Great White’s Jack Russell and his wife Heather Ann sit down with LRI for a second chat

Great White’s Jack Russell and his wife Heather Ann sit down with LRI for a second chat
April 6, 2012 | By More
Jack and Heather Ann Russell

Jack and Heather Ann Russell

We spoke a few months ago with Jack Russell and got a phenomenal response across the board and since talking to him there have been a great deal of new developments.  His band, Jack’s Great White has been playing shows to packed houses all around the country and are gearing up for a busy summer on the America Rocks tour with Faster Pussycat, Bulletboys, Pretty Boy Floyd and another band we’ll be talking to Lillian Axe!  That’s the good news and there’s plenty of it.  Of course, with all the positive momentum there’s also the ongoing court case and injunction against his old bandmates, the announcement of their own new recording and the unfounded rumors regarding Jack’s health and new sobriety.  Jack and his wife Heather (his self-described angel and registered nurse) got ahold of us again to talk some more about those topics and of course, our recent interview with his former manager and collaborator Alan Niven (Guns N’ Roses/Great White).  Read on….

Legendary Rock Interviews:  How’s it goin Jack?  I take it you read the Alan Niven interview with LRI?

Jack Russell:  Yes, yes I did.  It was very interesting and very Alan.  I mean, I don’t know why he said some of that.  I have nothing but respect for Alan and the magic we created together.  Initially he was VERY important to Great White and I still appreciate that but I also remember the Alan who was very controlling and that’s the reason we parted ways.   He is a really smart, talented guy but some of his opinions were just crazy to me.  I mean I remember one of the last things he said to me was “Jack, you gotta stop running around onstage so much you look ridiculous” and I was like ‘Really?  What about guys like Steven Tyler or others who are older than me?” and he was like “They look ridiculous”.  I just thought to myself quietly, that we were NOT on the same page anymore.  The last straw was he called me one day on the road screaming at me about something I said in an interview and I just took a step back and thought “Ok, who in the hell is this punk to tell me what I can and can’t say in my own interviews?” .  After a while some of the people in this business get so comfortable that they feel like they own your band or something and it’s like “Wait a minute, I hired you, not the other way around man”.  So I fired him.  He’s pissed off about that just as he’s pissed off Guns fired him and I get that, I do.  So, now I’m the antichrist, Axl’s the antichrist and everyone’s against him or at least that’s how he presents it in his interviews.  Honestly, I’m surprised he took as little potshots at me as he did in your interview, I’ve read others where he’s far less considerate.  That’s fine, my life is a public record at this point and maybe Alan realizes it’s fuckin boring already to talk about what a drug addict or drunk I was.  It’s been public knowledge for a long time.  I’ve done some horrible things, I’ve fallen down, I was a criminal when I was younger, I almost died recently, it’s old news.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s all true and Alan and I were really, really close friends and he is a smart guy and an interesting interview.  He really is talented and whoever works with him now is no doubt going to benefit as a result.  I tried reuniting with him recently, it didn’t work out but I hold no grudge towards Alan Niven.   I think about him a lot and he knew me very well because he was a huge part of my life.  We wrote some great stuff together and he truly helped become a better songwriter and a much better lyricist, he really did.  He taught me a lot about music and vice versa, we learned a lot along the way.  I will never forget that he gave up his job because he believed in me and my band, I commend him for that.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and think he was ironically part of the reason our songwriting got even better on the later albums.  We felt free because he wasn’t around but we had certainly improved and learned and gotten better from our experience even if the sales don’t reflect that.  I started writing more about my life and our reality rather than just “Baby, baby, baby” and those later records like “Can’t Get There From Here” reflect that.  It was a long ways from “Mista Bone” or “Down On Your Knees” which he called gratuitous but let’s be real it was what it was, we wrote it in 1982 (laughs).  That’s what we wrote about back then!

LRI:  Hell, since we’re on the subject of the very interesting Mr. Alan Niven how did he end up getting involved with you to begin with?

