Jack Blades Interview (Night Ranger) Interview

  With a career spanning over three decades, there isn’t much in the music industry that Jack Blades hasn’t accomplished. Although he is best known for his role as the frontman in Night Ranger and the supergroup Damn Yankees, Jack is also a successful songwriter, producer, and even did a stint on Broadway. I had the rare opportunity to speak with Jack and talk about his newest solo release, “Rock and Roll Ride,” as well as his future endeavors.

KE: You’ve recently released your latest solo effort, “Rock and Roll Ride.” Considering your thirty year career in music, the title seems a perfect fit. Was that intentional on your part? A kind of statement on where you’ve been and where you’re going?

JB: Yeah, well I had this whole idea of like, it’s been a long, great rock and roll ride. I kind of wrote the song and thought that would be a great title for the album. And then I had the idea to put all my laminates and backstage passes that I’ve, over the years, thrown in the bottom drawer in my closet and decided to put all those things sort of on the cover of the album. And it sort of became this whole, it’s all about a rock and roll ride. Once I did that, I kind of figured songs, I kind of write the songs a little bit, you know, autobiographical, which is what the album has turned out to be.

KE: Well, it’s a fantastic record. I thought of it as a great cruising album, something where you just want to put the top down on the car and crank up the radio.

JB: I love that! Then I accomplished my goal Kris.

KE: The sound is timeless and classic yet also fresh and up to date. How are you able to keep the creative juices flowing and come up with new ideas?

JB: You know what I think, I’m at the point where I just want to, where I don’t have to prove anything anymore. You know what I mean? I feel like that I’ve been in this business long enough and written enough songs to where like man I’m just gonna do what I love to do, sing the way I love to sing, play the way I love to play and rock the way I love to rock. And that’s kind of what’s come out of this record. That’s how this record ended up and it is what it is. And I’m just gonna keep going because it’s interesting. I have this theory that when you stop creating that’s when you sort of like, I don’t care whether you’re an artist or a writer, whatever you do. When you stop creating that’s when you like shrivel up and sort of die inside. So I’m just gonna keep creating until somebody says I can’t anymore. And then when they say I can’t, I’m gonna keep doing it anyway.

KE: You’ve written so many great songs over the years for yourself, of course for Night Ranger, and a lot of other amazing artists. Is it more difficult to write songs for yourself or for other artists?

JB: Well, it’s sort of a kind of a separate thing you know. When I’m writing songs for other artists, I kind of like get my head space into like I’m in their band. I’ll be like with Alice Cooper and I’ll think like I’m in his band. It’s kind of almost role playing. You know what I mean. It’s really kind of a thing where you just go places where you normally wouldn’t go with your own music or with your own band’s music. When I write songs for myself, I kind of I feel a sense of freedom that I can sort of like do, you know, whatever I want to do really and not have to. There’s no like, there’s no committee. You know when you write songs and you’re in a band it’s like you want everybody to like what your putting out so everybody’s got to agree on everything. Not that it’s difficult in Night Ranger because we’ve all played together for so long that we’re pretty simpatico on what we like. And you know we’ll just go, that’s not right. Let’s do another, no that’s not quite right. It doesn’t matter. There’s no big egos when we get together and write songs. But with a solo record, I’m able to, especially with “Rock and Roll Ride,” I’m able to take, you know, people on a ride. I mean this album is full of all the influences that have been in my life. That there’s you know, you can feel some stuff like, I was born and raised in southern California so there’s definitely some sort of like Eagles/Beach Boys southern California kind of sound. I mean the way Tom Petty has, even though he’s from Gainesville, Florida, he’s been out west and kind of went with that sound on his later records and stuff. Then it’s straight ahead British Rock like just totally in the sixties, early seventies just totally into Deep Purple, Zeppelin, and you know Humble Pie, Thin Lizzy. You know there’s pretty much those influences and then there’s when I moved to San Francisco at 25. You know, I was deep into Sly and the Family Stone and that sort of funky soulfulness and there’s that in the whole thing. So it’s kind of you know fun to be able to do a solo record and create. The idea of this record is to just go put the record on and just like you said. Just get in the car and drive man, listen to the whole thing for about 45, 50 minutes and just enjoy the ride.

KE: You had a video premiere on the Hannity show for the first single, “Back in the Game.” The video has a real patriotic message. Is that cause one of your passions, something you feel strongly about?

JB: Well, yeah, I mean the telegram that’s in that video has always been in my house and actually up on the wall in my studio. That’s the actual telegram that was sent to my mother that she received the day after Christmas Day in 1944 from the government informing her that her husband had been killed in action back in ’44 in World War II. And she always kept that and the medals that are in the video also were his war medals. He was a war hero. And so he gave his life, he gave his last full measure to freedom throughout the world. And I always wanted to do something to sort of acknowledge the troops that have done the same. And so I went in and made a little mini war movie. I’ve always wanted to be a, I’ve always wanted to make a World War II movie. I had my son Colin, he’s in there. He’s the one in the video. He’s starring in it so and it was just like, you know, Saving Private Blades (laughter). I thought it was really good and you know I love the fact that everybody is digging it. It’s like man there’s over ten thousand views on You Tube and it just came out so tell everybody to go look at it.

KE: I certainly will, thank you for sharing that with us. You’ve got a lot of collaborators, of course your Night Ranger bandmates, helping you out on this solo record. I know Robin Zander from Cheap Trick is on one of the tracks, “Anything For You.” How did that all come about and do you have any plans to work with him in the future?

