December 9, 2022 Interview – Rick Allen & Lauren Monroe
Some might not believe there is such a thing as soul mates, but in truth, it is very real. A gravity beyond us that draws two people together, somewhere in the universe the stars aligned and Rick Allen connected with Lauren Monroe. Happily married for almost twenty years, the two find mutual love, interests, and values within one another. On top of that, they also share another big thing in common… music. Allen, the drummer behind the kit for Rock icons Def Leppard, has not only reached legendary status, but also been an inspiration for many overcoming various adversities. Then there is Monroe, an exceptionally talented, singer-songwriter, and author who beams with humanity, compassion, and spiritually. Together they form a dynamic force of hope in a bleak time as they not only collaborate together musically, but also lead the Raven Drum Foundation.
Formed over twenty years ago, the foundation has devoted itself to serve, educate, and empower veterans dealing with PTSD and TBI, people in crisis, and other at-risk populations. A unique concept, the foundation utilizes drumming as a tool for people to heal, find balance in their lives, and most of all, hope. Initially launching their “12 Drummers Drumming” Veterans Day Auction in 2021, the event returns in 2022.
Featuring contributions from everyone from The Police’s Stewart Copeland to Bon Jovi’s Tico Torres, the auction runs through Monday, December 12th with tons of awesome items to win. Everything from autographed guitars to limited edition pieces of art, these are pieces that any Rock fan would love to have, but the best part is all proceeds go to those who really need it this holiday season. Excited to keep the good vibes going, Rick Allen and Lauren Monroe took the time to chat about their foundation, creating music, finding balance, and much more.
Cryptic Rock – You have both had accomplished careers in music; Rick of course as an intricate part of Def Leppard; and Lauren as a songwriter, musician, author, as well as a speaker. Briefly tell us, how would you describe your incredible journeys in music to this point?
Lauren Monroe – It’s been a transformational journey for us both but I can say, for myself, there have been many obstacles that I sought to overcome on my way to achieving what I have today, on so many levels. It has been a constant focus on letting go of old internal narratives that have kept me from moving forward in my career. The doubt, the fear of being seen or judged, can be a huge obstacle. I’ve worked very hard to have come to a place of truly accepting who I am and the scope of my purpose in this life. I don’t need anyone’s approval or validation; I just am and it has restructured everything I do and create.
Rick Allen – For me the journey has been working towards constantly staying open to learn how to be compassionate with myself. I can be really hard on myself and push for perfection. That mindset can be an asset sometimes but not always. It can be damaging to my self-esteem and my ability to grow. Staying open and learning through my craft to be a better drummer and be open to learn how to cope with my mental and physical injuries will continue to be my journey.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like you both have found light in one another that complements you as individuals. You have both kept extremely busy with music through the years. In 2022 Def Leppard released the new album Diamond Star Halos and toured extensively; and Lauren, in 2022 you released your third solo album, Messages from Aphrodite. Is it a challenge to balance these busy schedules and keep yourselves healthy and balanced as well?
Rick Allen – Balance has always been a challenge for me but I’m definitely getting better at catching myself and pulling myself into a more centered place when things get overwhelming. Family first, self-care, and quality of life is the path I’m on.
Lauren Monroe – Balance is always difficult but when I’m able to keep my focus on maintaining a healthy flow in myself, I can create enough space to establish a solid routine of good self-care. Nutrition, sleep, being in nature, exercise and creative time is so important to keep me on track.
Cryptic Rock – Right, this is the challenge we all have… especially in this high stress, high pace modern world.
Speaking of health and balance, your non-profit Raven Drum Foundation has been established for over two decades now offering support to those in need. What has it been like running this very worthy cause for these many years?
Rick Allen – It has been a life-changing experience for me. I’ve learned about my own resilience as I help others. The healing has been a two-way street. I have never seen myself as anything more than a musician and through my work with others through the foundation, I can value myself as much more. The path of service has truly changed my life.
Cryptic Rock – That is truly inspiring to hear. You also have thought of some inventive and fun ways to generate attention to the foundation. For example, you are in the second year of the annual “12 Drummers Drumming” Veterans Day Auction. How did this idea initially come about?
