Podcast Transcript

Speaker 1:

Takin’ a walk.

Rick Allen:

The special thing about playing that particular show, it was my 16th birthday. And I remember Bon Scott coming up to me and wishing me a happy birthday, which doesn’t happen to too many people. And then Brian May with Queen was there. And then another really special surprise was after soundcheck when the auditorium was really quiet, I went down just to check on my drum kit. And there was this guy on his hands and knees checking out the drums, and I didn’t want to startle him. So I just walked up and I said, “Is everything okay?” And he turned round and it was Mitch Mitchell. I was just completely blown away. So what a special 16th birthday.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Takin’ a Walk podcast hosted by Buzz Knight. This is the podcast that talks to musicians about their passionate love of music. Today, the husband and wife team of Lauren Monroe and Rick Allen. You know Rick from his legendary Def Leppard work, and Lauren is a singer songwriter who shares her energy and love of the medium as a healing force. For two decades, they’ve led their foundation called the Raven Drum Foundation, which does amazing work for veterans, first responders, and so many others. Here’s Buzz with Lauren and Rick on Takin’ a walk.

Buzz Knight:

Well, it’s delightful to have Rick and Lauren with us on the Takin’ a Walk podcast. Thank you so much. I wish we were in person rather than virtual, but I’m very happy to meet you.

Rick Allen:

That’s great. Thank you very much, nice to meet you too.

Lauren Monroe:

Great to meet you.

Buzz Knight:

Now, do you guys take walks out in beautiful California whenever you can?

Lauren Monroe:

Of course. Yeah, absolutely.

Rick Allen:

Yeah, the nature is so beautiful here, especially Central Coast. We really love it, the two of us.

Buzz Knight:

And do you find it to be therapeutic when you’re out taking a walk?

Rick Allen:

I think one of the most therapeutic things there are is being in amongst something that is bigger than I am. Being out in nature or looking at the ocean, or looking up at the sky. I think any of those things really get me out of my own way. So being out in nature is really important to me, and I’m sure it’s really important to Lauren as well.

Lauren Monroe:

Yeah, I think it’s very therapeutic. And some of the things that we teach in our foundation, Raven Drum Foundation, is we focus on nature. I understand it through energy medicine and how energy is a transference. And when you’re in something greater than yourself, something happens called bio-entrainment. So the dominant frequency affects you. And so when you’re standing by a tree or by the ocean, they’re the dominant frequency. And we start to, like a tuning fork, we start to vibrate. And we can get further into our own calmness, and it really helps our nervous system. So it helps everyone being in nature.

Buzz Knight:

Well, take us back to that magical moment when you two lovebirds exchanged your vows, and you had the red-tail hawk circling above at that moment. Talk about that special time.

Lauren Monroe:

I’ll let Rick talk first.

Rick Allen:

Oh, man. It couldn’t have been more perfect. We had all our family and all our friends, and just at this magical moment, which was made even more magical by the fact that I think there were a pair of red-tail hawks flying way, way above us. And it just felt like the blessing got even more powerful. So I don’t know what you experienced, Lauren, but that was one of those moments I’ll never forget.

Lauren Monroe:

Yeah, and I think it was beautiful. Everybody saw it. And there were two red-tails circling around right above us, and it was a blessing. I felt like it was a blessing too.

Buzz Knight:

What do red-tail hawks signify, do you think?

Lauren Monroe:

Well, my understanding the hawk represents the presence of the just a spirit. I don’t know that much detail about the red-tail, although we’ve been giving a lot of gifts of red-tail feathers. And Rick got a gift of a red-tail claw from a lot of our indigenous friends and colleagues. And I’m sure there’s deeper meaning, but we pay attention. We live in a very secluded area and we have a lot of wildlife, and we pay attention to their behavior and what they do and how close they come. And we’re able to sit very close to a lot of them if we’re still enough. And we’ve been here for a number of years, so they trust us now. It’s great.

Buzz Knight:

So Lauren, how did you ultimately find your musical voice, and who are some of the musicians that influenced you in that time?