JR:  Ok, I’m glad you asked John.  Here’s the real story.  Our original drummer in Great White was Gary Holland.  Gary knew Don Dokken very well and had played with him in the past.  I’ve heard this story spun by my former bandmates in many variations but I recently talked with Don who actually remembered how it all went down.  I don’t need another fabricated story and if anyone wants to contact Don, feel free.  Don took Alan down to see the band and his friend, our drummer, Gary Holland at the Whisky.  Don said that Alan loved my voice and thought we were great and but he didn’t like our name which was, at that point, Dante Fox.  Like I told you in the previous interview I had started calling Mark “The Great White” just because I thought it sounded like a cooler name than “The Shiek” or “The Albino” or any of the other nicknames I could’ve come up with (laughs).  Alan was really, really adamant that he loved us and wanted to sign us to his label but also that he hated our name.  He liked “GREAT WHITE” better than “DANTE FOX” which at the time pissed me and Kendall off but I actually agree with in retrospect, it sounded better and certainly made more sense.  I’ve always been a fisherman and my whole life revolves around water and everything so for all of those reasons it STUCK.  Not to mention, Alan was right that Dante Fox was kind of a stupid name, it sounded a little femme or light in the loafers.  One day, Alan called us over to his little cottage in Palos Verdes and told us “Look guys, I have some bad news, the label doesn’t wanna sign you so I quit” and we were like “Woah, that’s heavy…..Why don’t you become our manager?” and he was like “Well, I don’t know anything about being a manager” and I said “You’ll learn” and boy did he.  He became the best manager in the world, very smart, very capable and very shrewd.  If it wasn’t for him I don’t think we would have gotten the level of success we did and that’s the truth.  I really don’t know why all of the bands who work with him fire him, I only know why I did and it’s because he was very, very controlling.  Alan, I know you’re reading this and I mean that as no slight against you because you are very talented and very, very gifted as a producer and manager.  I’m only speaking how it went down with my band.  I’d heard that Axl flipped out when Niv tried to change his lyrics but that’s simply what I heard through the grapevine.

America Rocks Tour this summer

America Rocks Tour this summer

LRI:  In his book Slash basically says that he thought their career went down the shitter when Niven left but that he and Axl both had very strong opinions which led to Alan being nixed in favor of Doug Goldstein who basically sided with Axl on everything.

JR:  That makes sense and that’s sort of what went down between Niv and I.  We were just moving in opposite directions, he wanted us to sit on stools and become the Eagles and I wasn’t really interested in that.

LRI:  You also said you take exception to him saying you were unhappy living in Axl’s shadow?

JR:  Well, yeah.  I mean even if he didn’t mean musically and meant in terms of media fascination or whatever it’s not true, I was never unhappy or felt like I was living in Axl’s shadow.  I just didn’t see that band in that light.  He also said the band’s animosity towards my band stemmed from me blowing off Axl way before GNR and I can tell you how that actually went down.  I had a conversation with him one christmas morning and was like “Dude, why all of a sudden has there been all this animosity between us?”  and Axl says “You don’t remember me from back in the day do you?” and I was like “No” and he said “One time when Dante Fox was at the Troubadour way back in the day I came up to you to give you a demo tape and asked you to listen to it and you did, you came back and said my voice was great but the band sucked and I always hated you for that but you were totally right man, my band did suck”.  I mean I was just being honest but now 30 years after the fact Niven wants to paint it that I was drunk or something and was just being a dick to Axl.  The other thing is that Axl wasn’t embarrassed that we were managed by Niven he was intimidated or concerned because of the fact was Alan always took more time with us then he took with them.  Axl is Axl and there’s noone else like him.  He’s got  his own issues but you know what?  He’s a helluva singer and a hell of a songwriter.  Like I said, Alan has his own reasons for saying things about us and neither one of us is perfect and I’ll just leave it at that.

