By Emily Crowe
CMI staff writer
From the moment Jack Blades first saw the Beatles, he knew he wanted to be a part of rock ‘n’ roll.
As a singer, bassist, songwriter and producer with more than 30 years in the business, Blades has worked with the likes of Ted Nugent, Cher, Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne.
Blades and his band Night Ranger will play alongside Jack Russell’s Great White at the Curry County Events Center for the signature performance at this year’s Clovis Music Festival.
Have you been through Clovis previously?
That’s a good question. I think I might have been. I’ve been all over New Mexico.
What kind of touring have you been doing this year?
We’ve been doing a lot of shows. We just got off a 10-day run and we have three days off, then we’re back on again. We’re doing a lot of shows, our own shows, some shows with Journey, Loverboy and Cheap Trick, shows with all kinds of bands. We’ve been having a very busy summer, to tell you the truth
How does touring now compare with the tours you went on at the beginning of your career?
You mean, is there still Jack Daniels and beer backstage? 1983 was like Jack Daniels and beer, and in 2013 it’s still beer and Jack Daniels, I guess. The fans are the same. You’re still on tour busses. I’ve spent my entire adult life on tour. All kidding aside, backstage there might be a lot more salads and maybe a blender to make killer smoothies, as opposed to massive amounts of Jack Daniels and Jager(meister) and all that kind of stuff. But really, things haven’t changed that much. The band is a better band now, I feel. We’re not all as severely medicated as we were back in the 80s.
How did you get your start in music?
When I was 8 years old, my parents gave me a little one-dollar plastic ukulele and I started strumming on that. I first saw the Beatles and that was the end of that for me. I was like, man, this is what I want to be. I went to school. I was a pre-med student in college. I took a leave of absence in my fourth year to move to San Francisco to join a rock band, and I’ve sort of been on that trajectory ever since. It’s worked out OK for me.
What can someone attending your show expect?
We’re playing better. The band is a rockin’ band and the fans are just crazy excited to sing along with every song. It never ceases to amaze me. Coming to Night Ranger shows, it’s a real interactive show. I get everybody singing along, we get everybody doing other things. Who knows, we might throw in a couple Damn Yankees songs from my time in the Damn Yankees. We’ll throw in anything else we want to play, some other songs we grew up listening to. We get people to sing along. Everybody has a good time. Everybody walks away with a smile on their face.
What artists or bands have influenced your music?
I think Simon and Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills and Nash. I’m a big songwriter guy, I love a good song. A good song will always remain a good song. That’s why songs like “Sister Christian,” “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” “You Can Still Rock in America,” all our songs still sort of resonate. Personally speaking, I was always influenced by great songwriters, great harmonies. Then I was heavily influenced by the heavy British rock back in the early 70s, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Hendrix. All those influences were sort of thrown into the pot and stirred and it just came out Night Ranger.
What have been your favorite venues or cities to play in recent years?
Each city has its own vibe, each area in the country and the fans have their own vibe. I love playing Tokyo, I love when we played Sweden Rocks at this big festival last year in Sweden. I love playing in the Midwest. In your neck of the woods, Albuquerque is a real classic rockin’ town, so we’re looking forward to a great show at the Curry County Fairgrounds.
Do any of the shows throughout your career stand out among the others?
Being in front of 80,000 people at a sold-out Cotton Bowl, at the Texas Jam in 1985, I think that was a great show. Budokan in Tokyo, that was always great there. There’s just been so many. Sold out shows in San Francisco, which is our hometown. With the Damn Yankees, we had so many great shows and great places to play in Michigan and all over the states. Texas has always been a great fan base.
What artists and music are you into these days?
Right now, we’re writing a new album, so I’m sort of focused on writing our own stuff. Bruno Mars, stuff like that. I love what Jack White does, I think he’s really a creative guy. There’s a lot of great music out there right now, man, I’m even a fan of Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson. I love pop songs, I love all that kind of stuff. A good song is a good song, and will always be a good song, and will always stand the test of time.
When can we expect the new album?
It’ll probably be out in the spring of next year.
— Edited for length and clarity