Jeff Kerby of KNAC.COM recently conducted an interview with GREAT WHITE frontman Jack Russell. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
KNAC.COM: Well, you know, people tend to like to take the negative attitude when it comes to someone else's success. In all, how would you characterize the life and career of Jack Russell? Can a whole life really be overshadowed by one misfortunate event?
Russell: "You know what? It was really fun. When you grow up, you always dream about being someone else, like 'I really wanna be Steven Tyler or I wish I was Robert Plant.' Then, when I got older, I was like, 'It's really pretty fuckin' cool being me.' I've had a really great time overall. I mean, obviously, there have been some ups and downs and some horrific tragedy, but I mean, for the most part, this has been my dream since I was a little kid. I always dreamed and knew that I was going to be a rock star. I never thought of anything else — I just knew I was going to be a rock star — I was kind of waiting for it to happen, so it wasn't a really big surprise to me. I would tell my friends, 'I'm gonna make it.' They were like, 'How do you know?' I said, 'I will. I guarantee it.' They would just go, 'Ahh, whatever.' Then pretty soon these are the same guys who are sniffing around looking for tickets when we're playing the Forum. It really has been amazing. Everything I thought it was going to be like when I was a kid…well, it's about a hundredfold better than that. You know, making records and being in the studio and meeting all these cool people. I mean, Steven Tyler became a friend of mine, and this was a cat that when I was twelve years old that I pierced my ear because I saw him on a record with an earring on it. I used to fantasize about meeting these guys and talking to them, and then one day, he's just sitting in the back of my tour bus. I'm thinking, 'This is really cool.' One time, he called me on the phone, and it was at my house while I was gone, and I was so pissed that I missed the call, but I took the tape out of the old style answering machine, and I still have it to this day. 'Hey, Jack, how's it goin' man? Happy birthday!' That is just one of my treasured things. My career in music has mostly been pretty cool. I highly recommend the gig."
KNAC.COM: GREAT WHITE has continued to tour and as you've said, you're still making music, do you still get letters from people that say that maybe you've been an inspiration to them in some way?
Russell: "Yes, it is amazing to me the amount of people who have stuck by this band and have let us know how they feel. It has been a positive experience more often than not. It has also been uplifting for me to know how many people out there actually give a shit. I get emails from people all over the world telling us not to stop or not to quit because our music has changed their life in some way and how GREAT WHITE's music has been positive for them. That really made me think about how important — I don't mean to say how important our music is — but how important it is to some people. The one thing I never felt like I had accomplished in my career was the feeling that I had changed the world in any way. I was talking to my wife about this, and we were reading through these letters and she said, 'Don't you see that you have, Jack?' I was like, 'What are you talking about?' She said, 'You've changed a lot of people's lives here in a positive way through your music, and in fact, you have changed the world to a certain degree.'"
KNAC.COM: If you've changed any one person's individual world, it does sort of validate your work, doesn't it?
Russell: "That's the point, and it's a pretty humbling thing. It's pretty heavy and it's also a lot of responsibility. I take what I do with a grain of seriousness — in the lyrics I write I try to be true to myself, but I try not to preach and tell people how to live their lives. I just try to talk about experiences."
KNAC.COM: Would you consider yourself to me more spiritual as a result of the tragedy?
Russell: "What it has done is reaffirm my spirituality. I've always been a very spiritual person — don't get me wrong; I'm not talking about religion, what I'm talking about is spiritual, and to me it is two different things. This has just brought into perspective for me, it was like, 'This is something you need to be paying attention to, Jack. You're getting away from your spirituality and getting kind of caught up in 'this is how we live our lives. This is what we need. This is how many cars I want. This is how much stuff I need to have in those cars.' It just turns into this 'Gimme, gimme, gimme, want, want, want and try to fill my house up with something cool.' That's not what it's all about. I can walk around in the mountains today or take a walk in the desert and just enjoy a sunrise or sunset or watch an eagle fly over, and that, to me is more of a reward to see something like that. The big rewards in life are your memories. Your whole life you're just stock piling, it's like a bank account, and you're just stock piling this stuff so that when you get older you can replay them and just giggle your fucking ass off."
Read the entire interview at KNAC.COM.