preparation you for where you’re at now, even if you didn’t know it at the time. And, as you said, you actually did have some more formal voice lessons along the way, too, didn’t you?

HARRIS: Yeah, since I was about nine, I had weekly lessons with my singing teacher, and then I kind of left it for a little while. Then, when I was about 17 – when I first started singing in bars and stuff – I had a different singing teacher that was a little bit more professional, and she helped me with my breathing and how to project my voice properly. Before that, I’d only had warm-ups, and scales, and just-sing-the-song kind of thing.

KNAC.COM: And I have also seen where you’ve said that music and singing was always the one thing that you’ve always felt really passionate about, so you must have always had some kind of feeling that of This is it! – even if you didn’t know exactly where you were going to go with it.

HARRIS: Yeah, that probably was in the back of my head. I always did so many activities when I was a kid, and my dad would be saying, “You always, always drop them.” I mean, I did horse-riding, I did trampoline-ing, and I wanted to get into gymnastics at one point – I did hockey, and net-ball, and all these extra activities. And the only thing I really, really enjoyed going to every single week was music. And I really wish I would have picked up an instrument when I was that young! I didn’t kind of think about it at the time, because in my music lessons, my teacher always used to say, “You can sing for your exam,” and so that’s what I did.

KNAC.COM: Well, it’s not too late …

HARRIS: Yeah, I am trying to pick up the guitar, to progress in my songwriting. So, the guys are kind of helping me, and giving me tips – showing me small little things.

KNAC.COM: I know some bands don’t write on the road – and this first album only just came out! -- but have you been putting any ideas together for the next one yet?

HARRIS: Yeah, we have, actually. This time around, any time we have a day off, or hanging around the dressing room, we’ve been chucking around ideas and putting stuff down on the computer. So actually, maybe come September-time, we’ll go in and try and put some stuff down properly when we get home.

KNAC.COM: Have you been coming up with some of the lyrics, or even just lyrical themes?

HARRIS: Yeah, yeah, for me – because I don’t play an instrument – it’s coming up with the vocal melody and the lyrics as well.

KNAC.COM: Well, influences usually come into play in the songwriting and musical direction in some way, so which ones would you say are yours? I know one you’ve mentioned before is Ann Wilson of Heart – and she really is the bomb!

HARRIS: Oh, I love her – I just think she’s absolutely amazing.

KNAC.COM: Have you ever seen her live? I think she truly is the greatest role-model for female-fronted “real rock.”

HARRIS: No, I’ve never seen her play live, but I would love to! She’s the one person … To be honest, I haven’t actually seen many bands play live that I even really like. But I just love Heart, and I think she’s absolutely amazing. But, growing up, as a kid, I really liked Belinda Carlisle, Alanis Morissette, and people like that. And my dad showed me people like Gun, Golden Earring, and Trevor Rabin – people who I would never have known about if it weren’t for him. And then I kind of got into the more classic rock side, like Free and Bad Company, and then Heart, and Def Leppard, and Van Halen as well.

KNAC.COM: Since you’ve done so much growing career-wise in the past three years, do you feel you have a stronger sense of where you want to go with things now?

HARRIS: Definitely. When I first started out, I kind of knew the kind of thing I wanted to do, but I wasn’t really 100 percent sure. I obviously knew the stuff that I liked, and the stuff that I was into and listened to, but I didn’t know myself until I started getting involved in the writing and stuff like that. As you know, the live experience really changed a lot of that for me. Because playing live for so long, and being around Maiden, and doing those kind of festivals, and that kind of thing – it makes everything more raw and more edgy. And that’s the route I want to go down, that’s the route I want to progress. I think that with most albums, with most people, everything tends to sound a little bit heavier live, there’s that energy onstage that you try to recreate in an album, but you can’t always get across. But definitely I want the next album to be a progression from the first one, and have more of that live feel to it. Because we’ve been doing it for a few years now, I feel like we’ve become a really good live band.

KNAC.COM: This may be a hard question, but what important things have you learned or gained from everything you’ve experienced so far?

HARRIS: I’ve learned to play on different stages; playing the smaller stage is totally different from playing on a bigger stage, and playing a festival is totally different than playing and indoor arena, or a smaller gig. So, it’s all of those things – the songwriting, and the recording – all of those things I’ve learned, because I’d never done any of it before, so it’s also having the courage to come out and say “I like this,” or “What do you think of this?” And they’ve been really good to me as well, because they knew what my situation was, and what I was like. They really brought it out of me, and Tommy’s [McWilliams] been great with me as well, so … yeah!

