Intervju med Jack Blades i Night Ranger!
Jag blev ett fan av Night Ranger när jag inhandlade den då nyss utgivna "Big life" 1987 i Berlin. Sedan dess har jag alltid haft den som en 80-talsfavorit och tycker det är det bästa som bandet någonsin presterat.
Herr Blades har många järn i elden och är just nu aktuell med ett nytt soloalbum och till sommaren spelar Night Ranger på Sweden Rock.
För en tid sedan blev jag uppringd av Jack och fick en kortare pratstudn om allt han just nu håller sig sysselsatt med.
Jack Blades: How are you?
I´m good, how are you?
JB: Good. Who´s this?
This is Niclas from Stockholm, Sweden.
JB: Well hello Niclas! How´s Stockholm, Sweden doing?
Stockholm, Sweden is doing pretty good. It´s Friday evening and the weekend is just around the corner. It´s all good.
JB: Weekends are always good.
True. This album of yours? Are you constantly writing music?
JB: Well, I like to keep busy. I´m kinda lucky in the fact that I can just keep writing and recording and producing and playing and singing and dancing and jumping. I like doing it all, so I´m pretty happy and excited about the “Rock and roll ride” record.
When you write an album like this, do you start off with a fresh plate or do you use ideas that you´ve kept in store over the years?
JB: Well, it depends. Sometimes it´s a song that I liked but never fully finished or ideas that I had, but never took it to the end and that kind of thing. In that respect it´s kinda always fresh and new to me. I can have good ideas in the back of my head and sometimes I pull that out and write it. Sometimes I´ll write a song with a friend that didn´t seem to be… we didn´t use it as a Night Ranger song and maybe it´s more me than Night Ranger and that´s kinda how it works.
Right. When you write, do you specifically think that this might be a Night Ranger song and that might be a Jack Blades solo song?
JB: It depends. A lot of the time I just create and write a song just to, you know, write a song and not knowing where that song is gonna go and when it´s finished, you look at it and go “Ok, where could this song fit?”. A lot of times it fits with Night Ranger, a lot of times it fits with my personal stuff and sometimes for another artist. That´s how it works.
A song like “Back in the game”? I´ve seen the video and read about it and there´s a bit of a patriotic feel to it. Did you start out with the intention of writing a song like that or did it just happen?
JB: No. Actually, the song was written and then I came up with the idea for the video. I always wanted to make a war movie. (laughs) Had you seen the video?
Yes I have.
JB: Ok, good. Well, I always wanted to do that and that´s my son Colin who´s the star in it.
JB: He´s the one that dies and gets killed in the end. (laughs) And I actually co wrote “West Hollywood” with Colin. The chorus in “Back in the game” is myself and Colin and Will Evankovich singing Back, back, back in the game.
Where did you shoot the video? A video like that, did you write the script for it?
JB: I told the video director what I wanted and how I wanted to do it and he kinda pulled it all together and sort of made my idea into a reality. That´s all filmed on the backside of my mountain. That´s my property where I live.
Writing a song like that and then the video with that patriotic feel to it, do you do that knowing that it will probably create some kinda buzz? Especially for the American audience.
JB: Not really. I mean, really what I wanted to do was that I´ve always wanted to sort of a war movie. I always wanted to be in a war movie and that´s about as close as I´ll ever get. (laughs) To be able to do something like that with your solo record, that´s half the fun of having a solo record. That´s really the idea behind that. Patriotic or not patriotic, it´s about anyone fighting in a war and dying and serving his country, whether it´s Americans or Swedes or Germans or whatever. You need to honor freedom and stuff like that. In fact, the medals that are in the video and also the original telegram, were my mother´s first husband who was killed in WWII. These are in the family and I have always wanted to do something with them. That´s actually on my wall in my studio and these have been in our family since my mother´s husband was killed in 1944. Those were his medals and he was killed going into Germany.
JB: It´s interesting, because if she hadn´t have to deal with all that pain, I wouldn´t have existed because she met my father like three years later and then I was born. And just thinking that if he hadn´t been killed, I never would´ve been born. It´s funny how life is.
Sure is. The band playing in the video, are those the same guys that are on the album?
JB: Yeah, that´s Will Evankovich playing guitar and actually Joel Hoekstra, the guitarist from Night Ranger, did the solo on “Back in the game” and it´s our keyboard player from Night Ranger there, Eric Levy and the drummer on the record was Brian Tichy who plays with Whitesnake, but that´s actually Anthony Focx (in the video) who engineers and does all the work with Aerosmith and everything. He´s a good friend of mine and he mixed the record and he used to be the drummer for Alice Cooper back in the late 80´s, early 90´s. He´s a real buddy of mine so I had him do the video.
Are you gonna do any touring with this line up?