Alan Niven, Great White and Guns at the L.A. Forum the night both bands received awards

Alan Niven, Great White and Guns at the L.A. Forum the night both bands received awards

LRI:  Well, what was Niven’s strongest contribution, was it as producer, as songwriter or as manager?

JR:  All of the above, he was a brilliant writer, a brilliant producer and a brilliant manager, he did all of those things very well.  We collaborated beautifully together and he’s a very smart man.

LRI:  To an outsider, the songwriting seems complicated to understand who contributed what…I mean I don’t understand who wrote the piano parts on some of that stuff or how the songs REALLY fell together.

JR:  Well, we all have credits, I have more than everyone but we all contributed including Alan.  Kendall and I did almost all of it in the very beginning.  Kendall wrote the guitar part to a song like “Angel Song” on a guitar and then we transposed it to a piano part and Alan wrote some BEAUTIFUL lyrics for me to sing which really make it complete.  Sometimes we worked like that, which is also something I did for “Love is A Lie”, I had that piano lick in my head for ten years before we did anything with it.  A lot of times I would hum a riff or come up with a melody.  We all wrote and writing was never, ever a problem for our band.  In the beginning and the end I had a bit more control although I had to share the credit for some of my ideas simply because I don’t play an instrument and would have to hum my ideas to one of the other guys in the band.  To answer your question, it was truly very, very collaborative while Alan was writing with us and I appreciate that.  In no way am I trying to insinuate that it was all me because I’m looking at the platinum album on my wall right now and Alan’s name is certainly on there.   Kudos to Alan Niven, whoever is working with him now is very fortunate and I really do wish he and his lovely wife nothing but the best.  We’ve had our differences but hopefully some day we can patch them up.

LRI:  Would you ever work with Mark Kendall or Alan Niven again?

JR:  Not Kendall but sure, I’d love to work with Alan again.  He’s a spot on producer and we have a history of making magical stuff together and I truly trust his professional opinion.  I have plenty of new songs in the can and I’d love to have a sit down with him and listen to them with him to get his thoughts on them or even have him produce another album for us.  I know there’s a lot of water under that bridge and I’m not sure if that will ever happen but I’d like to reconnect with him on a project again, sure.  Having said that there’s a big difference between the issues between Niv and I and the massive issues between Mark and I.  The guy never called me once in the hospital and during my troubles tried to steal the name and identity of my band.  That’s reprehensible.

LRI:  That’s so interesting about “Angel Song”.  I would love to hear that in it’s original form on the guitar.

JR:  Well, we’re actually doing that now, as a guitar song.  Now that I have two lead guitarists it’s really opened up a lot of different things that we can do and that’s one of them.  I thought it would be really cool to drop it down and do it acoustic like that even though Matthew (Johnson, guitarist) can play keyboards. It’s so intimate and it really makes it more about the voice which is something Alan used to always, always tell me, “Jack it’s the singer not the song” and I’ve always remembered that.  That’s not to sound cocky because those are his words but I’ve always remembered that and that’s why I really believe that the singer is the identity of the band.  Most bands, Guns and Roses, Motley Crue, Aerosmith and on and on…..that’s what people identify with no matter how amazing the players around those guys are and let’s face it, all of those guys are amazing players.  It doesn’t change the fact that the driving focus of the group and focal point is the singer.

LRI:  What about the people who insinuate that since you and Niven named the band after Kendall it should then belong to Kendall?

JR:  That’s friggin ridiculous.  That’s insane because the fact of the matter is I thought of the name and had my own obvious connection to it, Alan sensed it was a better name so in 1982 Dante Fox became Great White and went through few twists until well after Niven left.  In 1998 I formed a company called Great White Productions in which I was the chief executive officer, secretary, treasurer and on and on.  That corporation was paying everyone involved with the band’s salaries from 1998 forward.  In 2000 Mark Kendall quit the corporation.  That’s the truth and at this point the truth is ALL that matters. Mark quit and gave up all of his rights to the band and the name.  In 2000 I fired Audie Desbrow.  Ok, he’s gone.  In 2001 going into 2002 I dissolved the band, no more Great White, see ya everyone, I’m going solo and that was IT.  My question to the world and my former bandmates is real simple.  If they had the rights to the band name when I went solo why didn’t they pick up with a new singer then?  Why didn’t they say “Thanks Jack, it’s been nice, good luck on your solo career we’re gonna reconfigure and move on”?

