Jack Russell - Great White

April 9, 2004

What are you guys up to right now?

Right now just doing more touring for The Station Family Fund to help the charity out and that's about it. We're thinking about doing a new record at some point but mostly right now is just to continue the touring and trying to raise the awareness of The Station Family Fund. That's what it's all about.

Tell us a little bit about that organization.

What it is basically is a group of victims and survivors and family members of victims who got together and created a foundation where they're able to get the money right to the people who need it instead of being held up with bureaucratic red tape. There are a lot of foundations we talked to initially that were happy to take our money but they also wanted to take a 50 percent administrative fee and they can't give it to the victims. They can put it into a college fund. We said that's not going to help anybody. We want it to go right to the people that need it. The way they set the foundation up, they're able to get it right to the people that need it right when they do. It's immediate care which is what we wanted.

What's the point in having a fund to help people if you're not going to give the money to them?

Exactly, exactly. That's the whole thing with the United Way. With the 9/11 thing. There's millions of dollars sitting in an account somewhere. Nobody can get it. What's the point? Fortunately we hooked up with these people and it's been a great thing. It helped a lot of people out and it feels good.

How have you guys been doing since this happened?

It's definitely probably been the most difficult time in my life. You have to pick yourself up and keep moving on. It was a horrifying experience. We lost 100 friends that night. It's something you never get over but you try to find a lesson in it somewhere. For me, it's really that I appreciate life a lot more and I find myself not complaining as much. The things that are important to me now weren't so important to me a year ago. My family and my friends. The things that are real are what I live for everyday. My whole thing right now is I'm just trying to be the best person I can be and enhance my own life as well as the lives of people around me.

Sometimes it takes something serious like that to kind of snap you back into reality.

Really it did. For me, I always loved life but people tend to be very materialistic especially in this business. I realized it doesn't really matter what kind of car you drive or how big your house is. That crap doesn't matter at all. It's about relationships and family. My mom and myself have grown a lot closer since this and I just appreciate things a lot more.

You put out two solo CDs. How has your last one been doing?

Really good. It was a lot different than anything I ever did before. It was much more contemporary and that's something I want to keep doing in the future. I've realized I can do both. I can do Great White and I can do my solo thing. At first I thought I had to either do one or the other. I left Great White for a while and I missed that. There are definitely two sides to my personality. There's the one that wants to get up and kick and scream and run around the stage. Then there's the other one that wants to be a little more serious.

I heard the new one and I thought it was very beautiful.

Thank you. I love that record. It was definitely an inspiration for my fiancee and the whole album basically is written about her except for a couple of songs. There's one song I wrote for my dad. It was about Alzheimer's. It was hard to see him go that way and I wrote about that. It was definitely I think the most real album I've ever written. The lyrics as mushy as they were, as love songy and sappy as they were, that was where I was at the time and I hope I continue to stay in this space.

I think that's great. You were in love.

I still am! It's awesome. It's great. It makes the world go round, that's for sure.

I've been listening to you guys since 1989 when I was in the last year of my Air Force term and my friends basically had to drag me to the show. I'm glad they did.

That's a great story. I love hearing that. Thank you. We love what we do. We're so very privileged to do what we do. In the aftermath of the fire, even more so. We lost one of our members and it could have been all of us. Fortunately God spared us and I think for a reason. To help you out and also maybe to make aware the public safety concerns we have. I think to me there are so many flaws in our system. Things like that should never happen. They don't need to happen. I think a lot of the inspections and things like that, we really need to have tougher laws and tougher legislation on that kind of stuff.

That shocked the shit out of me when I heard that place was encased in some kind of crap.

Packing foam, yeah.

Emergency doors that don't open out of the building but open into it. Who the hell came up with that?

Yeah, it's just scary. I think we take it for granted as Americans wherever we go that people that are catering to the public have our safety first and foremost in their minds. It's unfortunate that's not necessarily true as we found out. I think it's maybe more proactive as the public and when we go out places to know what our surroundings are. I found myself being a lot more cautious.

Whenever I go to night clubs, the first three things I scope out are the emergency exits, the bathroom, and the bar.

Not necessarily in that order.

Not necessarily in that order. To me those are the three most important things. People do weird shit.

I never thought about that until after this. We've played places where I look back and go "my God, if it would have happened there, nobody would have gotten out." I'm thinking my God, we were all so lucky, the ones of us that got out. It could have been so much worse.

How is Heidi doing?

She's doing great. She's doing really good actually. The baby's so cute. She brought him out to a show one night and he looks just like Ty. It was so hard to hold him. It was like a miniature version of my guitarist.

How much money have you guys managed to raise?

