- Interviews
Jack Blades - Interview 1

In my opinion Night Ranger is THE American rock band. There are no other bands which typify the hard edged guitar, the anthem rockers, and the soaring ballads like these guys do. Their amazing harmonies stem from the advantage of having two lead vocalists, in bassist Jack Blades and drummer Kelly Keagy. The infamous guitar work is supplied by Brad Gillis and the eight finger tapper himself, Jeff Watson. The Ďman who put it all togetherí for them, is keyboard player Alan ĎFitzí Fitzgerald. Together they have made some of the best American rock ever. Their classic albums ĎDawn Patrolí, ĎMidnight Madnessí, ĎSeven Wishesí, ĎBig Lifeí(especially Big Life!), and ĎMan In Motioní have never been far from my CD player.
I talked to Kelly Keagy earlier in the year, about the ĎFeeding Off The Mojoí project, and now have the pleasure of talking to Jack Blades, who outside of Night Ranger, has recorded

So what's going on Jack?
Yeah, theyíre putting on a guitar part, so I wonít have to worry about it for a couple of minutes. We are in the studio now, I have a studio in my barn, here on my ranch, and we are recording the new Night Ranger record, and were doing overdubs, and so they are putting a guitar part on, so they wonít need me for a few minutes.

The first thing I was going to ask you, is what were you doing up a 7am?
You are obviously a busy guy!

Oh well, yeah, there is no rest for the wicked, Andrew.
I always get up early, Iím an early riser, you know, I just have so much on my mind, and actually, to tell you the truth, itís very peaceful at seven oíclock. No phones ring, nobody bothers you....

Most of the time no phones ring....
Right, most of the time!!

And you are on a ranch are you?
Yeah, yeah, itís Northern California, I live up in Sanoma County, up in the wine country of California.

Iíve been as far north as Marin County.
Yeah, Iím the next county up from that.
Iím about, like, 40 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thatís nice...
Yeah, itís where they grow all the Californian wines, all the vineyards are all over....

So Night Ranger are recording then?
Yeah, weíre actually recording!

I heard the rumours! Whoís the album for? I heard it was a one off Japanese deal.
Well what happened, was that nobody was doing anything in the summer, and the guys called, you know, everybody started calling everybody up, some of the guys called me and said what are you doing, and I wasnít doing anything, so we decided to get together and play some Japanese shows.

I saw the reviews, they were really great!
Yeah, yeah we did really, I mean Night Ranger was always a very big band in Japan, and um, it was so fun, and then all these Japanese record companies came and they started bidding for us, and one of them came up, you know, kinda outshined everyone else, they were a good company and all, so we went with Zero.

Know them well.
Yeah, we went with Zero Corporation, and so we actually started recording, last week we cut the basic tracks, we did that in a studio in Salsolido, and then um, on Monday of this week, we moved up to my studio, and weíre doing all the overdubs, and we have my producer, that did all the Damn Yankees records, Ron Nevison.

Great producer!
Yeah, heís wonderful, so we hired him to produce this record.

Heís also done a few records for Zero
Yeah, the Schenker stuff..

And the UFO.
And um, I did two Damn Yankees albums with him, so Iíve known him since 1989 very well, and so um, I was real excited about the fact he wanted to do it and so we got him involved, so now we are all up here slagging it away.

When would you like to get the album out?
Well we are going to have it finished by the middle of January, and um, it will probably come out sometime in March or April, and we are going to go ahead and get distribution for the rest of the world.

I was going to ask about that.
The thing is I wasnít sure where this was going to go when we first started it Andrew, and we have all become very excited about it because itís a real, um, there are some amazing songs, and there is some great playing, and itís gotten to a different level that none of us expected it to be, and so consequently it has changed the game plan for everyone. We are very excited about it.

There are a lot of people out there who want a new Night Ranger record.
Well I think thatís true, or manager is Miles Copeland, he manages me, so Miles is going to handle the thing, and get everything squared away so we can release it in the States, and throughout the rest of the world.

That will go down well.
I think so too, I think everybody will be very surprised when they hear the music.

Night Ranger is responsible for some classic tunes, there are a lot who have tried to copy your sound.
Well I think that they are going to be pleasantly surprised when they put this CD on, because of the way the songs are and everybody is playing, you know, nobodyís stoned or drunk anymore! You know, Iím not saying that was bad, but you know, everything has itís place, and now itís sort of like, everyone has, God, got a lot better! And with the original guys all together itís kind of really fun.