LRI:  Umm, I’m guessing you retained the rights when you dissolved the band, is that what you’re saying?

JR:  Exxxxxactly.  I retained the rights to the name of my band and later on I got Mark back and hired him to my production company Jack Russell touring and we went out as Jack Russell’s Great White.  That’s a known fact, I’m really not saying anything new.  In 2005 Mark and I started a new corporation called Shark Touring.  Michael Lardie, Audie and everyone else has been a hired employee to that corporation.  In other words, not members of the Shark Touring corporation.  What’s going on now might be hard for people to understand but technically it’s real simple.  I was always in the band because it’s my corporation and my band.  It might not sound too rock and roll or cool to say that but it’s true.  When Terry or Jani or Paul were singing and I was trying to get sober and HEALTHY i was STILL in the band and in their recent press release they even went so far to ADMIT that by saying “Jack was slated to return to the band…”  Well they went behind my back and tried to file for the name of the band but I’m STILL  in the band and I have simply informed the guys that they can’t use my corporation to pay their bills anymore.  Find a new name to pay their salaries.   I’m happy, I’m six months sober and healthy and I will not be relinquishing the name to MY band to some guys who came and went while I was always there.  That’s just the truth.  Michael wasn’t in the band from the beginning, Audie wasn’t and Mark quit.  I was the constant in the band all those years and if I want to use the name of my band, I will.

Jack's Great White graphic by Power Mix

Jack's Great White graphic by Power Mix

LRI:  In the last interview we did you seemed comfortable with them continuing on and had even said you didn’t wanna attack them personally like they did you. You also said you never want to make the fans feel like they need to pick sides. Now that they’re preparing to release a new album, ELATION this May on Frontiers Records and have a release date it sounds like you’re rethinking that. Is that them throwing down the gauntlet as far as you’re concerned? 

JR:  No, when they filed for the trademark behind my back THAT was them throwing down the gauntlet.  They couldn’t fire me because it was my band so what do they do but sneak behind my back and file for trademark on Dec. 7th, Pearl Harbor Day.  It’s not like I’m oblivious to the additional slap in the face of them trying to rush along an album to capitalize on that filing and then calling it “Elation”.  Okay guys, I get it (laughs).  You’re elated to be rid of me.  Well, the feeling’s quite mutual and no matter what you do it won’t be Great White.  They put out a commercial for the 30th Anniversary Celebration and had MY voice playing in the background of the commercial while showing Terry and Scott and those guys.  Doing that and announcing a live cd and DVD retrospective of the catalog doesn’t really mean anything to the people who know that every move they are making is nothing but calculated legal politics.  Even their new album.  They’re only doing it to try and make themselves look legitimate in the eyes of the judge and the people showing up to my shows know that.  I knew they were gonna rush their album along the last time I talked to you John because they HAVE no scruples.  By the way guys…. It’s not your “12th studio album” as you’re announcing it to be, it’s your FIRST studio album and it won’t be coming out unless it’s called something else.  They can have a release date announced or contact you to do interviews to promote it but it means nothing because it won’t be coming out.

LRI:  I have always liked Terry Illous in XYZ and still and probably always will love Kendall’s playing so I’ll listen to it with an open mind but I’m only one guy.  Historically, you’re right and the public usually identifies with the more well known singer…..We saw it with Vince and Motley and we see it with Phil’s L.A Guns.  If they were calling it Kendall’s Great White or Dante Fox would you care?