Lauren Monroe – The idea came about through our brainstorming with RDF director and producer, Laurie Baker. “12 Drummers” is her brain child that has created such a brilliant heart-based community of artists. From there it grew through our efforts in contacting drummer friends and allies in the business to come join in and help. I didn’t know how many friends we had!
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear. We are living in a time where the division is plausible, so to hear about unity is heartwarming. The 2022 contributing artist list is pretty amazing; everyone from Stewart Copeland of The Police to KISS legend Peter Criss. What was it like working with and collaborating with such a long list of iconic Rock-n-Roll drummers?
Rick Allen – I am continually moved by all of the musicians that have come forward to support. It’s been really meaningful to get to know everyone on a deeper level. So many of us have gone through some kind of trauma and somehow made it through. Whether it be addiction, horrific accidents, surviving cancer or living through suicide, we have overcome and are all still fighting for ourselves and others. The drumming community has so much to share, this is just the beginning of our “12 Drummers Drumming” work together.
Cryptic Rock – That is exciting to hear and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for it. As far as the fund raising, there are some really cool items being auctioned off for this year’s event including autographed guitars… even a 30-minute zoom call with Zac Hanson of Hanson! The most important part is its raising money for Veterans and First Responders across the country. This in mind, do you try to keep the auction item ideas fresh and unique each year?
Lauren Monroe – The auction items are always so special and we encourage musicians to donate a variety of things from valuable memorabilia, tickets and meet-and-greet experiences. Our community is growing larger every year so we never know what kind of auction it will be but we are definitely excited this year!
Cryptic Rock – The auction closes on December 12th, so hopefully more people will check it out soon! Beyond this you also recently played a series of East Coast shows together. Being husband and wife, what is it like for you to perform together and collaborate together musically?
Rick Allen – Lauren’s show is a deep and emotional experience that gives me the opportunity to connect with myself as a musician, as a person, as well as to connect with the audience in a more intimate way. I love playing with her and her band. When I started playing with her back in the early 2000s, I hadn’t touched an acoustic drum kit since I lost my arm. Yamaha created a beautiful acoustic kit for me and it’s been a godsend. Now I only play acoustic with her and it’s helped me grow in my playing exponentially. It’s really fantastic to be in such a creative space with the person you love. We are a great team.
Lauren Monroe – It’s such a fun and inspirational experience playing together. I think we feed off of each other on stage and share the energy with the audience so that they feel like they are part of the family. The fun banter and playfulness during the show really offsets some of the serious topics we dive into with our audiences. It’s such a meaningful place to share our gifts together with the vision of bringing healing to others. I love it.
Cryptic Rock – And hopefully we will get to see you two perform together more in the future. As mentioned, you both have put out new music over the last 6 months. In short, the new Def Leppard album is an extremely solid and enjoyable Rock-n-Roll record; and Messages from Aphrodite is really a beautiful, powerful collection of songs that really stick with you. How happy are you both with these two new pieces of work?
Rick Allen – It was great to have released such an energized record for our fans, I’m so pleased that it has connected with people as much as our other albums of days gone by. I think the best thing is also we get to tour and play the songs to live audiences again, which brings in so much inspiration.
Lauren Monroe – I’m very happy about the release of the new album and how its message can reach into the hearts of so many people and genres of music. Feeling humbled to have had such legendary and talented musicians play on it and have it been my first album co-producing with the legendary Jim Scott. Writing, recording and then taking the songs to the stage is a complete dream package that I’m grateful for every day.
Cryptic Rock – Well, 2023 is looking busy too; Def Leppard recently announced more dates and hopefully we will get to see Lauren and her band doing shows too. Last question. On Cryptic Rock beyond music, we also cover a broad range of films. So, what are a few of your favorite films?
Lauren Monroe – Our favorites include Crash (2004), The Red Violin (1998), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Happy (2012), Powder (1995), What Dreams May Come (1998), and Unity (2015) which is a documentary by Shawn Munson about the evolution of our humanity; Rick was one of over 100 celebrity narrators and it’s an epic film that every human being should see.