Did you record any of the Japanese shows? You know they love their live albums!
No we didnít record any of the shows. Hey hereís Ron Nevison now....Hey Ron, what do you want to say to your Australian fans? Iím doing an interview to Australia right now.
Hello mate!
You can quote Ron Nevison on that!
Ron says that we are carving out some new frontiers right now!

Thatís great! I am putting together a web site, which this interview will be on also.
Oh really! Great. Very cool.

Were you aware that you actually have a Jack Blades page on the net?

There is a fan of yours, a lady who has put together her own page with a bunch of photos of you.
Youíre joking!!?

Iím not joking! I did a search and thatís what I found! You have a fan out there! There is a photo of her when she met you back in Ď83 or Ď84!
Youíre joking! How did you, what did you search? Jack Blades?

Yep, into one of the search engines.
Ha Ha Ha, thatís very funny.

You will have to check it out!
So whatís happening with Damn Yankees? I heard something was going on there also, but I guess thatís on hold now?
Yeah, thereís nothing happening there at all.

Do you still see Tommy at all?

So heís back with Styx then?
Yes he is.

You guys wrote a lot of songs over the last couple of years for different people?
Yes, we have.

Do you enjoy doing that?
Yeah, from Aerosmith and Alice Cooper to Ozzy and Vince Neil, weíve written some great songs. Actually the last few months I have written some songs with friends of mine who live in Nashville, that are being covered now by several country stars.

Well the Shaw/Blades songs would lend itself to that format.
Yeah, it kinda would, wouldnít it! That was kind of like leaning towards that type of format. But itís fun, you know, I write songs, you know what Iím saying. My manager Miles Copeland has a castle in the south of France, and we go over there like once a year he invites like twenty or twenty-one very well known, like famous song writers from America and Europe and we all converge on the castle, and for ten days we just sit and write songs together, and record them there. Weíve written some amazing things.

Wow! Thatíd be really hard then!!?
Oh its very cool. I was with Paul Carrack last, um, two months ago, and Carol King and Mark Hudson, some really good songwriters. In fact Mark and I wrote a great song called Neverland thatís on this record.

Any other titles for the album?
Walk In The Future, As Always I Remain, Slap Like Being Born....
Thatís a killer song.
Mon Dye Nye, which is Japanese for No Problem, thatís a real killer rockiní tune.
Sunday Morning, Someday I Will, thereís some great material.

What did you think of the Mojo album?
You know what, can I be real honest with you?

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I would have thought from your point of view it would have been strange to see them doing it without you.
Well, let me be very honest with you, and I swear to God, this is the truth, and Iím telling you this because I donít bullshit my life anymore.

I never heard it. Iíve never listened to it!

Oh no, ha ha ha (laughs allround!)
And I think thatís probably terrible and probably Kelly and Brad would hate me for it, but I have not heard one thing from it! And to tell you the truth, I donít really want to. Because itís not really....,you know, this is Night Ranger. And they did their thing, and that was kind of a Night Ranger thing, however itís kinda neat with all five of us together.

And ĎFitzí is back also?
Yeah, sure.

I ask because he kind of disappeared off the scene for a while.
Well he was playing keyboards for Van Halen, behind the curtain, you know. He was the keyboard guy for Van Halen over the last five or six years. You know, so when you hear all that Jump stuff, you know duh duh dah dah, thatís Fitz behind the curtain!

So when I saw them live a couple of years back, in Toronto, I really heard Fitz?
Yeah, Yeah!

My fiancee and I saw you in Toronto in Ď93.
Oh, with the Yankees?

Yeah, great show.
Was it that outdoors place?

No the small theatre.
Oh my gosh, that was a fun show! Was that with Jackyl?

It was, yeah, they go off live, eh?
Yeah, Jesse DuPre is a very good friend of mine. Yeah, he and I have become very good friends.

Heís a good laugh.
Oh yeah, heís a great guy, heís great to be with, we have a ball together. I just talked to him yesterday infact. Talking of very good friends, my son was over this summer with Ozzyís, Ozzy Osbourneís family because my son, Colin, has become very good friends with Ozzyís son Jack. They invited him to England, he was in England for two weeks.

