In Conversation With Jack Russell

Interview
Jack Russell
Jack Russell’s Great White, Solo
January 2017
By: Joseph Suto

 
Jack Russell’s Great White will finally be releasing their debut entitled He Saw It Comin’. This will be Russell’s first album since 2009’s Rising. Following the split from the original Great White, Russell went to work on forming his own band with guitarists Robby Lochner and former Great White bassist Tony Montana. Rounding out the line-up is drummer Dicki Fliszar and its newest member bassist Dan McNay. We had the opportunity to talk to Jack Russell and find out about the new album. We also talked about the fantastic tribute album Great Zeppelin. Grab a cup of coffee sit back and enjoy!

Rock Show Critique: It’s been a long time coming. Finally the new record is coming out. Tell us about He Saw It Comin’?

Jack Russell: I’ll say it’s a very eclectic record. I think there’s something for everybody. It’s an experience. It’s one of those records where it’s meant to be played from start to finish not just skip around on. There’s a reason for the sequencing. I think it’s a very powerful record. For me it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. To me it’s an amazing album. I’m really, really proud of it. It’s got some rock stuff, the blues here, some songs that will tug on your heartstrings. It’s a long time in the making. Like you said it was a long time coming. When I finally put together the band I was happy with, I finally got that last guy. Then I said let’s make a record. I had to go through all that first.

RSC: “Sign Of The Times”, “Don’t Let Me Go”, the title cut are just a few tracks that reach out and grab you. Do you have a personal favorite? Also how did “Godspeed” come about?

JR: Yeah no kidding. Your first question let’s go with “Sign Of The Times” the inspiration behind that I was sitting at the airport. I was waiting for a plane to board and I’m looking around and every person around had a cell phone in their hand, including my band. Wow I should be doing this. This is just not what I do. Whatever happened to the art of conversation? Then I looked across from me and there’s a husband and wife and they were texting each other. It’s just a sign of the times. This is something I wanted to write about. That’s how it started. I miss things before the internet. I miss not being able to call somebody until you get home. There was something about that. There was a day we managed to get through without having cell phones. Now you think how can I possibly do that? Technology is great. I think we’re going a little too fast and the world needs to slow down a little bit and enjoy.
Godspeed wow. We wrote the song on guitar. Robby and I wrote the lyrics and melody. When we got finished it I was looking to do a straight ahead “Save Your Love” type of song. And he goes “I want to make this a cappella with all voices.” I go “your kidding me?” He said “naw it will sound great”. I said “go ahead give it a shot let’s see what you come up with.” About a month later he said “hey man I finished that song.” I said “what song?” He said “Godspeed”, I said “your kidding me right?” I gotta hear this. He puts it on and the minute he put it on I was laughing so hard because it was so cool. I went “I can’t believe you did this. That is so amazing.” I said “everything’s vocals except the drums right?” He said “No that’s Dicki doing the beat box.” I’ve received so many comments on that song. I’m really proud of that one. It just shows the musicianship of my guitarist, he’s amazing. Not only is he a good player but he’s a very good arranger.

RSC: How did you go about recording and producing the album?

JR: Robby and I produced it. We recorded it at his home studio and we took it elsewhere to have it mixed. It took a while because we were playing shows. We were doing a lot of shows in between. We started recording in June. It took us about 3 months total to finish the record.

RSC: What’s your plan on touring for the album?

JR: As many shows as we can do. Our agent’s working on that right now. It’s hard right now this time of the year as you know to do shows. We just got back from Chicago last week and it was like 14 below and you forget how hard it is to tour in the winter. We usually start touring April or May. We’ll do anything right now because I just want to get out and play. The release date is January 27 which took me by surprise. Seems kind of odd, that’s what the deal was. You play the hand your dealt.

RSC: You will be playing the M3 Festival as well?

JR: Yeah, which will be fun. I love playing that show, it’s a great gig. We’ll get to see a lot of our old friends. There are a lot of friends I know in the music business. You’d think we’d be hanging out at home. We always see each other on the road because nobody’s at home at the same time. When we are at home we want to hang out with our old ladies you know. So yeah 1999 Can’t Get There From Here that’s one of my favorite albums. I love that record.

RSC: There was a great track on there called “Hey Mister”. Was that meant to be on your solo album?

JR: That was actually written for my solo album but I decided to give it to the band.

RSC: I was wondering because the song, the theme seemed to fit the cover of the Shelter Me album.

