So Jack, are you happy with the response to 'For You' so far?
Yeah, you know I really am. Some of the reviews I've got have just blown my mind especially coming from some of these really heavy hard rock magazines in Europe. I was expecting them not to understand the direction of the music and they loved it. So they loved it and the fans loved it. The bottom line is it's a record that I'm really proud of and that's what I've always set out to do when I make albums. Hopefully the public will like them but if not at least you have something that you can play on your own stereo and feel good about it. That's my main goal I like to make music that I enjoy listening to and if somebody else has a sense of what's good then maybe they'll buy it and enjoy it too. If not at least you can go broke with some integrity you know.
I couldn't agree more. I don't think you'll go broke though. It's a fantastic sounding record.
Thank you. For me it's just the most well realized album I've ever worked on. I mean over the years you work with producers and you have a certain idea of songs in your head when you're writing how it's going to sound like. A lot of times unfortunately when it's finally done and all mixed and everything and everybody's had their hands in the pie it doesn't quite come out the way you envisioned it. Well this one here for me every song came out as good as I wanted it too and then some. So I was very happy with it all.
Was that because there was fewer people working on it? A band versus a solo artist?
I think that as well. Once we started the project you know I kinda had a definite idea of where I wanted to go and the producers Bob [Kulick] and Billy [Sherwood], that also played on the record new exactly what I wanted to do and they were of the same mind. So it wasn't like I had to sit there every 5 minutes and sit there while they were recording to make sure they were doing it right. I would leave the studio and then come back and they'd have some guitars done for one song and I'd come down and listen to them and go that's great. I didn't have to be there looking over their shoulders which is really nice.
They've got a great track record those two.
Oh yeah. The thing was they were really into the project. The writing was so easy. I have been writing with the same people for 20 odd years. Stepping outside to write with someone else I thought it was going to be a more painful experience. When Billy, Bob and I started working on the songs it was just so easy. The chemistry was just instant so it made it really fun and obviously rewarding for me.
You've previously sung on a few of Bob's tribute records haven't you?
Right. That's where Bob and I first hooked up. I just really liked the guy. His studio was close to where I was living at the time. So when I thought about doing some demos for this project I thought I'd call these guys up and use their studio. I brought done a song I was working on and they were like hey this is great let's try this to it and what about this and I'm going ok well let's try that out. That's when I decided these were the guys I wanted to write the songs with because they understood where I was coming from.
So what is it that's so good about this record? Is it just great songs?
For me yeah. The big thing also is it's a very honest record. Every record I've done I've tried to make it more or less a snap shot of where I was at the time spiritually and emotionally. This one was more defined, I was more honest about where I was at and what I was going through and people will either grab it or they won't. The bottom line is I'm not trying to say anything that hasn't been said before I'm just trying to say it in my own way.
Your first solo record for Japan wasn't too far removed from the Great White sound - but this one is really on the other side of it
This is more where I wanted to be. The first record I didn't really know what I wanted to do. It was a lot more eclectic than this one there was like heavy metal songs and pop ballads. When I decided to put a fork in Great White I didn't feel at this time in my life at 41 I wanted to be trying to write teen anthems. I wanted to do something mellower and a little more musical. Also more diverse for my vocals. The thing about Great White as diverse as the band was it was still a certain area we were in musically. You couldn't really go too far out of it because people wouldn't understand. It was more of a rock band than anything else.
This was something I wanted to do that wasn't so much rock but it wasn't totally wimpy either. I really wanted to have something that was snappy and musical but I wanted to try some different things with my voice.
I think it sounds a million bucks.
Thank you, I was really happy when it came out.
Having the year we took to make it really enabled us to sit and trim the fat. We didn't have to have songs on there because we were under the gun to finish the album when you throw a bunch of filler songs in. It wasn't like we had to sit down and write all the songs in a month. I just took my time. If I had a idea I would come down to the studio and demo it. When we had four or five songs we would call the guys down and start recording those. Then we'd start writing the next batch.
Have you done many solo dates for it yet?
Yeah we have actually I've got another one tomorrow night. Then we're heading up to Northern California.
And then we'll do the West Coast and later the East Coast. We still have a lot of other things going on right now, a lot of press, radio and TV stuff. It's nice at this point in my life that I can be excited about this again. I was with Great White for 23 years and it got to the point where it wasn't a labor of love anymore. I've always said that when this isn't fun anymore that I want to try to find something else to do. It was not fun the last year or two. It wasn't' anybody's fault it was just we were fighting an uphill battle. That kind of music was not in vogue anymore. You got a bunch of guys that are older and don't want to be on the road and constantly complaining about "this sucks, the bus sucks, the gig sucks"
I was going to ask you what lead to the demise of Great White.