JR:  No, not at all.  Good luck, that would be fantastic.  Of course, that’s not what they’re doing which is why I’ve had to file an injunction to have the release stopped.  The live album they’re doing actually is even more ridiculous, that’s just a band covering themselves with a new singer.  Put out a few of your own albums and then do a live album, leave our catalog alone man, have some dignity.

LRI:  Well it’s not the first time a band has released a live album with a new singer I mean the Warrant guys have talked about it.

JR:  Yeah, but that’s totally different.  Jani’s sadly no longer with us.  You’ll notice they didn’t do that while he was still alive and just not in the band.  Those guys have some class and no their audience a little better than that.  Jani was fine with them moving on and they had already settled all of that.  He wasn’t planning on going back to his band.  I was. That’s a big difference.   I was totally planning on resuming singing with GREAT WHITE.  Their shady ways were starting to dawn on me though.  I figured ‘Ok, they didn’t visit me in the hospital on my deathbed, they don’t want me in the band’ and it was eventually going to come to fighting it out in court for the name of the band.  I never DREAMED they would actually go behind my back and file for it without my knowledge and try to circumvent the whole court process.   When I found out that they tried to do that I literally cried.  It knocked the wind out of me and I couldn’t believe that these guys were actually once my friends.  What made it worse was that it happened while I was in the hospital, five days removed from a coma and with sepsis from my bowel being perforated.  All the contents of this sepsis were leaking into my body and my doctor told Heather, “I don’t think he’s gonna make it.”  You would think that one of my bandmates might have bothered to call me or visit me or at least call Heather.  Nobody, no matter what they LIED and told the public, nobody in that band ever fucking called me.  That hurt worse than what I was going through, the fact that they couldn’t have the decency to call my wife and ask if I was going to live or DIE.  Why couldnt they have called?  Would it have cost them a few bucks?  I called my good friend Jani and asked him to save them a few bucks that they would have lost on tour cancellations and asked him to fill in for me.  I told them it’s okay, you guys can go out there and make a living with Jani while I’m getting better.

LRI:  You seem to be really bothered by the impersonal nature of their business during it all.  Did that bother Heather?

JR:  Of course….since when did business and money become more important than human life or kindness to the point where you’re too busy jockeying to steal the name to bother calling my wife and seeing if I’m fuckin dead?  I didn’t get it and like I said it hurt worse than anything.  They could have at least, at least done that.  Then to lie to many people in interviews and said they WERE in contact with us which is so untrue.  I mean it would have been possible to at least reach out to Heather even if they hated me right?  I want you to ask Heather that question.  Here, talk to my wife Heather.

Heather Russell:  Hi, nice to talk to you John.

LRI:  Hi Heather, I know you’re a nurse and Jack talked in our last interview about how you guys came to be together.  Congrats on your anniversary, you had to deal with a pretty crazy year as far as Jack’s career during your newlywed phase.  I was just asking him whether you felt stressed out by the band not really having any contact with Jack while he was getting healthy.

Heather:  Yeah, it was really stressful but of course it was so much more stressful to Jack who seriously was in really bad shape.  I mean the only contact we had with any of them were management and agents.  Not one of the guys ever sent a card or called to see how we were or if Jack was okay.  I’ve seen Mark mention in interviews that he was in contact with us three times a week and that’s just not true.  Whatever crime that they felt Jack committed was something that at some point they had all committed themselves.  The difference is when they were drinking or using Jack never stopped talking to them or treating them like human beings and they did.  They dropped off the face of the earth and gave him the silent treatment and to me the punishment didn’t fit the crime especially from them.  He almost died.  He could’ve used some support or friends at that time and nobody was there for him.  That hurt.  It still shows how much venom there is from people who were supposedly his friends and supposedly supportive of drug and alcohol recovery.  They’re still slinging arrows and saying he’s using or trying to catch him up using which is funny since none of them have any contact with Jack or I.  It only proves that they have no real sense of how much Jack has changed and how seriously we’re taking his health.  He knows, as a nurse how I feel about his doctor’s orders and he knows how I feel about drugs and alcohol, that’s not the lifestyle I want to be around and if he were to use again I would be gone.