JR: Exactly. It was supposed to go on that album. You hit it right on the head. Like you said the idea for the cover, it screamed for that. I brought it down to the band because I had it already written. I brought it down to see if they could pull it off. They really did a good job. I wanted to use it on my solo album. I thought let’s use it for the band’s album. We put it on there and that song came out really good. That song for me really tugs on your heartstrings. I see so many homeless people now days. There’s people who want to be on the streets and panhandle. They don’t want to work. Then you got your other kind of guys. A lot of us in America are a month or one paycheck away from being on the street. It’s so sad but it’s true. It seems like a guy loses his job and if he has any savings and blows through that and if he hasn’t found another job yet, he’s out on the street. Everyone out there is not necessarily a bum. There are a lot of hard working people out there that have fallen on hard times.

RSC: On He Saw It Comin’, were all the songs written recently?

JR: Actually no, the first thing was “Don’t Let Me Go” a song Robby and I started messing around with when we first got together five years ago. We just wanted to see what his writing abilities were. So we just sat down one day and just started to throw some ideas around. He played this whole riff I said that’s cool. I said keep that in your can present that again. We said during the writing process that was one we wanted to work on. I love the way it came out. It reminds me if I wanted to have a son that was kind of like “D’yer Ma’ker” from Zeppelin. It has that same flavor.

RSC: What was the inspiration that resulted in the new album?

JR: Everything I write about for the most part is autobiographical. I write about my life and experiences. The inspiration. It’s almost like going to therapy when I make a record. The audience is my psychiatrist. Like the song “My Addiction” that is where I’ve been for most of my life. I’ll always have to deal with that. I have to keep an eye out especially if I take Another Russell ride. I’m at the point now where my drinking got so bad that I would be five days just constantly drinking. I’d drink so fast. I’d have like ten drinks in twenty minutes. One minute I’d be sober and the next I’d be falling off the barstool. It almost killed me. I’m at the point now where I’m very weary of the tricks used to play on you to get you to drink. The whole album like I said just shows where I’m at emotionally.

Photo from one of The Great Zeppelin shows. Credit Christin Tank.

RSC: Back in 1996 you did a series of shows that featured Led Zeppelin material. Of course Great Zeppelin came from that. What do you remember looking back and how do you perceive it now?

JR: We were just ending a tour. We were coming home and I was thinking about what success we had with “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” from Unplugged on MTV. We were like the second band to ever do unplugged if I remember. We had a lot of success with that. They played it in regular rotation on MTV. They actually featured it in a documentary about Led Zeppelin. When we played it live people just went nuts. I thought what if we do a whole show of nothing but Zeppelin. What if we record it just so we’ll have it? Everyone goes yeah. Everyone take a piece of paper and write down what songs you want to play and keep it to about 16. There’s only so many songs you can do. We put our papers together. We got the set together. We had booked the shows and we started touring again when we got back we had four days to rehearse. We rehearsed for four hours a night for four days. I was just praying it was gonna come off. The guys did really well. There was only one song that didn’t make the record and that was “Nobody’s Fault But MIne”, my drummer Audie he messed it up on all three nights. So that one didn’t make it. There’s a mistake in “When The Levee Breaks” but the band played through it. It sat in the can for a long time. The idea behind it was to keep it for ourselves. At one point in said “Let me hear this thing”. I had my studio that I bought from Don Dokken and we put it on the tape machine and listened back to it. I was like wow this is really good. Let me see if I could get somebody to put this out. I go to Cleopatra we came to an understanding and they released the record. I love hearing it. Oddly enough I came in the studio one day when Michael was mixing it and “No Quarter” was playing. I’m thinking so “Your listening to the Song Remains The Same right?” He said “No that’s you singing”. I fooled myself. There’s another story that goes along with that was my ex-fiancé who was Tommy Aldridge’s ex-wife. She was at a dinner that Robert Plant had invited the guys from Whitesnake to all except for David Coverdale. So he can bash on Coverdale for ripping him off. He goes that Jack Russell guy he sounds more like me than I do. I didn’t even know that he was aware of my existence. He was one of my heroes. I’m thinking about doing it again with this band.

RSC: Were any of those classic New Year’s Eve shows ever recorded and if so will they ever see the light of day?

JR: You know we had a recording of it and it was actually pretty good. It wasn’t good enough to release. We did the Galaxy Theatre where we’d do two sets. We did the first one semi-acoustic. We’d open up with “Love Lies Bleeding”, we did “Old Man”, “Little Help From My Friends” and “Seasons Of Wither” by Aerosmith. Then we took a break and came back and just did all Great White stuff, our regular show with a couple of extra tunes that we rarely played. That was fun because we got to go out there and do whatever we wanted. There were no time restraints. We had a blast. I’m glad you’re bringing this stuff up because it’s making me think about doing different kinds of shows.

Stay tuned for a review of He Saw it Comin’

Jack’s official site: www.jackrussellsgreatwhite.com

Official Facebook: Facebook Jack Russell

Official Twitter: @JacksGreatWhite

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About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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