JB: Oh man I love it. You know, Robin is like so uber-talented. It’s frightening how talented he is. I tell you he’s a great guy and a good friend of mine. I called him and said I’m doing a solo record, is there any chance of you getting out here and let’s do a song together. And they were playing a show I think. Cheap Trick was playing a show on the west coast so he showed up here at my studio in this big, old, long, black stretch limousine. And he’s like you know, hey. He gets out of the car and he’s completely in white and it’s like wow! I mean it was awesome. And then we come in and I had the music for the song “Anything For You” and he’s like, he’s like, I love it man and all of a sudden he just started singing (Jack imitates Robin singing). “I will surrender, whatever it will” – and I was like, fuck. It was like, it just came out of his mouth. It was like waaaaaaaaaaaaah, like the parting of the Red Sea right, the skies broke and everything like that. And so we just nailed that song and did two other songs and then four hours later he hopped into the big, old, long, black stretch limousine and the thing drives away. And Will and I are standing there, Will Evankovich who did the record with me, he engineered it and plays acoustic on it. He plays in Shaw/Blades with me. Will and I looked like “what the hell happened?” It was like the most creative four hours that I ever spent in my life. It was unbelievable.

KE: Is there anybody you would like to collaborate with in the future?

JB: Oh man there’s so many people that I’d love to. And I always love to collaborate with like Tom Petty. I think he’s brilliant and I’d love to do something with Clapton. I’d love to do some more stuff with Ozzy. Ozzy’s so much fun to write and record with. You know it’s crazy all the time, he’s a blast.

KE: I know that you will be hitting the road and doing some shows with Night Ranger. Any plans for solo dates right now?

JB: You know I’d love to, trying to figure that out right now if it fits into the schedule. I’d like to play some of these songs live. I think it would be really fun. I think it would be fun to grab my buddy, Brian Tichy that, you know, plays drums on some of the stuff and grab Will and myself and maybe just go out and do some shows. Because I think these songs would be really cool live. It would be a shame if they never were played live.

KE: Well, we would love to see it if you can make it happen.

JB: We’ll have to bring it to North Carolina then.

KE: Absolutely, that would be great.

JB: Yeah! We’re doing a show down in Myrtle Beach, in South Carolina. I think in May.

KE: Well, any excuse to hop in the car and drive down to the beach works for me.

JB: (Laughing) Yeah, any excuse to go to the beach right?

KE: You’ve done so many different things in the music industry, singer, songwriter, bassist, producer, your involvement with Rock of Ages, the musical. Is there anything you haven’t done in the industry that you would just love to try?

JB: Yeah, you know that’s true. I just love music. I love everything that I’ve done. I’d love to be on a tv show. I think that would be a fun thing to do. I love the fact that Billy Gibbons is on “Bones.” I think that would be great to get on some like show and have a recurring role or something like that. Play myself or play somebody else. Play you. (Laughter) I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I think it would be really, really fun.

KE: Well, we’ll have to petition some of the networks.

JB: Yeah, there you go.

KE: I know Styx and Ted Nugent are touring this summer which brings up the inevitable question. Any possibility of a Damn Yankees tour?

JB: Yeah, I think it would be really fun to do a Damn Yankees, you know some shows, some music. Some Damn Yankees music. I think that would be really fun. It would be great for the fans. I think the fans would really like it because they’ve been asking for it for many years. And I think that it would be a good time to do something like that.

KE: Yes, we would. What about Shaw/Blades? Are you and Tommy working on a follow up to “Influence?”

JB: Yeah, we’re about half way through “Influence 2.” And we’re sort of like, you know, closing in on the end of it. Tommy was up here about two weeks ago working on it. I was in L.A. at his place about a month ago and so, in between what we’re doing and everything like that, we’re fitting it in and it’s shaping up. I think people, I think the fans are really excited. They’re gonna love it.

KE: You’ve done so many things and accomplished so much. I’ve got one more question for you Jack and it’s gonna be a total cliché. There are so many bands trying to make it. Would you share with them “The Secret of ‘Your’ Success?”

JB: Ha, ha. Yeah, I’ll throw another one right back at you. Don’t give up! Rise and shine. Let me just quote about three songs off my new record. (Laughter) Sort of my credo. Say you will. It’s like that’s kind of where I’m at. That’s what I’ve always done all my life. And I’m pretty much an open book especially on the “Rock and Roll Ride” record. You can just basically, I mean look at the titles, look at “Back In The Game,” “Rock and Roll Ride.” You know it’s just sort of like “Say You Will,” you know, “Rise and Shine,” all those kind of tracks. “Don’t Give Up,” that’s where it’s at man. That’s where it is. You just keep pluggin’ away. Persistence pays off. It always did for me and it always did for Night Ranger. And even when you have disappointments. It was like on the inside of the “Rock and Roll Ride” record, in the package, I put certain quotes. You know talking about my career and like one of them was when my band Rubicon broke up in 1979. I thought it was the end of the world, like I’ve wasted all this time. What have I done? It’s the end of the world. But that band had to break up before Night Ranger could be formed. And now here it is, thirty years later, and I’m still rockin’ in America with Night Ranger. So, it’s just you just don’t give up. You keep on going. There will be new Night Ranger music. There will be new rock and roll for everybody.

KE: That’s awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to call in and talk with us here at Backstageaxxess.com.

JB: Thanks!

We would like to thank Carise Yatter from Hired Gun Media for setting up the interview with Jack. For more information on the new CD “Rock N’ Roll Ride” or Jack Blades in general, please go to: Jack Blades.

For More information on Night Ranger, please go to: Night Ranger.