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Jack Russell – Vocals for Great White

Date: 4/9/09
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Are the songs on the new Great White CD “Rising” brand new or are any from the archives? 

JACK:  Well the album comes out on April 21st in the States, it came out over seas a few weeks ago.   One song I wrote with Michael Lardie about ten years ago, the rest though are brand new.   That song, called “I Don’t Mind”, almost felt out of bounds for today considering, you know, where we were ten years ago but it was lucky we found it.  A friend of ours recorded us playing live a while ago and we played that song “ I Don’t Mind”.  So I had to watch the DVD to remember the lyrics because I forgot em. 

2. Did all the members get involved in the songwriting? 

JACK: Yeah, I think more so than ever especially for Michael (Lardie, keyboards/guitar), Mark (Kendall, lead guitar), and myself.   I mean we do most of the writing and always have.  I think as a band evolves you become closer, more self sufficient, and with the last two records the guys were surprised, like our drummer Audie, because usually after someone would record their drums or guitars they would be done and you wouldn’t see them for the rest of the recording.  But like the whole time we recorded this one Audie was with us so that was really cool. 

3. How has the response been to the reformation of the classic lineup and has it meet your expectations?

JACK:  Amazing, overwhelming really.  At the start we thought people were gonna be like “who cares”.  But its cool seeing like three generations of fans in the audience.  I think there is a rediscovery of this kind of music and I am glad Great White were a part of it.  You gotta remember the first self titled Great White album came out in 1984.  Unfortunately the 90s was full of music that was depressive and trendy but look where 90% of those bands are now, they’re gone.  Look, the era that Great White was part of will probably never happen again.  It was such an event going to concerts, playing big arenas, thousands of people holding lighters singing the songs.  Its tragic I don’t see a genre ever capturing that moment again. 

4. Did you try anything new with the music on “Rising”?

JACK:  You know there is never a plan but there is a natural growth as you make music over a period of time.  You don’t want to write the same song over and over again but then again you don’t want to stray away from yourself, you know.  Every record takes on a life of its own and every record becomes a snapshot of where the band is emotionally at that time, at that moment, and on this album more so than any I was really honest in the lyrics and a few times was almost crying while I was writing.  To me its important to be able to relate to the lyrics and for people identify with a song and say “yeah, that’s a song about me, I can relate to what he is going through”.  I want people to feel something.

5. Is Mark Kendall doing anything different with his guitar playing on “Rising”?

JACK:  Yeah he definitely is doing a few different things.  He’s stretching out and becoming a better guitar player.

6. Really, getting better?? I always thought Mark was great to begin with.  “House of Broken Love” I feel is his best piece of work. 

JACK:  Yeah, he is great I’m not saying that.  Mark is awesome and always has been, he has such a Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton approach to his playing.  Music is always about feel and emotion and Mark has so much of that in what he does.  Playing fast has never been for me.  And speaking of “House of Broken Love”, when I came up with the melody line and brought it to the studio Mark started working on the lead parts he spent hours working on it.  Who couldn’t hear his work in that song and not say he is great?

7. When the band writes a song, is it based on a guitar riff Mark will come up with, a melody you create, or something Michael will play on the keyboard?

JACK:  A lot of times it’s a riff, or I will think of a melody for a chorus or hook and I will sing it to Michael or Mark, like on the last record “How Far Is Heaven”, that’s something I threw at Michael and he has to figure out what I’m singing to him.  But normally too I will come up with a melody to a guitar riff also.  I never say “o this song is gonna be about trees and butterflies”, the music tells me what the song is about.

8. Speaking of songwriting, compared to the first self titled Great White album (which I really like) which is a harder Great White, is it a different songwriting process between that album and what the band was doing in the later 80s, to 90s, and now? 

JACK:  Well back then in the early 80s Mark (Kendall) and myself were still trying to figure out the sound of the band.  When we came up with “Rock Me” that’s when we said “this is what the band is about, great big hooks, hard bluesy guitar riffs, good melodies”.  When that album (“Once Bitten”) came out we said “this is our musical backyard, now let’s play around here and expand on that”.  And ever year since we expand, make the yard a little bigger, knock down a couple tress, you know.   In the beginning we were going in a Judas Priest direction with the first record, with “Shot in the Dark” we got a little bluesier which brought us one step closer to “Once Bitten”. 