LRI:  You’re not signing up to watch your husband die….

Heather:  No, and that’s exactly what would happen which is why this is so serious to us.  I mean, I had no idea what this life would be like, this isn’t something I was used to so I had no template, sometimes I feel like I’m in the middle of a soap opera but it’s actually my life now.  I mean I love Jack and I wouldn’t trade him or his career for anything in the world but I’ve seen a lot of things as far as human behavior and things being said by people who really don’t know us that are pretty unreal to me.  I sometimes feel bad that he has to endure so much that I would never, ever put up with historically in my life.  If someone does me wrong or is out to slander me or lie about me I would have just cut them out of my life but so many people who’ve been so close to Jack have been this way to him for so long. It’s just been something that’s been a necessary evil or part of doing business in his career and that’s why it’s so great to see him around the new band and the new management team he has.

LRI:  Do you think that it’s hard for Jack not to think in terms of all the years that Michael or Mark or Audie WERE his close friends?

Heather:  Oh, I’m sure, I mean that’s what made it hurt so much.  Sooner or later you have to wake up though and realize that people are only treating you as a business partner and the friendship is out the window.  They made it painfully clear that their financial interests were far more important than their friend’s life.  He almost died and they didn’t care about that at all, he ceased to be a person to them and I know that they had all had their own issues.  I guess because they had already gone through their trials and addictions they were somehow above Jack and didn’t value him as a human being anymore or want to even be friendly to him in the most casual of way in the time when we needed them most.  When they had their issues they had people around them who were willing to be supportive and friendly to them, people including Jack.  I know that they have been a band for a long, long time and there’s lots of water under the bridge during those 30 years.  Maybe they were just tired of each other and had started treating each other as business associates but you would think that there would be enough of a bond to care on a human level at a time like that.  It’s really hard for me to not be mad at them for what they’ve done to my husband and for making it a public spectacle about his health problems.  As a nurse I know way too much about the stigma of addictions and the stigma of something like a colostomy bag.  That’s not something you throw out in a press release if you have any level of humanity or class.  I’ve seen 18 year old kids kill themselves over the prospect of having a colostomy bag and I’ve seen 63 year olds do the exact same thing.  It’s a devastating thing for anyone to have to deal with let alone have someone in the public eye or someone who has to maintain a certain level of image.  To turn it into a publicity campaign or use it as a tool in their legal war is beyond tasteless.   Of course Jack will just smile and turn it into a joke but it wasn’t a joke.  He was seriously in grave health.  He had to learn to walk again, he couldn’t shower or bathe without help and then he finds out that these guys he’s spent his whole life considering family did not even care.

Jack and Heather

Jack and Heather

LRI:  I meant to ask Jack but maybe you’re even better to ask this question to….I’ve heard that Jack uses a cane offstage and in other situations but he looks perfectly active and able onstage.  How is that possible?

Heather:   The cane is only to stabilize his balance while walking during the course of a long daybecause he has a two inch discrepency in his femurs.  He fell and shattered his femur and two inches of it were lost so they put rods in but it still didn’t fully make up the difference so he uses the cane for stability during the day.   But, even offstage he can exercise and be active,  he really only uses it during the course of the day to add stability for all the walking he does.    It’s not necessary during the shows as you can see he can dance, he can move and that’s BECAUSE he uses the cane during the offtime like he’s supposed to.  He has found the perfect balance between being as active as he wants to be during the gigs because that’s something that’s important to him.  The guys in the band and the crew and management are always there for him and his health always comes first which is the way it always should have been.  It’s so funny that those guys would say he didn’t care about the band.  That’s all he cared about was the fans and the band.  He never cared about himself until it was almost too late.  I’m gonna put Jack on the phone because I know you probably had a few more things to ask him but thanks for talking to me…..hold on…

Jack with his smokin hot manager Valerie and his agent Chuck at That Metal Show taping

Jack with his smokin hot manager Valerie and his agent Chuck at That Metal Show taping

Jack's Great White, LEFT TO RIGHT, Matthew Johnson guitar, Dario Seixas bass, Derrick Pontier drums and Robby Lochner guitar

Jack's Great White, LEFT TO RIGHT, Matthew Johnson guitar, Dario Seixas bass, Derrick Pontier drums and Robby Lochner guitar

LRI:  That was very nice of her Jack.  Thank you.  You have historically been real positive and told people to support Terry and and everything but …..

