Jack Russell, the original voice of Great White talks with Mayhem Music Magazine about his days with the band and where he is in his life today


Mayhem Music Magazine:  How are you doing Jack?

Jack Russell:  I’m good, actually. It’s been crazy for me here today.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  I recently saw you perform at the Sierra View Music Fest, and I just was bowled over on how incredible you and your new band are.

Jack Russell:  Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Yeah. They’re pretty smoking.  I’ve got this really good band.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  We know when the band started, name issues that’s been going on, personal issues to overcome. But, I want to go with what’s going on with you now.  I mean, you seem happy, your voice is incredible, your stage presence is back and you look like you’re having fun.

Jack Russell:  You know, you said it all yourself. I am having fun. It’s been a long, hard road and it’s crazy to be feeling normal again and feeling like I want to go out and do what I do for a living. I mean, I’m very blessed at this point in my life after everything I’ve been through to still be able to do this and do it well and so it’s very exciting for me once again.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Are you looking at going back in the studio?

Jack Russell:  Right now we’re doing stuff for the studio.  I’m not saying it’s a big priority, but we are writing.  Until the name thing gets resolved, I’m not going to put anything out.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Gotcha.

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Jack Russell:  I don’t want to put out a record that’s not worthy of the Great White name.  So, I want to make sure every song is just so. So we’re taking our time and we’ve got some really good tracks, and when they’re ready they’re ready.  I mean, I imagine within a year, that’s my hope. So it’s not something that we’re just putting on the back burner completely. We’re taking time and all writing songs. I just had a session two days ago with one of my guitarist and we spent the whole day working on some ideas and now he’s on his computer, I’m off and on mine, and we’re kind of back and forth on stuff.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Well, is that your process now? In this day and age, you don’t always have to have the people in the same room or in the studio.

Jack Russell:  Sure. But I try to stay away from that, only just to proof stuff.  I don’t like to write that way. I’d rather have a guy sit in front of me with an acoustic guitar and us just jamming something out. Because I’ve always felt that when you have a song that stands up with just an acoustic guitar then you’ve got a decent shot at having a great song.  If you add all the bells and whistles on it to make it a good song then you might as well just stop.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  That also proves you’re writing songs that have melodies, not just special effects.

Jack Russell:  That’s the thing melody is so crucial.  People don’t understand how crucial melody is.  I mean let’s just take “Rock Me” for instance.  I mean if it was just like “rock, me, rock me, rock me through the night” I don’t think the song would have ever went anywhere, call me crazy, I don’t know, you know?  Maybe some Frank Sinatra fan might like it. Other than that, melodies are really crucial. A lot of songs have gotten away with just really, really lousy lyrics, but they had such a great melody it carried the lyric. What we’re trying to do here and what I’ve always tried to do was to have a great melody with a great lyric, or at least a decent lyric. Something that meant something important to me or something that I’ve been through and experienced. I could sing about something I’ve done so it’s more believable. I get a better performance that way.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Do you try to take care of your voice before performing or are you able to just go out and sing?

Jack Russell:  I’ve got to go do all the bells and whistles of warming up and taking good care of myself or it doesn’t work at all. If it was the ’80s I could have just went out there drunk or buzzed and my voice would have worked.  I would have been dead by now, but the fact of the matter is I can’t do that kind of stuff or I sound really bad. Fortunately this last year, last over a year now I’ve been sober and my voice is starting to sound really, really good.  Every day it gets better and better and better.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Congratulations.

Jack Russell:  I had a long way to come back from? I was almost dead three times and it took a toll on my body, I mean, I had to learn how to walk again. I’m feeling really happy that I can be onstage moving around and singing. So God bless, I’m a lucky man.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  A lot of singers care about their voice but put their body through Hell, but in order for you to perform again, you had to redo it all?

Jack Russell:  Yeah, it’s just the sad truth. I got hurt, legitimately hurt and after that, it caused me to keep getting hurt more and more. When I should have been home recuperating, I was more or less kind of guilted into going on the road and I wish I would have just stood my ground and said “Hell with it.  I need to stay home and recuperate”. I would have been a lot better off.  I would have healed a long time ago, and all this mess wouldn’t be happening right now.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  I want to commend you since starting Great White in the ’80s, you’re still hitting those same notes now.  A lot of people who’ve been around, when it comes to certain notes or hitting falsettos in certain points in songs, they just have to back off on it and you are just kicking it into high gear.

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Jack Russell:  Thank you.  You know, man, those notes I thought they were gone forever. They’ve come back or they’re coming back. I’m getting more and more and more each month, you know?  And actually the band started in ’78, actually ’82 really, when we became Great White.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  But you were Dante Fox before that, correct?

Jack Russell:  Yeah, Mark (Kendall) and I did another project before that.  The band was many names before that, some too ridiculous to even mention at this point.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Even though it’s sad to not see you onstage with Mark, I have to give you credit for the people you chose to be in Great White. I went in with the expectations of seeing you fronting a bunch of hired hands, but the reality is you have a great band. These are strong players and you put together a great team for you.


Jack Russell:  Thank you. I appreciate it. Oddly enough, it was already set up because they’re my solo band. We’ve been jamming on my solo stuff for a while, waiting for a time to do that. So I was kinda keeping in shape by jamming with them, and when this all came about, I just went, “Hmm. Do you guys want to do Great White?” and I wasn’t sure what they were gonna say. I thought they’d be like, “What? No.” But they’re like, “Hell yeah, let’s do it!” So I said, ‘Cool.’ Fortunately, these guys are great players and really nice guys. No egos. They’re probably the best players I’ve ever played with, in one band.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  The energy level from start to finish of the show was nonstop, and that’s a compliment. They came at the audience playing full force and until that very last note, that’s how they played, and it showed.

Jack Russell:  Well, these guys are young, and they’re hungry, as am I. Maybe not as young, but I’m definitely hungrier than I have been in a long time. I’m excited to be back to myself. I’m feeling good and sober and my health is good, so it gives you that much more reason to just go full bore into the show.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  I noticed your wife was there at this show as well, at the Sierra View Music Fest.

Jack Russell:  Yeah, she’s nice to come out. I love having her out. She doesn’t mind the bus rides or anything else. I just love being with her. If I could spend 24 hours a day with her, I would, and that’s the only woman I’ve ever said that about. She’s definitely my muse. You know?

Mayhem Music Magazine:  That’s great to hear, actually. As far as going forward, what’s going on with shows? Do you have anything else lined up coming forward that people should know about?

Jack Russell:  Yeah, we got some shows. We got some stuff coming up, like Tucson and Farmington. If you just go on the jacksgreatwhite.com website, the dates will be there.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Cool.

Jack Russell:  That’s www.jackrussellsgreatwhite.com!

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Mayhem Music Magazine:  Haha, so anything else you want to let the people know?

Jack Russell:  Thanks for all the support. It’s been so nice. It’s really overwhelming when you see the crowds come out to see us. Just after the first couple songs, you stop and it’s this nonstop applause. After every “Save Your Love” it’s the same thing. After “House of Broken Love” it’s the same thing. It’s nice to know that I was missed, and people really do enjoy hearing me sing again. I’m really feeling very, very blessed these days in my life just to have the fans and have all their support. Like I tell them every night, if it wasn’t for them, a lot of their e-mails and letters and things such as that, I probably wouldn’t be here. My wife is the primary source of inspiration and hope, but the fans really made a big difference as well. And I appreciate every single one of them.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Well, I gotta admit, you still got a fan here too.

Jack Russell:  Thank you, my brother.


We hope you enjoyed this interview with Jack Russell.  Be sure to check back for more music interviews.

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