9. Touring plans in support of “Rising”?

JACK:  We are doing the weekend warrior thing, you know goin out on a Friday playing a few shows and coming back home for the week to be with the family.  I really like that and its better than being on the road for four months at a time.  For now we just U.S. shows set up. 

Shooting any promo videos for “Rising”?

JACK:  I don’t think so, I mean its like what’s the point nobody plays this stuff.  But I think this record may have some legs so who knows.  Its funny because we are getting so many great reviews and its like a whole new appreciation for the band.  People thought the last album “Back to the Rhythm” was great and said “there is no way these guys can come up with another record so soon and have it be as good”.

10. A Great White video collection was released called “My My My”, minus the videos for “Stick It”, “Substitute”, and “Face The Day”.  Why did this happen and are there plans to release another DVD including those and any other videos previously unreleased?

JACK:  You know that is a very good question but I know at that time I was really not involved with the management part of the band and kinda let management walk all over us.  We had no clue.  But now we are more involved and I would like to get those out there.   I have to look into whether or not we actually own the rights to all those videos plus some other stuff like shows playing the Led Zepplin set which I would love to release.   I don’t know if the video for “Love is a Lie” was ever released, I would really like to release a box set.   I have to go back and check out those old videos for “Stick It”, its gonna be funny because what you thought was cool and cutting edge then looks really hokey now. 

I also have some old concert footage I’d like to release, a show we played in 1996 where we did two sets. 

11. It’s hard to find the first self titled Great White album.  Are there plans to reissue and possible remaster it?

JACK:  You know that’s something that is an on going process because it’s a contractual thing of who really owns it.  I think we may own the masters now because it’s been after so many years.   I’m looking into that.  I know it was released on CD for the first time in 1995 with the plain black cover and no inserts or lyrics.

12. I have seen Great White live several times over the years (since the “Hooked” tour) and never really heard anything off the self titled debut.  Do you perform songs from it?

JACK:  Yeah we do, “On Your Knees” we have been playing lately,  “Hold On” was in for a while”, “Out of the Night” we did a few times. 

13. I’m gonna mention a record I really like from Great White but I don’t recall hearing, or know of, anything played from it live since that tour.  “Let It Rock”. 

JACK:  “Let It Rock”, I knew you were gonna say that one.  Great album but the problem is with so many albums you can’t play something from ever album.  When it comes to pickin a setlist, you know you have to play what everybody wants to hear plus a few off the newest album, and after a while some albums get over looked.  I would like to play “Hand on the Trigger”, “Where Is The Love”, “Man In The Sky”, “Lives In Chains”, “My World” from “Let It Rock”, its hard to pick because that’s one of my favorite albums.  That was after we cut ties with management and we made our own album. 

14. I’m gonna mention a few songs I would like to hear live.  Tell me a yea or nah.

“Shot In The Dark”: 

JACK:  Yeah that’s a cool one (as he hums the melody line).  That would be fun to add in. 

“Streetkiller” or “Nightmare”  

JACK:  “Streetkiller” would be fun to play.  Its funny we had that opening riff and then Metallica comes along with a song like a year later (as he hums the riff to “For Whom the Bell Tolls”) which had a real similar melody and I was like “awhh common, man”, and then we had “Out of the Night” and Motley Crue comes out with a song on “Shout At The Devil” (as he hums another riff) and I’m just like “awhh again, man”, I don’t think its intentional but I remember the guys in Motley coming out to see our shows.  So we must have had some kind of influence with that first Great White album. 

“Lady Red Light”:

JACK:  Yeah that song we still play but its been a while.  You know that’s another song, you try and play one and then you gotta drop another. I think what we are going do with this tour for “Rising” we will drop and add like two songs each night to keep it interesting. 

“Big Goodbye”

JACK:  That’s actually one we already talked about adding.

“Sail Away”

JACK: That’s a trippy song.  Yeah that’s another album we haven’t touched on in a while. 

15. Working on anything outside of Great White?

JACK:  Gonna work on some more solo stuff with Billy Sherwood.   Like my last solo album “For You” which is Phil Collins meets Sting type stuff.  Very much on the mellow side where I get to step out of Great White and do something different.

16. Anything else you want to tell the fans about what Great White is doing?

JACK:  Just thanks to all our fans for being so cool and sticking with us, I appreciate it. 

Official website:  http://mistabone.com

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