KNAC.COM: And you’ve been touring almost constantly these past few months, too, so it must be pretty intense – not much time to even recharge the batteries back home.

HARRIS: No, not really. After the Ed Force One tour, we came home for about a month, and then went out again … But I don’t like being home too long, because then I start itching to get out again and do stuff! I feel like I’m not doing anything when I’m at home, unless we’re doing something constructive, but two of the guys are American, so it’s hard to get us all in one place at one time. [Drummer/producer McWilliams and bassist Randy Gregg are from the U.S.; guitarist Richie Faulkner, like Lauren, is based in London, UK.]

KNAC.COM: Since we’re on the topic ... What have been some of the positives and negatives of being out there on the road? “Inquiring minds want to know” – especially considering you’re the only female! (laughs)

HARRIS: Yeah, I know! (laughs) It’s been really nice, actually, because this year I’ve had my sister out on the road with me – she’s now doing my press and stuff. So, it’s really nice to have a close relative who’s a girl actually, as well, to go out and do ‘girly things’ with, like shopping and stuff – when the boys don’t want to! But, really, I find the worst thing about being out on the road, or the traveling … Well, when we were on the plane tour, it was really hard, because we were literally flying every other day, and it took a couple of weeks for my body to adjust to it. With the air-conditioning on the plane, my throat actually got really, really dry, a lot of the time. Bruce kind of gave me some tips as well, and said to leave the shower on in the hotel room, to get the steam going, and to really get the moisture to it. And literally, you’re queuing up, and re-packing your bag, and leaving in the morning, so I actually prefer the bus when it comes to traveling, to be honest – because you don’t have to do all that. Your clothes are all there, and we’re traveling all night, and, most of the times, when you wake up, you’re there. Then, there’s obviously the down side of it: You’ve got the toilet on the bus, but you can’t go number 2! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: And other inconveniences! (laughs)

HARRIS: Yes, exactly - exactly! And the guys tend to do boy things, like fart and snore, and stuff like that! (laughs) But, apart from that, it’s been really great – we get on really well. People say to me sometimes, that that’s quite a rare thing with bands, to get on that well, so I’m really lucky that we do.

KNAC.COM: Yes you are, because being on a tour bus is very close quarters – and it must be a bit like living in a locker room with several guys!

HARRIS: Exactly, yeah! (laughs) We haven’t got hotels, so we’re doing the whole thing on the bus, we have maybe three or four hotels at some of the festivals, and that’s it. So, we’re literally doing the bus, and getting to the venue, and having to shower and stuff all there. So, we really are in close quarters with each other. We did that in the States too. It’s nice in the States, though, because you can go to a 24-hour Wal-Mart or a Flying J, and you can go out and have fun for hours if you want to! That’s one thing I do miss being over in Europe, because everything in America is so accessible – all in one shop. It’s really nice! Everything’s air-conditioned as well; over in Europe you find that nothing is air conditioned, even restaurants and stuff like that – and it’s so hot as well. When we were in Rome recently, we were playing a festival, and we thought, My God! - This is Hell! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: It’s good to know about these things, because some of the people who know about you already often don’t realize that, really, you’re basically doing the whole thing like everyone else does when they first start out as an opening act, and I think there might be some misconceptions out there about that.

HARRIS: Yeah, it’s true! We haven’t got like a big double-decker bus – we’ve got a basic bus, because we’re on a budget and all that kind of stuff. I have my own things to worry about, because we’re not doing anything on Maiden’s money and stuff like that.

KNAC.COM: That’s probably toughened you up, too, with all the slogging around everywhere on a tour bus with a lot of guys – well, you can’t be extremely prissy!

HARRIS: No, you can’t – and you can’t moan about stuff. It’s so funny; it just comes down to the basics at the end of the day. As long as you’ve got a shower, and somewhere to sleep, and some food, you’re fine. And that’s literally it! And that’s what you worry about, and you kind of circle your day around those three things.

KNAC.COM: Ah, yes, just an appreciation for the simple pleasures …

HARRIS: Exactly!