JR:  Well, now it’s dawned on me that he signed that piece of paper to fuck me over too and had his name on that press release slagging me and my colostomy bag and my drug problem and all this personal shit.  His name was on there too and I’m thinking to myself, “Man, you’re a singer too Terry.  What the fuck?”  How was it his business to say that shit about me, he doesn’t even know me.  I talked to him once in my entire life and that was to thank him for doing a good job and filling in for me while I was sick.

Another sold out gig on the spring tour

Another sold out gig on the spring tour


LRI:  Do you think Jani would have signed such a contract?

JR:  No way.  No fucking way.  He would have told me if he even had a feeling that they were moving against me.  Jani was my dear friend, god bless his soul.  I loved Jani and he was only singing for Great White as a favor to me because I asked him to.  He absolutely didn’t wanna do it.  I talk to his wife all the time and we had her out on the boat here and I told her that Jani directly saved my life because when he died I straightened my shit out once and for all.  His dying and my buddy Steven Tyler calling me finally woke me up and I’ve been clean since. His wife told me “Thank you Jack, because you saved Jani’s legacy because the last thing he did was Great White and he did it really, really well.”  And he did, he did an amazing job singing in Great White.   The plan was that I would come back, I may have to have some pain pills but they are manageable and non-addictive and when I could come back I would.  Then Jani dies, Terry enters and suddenly they’re saying I can’t be in my own band and take medications and this is where we’re at.  It’s insane and no, Jani could never have forseen such a thing.

Heather and Jack's new bassist Dario having too much fun

Heather Russell and Jack's new bassist Dario having too much fun

LRI:  I’ve run more than my fair share of interviews with Bobbie Brown and the Warrant guys talking about Jani and the thing that comes up again and again and again is that he simply was NOT comfortable in his own skin which led to the addictions that took him from us.  I’m not asking you to pour out your childhood or your own shit but I’ve never gotten the vibe that you’re not comfortable being Jack Patrick Russell.  

JR:  Well, maybe I just liked getting fucked up (laughs).  Maybe it’s because I’m half Irish and hald Native American (laughs).  I mean, the truth is anytime you expose yourself to chemical shit you run the risk of becoming addicted.  If you’re going to school to work with addictions you know that.  I don’t care WHO you are and how good or bad the skeletons in your closet are, if you drink enough alcohol you’re going to become an alcoholic and if you snort enough coke you’re gonna become a coke addict.  I had a great childhood, I have had a great career and I have no complaints but I was BAD, I mean really bad John.  I was sitting there with a goddamn colostomy bag and I was STILL drinking if that tells you anything.  No normal person in that situation would do that but I still didn’t know it was time to stop.  It took my friend Jani’s death and a subsequent phone call from Tyler for me to finally get it through my head that I was going to die if I didn’t stop.

Robby, Dario, Jack, Matthew and Derrick

Robby, Dario, Jack, Matthew and Derrick

LRI:  Was “Wasted Rock Ranger” a self-fulfilling prohecy?

JR:  (laughs).  Maybe except I didn’t write it, a band called Porky and the Answers wrote it.  I was in Rumbo Studios while Guns N’ Roses were recording their album and Duff and Slash came to me and said “Jack, you have to hear this song man, it’s the story of your life” and I heard it and immediately knew we had to record it.  I didn’t write it but I’ve always maintained that it’s the story of my life because it really is.

