RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with the band’s main man Jack Blades to talk retro setlists, exciting new music and the prospect of more UK dates next year.
Look out for a review of the band’s HRH AOR3 show right here soon.
RUSHONROCK: With just two UK shows lined up for March it’s clear there’s an appetite for more Night Ranger right now – are you aware how much the band is in demand over here?
JACK BLADES: It’s a mystery why we never really took a swing at coming over all the time in the 80s and we really regret that now. But now we want to get over and play more and more shows in the UK and Europe. We have two shows in the UK for the first time and one of them is in Wales at Hard Rock Hell AOR. We’ve never played Wales before! And of course we’re back in London this week playing the O2 Academy. In both sets we’re going to break out songs that we haven’t played since the 80s. It’s the 30th anniversary of Seven Wishes and when you think of it like that it feels like we’ve done something right. If people still want to see us play live after all of that time we must be on the right track.
RUSHONROCK: What is it about Night Ranger’s music that so appeals to rock fans in 2015?
JB: It’s a combination of a lot of things. The songs are good songs. People appreciate a good song that stands the test of time and Night Ranger have had a few of them over the years. And a Night Ranger live show is a real interactive show – it’s like an interactive video game where we are the characters up on stage. We have so much fun on stage and the audience can feel that. We feed off them and they feed off us. It’s just a fun thing to do. We don’t have anything to prove to anyone anymore – we genuinely enjoy playing these songs. We really want to play London and Wales and I think the fans know that. We’ll always 100% and that means something.
RUSHONROCK: Did you anticipate the band’s most recent albums would be received so well?
JB: Night Ranger’s philosophy is that we’re just going to keep writing and keep creating new music until we can’t do it anymore. That’s the key to longevity – making new music. It’s the secret behind keeping everything moving forward. When you stop creating that’s when you start shrivelling up and dying inside. When we play a song off the High Road album people often ask us which hit album from the 80s it was from. When we say it’s off a record we released last year their mouths drop. It’s fun to be able to do that. It’s a labour of love.
RUSHONROCK: Aside from that what really drives you to get back into the studio with such an impressive back catalogue to fall back on?
JB: We know that we’re making records for our loyal fans. We can write what’s in our hearts and give everything that we’ve got to the people who love this band most of all. They will find these songs without us having to push them out there and they’ll fully enjoy them. Albums now are a means of selling tours – they don’t make much money but if you have the money they’re fun to make!
RUSHONROCK: Were you under pressure to write certain songs to appeal to a new market in the past?
JB: As a successful band back in the 80s it was a double-edged sword. You can start to write a song because you think someone thinks it’ll be a hit. I’ve been there before and I didn’t like it. But I like the situation I find myself in now. I just go to the studio and get in a room with my buddies and make music I love. It’s such a great feeling when you can write a song that people halfway around the world can relate to and feel the same soulfulness that you experienced when you started writing that song.
RUSHONROCK: Are you planning a follow-up to High Road?
JB: I think there will be another new Night Ranger record. I think we’ll probably put it together sometime this winter. We’ve already started writing new songs. Our touring commitments start to heat up at the end of April. We have the Monsters Of Rock cruise which is great fun. And then May thru September/October time we’re playing shows. Plus I’m trying to find some time to squeeze in some Revolution Saints shows.
RUSHONROCK: When you were told the band had the chance to headline a festival in March in a Welsh holiday camp how did you feel?
JB: My initial reaction was that we’d need to bring some warm clothes! But we booked it because it was a golden opportunity to pay somewhere other than London. In the future we want to play Ireland and Scotland too. That’s the plan. Each year we want to explore a couple of new places in the UK and this is just the start. We’re so looking forward to playing Hard Rock Hell.
RUSHONROCK: The Hard Rock Hell AOR bill is dominated by the best in British and Scandinavian melodic rock but are those bands flourishing in the US too?
JB: I think so. It may still be the older bands but the genre of music is flourishing. You just have to look at the bands that go out on the road every year: Night Ranger, Styx, REO Speedwagon and so on. This summer Def Leppard, Styx and Tesla are heading out across the US together and there are a lot of really great classic rock bands out there working week in, week out. Certain bands have a proven track record and proven quality and those bands are still doing very well back home.
RUSHONROCK: You mentioned Revolution Saints – you must be delighted with the response to the band’s debut…
JB: I’m very happy. I’ve known Deen Castronovo for 25 or 30 years and we’ve been the best of friends for all of that time. I’ve written songs that have appeared on Journey records and the two of us have toured all over the world but it’s nice to be able to do this together. It started out as a solo record for Deen and morphed into an actual band with Doug Aldrich joining us. I’m very happy with how the album turned out. I can’t for the life of me understand why Deen hasn’t done lead vocals before but I’m just glad he finally had the courage to come out. Revolution Saints is the record where Deen Castronovo comes out as a top class lead vocalist!
* Night Ranger play Islington O2 Academy on Thursday March 2.
* The band headlines Hard Rock Hell AOR3 on Saturday March 14.