We had another album that we were supposed to do for Columbia. We were working on the songs for it and when it came time to figure out whether we wanted to do this record or not we sat down with John Kalodner and played him some of the songs. We said what do you think and he said what do you think? I said honestly that I think the magic is gone. I think you had a bunch of guys that are doing this just for the money and it's not in their heart anymore. It's was sad for me to say that because I started the band but I didn't want to go out and make a record just to make money to put in my pocket and sacrifice the music. I want Great White to be remembered for having some good songs not like oh wasn't the last record a pile of shit. I don't know if anyone else has turned down a major record deal but I just didn't think it was appropriate.
I just did an interview with John Kalodner actually.
He's a really good guy and he was nice enough to let me out the contract. He's always been there for me and I really appreciate it. He understood that maybe it was time to pack it in. I don't want to do music to make money, if I make money that's great. I do music because I love it and I respect the artistry of the craft.
I think if more people felt that way you'd have a lot better music now.
The solo album is out with Paul at Knight Records. How do you know Paul and are you happy with that set up?
Love it. The best thing about it is I don't have the major labels spending $50,000 on the coversheet for on the inside cover of your CD and then not pumping the promotion of your album. There were just so many things that went on that I was scratching my head wondering why are they spending the money on that? Promote the frigging record!!
I decided I didn't want to be doing that way anymore, doing pennies on the dollar. I wanted to have more of a hands on thing. Paul is my manager and I met him in Europe when Great White was touring over there. He was the agent that booked us. We just hit it off. I brought him back to the States with me to work with Great White as tour manager. One thing led to another and we started talking about what I wanted to do solo wise and he had some great ideas. We sat down and brainstormed and pretty much put the whole thing together.
I've enjoyed dealing with him and he seems to have a good plan.
He does and he's got a passion for it too. He believes in the record. There are so many labels out there that grip and grin and tell you how great you are but your stuff is product. We're ready to go the long haul. With the major labels if you don't sell X amount of records in a month is like sorry maybe next time. I don't want to do that again and be lied to.
How much pressure was Great White under during the Capitol years?
Not much. During the Capitol Years we were pretty much oblivious to what was going on anyway.
We were definitely living the rock 'n roll lifestyle. In one aspect it was great but in another it was like where did all the money go? I don't know!
We were just young and dumb and we didn't care. It was fun.
The great thing about Great White was we had control of our music. We never had our label people come down to the studio until we'd finished the record. We never let them have any input and it felt good to us at the time.
You were always fairly consistent.
It was a fun band and we didn't take ourselves too seriously. It was like Mick Jagger said it's only rock 'n roll but I like it.
What are the other guys doing now?
I really don't know. I know Ken is working on some stuff for some movies. Michael is up North with Jack Blades recording his son's album. The other guys I'm really not sure what they're doing. We haven't all started missing each other yet. We were together for 23 years so I can go a year without seeing someone.
You might get some desire to do a reunion gig in a few years time.
Yeah you never know. The door is always open for that. Although at this point in my life I can't even imagine that. If we did it for me it would just be for fun. I wouldn't want to continue a career out of it.
We've had our day and as hard as it was to come to terms with that I have to look back and realize that Great White did everything we set out to do.
It was a long career.
Absolutely and we made like 15 albums, Grammy nominations and we sold millions of records and hell I can't complain it was a hell of a ride. Sometimes it's time to get off the roller coaster and get on something else.
What ever happened to the project that you and Jack Blades might have been teaming up to do?
Columbia just decided that they didn't want to do it. They paid us some money to begin with and then I think it was at the point that Portrait was really falling apart. John had the support of the people higher up and I think they gave him the label as kind of a token but I don't think they really wanted him to succeed with it because they kept telling us that this is going out of style. John kept fighting it but when you're one man and fighting against an army of bureaucrats it just doesn't work. We got the plug pulled out and didn't even get started.
You didn't get to the recording stage?
No we started writing but at least we got some money. Here's a chunk of change but we don't want you to do anything! It would have been a hell of a lot of fun though.
You'll go straight into another solo album then?
Yes that's my plan. I can't see my ambitions or goals changing. I'm really focused and loving what I'm doing. I'm really enjoying playing the music live. I got people in my band that are younger and that are excited about touring. The excitement is contagious. It's an adventure again.
What else is going on, are you looking forward to other stuff?
No that's all I'm doing. I've got a lovely woman in my life that's my best friend and my life is really good and full right now. People always say that you're younger years are your glory days but every year my life just gets better and better. I'm so happy and content.
What is your favorite Great White record over the years looking back?
My favorite one is the last one 'You Can't Get There From Here'.
Yep. There were some great songs written over the years but my favourite song for song album was that one. I just love that record. It was fun to make and there was a lot less pressure making that record.
I'm a big fan of 'Once Bitten' and 'Twice Shy'.
Those were good records too. That was a time too when everything was brand new. We finished recording 'Rock Me' and I looked at Mark Kendall and said dude this could be something really cool. It could be a big song and it was.
Absolutely. That's it from me thanks for your time Jack.
I appreciate your time.