Cool! How old is your son now?
Heís 14, he had a ball!
Hang on a minute Andrew.....Yeah Iíll be up in a flash.....Yeah I promise! Donít get me in trouble now Andrew! Ha Ha, I still got a few minutes.

What about Night Ranger albums? Have you got any favourites, looking back, now that it has been a few years?
I think the favourite for me would be, ah....the ah....the first one, you know, cause it was real raw. The first and the second album were my favourite. Although the third album......I like Seven Wishes! Shit I donít know man!! Oh, hey! I know what I like, I know what my favourite Night Ranger album of all time, my favourite Night Ranger is Night Rangerís Greatest Hits! hahaha

Oh right, yeah, very diplomatic there!

My favourite from the band is Big Life.
Big life is a very good record.

The Shaw/Blades was a departure for you. Any plans to something like that again?
Yes, it was. It was a fun thing to do. Ted was getting ready to do a solo record, and the label wanted Tommy and I to do something. So they let us do whatever we wanted to, and it was really a fun thing. It was sad in hindsight, as Warner Bros made a big change in their upper personnel, and it caused that CD to kinda get lost.

I thought it did vanish quickly.
Yeah, my friends over there were Mo Austin and Michael Austin, Moís son, and when they left, and went over to Dreamworks, the new regime that was in there were a bunch of alternative assholes that didnít want anything to do with us, and they didnít want anything to do with Damn Yankees, so they bought us off. They owed us a lot of money, they owed us two albums, so they bought us off of the label.

Thatís just typical!
Yeah, I donít care, Iíve been through all that stuff before, Iíd rather not be somewhere where Iím not wanted. There are so many songs in my heart.

Is there anything in the future that you have always wanted to do, that you may get the chance to do?
No, I probably would like to go to the pyramids, though! Iíve never done that! No Iím just enjoying it as it goes, Iím enjoying making this CD with all the guys, Iím really enjoying these songs, I kinda like, wherever I am at the time is where I love to be. Iím very happy.

So Night Ranger could be a permanent re-union then?
Um itís hard to say. If everyone gets on everybodyís nerves, no! Hahahaha! You know what I mean!?

Yeah, sure!
Right now, we are having a fun time! And as you know, fun is the most important thing to have.

If itís not fun, then there is no reason doing it. Thatís the way we look at it.

Yeah, definitely. Do you see a Damn Yankees album in the future?
Possibly, sure. I mean, yeah, everybodyís still semi-talking to everybody. You know, I talk to Ted all the time.

Heís a wild man, eh?!
Heís always threatening to want to do another one, and if everybodyís schedules collide at the right time, and if the stars are right, weíll do something. Who knows.

What about what you are listening to at the moment?
I listen to all kinds of music, you know. I like the Van Halen, the new Greatest Hits, I love the Smashing Pumpkins, you know, Mellon Collie, I love that CD. I think that CD from President Of The United States is pretty cool, that new one.
Ah, the new Alice In Chains out and the new Ozzy record, and I canít wait for the new Aerosmith CD to come out.

Me neither.
I think I wrote a couple of songs, I donít know, but I wrote some songs with Steven and Joe for the new album. Iím hoping theyíll be on it.

Thank you Jack for your time.

Well Andrew once again I absolutely apologise for not, you know, itís really not, Iím sorry about that, but Iím glad we were able to hook up now, Iím so glad you called me now. I was sitting right by the phone, I was just down here getting a cassette of a song, for Jeff that we gotta figure out a part on or something.
I was just walking by the phone when it rang, so that worked out really well. I am looking forward to reading this interview.

Yeah, I'll get it to you.
Iím in Tasmania, have you heard fo it at all?

Iíve heard of the cartoon!

Yeah, itís the little island off the south east coast of mainland Australia.
Oh, really?

Yeah, there is 500,000 people here, so itís not too small or anything.
Yeah, but youíre on Tasmania! Thatís very cool!

The home of the Devil.
The home of the Tasmanian Devil. I like it already! I knew I liked you!


Okay, maybe we will get the chance to talk again sometime.
Well Iím excited about you getting to hear this new project, itís awesome stuff.

Canít wait! Hopefully Iíll be able to see you guys live.
If you need anything else, donít hesitate to give me a jingle.

Thank you very much.
Allright mate! See you later! Bye.(hangs up)

Right on Jack, yeah I may give you a call when I'm in the area sometime!!!

C. 1997 Andrew J McNeice Back To The AOR HARD ROCK HOT SPOT