Lauren Monroe:

Well, I found my musical voice when I was really young. I started writing songs, and I got a guitar when I was five. And it’s like I knew how to express myself in that way very easily at a young age. And I think the 70s music scene really influenced me a lot. I had a lot of that around me. And The Doors. I remember Jim Morrison, the way he articulated through poetry. And he got into some of the very mystical realms when he sang and he created his poetry. He influenced me quite a bit. Of course, Tom Petty was my greatest influence, I think in rock and roll, once I discovered him in the late 70s and early 80s. I connected with his songwriting and his expression. But I draw from a lot of influences, I think mostly spiritual ones. And then I just make songs that are me, that are just me, really.

Buzz Knight:

And Rick, Mr. Thunder God, may I call you that?

Rick Allen:

You can.

Buzz Knight:

You started pretty darn young as a musician, if I’m not mistaken. You joined Def Leppard at 15 years old, is that right?

Rick Allen:

I did, yeah, around about 1978. And I’d been playing with local bands, and they always wanted to play cover songs. And yeah, we saw a newspaper article, Leopard Loses Skins. And we got in touch with the newspaper, found the journalist, and he put me in touch with Joe Elliot and Steve Clark. And I met with them a few days later, and we set up an audition. And when I went for the audition, I was really pleasantly surprised. I got the job, lots of big smiling faces around the room. And that was the beginning of something really, really great.

Buzz Knight:

And take me back to being 16 years old at the Hammersmith Odeon, and having Def Leppard open for AC/DC there. What was that like?

Rick Allen:

It was incredible, really. It was all I ever really knew because I was so young. But the special thing about playing that particular show, it was my 16th birthday. And I remember Bon Scott coming up to me and wishing me a happy birthday, which doesn’t happen to too many people. And then Brian May with Queen was there. And then another really special surprise was after soundcheck when the auditorium was really quiet, I went down just to check on my drum kit. And there was this guy on his hands and knees checking out the drums, and I didn’t want to startle him, so I just walked up and I said, “Is everything okay?” And he turned round and it was Mitch Mitchell. I was just completely blown away. So what a special 16th birthday.

Buzz Knight:

That’s fantastic. And talk about the influences musically that you experienced growing up, Rick.

Rick Allen:

Well, there was always lots and lots of music playing at home. One of the artists I remember was Glenn Miller. That was a big part of growing up. And then of course, listening to the radio, getting ready for school. There was always the greats, there was always the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who. You name it. All this fantastic music, and I couldn’t help but be influenced by that. That was really part of the soundtrack of my life.

Buzz Knight:

What is it, Rick, about the diverse influences that British musicians seem to all have? They have influences that span all genres. Why do you think that is?

Rick Allen:

I’ve experienced that with all musicians. Lauren for instance, she listens to so many different types of music. She grew up listening to Frank Sinatra was always on. And that carries through to now. We play Frank Sinatra all the time. Sometimes we’ll throw Frank Sinatra Christmas music on just because. So it’s almost a tradition. But I think most musicians don’t necessarily see genres. They just hear music. And they’re all the same chords, we just play them in a slightly different way or more or less distorted. So for me, it’s all music. And it all goes into what influenced me. So it was interesting. I sat in with a Latin jazz band the other night, which was really interesting. That was a first, but it was just an incredible experience. And to me, it was rhythm and music. And I was just playing along with it. And I could quite easily have been playing with Lauren or with Def Leppard, or any other band.

Buzz Knight:

Lauren, had you seen Def Leppard before you and Rick met?

Lauren Monroe:

No, I’ve never seen them. And I know I really wasn’t a fan. I didn’t dislike the music, I just wasn’t engaged in that genre very much. But then I remember I went to a show, and I realized, oh, I know that song and I know that song. And just from the consciousness of the 80s, I remembered things from the radio. So it was wonderful to meet him the first time I met him, and see the culture.

Buzz Knight:

And Lauren, what was your first concert experience?

Lauren Monroe:

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It was my first concert. I remember when I saw him, I said, “I think I can do that. I want to try that. I want to try writing some songs and really working on it.” So it was fun to see him. He’s still my all-time favorite artist.

