Zrock exclusive! Great White : Jack Russell Interview
by Jarrod Vrazel : zrock.com
Great White performed in Houston Satuday night to benefit the Station Family Fund. I spoke with Jack via telephone from his home in California to discuss the return of Great White to the concert stage, the tour, and the fans who have supported the band through a very tough time.
Zrock: How was your trip back to home from Texas?
Jack: It was good. I slept all the way and woke up after the plane landed.
Zrock: After the Houston show you have a little break until the weekend.
Jack: Yes, we’re leaving here on Friday and we’re out for twelve days. We have eight or nine shows during that time, then we ll come back and go back out again.
Zrock: How does it feel to be back out on the road?
Jack: It’s good, man. It takes the first couple shows to blow the cobwebs off. After stting around for three months and working in a new guitar player. But other than that, it’s great. It feels good to be out singing again.
Zrock: I was at the show in Houston Saturday night. It was an excellent set and it sounded really good. It was really good to see you guys back on stage.
Jack: Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. It’s great to be back there. Obviously you know what a hell of a year it’s been.
Zrock: It’s definitely a tough situation, but I think you’ve taken a positive approach on it.
Jack: It was definitely an inspiration for me in my life. For one thing its taught me a huge lesson: how fragile life is, and as crazy as this may sound, you should try to live each day as if it’s your last one, because you never know when someone’s going to pull the plug on you. I appreciate life a lot more than I had. I don’t take things for granted like I used to. I’m just trying to be the best person I can be to enhance my life and also enhance the lives of those around me.
Zrock: Yes, doing the best you will have in impact. You’re already having an impact with the fundraisers.
Jack:It’s important. You’ve got to look at it like this: These are people who enabled me to make a living for twenty years by buying the records and going to the shows. Now it’s our turn to help their families out. I just think it’s the right thing to do. Nothing other than that. It’s simply what I feel is the right thing to do. Whether other people see it that way or not doesn’t really matter to me.
Zrock: Feedback I’ve seen on several websites indicate that some people are very passionate in support of the tour and your actions, while others are very negative. But when it comes down to it, it’s what you feel is the right thing to do that matters.
Jack: Exactly. Not everybody is going to get it. Some people like eggs for breakfast; some people don’t. Not everyone has always liked Great White, and some people never will. To them, no matter what we do will be the wrong thing. The important thing is we do what we feel is right in our hearts and to help as many people as we can. If people don’t want our help, they don’t need to take it. We ll just keep working for the people that do.
Zrock: It was a nice evening hearing some of those tunes live again. I remember seeing the ’double Header tour with Tesla in Austin.
Jack: Tesla, right, 89.
Zrock: The commercials for the show said The music of the people rocks City Coliseum. The people appreciated seeing true musicians on stage.
Jack: Those were fun times. People say ’don’t you miss those days? Yes, I miss them, but I’m just glad I was there to experience them. Some people never get that opportunity. The 80’s will never come back again. I’m glad that we were there to experience it, because nothing like that will ever happen again. The hedonism was all about celebrating life. I think later on in the 90’s music for me got so serious and somewhere else. I think Jagger said it best: It’s only rock n roll, but I like it.
Zrock: And who can forget the Great-White-Snake Tour . Those were good times and it was great entertainment.
Jack: Yes, that’s what it was. Entertainment. When you start taking yourself too seriously, then it becomes not entertainment. Those were great times, but you need to take it for what value it is. Its just music it’s just having a good time. It’s all about forgetting your problems for a little while. We’ve all got problems. When we get on stage for an hour and a half our two hours, you can forget about them for a while. The whole thing is escapism
Zrock: I admire your courage to step back on stage and be there for the fans.
Jack: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Zrock: Often in life in general, when people hit hard times, they tend to fade away and never be heard from again.
Jack: That’s the thing you got to keep swinging. For a while there, trust me, this was a bitter pill to swallow. It’s definitely a hard horse to get back on. But there were literally tens of thousands of emails and letters from our fans all over the world, supporting us, supporting the tour, and telling me their story of how our music has affected their lives in positive ways. And I thought, there’s got to be a way. I can’t quit doing this. There are a lot of people counting on me. But it’s not about me. It’s bigger than me. It was so nice to hear from the people. It made me feel that our music has made a difference in people’s lives and we need to keep doing this. Now we can do something that’s not totally altruistic but we’re doing something to help other people. It’s not just about us. We’re out there on the road performing and we know that the money is going to some people that need it. That makes us feel really good.
Zrock: Especially since you’re closing in on a quarter of a million dollars raised and this is only just the beginning.
Jack: It’s been so amazing. The donations from rock fans. Our fans are basically blue collar people they’re hard working people. You don’t see Liz Taylor and Donald Trump sitting on the front row at a Great White show. These people are digging deep and they’re giving a lot of money. It seems like the people who can afford to give the least give the most. People can say what they want about rock n roll fans, but I tell you what, our fans are the most compassionate wonderful people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. They’ve really restored my faith in humanity over the last year. They really have. There is a lot of good in the world; you just have to look for it.
Zrock: If you look for it in the right places, you will find it, and it will find you.