JB: I´d like to. I just have to figure out how I can fit it in with the Night Ranger schedule and everything we´re doing, but yeah, I would like to.
I was a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to Night Ranger. I got into the band around 1987 and I was in Berlin with my school and I picked up “Big life”.
“Big life” and KISS “ALIVE II” and I was instantly hooked and that record has meant so much to me and it´s always been my absolute favorite Night Ranger album, but I always get the feeling that it´s kinda overlooked. People usually talk about “Seven wishes” and “Dawn patrol”. That is just such a great album.
JB: Well, thank you! I appreciate that. “The secret of my success”, “Big life”, there´s a lot of good songs on that record, but people focus on the records with the biggest hits like “Dawn patrol” with “Don´t tell me you love me” and “Sing me away”. “Midnight madness” with “(You can still) rock in America” and “Sister Christian” and of course “Seven wishes” with “Goodbye”, “Sentimental street” and “Four in the morning”. It´s nice that people kinda think about all our records. I do like that “Big life” record also.
What was it like working with David Foster?
JB: David´s great! David´s a musicians musician. He relates to everything and he´s just a great guy. He´s a friend of mine and I´ve been with him a lot since then. He´s a good guy. He´s so talented.
And you worked with Robin Zander this time around.
JB: Yeah, on “Anything for you”. Robin flew into California and pulled up to my house in this old stretch limo, hopped out and for about four hours. It was the most creative four hours I´ve ever spent in my life. It was unbelievable. Robin is so talented and he´s so amazing and then all of a sudden he turned around and hopped into the limo and off he went. I was like “Wow, what happened?”. We wrote the song “Anything for you” and we wrote two other songs and we did all this other stuff. He sang on the chorus for “Anything for you” and just the whole thing. It was just fantastic. I´m really proud of that track.
A guy like that, is he in your phone book or do you go through management?
JB: No, he´s a friend of mine. I know Robin and Rick pretty well. I´ve played shows with them and I´ve known those guys for 20 years. Night Ranger toured with Cheap Trick back in 1985 back on our “Seven wishes” tour. They were the special guest for Night Ranger, so I´ve known them for a very long time. He lives in Florida so whenever I´m down in Florida, he comes to the shows and we hang out and whenever he´s out west, we get together and do things. It´s pretty neat.
Cool! All the other stuff you´re doing then? Are you working on a new Shaw/Blades album?
JB: Yes, in fact Tommy Shaw is showing up to my house on Tuesday or actually Monday night.
We´re about half way through the new record. I´m pretty psyched.
When is that coming out?
JB: Well, I have to release at least one or two records a year. (laughs) You gotta keep going, man!
What about Damn Yankees? Any plans on doing anything at all?
JB: Well, there´s some talk of doing some things and I hope it comes to fruition because I love the Damn Yankees. Damn Yankees is a great band! It´s such a fun band and a great musical experience and a great musical journey and I would hope that something comes about it.
What about Ted Nugent then? Are you producing anything?
JB: Well, I produced his last album “Love grenade” or co produced it, up here at the Ranch. Ted and I are great friends and we talk on the phone all the time. Ted is going out on tour this summer and I think he´s gonna do some shows with REO Speedwagon and Styx and we might come out and do a few of those shows with him to do a little Damn Yankees action.
JB: I think we´re gonna play Sweden Rock?
Yes you are.
JB: I´m excited about that.
Yeah, that is actually a really cool festival.
JB: Fun concerts, right?
Yeah it is.
JB: Are you gonna be there?
Hopefully I am. I´ve been there several years and I´ve met a lot of cool rock and rollers there. It´s a blast and a good mix of old and new stuff.
Are you working on anything else? Any soundtracks?
JB: Right now I´m staying busy and focusing on this record. Neal Schon and I… I wrote a bunch of lyrics with Neal for one of his solo records that he´s mixing right now. Neal and I are pals and do a lot of stuff together, so I did that and then of course the Shaw/Blades record that´s gonna be out. I´m keeping pretty busy.
Looking back on the whole scene in LA in the 80´s, what would you say was the most fun? I was a teenager back then and I was never in LA. It seems like a really different place from a different planet.
JB: You know, it was just like that. Everything you read about it, that´s the way it was and then more. It was just so much fun. We´d be recording an album like “Big life” and then we´d go out to the Rainbow on Sunset and hook up with Vince Neil and Tommy Lee and they´d come down to our studio and sing on our record and we would go over and sing on these peoples records and we´d run around and do this and run around and do that. It was just so much fun. It was just one big party and pretty crazy back then. Everything you read about that, it really was that way.
Sounds awesome! Thank you so much Jack.
JB: Thank you! I haven´t been to Sweden in years so I´m really excited about it. I don´t know who´s more excited, the people over there or me? See you in a few months!