Sweden's Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with GREAT WHITE singer Jack Russell. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Metalshrine: What was it like getting the guys back into the studio and working together again?
Russell: You know, it was just like old times. It wasn't really anything that was a big strain or stress or anything that took years in the making. It was like a couple of phone calls and everybody said "Yeah, let's do it!" I think the time was right. We're coming up on our 25th anniversary and it was feeling like it was time for another record. And doing a record with anybody besides these gentlemen just didn't seem to make any sense to me.
Metalshrine: Did everybody bring something to the recording of the album?
Russell: Oh yeah! It may not be so much per se, let's say the drummer walks in and says, "Here's some guitar chords I wrote," but I mean, we all add to the band and make the sound what it is. The primary writers have always been myself and Michael and Mark, to some degree, and that's just the way it's been. But everybody definitely adds their influences and stuff.
Metalshrine: The album sounds good and I think you've come up with a great sound of old and new GREAT WHITE. Was that a thought you had, that you wouldn't try to make a modern, hip record?
Russell: You know, this band has always been that way. We don't really sit there and try to see what's in vogue and listen to the radio and go "Oh, we need to write this! We need to be grunge" or anything. We just write what we like to write and I still like the same kind of music I liked growing up. GREAT WHITE is what GREAT WHITE is! Good, bad, like it or don't like it! It's just a rock and roll band and we've never tried to make anything but that. We just wanna have fun and play the songs I like. If I would go out there and sing rap to make millions of dollars, I would be... like screw it! I would rather work on cars. It's kind of selfish, but music to me... I have to like it first. I'm the one that's got to sing it and if I don't believe in it, what's the fucking point?
Metalshrine: I'm totally fascinated by the '80s and the stuff that happened in L.A. Did you constantly come across each other — bands, I mean — and was it constant partying going on?
Russell: Oh yeah! That will never happen again. That era is something we unfortunately never will see again. If you missed it, you're fucked. You could walk down Sunset Boulevard or Santa Monica Boulevard any week night and there were thousands of people. Just walking around, putting their flyers up and we were hanging out with MÖTLEY CRÜE and RATT and DOKKEN and you could see VAN HALEN any day of the week. It was just, we were all friends and we were just partying together, hanging out together and playing together. I remember when Stephen Pearcy (RATT) came up to me "Hey man, check this out! Here's the new RATT logo, what do you think?" and I went "Yeah, that's pretty cool!" It was a lot of camaraderie and the scene was like electric. You could feel something was gonna happen. You didn't know what or when, but you just knew something was gonna explode and then all of a sudden it did, man. Bands were just getting signed right and left and the music got fucking huge! Rock and roll was as big as it is ever gonna be. You had bands selling a million records and going off playing arenas and it was sold out every night. Now you've got guys that sell three or four million albums and they can't do a club tour! You know, rock and roll will never ever be that huge and I'm so glad that we were able to see that and be a part of it.
Metalshrine: There's still a lot of interest in the bands that started out in the 80's and you have Rocklahoma in the U.S. People seem to be really into it.
Russell: Well, here's the thing. You can't deny a whole generation! You can't say every bit of music was shit just because it's from the '80s. There were a lot of amazing musicians and sure, of course, like anything else the more it gets popular everybody's gotta have their version of it. So pretty soon it gets to be diluted and it's like a carbon copy. The more you copy it, the less clear it becomes. So towards the end of the '80s you had bands like (covering his mouth, coughing) DANGER DANGER, that look really good on TV but they had no substance and musically didn't hold up. So consequently they may have sold a bunch of records, but when it came down to be playing on the radio it was like "What's this crap? It sounds like that crap that sounds like that crap which sounds like that good stuff!" It happens every year because the record companies get greedy. There can't be just one LED ZEPPELIN, there's gotta be twenty LED ZEPPELINs! Things get lost in the shuffle. I think what is happening now is that more bands are starting to discover this music again and kind of put their spin on it. I'm not saying rock and roll's gonna come back. It's not! It will never ever come back to what it was in the '80s. The world's in a different place. The '80s was more of a carefree, hedonistic, celebratory, wonderful time of life. Parts of that can come back. Musically, I think people are starting to discover "Hey, you know what? There was some good stuff then!" and the people that were coming to our shows, they've had kids and their kids are growing up so they come out to the shows. The neat thing about it for me is, instead of just seeing that one group of fans, we're seeing one, two, three generations. I've seen eleven-year-old kids out there singing the lyrics to freaking our first album. "How in the hell? You weren't even a sperm when I wrote that!" They're just picking it up from their parents or their sisters and brothers and it's cool because there's a number of songs that we have written, at least in my opinion, that are timeless. "That was circa 1987!" Songs like "Save Your Love" that will stand the test of time. I think that's what makes a band like this last, is the honesty and the integrity. The biggest part of GREAT WHITE for me is that the music's honest. Like I said earlier, we're not trying to be something that we're not. We're not gonna be like "Let's write these lyrics and change the world!" Send this big message, you know. "Let's just write about rock and roll and having fun and enjoy ourselves!" That's what I want to hear when I go to a show. I don't want to hear about how bad the world is, politics, vote for this guy. Screw all that! We're not politicians, we're just rock and rollers!
Read the entire interview at Metalshrine.