KNAC.COM: Well, with all these things happening, are you ready for what might come at you next? Because I know you grew up out of the public eye much more than many people might think, since all the guys in Maiden lead very private lives – more so than many bands of their status do. So, I imagine you grew up normally and somewhat sheltered from some of the negative things – as any good parent would want for their kids.

HARRIS: Oh, definitely – 100 percent. You know, I don’t have any famous friends. I don’t really know anybody like that; I’ve only kind of met people with bands and stuff, because I’ve been touring with them. I did completely normal things [growing up]. I never got into drugs and alcohol. I mean, I drink now, obviously – but only like everyone drinks when they go out and have a good time – but I never got into any of that stuff growing up. I’ve got really good friends around me, some of them that I’ve been friends with since I was four-years-old, because we went to the same school all the way through. And I’m really close to my family as well – I’ve got a big family – and my dad’s never really exposed us to that kind of side of things. We did travel a lot with him as kids, and it was really fun, but we never saw anything going on.

KNAC.COM: Well, I was pretty sure that was the case, but, on account of all that, are you ready for the scrutiny that may come your way with everything beginning to escalate for you so much now?

HARRIS: I know people are going to say stuff about it – me being “the daughter of … [Steve Harris]” – and all that kind of thing. I kind of try not to listen to it as much, because some people do come up to me and go, ‘Oh, do you feel the pressure?’ … And it’s like, how am I going to feel the pressure, when they’ve [Iron Maiden] been going on for over 25 years, and they’ve done what they’ve done, and my dad’s done what he’s done? How can you even compete with that? I’m not even going to try; it would be absolutely ridiculous! And in terms of him helping me – the nepotism thing, I just think if it’s anybody else’s family, they always help them out, or they would if they could. And he has done that for me – I’m not going to deny that. But, I think that he can only bring me so far, and then the rest is up to me, and I’ve got to prove what I have. And I’ve done a couple of tours with them now, and I think I have proven my worth to be there.

KNAC.COM: Oh, you won’t get any argument from me on that – I’m a parent myself, and, really, any good parent would do the same thing – help get their kid started in whatever it is they want to do in life – but then they would want them to show that they’re really up to doing whatever it might be. And I’d say you’ve certainly done that. But I was thinking in terms of your own celebrity, if things continue to accelerate more. You know, all those crazy things you see on the internet these days, and then there’s the tabloids … where anyone who’s considered young and famous in any way, can’t even go out to get a cup of coffee without worrying about a photographer in the bushes!

HARRIS: Yeah I know! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: Well, are you ready for that if it happens to you?

HARRIS: No – not really, no! I’d really cringe at that kind of stuff ... Oh, that’s the worst side of that kind of things! I don’t know, I guess it may do, or might do … but I don’t want that to happen.

KNAC.COM: Well, if you don’t court it, maybe it’ll just stay away! (laughs)

HARRIS: God, I’d hope so! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: One last thing I’m sure people would be interested in knowing is whether you have plans for touring again any time soon after this tour with Iron Maiden wraps up.

HARRIS: I’m definitely going to be touring again at the end of the year, or the early part of next year, hopefully maybe headlining some smaller places as well, in Europe, and home [England], and hopefully we’ll get back over to the States as well at one point as well.

www.myspace.com/laurenharrisuk


Please log in to view RANTS

If you don't have a username, click here to create an account!

Username: 
Password: 

Message: 
 
 

 





 Recent Features
3 Ring Circus: An Exclusive Interview With ALEX MITCHELL Of CIRCUS OF POWER
JUNKMAN Recaps The 2017 AFTERSHOCK Festival
Feel The Pain: And Exclusive Interview With PETER TAGTGREN Of PAIN
KNAC.COM Recaps The 2017 LOUDWIRE MUSIC AWARDS
On The Rise: An Exclusive Interview With SAM KISZKA Of GRETA VAN FLEET
Keys To The Kingdom: An Exclusive Interview With SONS OF APOLLO Keyboardist Extraordinaire DEREK SHERINIAN
JUNKMAN Recaps The 2017 LOUDER THAN LIFE Festival
Aliens Among Us: An Exclusive Interview With ROB DE LUCA Of UFO





HOME | MAGAZINE | ON-AIR | DOWNLOADS | CHAT | BOARDS | CONTESTS | STORE | HELP

©2017 KNAC.COM. All Rights Reserved.    Link to us    Advertise with us    Privacy policy
 Latest News