I know the tally last year as of the last show we did last year was over $70,000.00. That was the money that just directly came from us. I know there was other money that was generated by interviews and things I'd done. I know I did an interview on the anniversary. One interview only and it was for the Rhode Island station and they generated a lot of income from that. Whatever we can do. These people are our friends. They supported us by buying our records and going to our shows for 20 something years. It's the least we can do for them to try to help out their families. It's going to be an ongoing thing. A lot of people thought "when the indictments come down and they don't get mentioned, then they're not going to be doing this." Well, fuck you. We're not doing it for that reason. We're doing it for our friends and we're still going to continue to do it.

Have you had to deal with a lot of hostility?

No, really I haven't. It's been very, very few and far between fortunately. Most people get it. They understand. Some people don't understand it. They don't see before or after the first spark. It's unfortunate but everybody's got to grieve in their own way. If somebody wants to blame us, there's nothing I can do about it. I have to live my life and just go forward and feel secure in the fact that I know there's nothing I could have done that night to stop what happened. It wasn't in my job description. I wish there was something I could have done but there's nothing I could have done that would have changed that. The first domino fell long before we even got to that club.

Someone tried to put out an album called Burning House Of Love.

Yeah, there was a deal where years ago, we had recorded a bunch of cover songs and one of them happened to be a song by a band called X. "Burning House Of Love". We sold the rights to that album about seven years ago to a label overseas and apparently they had licensed it out to some other label. They thought it was a good idea to go on ahead and use that track for a title and we subsequently had our lawyers contact them and say this is not cool. This needs to be changed because there are a lot of people getting their feelings hurt here. They decided to pull the record. That's the last I heard about it. That was just really tasteless.

That's pretty sick.

It just shows what people will do for money. It's like how many peopled died here and you're going to try and make money off them. It's just horrible.

The first EP and the first album you guys put out was really heavy and you guys lightened up a little since then. Did you guys decide to go in a different direction?

No, it was a natural thing. A natural progression. We were just trying to find our way. I think by the Once Bitten... album, we found our niche. This is the area we wanted to stay in and it felt comfortable for us. We've just grown from there. Yeah, the first album was very much like Judas Priest junior. It was cool for a start but we were so young then. We were still experimenting with our sound.

I've always loved how each album was different. If you're in five moods, there are five albums for each mood.

For us, the records basically have always been a snapshot of where we've been at the time emotionally. They reflect that. We never know. When people ask what the next album is going to be like, I have no clue until I start writing it.

The last studio album was Can't Get There From Here..

Yeah, that's my favorite album so far. I love that record.

A lot of people are wondering if you're going to get the original guys back and do another studio album.

We've talked about that. Actually I talked to Michael about that two days ago and I talked to Sean about it. It's something we're kicking around. If it makes sense we'll do that. I wouldn't mind doing that. Doing a DVD or something like that. It's definitely in the talking stages at this point.

Michael is doing Night Ranger stuff right now isn't he?

Yeah, he's playing with Night Ranger right now. He's happy. He's having fun. I'm sure he misses playing his own music.

The guys you have in the band right now outside of Mark, are they the guys who played on your solo CD?

No, actually we have new guys. The band that played on my solo album elected to stay home after the fire. It just really freaked them out. We've been having people come out and play with us. The band's great. The band sounds amazing. It's really tight. It's always been Mark and myself since the very beginning. As long as you have the core of it, it's still valid.

Are you guys doing gigs right now?

Yeah, actually we have some shows coming up at the end of the month. We're just going to keep doing the benefit tour. We're just doing fly in shows here and there. We're not planning on getting on a bus or any of that because it's just so much easier to go in and fly into a certain area and do three or four shows and fly back home for a few days.

You guys have been basically donating all the proceeds to the foundation. How are you managing to survive?

It was tough last year. Now we're giving a portion of the profits, not 100 percent. Last year we elected to give 100 percent of the profits. We knew we had to make a living too. A portion of the proceeds go to that and we're still selling the t-shirts but obviously we've got to make up for a lot of lost income last year but it was more important at the time for the people that needed to have it than for us.

What are Great White's future plans?

We'll just see. I really don't know what's going to happen. I'd like to do another album. I'd like to keep touring. I'd like to do some more live recordings. We'll just see what happens. There's nothing I'm ready to put to bed yet. I figure I've got another four or five or six years while I'm still having fun doing this. If the good Lord allows we'll keep playing.

You guys did a really cool cover album called Great Zeppelin. Oddly enough, I've never been into Led Zeppelin but I love the way you guys did their songs.

Thank you very much. It was a lot of fun to do that. It was really enjoyable.

Do you think you might do something like that in the future?

You never know, it's possible. We've talked about it. It's for fun. Who knows? You never know what Great White might end up doing. We just do things on a whim.

Any other thoughts or comments?

I just want to thank everybody that's helped support the tour and support the band last year. If they have any questions or they want to donate online, they can go to www.stationfamilyfund.org.

Great White

The Station Family Fund