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GREAT WHITE – Putting The Colour Back Into White
Dave Reynolds
Metal Forces, Issue 25 (1987)

Great White (l-r): Audie Desbrow, Jack Russell, Tony Montana,
Michael Lardie and Mark Kendall

Don’t step into that rockin’ water dudes! Great White are back’n’snap happy. Yup! Since the indie release of the excellent Shot In The Dark album put out on their own label, Telegraph, through the now defunct Greenworld distribution system, Jack Russell and company’s fortunes have been on the up’n’up. Capitol Records picked up on the band, re-released Shot In The Dark and, more recently, put out a brand new album, Once Bitten…, to set hearts fluttering and pop fans racing out of the water in fear of being eaten alive by another slice of potent heavy rock comin’ at ’em fast from the radio.

I have to confess that the first time I heard Once Bitten…, an advance tape only an hour before speaking to Jack Russell on the hotline from LA, I wasn’t quite as taken with it as I was with Shot In The Dark. “Some of the songs seemed to drag,” I said. Mr. Russell wasn’t too pleased!

“Yeah, maybe On The Edge. We got a little more bluesy on this record. I personally feel it’s the best record we’ve done. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I wouldn’t say we’ve gone soft,” Jack snapped. “We’re just playing stuff we wanna play. This is where our roots come from, so fuck anybody who’s not into it! We enjoy this shit.”

Oh, the experimentation with keyboards on Shot In The Dark seems to be working, with Once Bitten… they make the band sound more classier. Jack relaxed: “Yeah, definitely. The addition of Michael Lardie on keyboards has certainly opened up new avenues for us.”

Why is the UK version of Once Bitten… going to be different, with tracks being replaced by songs from Shot In The Dark? “That’s a good question. Fuck, I don’t now. Shot In The Dark was never released in the UK but I really don’t know why Once Bitten… will be different, I don’t get involved in the business side of things.”

Hmm. Surely, as an artist I’d want to know why and put a stop to what appears to be nothing short of a rip-off to UK fans who’ve already bought Shot In The Dark on import. Oh, well. So what progress has been made since Shot In The Dark? “Playing wise? I’d say the songs are much more Great White. I compare a song like ‘Rock Me’ to ‘Face The Day’, our cover of the Angels tune, but the difference is that ‘Rock Me’ is our song. There’s nine originals on this album and we’re expanding our material all the time.”

You’re putting the blues into White. “Yeah, I love the blues, that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

I take it you got off on that tour you did with Whitesnake over here in 1983 then? “Fuck! Yeah, I love Whitesnake. That tour was great. That new album is going to do really big things for ’em.”

With a UK release of Once Bitten… could this mean a welcome return to these shores? “I fuckin’ hope so. It’s been a long, long time since we’ve played there. I love London and I can’t wait to get back.”

Don’t you think it pretty bizarre that Capitol picked up on you when they’re essentially just another part of the company (EMI America) who fucked you over when they dropped you after the Great White album in 1983? “Ha! Ha! Yeah, it’s kind of strange. We just got a good deal with Capitol so the shark is back; you can’t keep the old fin fucker down.”

What’s happening with that live / demo album you were going to release last year? “That will be coming out in a few months, around the fall. We obviously can’t release two albums at the same time. Once Bitten… is doing tremendously well for us, with more airplay than any other of our releases so far, so things look good.”

Do you think that you’ve finally lost your ‘bad boy’ tag Jack? “It depends. I hope so. I haven’t changed the way I live. I still get into trouble though, but I’m bashing at another kind of rock now and that’s certainly better.”

Was it your idea to include your parole card on the inner sleeve to the Great White album? “Yeah, that was my idea to show people that you can really rise above anything if you want to. That was to show kids that I’ve been to the bottom, but now I’ve made it back again it’s not impossible. That certainly wasn’t put on there just to show-off. I’m not proud of having been in jail.”

Could you see yourself doing more rebellious songs like ‘Stick It’ again, something Great White appear to have stopped? “Oh sure, if the mood ever hit me, but you tend to become redundant if you write about the same things. The new album has a theme about it; maybe we’ll do a whole concept next time!”

What’s the theme? “The theme is cohesive. Listen to the lyrics… women, love, the road, partying. It’s about life.”

The major news in the life of Great White is that they’ve fired longstanding bassist Lorne Black and replaced him with 20-year-old Tony Montana (the rest of the band is, of course, completed by Mark Kendall on guitars, Audie Desbrow on drums and the aforementioned Michael Lardie on keyboards / rhythm guitar).

Great White, with new bass player in tow, have recently been touring the States, with Night Ranger, in support of Once Bitten… and their US hit single ‘Rock Me’. As for some British shows? Well, we’ll just have to watch for that fin-fucker surfacing off shore. Beware pop fans!

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 25 (1987)

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