Buzz Knight:

Is there somebody you haven’t seen that you’d like to see that is in your musical wheelhouse, as it were?

Lauren Monroe:

We were just talking about that, because I have never seen Bruce Springsteen or the Rolling Stones. So those are the two I would love to see. Bucket list

Rick Allen:

Note to self.

Buzz Knight:

Lauren, question for you first, and then same question for you, Rick. How do you two find a work life balance?

Lauren Monroe:

It’s interesting. We never really had to think about it. We just automatically do it. We love work, we love working, and we often work away. And then when we’re home, we’re working. But definitely things shut off at a certain time. We have to pick our daughter up from school, and then we have her life and being parents. And I think there’s an automatic shift down. And we try to keep our weekends free so we can have family time. And no cell phones at the dinner table. And we have a lot of things that we automatically just don’t do because they take away from the moments that we have together. Rick is on the road a lot, and now since the past few years, I’ve been traveling doing shows. And things can get hectic. And we have art that we do. I’m in the art room right now. And we do a lot of art and music, and we’re lucky, we don’t have to work on it that much because we automatically fall into the pattern of being together. And we want the same things when we’re home.

Buzz Knight:

Have you cracked the code, Rick, on balance?

Rick Allen:

It just seems to go really organically. One of the things that we’ve started doing, we’ve always played drums together, but one of the things we do on a more regular basis is play drums together. I have two drum kits set up in the rehearsal space, and then Lauren has her own percussion set up. Now, Lauren’s played percussion for many, many years, and now she’s pushing into playing a regular drum kit. And the sounds that we make together are really, really good. I naturally gravitate to a more masculine way of playing, for obvious reasons. And Lauren, she naturally dances around whatever it is that I play. So the two of us, we sound like three or four drummers when we play together. And I’m really excited to present the two of us playing drums together more often. I’d love to bring that into a live setting, because I think Lauren is super talented.

Lauren Monroe:

I never thought I’d play drum kit. It was never a real [inaudible 00:15:45]. But he had the two kits, and he’s like, “You should sit down on this.” I’m like, “Okay, I’ll try that.” But it was very organic. It’s so fun. And I think as a couple, it’s fun to have something that we both love to do together.

Buzz Knight:

So you know we have this other podcast, which you’re going to be on. I’m so grateful for that, that we produce, hosted by Lynn Hoffman, called Music Saved Me. And we want to talk about the special work on this podcast as well that you both are involved with with the Raven Drum Foundation, which you’ve been at that for 20 years plus. Please talk about the beginnings of it and how it was created, why it was created, and the amazing work that you and the organization does.

Lauren Monroe:

Well, we started the foundation in 2001, and it was just a natural synergy of who Rick was and who I was. And myself, bringing the energy medicine piece to it, and the mental health and somatic work. And I was a percussionist as well and a dancer, so I had a natural inclination to blend these two elements. But then when I met Rick and we isolated his trauma, and the things that made him feel better was the drumming. He had a lot to share with sharing his own experience of moving through recovery of post-traumatic stress. So we created a curriculum around that and we created a specific circle to help people. And we saw that it didn’t matter where you were in your healing stage or who you were, whether you were 80 years old or five years old, whether you were a specific religious affiliation or had a specific trauma addiction. Whether it was abuse, whether it was cancer you’re going through, every crisis responded to this way of healing. And it brought community together.

So we started working with various different populations, sharing what we knew worked, and then sharing more modalities. So we serve, we educate, and we empower through rhythm. But also introducing people to other modalities besides allopathic medicine, like yoga and meditation and mindfulness so they can have more tools in their healing to compliment whatever they’re working on with their doctor or whichever they’ve been struggling to figure out on their own. And we’ve been doing this for many years. I think the thing that made us pivot is Rick’s first visit to Walter Reed Medical Center to help some of the military right after there was a wave of them coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. And I’ll segue into Rick sharing that, because it’s very powerful how we brought our ideas into helping them.

