BW&BK Interview: LAUREN HARRIS – The Maiden, The Priest, And A SIX HOUR SUNDOWN

Lauren Harris is known in music circles as the daughter of Iron Maiden bassist/founder Steve Harris first, and as a vocalist second. If she has her way that’ll change over the next year, and she’s off to a promising start

This interview never would have come to pass if it wasn’t for a tip from ex-Megadeth guitarist Jeff Young, who suggested checking out an indie band called Six Hour Sundown on YouTube during a weekly round of “Look what I found…” They came across as a better than average ‘80s-flavoured hair band for the modern day (minus the poofy hair), and the singer was a familiar face. Quick online investigation confirmed that it was indeed Lauren Harris front and center, but Six Hour Sundown’s appearance in the ring has been so low key that most of the initial attention received is the result of genuine curiosity rather than Iron Maiden family tree hype.

“It has been rather low key,” Harris agrees, “because we were doing the Maiden thing through 2008 and 2009, and there was a lot of hype around it at the time. I haven’t really been in the spotlight for the last couple years, and I’ve started up a new band using a new name rather than using my own name again. I’ve started from scratch, really.”

Most people would agree that dropping her own name in favour of Six Hour Sundown can only benefit Harris in the end. The move was made, she says, when her touring band fell apart.

“The first album was a solo thing, but when I was on the road with the guys it turned into more of a band. It was only natural for that to happen since we spent so much time together, and we really were like a family. You hear about some bands that just don’t get on, they’re not like real friends, but we were friends. But, because of other circumstances, it couldn’t continue. Randy (Gregg/bass) was in New York and we couldn’t keep flying him over to the UK because money was an issue. And with Richie (Faulkner/guitars), well, he went off and joined Judas Priest (laughs). Tommy (McWilliams/drums) left a while back because he was never going to do the drumming originally; he was part of the producing side of things, and he became our drummer because we needed one. It just became a long term thing. When Olly (Smith/drums) got involved he became part of the family, so Six Hour Sundown is me and Olly continuing on with a new band (also featuring Tom Gentry, James Bennett and Mitch Witham) which we started when Richie left in February 2011.”

Some people might consider Harris’ debut a case of taking the easy way through the front door. Now, however, she can be held accountable – for better or worse – for everything that goes down from here on out.

“I’m happy for it to be my fault now, to be honest (laughs). I guess with the first album, because we were put out with Maiden and Within Temptation and bands like that, I kind of felt because of the type of music I was doing that I probably would have done better if I’d gone out with someone more mainstream. That’s why it was a bit of a battle. I’m a bit uncomfortable with playing some of the songs on Calm Before The Storm to those audiences anyway, really. With Six Hour Sundown, it’s completely me, where I co-wrote every track on the album and it’s the direction I want to be going in.”

“When I think about it now, I can’t believe how much we actually got away with,” she adds. “I really can’t. Richie and I and our label were talking about it before he left the band; we were listening to the album and said we couldn’t believe it. And some of it we didn’t get away with because people did give us a lot of stick for it, which was fair enough.”

At this point, a release date for Six Hour Sundown’s debut has yet to be finalized, but they’re hoping to have something out before summer in order to take advantage of the festival circuit. Smart money has the band issuing a second single in early 2012 to keep the buzz going; momentum that will likely grow thanks to Faulkner’s presence on the new album. Like it or not, he’s a selling point for anyone who considers him a worthy replacement for Judas Priest’s K.K. Downing.

“Yeah, it will be a selling point, which is great. We obviously didn’t know what was going to happen when we recorded the album, because we recorded it last January and Richie left the band in February to join Priest. We were saying ‘Oh my God…’ because we’d just paid for the recording and thought we might have to do it all over again. We decided no, we can’t go back and re-record everything because it would destroy us financially. But, we’re very happy for Richie because Priest is a great opportunity for him.”

As opportunities go, supporting Iron Maiden in any capacity ranks near the top of the heap, and Harris doesn’t downplay the significance of that achievement. For a young artist presenting music better suited at the time to an Avril Lavigne-oriented crowd, it sometimes amounted to a hazing at the School Of Rock, and Harris learned a great deal from the experience.

“Something like that does teach you a lot. Over that two or three year period I grew so much as a performer. I learned how to deal with things like people giving me the finger and spitting at me… I learned to deal with any situation. When I first started to read comments on YouTube or on forums where people were completely slagging me off, it really upset me like it would with anybody. But towards the end of that period and now, I don’t give a shit what anybody thinks. I’ve done it all. I’ve been in a total male environment as well, which was really difficult to start off with because I had to prove myself, and some men don’t want to give you, as a woman on stage, the time of day.”

Go to this location for the complete interview.

– Photos by John McMurtrie

Check out Six Hour Sundown here.