LRI:  You were recently on Sludge talking about how rumors of you falling off the wagon have once again been being spread now on your latest tour.  Does it never cease to amaze you that people continue to wanna catch you up or say you’re using or drunk?  I believe you not only because I want to but simply because I’ve seen the youtube clips and you seem perfectly lucid and sound great.

JR:  I can only imagine where it’s coming from.  A mutual friend of mine was asked by Audie to go to Vegas and take a picture of me all fucked up because their manager wanted it to use in court.  People are always gonna kick me and say stuff like that about me because in the past it might’ve been true.  All I can say is that they should just come to a show and see me themselves, come see the real Great White for yourself because I’m sober and we’re kicking ass.  If I don’t stay sober I’m going to die.  It’s that simple John.  My body cannot take one more drop of alcohol or one more drug, my bowel will perforate again, I’ll have a stroke, my kidney’s have already failed twice, they’ll fail again only I won’t be able to give an interview to talk about it, I’ll be dead.  If I don’t follow my doctor’s orders I will DIE and I don’t wanna die.  I can’t risk it and I’m not about to risk it.  There will always be people that say “Oh, he doesn’t look good or oh, he doesn’t look sober” and let me tell them we are doing fantastic.  The shows are all sold out, people are loving the guys in the band and walking away just blown away and that’s all that matters.   I’m loving this again and part of it is because of this band, I feel blessed to have another chance at this.

LRI:  Well, you’ve come close to meeting God so maybe you are….

JR:  Yeah, I know I am.  I mean, I’m not a Christian in the bible thumpin sense of the word but I have certainly seen enough to understand there’s a higher power at work.  I see God in the ocean and the seals swimming around out my window here on the boat, I see God in my wife’s face, he’s everywhere, he’s in our conversation right now.  I don’t need to go to church or try to look good or win a holy contest in order to be close to god.

LRI:  That’s pretty wise but you are seemingly getting a new lease on life with your lovely wife and the ass kicking band.  It seems like all of that youth is wearing off on you.

JR:  I love these guys, every one of them.  We’re getting tighter with every gig and I have to tell you it is awesome having two lead guitar players because we can stretch out and do things that we could never do with one lead guitarist and a utility guy.  Robby and Matthew are fantastic virtuoso guitarists and Derrick and Dario are already a super tight rhythm section.  It’s a great rock and roll band and they’re young guys but they’ve already gotten in pretty amazing resumes prior to hooking up with old Captain Jack.  We’re changing the set up and really enjoying ourselves every night.  I mean “Mista Bone” might segue into “Voodoo Chile” by Hendrix.  We’re tight but we’re having fun and taking chances. It’s very high energy and these guys are really, really hungry every time we get onstage to kick ass and give you the best possible show you could pay to see. I’ve spared no expense to making the stage show and sound be something totally pro and totally spectacular.  We’re already recording and collecting the best stuff from these shows to release as a live album for FREE to the fans just as a thank you.

LRI:  Well, thanks once again to Heather and thanks again to you for letting us in a little Jack.  It’s always fun and now we can look forward to seeing the live show and checking you out on the new episode of THAT METAL SHOW which should be great!

JR:  It was a blast on That Metal Show and thank you as always.  You really need to come out to the show and come out on my boat so we can start working on that book!  I will take you fishing and drive around Catalina Bay while you interview me some more.  I really appreciate you and everyone out there taking the time to read this, check out our page on Facebook or come out to the shows… This spring has been a lot of fun and we can’t wait for the summer!!






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Category: Interviews

Comments (5)

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  1. Karen Wahnee says:

    Another awesome interveiw, honest and true…

  2. shane stone says:

    Great Interview, Jack’s Back

  3. Debbie Muller says:

    Nice to see a legend come back and rock!! I want to also send a message to your Lady!! I worked with her in Denver. I remember the day she mentioned how much she wanted to meet the man of her dreams! Amazing!! you really did it HEather!! Sure would love to hear from ya. Best wishes