Rick Allen:

Yeah, before I visited Walter Reed, we hadn’t really focused so much on veterans. And Walter Reed was life-changing for me. I really saw so much suffering, but I also saw a lot of potential. And I remember I did great while I was there at the hospital, and then when I got back to my hotel, I called Lauren and I broke down. I guess it really, really affected me being around all these incredible people. And it was right then I suggested to Lauren that we focus more on veterans, and I think that’s how we really segued into that. Is that how you remember it, Lauren?

Lauren Monroe:

Yeah. And I also remembered in my family, my cousin was killed in Vietnam. And I was very young. And I know how it changed my whole family. So I really understood the effects of having someone in the military who has had an injury, a life-changing injury. Or if you’ve lost someone, how there’s a ripple effect. And it’s a family experience, not just an individual one. So I was really on board with experience that. So we both went to Walter Reed within the following months, and then we brought a drum circle there. And then we started working with the Wounded Warrior Project, and it started expanding from there. And Rick found an immediate connection to a lot of the warriors who lost limbs. And there’s a wonderful comradery that they’ve opened up to him very easily. It’s beautiful to see that. And when you’re in a family that has trauma, you can talk to one another in a way that’s different from someone who hasn’t experienced it.

So it’s great. We continue reaching out to first responders now, because they also have the same injuries that are invisible wounds that people can’t see. Our firefighters specifically have the least amount of treatment for this. They don’t talk about it, still very close to them, they don’t express their what goes on. Police department, EMTs, journalists who have to cover horrific events, like Uvalde or the war in Ukraine. They have to come back and be normal. And what’s that? So we’re really wrapping our arms around a lot of different people. And trauma is very common these days, so we all can look at that.

Buzz Knight:

And you have some events coming up that I’d like you to promote to the listeners of the podcast. Do you want to talk about what’s happening in a short amount of time?

Lauren Monroe:

Sure. March 13th, we’re in Boston. And we have an event, a concert there that we’re supporting our first responders there. March 14th, we have a very special benefit show at the Cutting Room to promote healing and programs with Friends of Firefighters based out of New York. And that’s going to be an amazing show, we have a lot of celebrity drummers coming. And Boston, we’re at the Boston City Winery. So just go to ravendrumfoundation.org and you’ll see everything. You can find out more information from our websites. Just at our Instagram, we’re on there a lot. Rick Allen live on Instagram and Laura Monroe live, and we can keep in touch with everybody that way.

Buzz Knight:

How does it make you feel when audience members connect, not only with your music, but with your good work that you’re doing?

Lauren Monroe:

I’ll speak and then let Rick, but I think it’s just like growing a family. It just feels like we’re growing a family of people who believe in the same things and want the world to be better. And it starts by healing ourselves. So we’re all doing the work. And then you circle up, give people an experience of what that feels like. It feels great. It feels really special to share that with people. And we’re very blessed to be able to do that.

Rick Allen:

What I’ve found over the years is when I start to feel my own trauma or my own depression, the easy fix is always to be of service. And then when we put ourselves out there into the community and we do the right thing, it comes back to us in ways that you can’t even imagine. It’s just so gratifying, such a fantastic experience to be able to see transformation in other people because of what we facilitate. And it helps us. It’s a two-way street. It really helps us and it helps them. It helps everybody involved. So we’re just really blessed to be able to have found this and continue to do this to this day.

Buzz Knight:

I have to tell you, watching you two perform in one of the videos that I saw. I observed this tremendous calmness and serenity that you both have while you’re on stage and you’re performing. And you’re with each other and you’re with your audience, and it truly is very contagious. And I just wanted to thank you for that. And to thank you for your good work and your great music, but also your great hearts.

Rick Allen:

Thank you.

Buzz Knight:

Thanks for being on.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Takin’ a Walk podcast. Share this and other episodes with your friends, and follow us so you never miss an episode. Takin’ a Walk is available on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts.

 

About The Author

Buzz Knight

Buzz Knight is an established media executive with a long history of content creation and multi-platform distribution.

After a successful career as a Radio Executive, he formed Buzz Knight Media which focuses on strategic guidance and the development of new original content.