Jack Russell (Great White)
by: - April 2004
You have been touring for over a year with the proceeds going to the Station Fund. Any updates?
Well you know, there is still a lot of people back there who need a lot of help. Just because it’s been over a year since the tragedy happened, there is still a lot of families in need, and it’d be solid as rock and rollers, and to go a step farther, as human beings to help out our fellow man. So I think it’s important that we all step up and try to do as much as we can.
How long will you keep touring with the proceeds going to the Station Fund? I don’t see an end to this, I really don’t. As long as I’m doing this thing with Great White, I will be donating part of the proceeds to the fund. I think it’s important. You understand, these people who passed away were friends of mine, came to see us every year, bought our albums and helped me to make a living in music. The least we can do is help their families out.
A company in Italy released a CD called House of Burning Love … (interrupted)
(laughing) You know, before you get it out let me tell you what happened. Back in ‘92, we recorded an album that was going to be a follow-up to Recovery, which was a live studio album of cover songs. So we recorded the songs and one of them was the x-track “Burning House of Love.” Umm, about six years ago we sold that record to a label in France. I think what happened is that they licensed it out to this Italian company. Once we got wind of it, we had our lawyers contact them immediately, and said, “look, it’s not cool. You hurt a lot of people’s feelings. What are you thinking about?” so they sent a letter back saying they are so sorry, we had no idea, and they removed the albums from distribution …
You’ve been releasing music for approximately 20 years or so, and you’ve seen a lot of bands come and go. You guys are still around doing your thing. What do you owe that to?
You know I think it’s a love of what we do. You know, and for me that is what it is. Until I don’t love this anymore … it becomes a part when it’s not fun and I’m not happy. But I’m still having fun with this. It’s still a kick in the ass to go play with Mark, and we’ve been doing this for over 25 years. You know I look over and see “that’s Kendall” alright, good luck together … it’s a good feeling. People send us e-mails and say how our music has changed their life you know … it’s really fucking cool.
I remember reading an article back in the probably mid to late ‘80s, in a Hit Parader, talking about what a great singer you are. The line that stuck with me was when you said “because of the way I sing, I can sing forever.” What did you mean by that?
It’s all about warming up, you know. I spend 6 hours before the show, it’s very technical, you know, warming up. And, I warm down after the show. If it wasn’t for my teacher and the knowledge he taught me how to warm it up and warm it down, I couldn’t sing two nights in a row. You just can’t go out there and sing cold every night, you know? It’s like a runner, you know? You are not going to go out there and running a fucking marathon without stretching your legs out. It’s a muscle and you have to take care of it. And, there are certain techniques that you can learn … I learned those and I’m so regimented in my system … I’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years. You think I’m not sick of my fucking warm-up tapes? Hey, here we go (sarcastic vocal exercises) (laughter).
If you could go back in time to the Jack Russell who just laid down the vocals for “On Your Knees,” and you played some tracks from your newest solo CD, songs like “The Best is Yet to Come” or “For You,” how do you think Jack would react to that?
I think he’d be very impressed. I think he’d be like “holy shit, you’ve really grown up!” We were searching for our image and searching for our musical area … we weren’t really sure if we were Judas Priest or Led Zeppelin. “Hey, let’s try this, this sounds pretty cool!” Ok every song sing it like Jack Evil! “Every song?” OK whatever, … as we got older and wrote different kind of music. You know, I think the “Once Bitten …” was where we said “you know what? This is where we need to be musically. Let‘s just stay here and kind of like expand ” It was right, it felt comfortable and it was like “ok, this is our niche.”
Do you plan on doing any more solo Cds in the future?
Ab-so-fucking-lutely! It was so much fun … you know there are two parts to my personality. You know, there is one part that wants to go out and shake his ass and be 21 again, and there is the guy who wants to be 43 years old and go out there and sing love songs, you know? I don’t have to necessarily do one or the other … why can’t I have my cake and eat it too? I can do whatever the hell I want, you know?
In a recent interview with Maddog Rock Radio, you said that you and Mark Kendall were thinking about a new studio release, which is great news for your fans, and you also said something about “getting with the original members …”
We may do that … I talked, I spoke with Michael, we threw that around a bit, and thought that sounds like a cool idea, it’d be fun. I’m pretty positive it’s gonna happen … probably next year.
Is Audie gonna have a …
We talked to some other people, and Audie would not be a person I would want to play with ever again in my life. There were some bridges burned there that I just can’t forgive, and I’m a very forgiving person. I just can’t let that one go. I have to stand up for myself … I can’t let someone talk shit about me and come up to me and say “hey bro!” But we talked to Tony Montana, so you never know what’s gonna happen …
What are your guys tour plans for the summer?
Keeping the benefit thing going, you know. That’s the main focus right now, trying to raise as much money as much awareness for the Station fund as possible. It’s not altogether altruistic … you know, there are kids who lost their parents. There are kids who are gonna need help. For me, it’s a crusade.
Would you be available for one of those package tours. Like Poison usually pulls out some bands from the ‘80s …
It’s possible … if the financials are right, and they willing to help out with the Station Family fund thing. You know, that’s the thing … they weren’t just our fans, they were rock and roll fans. So don’t be so goddam cheap. I’m a little disappointed, I gotta tell ya … there are so many bands that are a lot bigger than Great White, and their t-shirt sales would be bigger in one night … and I’m surprised that they haven’t realized that “hey, those are our fans too, let’s help them out.” I’m trying to guilt ‘em into it, man … don’t be such a bunch of tightwads.
I was going to ask you if you can get away with NOT playing “Once Bitten Twice Shy.”
No, we’d probably get stoned to death if we do. But the cool thing about it is, I refuse to do that song in rehearsal, but every night the audience is there and they make it feel like it’s brand new. So you don’t mind doing it.
What song do you think embodies the Great White sound?
Probably “Rock Me.” That was the one that was cutting edge, that was the one that was “their trip.”
Do you have any plans of running out to do a country album any time soon?
Country album? Uhh, you know what, no, and no rap album either. The only time I rap is at Christmas time.
Do you think you can see Great White at the top of the charts again?
It would be a real fucking fluke if it happened. There is so much more to writing a great song than “having a hit.” I never thought fucking “Once Bitten Twice Shy” was going to be a hit. We thought it was a great album track, it’s a great song for the record, it’ll be great, we’ll do that one and we’ll get on to the real songs. I couldn’t believe it!
If you guys keep doing this, for say, another 20 years …
No, no, it’s 5, 6 years tops, man. I don’t wanna be 50 playing a club for 200 people going “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” (Old man voice) “Hey, I used to remember that song!” I can’t see myself doing that, man. (So on to the solo thing?) I want to retire when I’m young enough to enjoy the rest of my life … where I’m still young enough to get some wood. I don’t want to be like fucking Mr. Viagra guy, you know.
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