Jack: For me, it’s I’ve come to an I hate to use the word epiphany, but it’s applicable right here this was such a huge event in my life. Not a positive one, but a huge event, and I had to struggle to discover what lessons can I learn from this. Things that were important to me a year ago aren’t really important to me anymore. All the materialistic crap that you put so much stake in doesn’t really mean anything. A car is just a car and a house is just a house. It’s all about family and friends and how many people’s lives you can touch and how you impact their lives. It’s so important that we try to impact each other lives in a positive way. I think that is the karma of the world. If people just went out and were righteous to each other, what a good place this world would be. More often than not, people are, but there are always a few negative people. If you go back and quote the Bible, the whole ’do onto others thing it all makes so much sense to me. If people would just live like that, what a great place this would be.
Zrock: You would wake up everyday with a big smile on your face.
Jack: Absolutely. It would be like Christmas every day. That’s the wonderful thing about music the emotions can take you anywhere you want to go. Any emotion that you want, there’s always a song that will fit that feeling.
Zrock: Yes, you can put Great White’s Greatest Hits in a CD player, hit mix and go through a wide variety of emotions, from jamming on Rock Me to enjoying The Angel Song or Save Your Love that is true music.
Jack: Thanks. It’s been a privilege to be in this band and to be with the people I’ve been with. To play for our fans and to be so close to our fans over the last year. I’ve really gotten to know a lot of people on a lot of different levels. They’ve really impressed me. They’re wonderful people. And to know how your music has affected someone’s life in a positive way is really a gift. That’s the true gift of music for me.
Zrock: What plans do you have after the dates that have been announced?
Jack: We ll be playing the rest of the year, at least through October, then we may take a little time off and hopefully get a CD out. It would be nice to get another record under our belts. It’s about time it’s been since 99. Also I’m going to get married that will be great.
Jack: Thank you. It’s been a long time coming.
Zrock: Are you expecting to swing back through Texas later in the year?
Jack: I’m sure we will. I know we haven’t done Dallas or Austin. There are so many places like Corpus Christi. I’m sure we ll be back there again. We’ve just had the first couple dates so far, but we ll keep adding dates as we go. We ll play anywhere everywhere.
Zrock: Has the response on the first couple of shows been about what you expected?
Jack: It’s been okay. It was a little light in Houston, but that was okay. It was a last minute date. All of a sudden it just appeared by the way, you’re playing on Saturday too. We had 2,000 the night before. We’re pleased with people coming out and helping the fund.
Zrock: It’s always nice when people can have a good time while supporting a good cause.
Jack: Absolutely. You’re not only having a good time at a rock n roll show, you’re also helping some people out just by being there.
Zrock: I’ve noticed several blues influences in your music. Have you ever considered doing a full blues album?
Jack: You know, I’ve thought about that, and that might be something I’d do sometime down the line. At this point, I’m just letting life take me where it wants to take me at this point musically as well.
Zrock: The guys in Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band Double Trouble went through similar times after his tragic accident. They really weren’t sure what to do except continue playing music. They’re coming to Houston next month with Buddy Guy.
Jack: Buddy Guy is awesome. I saw him over in Europe at a festival. What a major musician that guy is.
Zrock: Totally nice guy as well. I met him once at Antone’s in Austin. He’s a total top-notch gentleman.
Jack: I’m a huge Buddy Guy fan I’d love to meet him.
Zrock: Hopefully the future will hold some good things for Great White. I know you are giving it your best shot.
Jack: That’s all we can do brother. We appreciate the support of the fans at the shows as well as at http://www,stationfamilyfund.org
Zrock: Best wishes on the rest of the tour.
Jack: Thank you so much my friend.
The Station Family Fund (SFF) was founded by survivors and family members affected by The Station nightclub fire of February 20, 2003. The SFF is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, which received approval from the IRS on November 4, to operate as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The SFF was founded to offer assistance and relief to people directly affected by the fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island.
Every dollar raised by the Station Family Fund, Inc. will go directly to address the needs of the survivors and the families of victims. Administrative and overhead expenses will be paid solely from donations solicited for this specific purpose.
The Station Family Fund will also coordinate free legal, financial advisory, and counseling services; and will help identify and access resources which may be available through federal and state agencies or other non-governmental organizations.
The Station Family Fund will provide immediate short-term relief and services as well as long-term support, and will serve the needs of the survivors and victims families that may arise in the future.
Total Money Raised:
As of February 27, 2004 $239,907.18
Total funds distributed $218,760.65
Donations to the Station Family Fun can be made online at http://www.stationfamilyfund.org or by mail at Station Family Fund, 300 Quaker Lane, P.O. Box 214, Suite 7, Warwick, RI 02886.
: : : : :
Thaks for the feedback. I agree with you – out of respect for the victims of the tragedy, the label should seriously consider a different title.
Hi Jarrod, Great interview! I like all was so upset over the fire last winter. And as much as my heart goes out to family and victims, I am really glad that Jack and Great White decided to not give up. Great White has such a unique sound, and even in tragedy more inspiration can come. Like the blues album you mentioned, or something they can record and give proceeds to the fund. I read that I think on or about March 16, there is a Great White CD coming out, and yes this is the title Buring House Of Love . What the CD is the Final Cuts CD they released a few years ago of all covers. But this label that is releasing it again (3rd release of this disk under a different name), changed the name. It freaked me out. I dont think the label doing this should release it under that title. I have to go look and see if I can find the info again. Originally I found it on billboard.com under upcoming releases. Here is the info on it: http://www.cityhallrecords.com/item/19482.htm – said theloudestrock on Mar 03, 2004
you know i have an all new respect for this band. they have alot of heart. – said PAUZED on Mar 03, 2004