In Conversation With Jack Blades

Jack Blades
Night Ranger
Damn Yankees
By: Joseph Suto

Jack Blades has worn many hats in the wonderful world of music. From his day job in Night Ranger to his other successful endeavors such as Supergroup Damn Yankees along with cohorts Tommy Shaw, Ted Nugent and Michael Cartellone, he is very well respected. He has worked with many successful artists for which he wrote songs or produced. Night Ranger have recently released their latest studio album Don’t Let Up. We had the chance to touch base with Jack about the new album and also look back at some of the things he has done throughout his illustrious music career.

RSC: Don’t Let Up is now out. It had been three years since High Road, how soon after did you start writing for the new album?

Jack Blades: We didn’t start writing for this record until February of 2016. We did it the old-fashioned way. We did it the way we did the last two albums. Brad, Kelly and I get together and just start jamming on songs and we came up with ideas and roll with it and move on to the next one. In March, we went down to Nashville at Kelly’s house and we wrote three or four of those and then came back up to my place with Keri and cut four more. Then finished out the rest of the record. That’s kind of how it was done. Then just started recording, just chomping away at it.

RSC: Which tracks do you highly recommend from Don’t Let Up?

JB: That’s a tough one. I love “Somehow Someway”, “Truth”, and “Nothing Left Of Yesterday”. There’s a lot of good stuff on that record. I really love “Don’t Let Up”, the title track. I think that is a classic kind of a poppy, rockin’ Night Ranger track. Kelly and I had so much fun singing that we keep singing it all the time.

RSC: They say people mellow with age but Don’t Let Up seems to be your heaviest album to date. One listen to the new album and many will ask what did you guys do with the old Night Ranger?

JB: (laughs) Well you know what we wanted to do, this is our 35th anniversary of the release of the Dawn Patrol record. We wanted to make a record that was more like our live show. We are a live band. A good old-fashioned American kick-ass live band. We wanted to make a record that captured that live feeling. Kind of what people have come to expect when they come to see our shows over the years.

RSC: Many of your contemporaries have stopped releasing new music yet you continue to keep busy with all your projects. What inspires you to keep writing for so many years?

JB: I just do it. I enjoy writing I enjoy creating. I got a philosophy if you stop creating that’s when you start dying inside. It’s always good every couple years to say let’s make another record. Let’s start creating new music. I enjoy that, I enjoy playing live, I enjoy recording and I think were gonna keep going until someone says we can’t.

RSC: You produced one of my favorite albums Great White’s Can’t Get There From Here in 1999. How did you land that job and how do you look back at the record now?

JB: I love that record. I’m very proud of that record. The song “Rollin’ Stoned” that I co-wrote with them I thought that was great. John Kalodner had a label going at Sony. John Kalodner of Aerosmith fame, the legendary A&R man and he had me produce that and C.C. Deville’s album Samantha 7. It was a fun thing to do. I enjoyed it. I knew all the guys in Great White. I knew Michael Lardie, in fact Michael played in Night Ranger back in 2001 or 2002 for about five years. So yeah I thought that was a great album. I still listen to that record.

RSC: You also co-wrote “In The Tradition” I believe?

JB: Yes, I like that song too, that and “Rollin’ Stoned”. “In The Tradition” was great, I thought Jack handled that song really really well.

© Ash Newell Photography

RSC: One of my top concerts ever was the Shaw/Blades show you did in Buffalo back in 2007. I think many fans would love to see a show featuring Night Ranger, Styx and Ted Nugent as well as a reunited Damn Yankees. I know it would be hard to do a full tour but has there been any talk of maybe setting aside a weekend and doing one mega show with everyone?

JB: Yeah I don’t see why that wouldn’t be feasible. Do like a five day run or something like that, I think that will be a fun thing. We just have to get the powers that be to figure out how to do it. But yeah I think that would be great. There have been discussions of that before. Night Ranger, Styx, Nugent and then with the Damn Yankees stuff that would definitely be a lot of music for the folks to hear.

RSC: Will there be another Jack Blades solo album or perhaps another Shaw/Blades release in the foreseeable future?

JB: I think so. Tommy and I are sitting on about three quarters of a Shaw/Blades record right now. I don’t know why we don’t just finish it. You know what I mean? A couple of lazy guys. We’re busy doing everything else and when it comes to time off we’re like I don’t want to do that again. We always have a fun time. It would probably take a week of us sitting around the studio to finish the whole album. So I think that would be fun. The Jack Blades solo album who knows. I enjoy making those records. I enjoy grabbing different musicians to play on different parts. It’s all just part of being creative and I really enjoy that. I would hope there would be another one.

RSC: How was the writing process for the first Shaw/Blades album Hallucination?

JB: Well we had finished doing Damn Yankees and we had taken a break from Damn Yankees and just went right into the studio with Warner Brothers, our record company said “Yeah let’s do a record.” Tommy and I did a Shaw/Blades record and we got Don Gehman who did Hootie & The Blowfish as a producer and we had fun and wrote a bunch of songs. That album is a very Americana type record. There’s some great stuff on that record. When Tommy and I played live we worked a lot of stuff off that record. It was really, really fun. “I Stumble In” is a great track. “Blue Continental” I love. Of course “My Hallucination” and (starts humming) “Down That Highway”. Really some great stuff on that record.

At this point we get a surprise visit from Jack’s dog

RSC: Out of all the things you done in the music business what stands out the most for you?

JB: Playing with Ringo was like a chance of a lifetime when we did the VH1 Storytellers Ringo Starr. We did Leno, Letterman and went to England to rehearse in London for two weeks and had just a great time. That was really enjoyable. It was kind of like a gift from God as far as I was concerned because I’m such a big Beatles fan. You get to hear directly from the horses’ mouth, all the stories about the Beatles and everything like that. And actually, just playing with Ringo the drummer. How great is that?

Special thanks to Jack Blades and Jon Freeman

About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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