Great White


by Mike Huberty
June 2009

Great White

Great White

Emerging from the 80’s Los Angeles hard rock scene, GREAT WHITE has seen the highs of rock and roll success (Grammy nominations, world tours, multiplatinum albums, and heavy video rotation in the Golden Age of MTV) as well as the lows of tragedy (a Rhode Island show that ended in a fire that claimed the lives of 99 fans as well as their guitarist.) In the new Millennium, the band has gone through periods of breakup and relative dissolution but in the past couple of years has reformed their most famous lineup (sans original bassist). Now embarking on their fourth decade performing together, GREAT WHITE has released a new album, Rising, and vocalist Jack Russell is happy where the new music has been taking them.

“We’re getting real airplay on this record and that’s something we haven’t had for ten years”, he says. “It’s amazing to me. It’s always my goal to do one more record. Hopefully the voice will hang in there and keep going. I just want to keep doing this until it’s not fun anymore, I know eventually there will be a point where I’ll feel too old and be like, ‘Ouch, my hair hurts!’” For fans that are interested in checking out the new songs, he has a couple of suggestions. “If you like the soft side of the band or love ballads, something like ‘Sanctuary’ or ‘Only You Can Do’ and if you’re into the heavier side, try ‘Danger Zone’ or ‘Situation’ which is the opening track.”

And it sounds like the themes of this record are more personal than ever for him. “This album to me is really cool”, he says. “Because I really dug deep this time. I try to be honest with my lyrics anyway, because what’s the point of writing lyrics if they’re going to be bullshit? You need to wear your heart on your sleeve, you need to dig deep. We all go through the same crap. I don’t care if you’re flipping burgers or if you’re in a rock band. We all have the same emotional problems, we all pay the same dues. My gas still goes up when yours goes up. It’s the all the same thing and I like to write honest stuff. I like to write about my life. Whatever time I’m going through, I’m going through some kind of emotional turmoil and maybe that’s just because I write really good blues songs when I’m in that state of mind. ”

After years of battling cocaine and alcohol addictions, Russell has wrestled with rehab and freely discusses the cathartic process of songwriting. “This record has to do with my demons and my issues yet again. It’s something I’ve always been upfront about. It’s not something I’m embarrassed at, you know. Alcoholism and drug addictions are a disease and it’s something I’ve been fighting for years. Somedays you eat the bear and somedays the bear eats you. But the fact is, I’m still here, which I can’t say for a number of my friends, so I’m doing something right. There were parts in the album where I was breaking down when I was writing some of the lyrics. I was like ‘Damn, do I really want to tell people this?’ and yeah, that’s the stuff you should be telling them. The stuff that matters, maybe it will help somebody. When I was a kid and I’d hear something, I’d think, ‘Man, this song is just for me’ and I’d like to be able to impart that to someone.”

Great White is returning to the Midwest for several shows this summer at festivals and he says he’s just as excited about the live show and touring as he ever was. “Rock and roll to me is a celebration of life. It’s about joy, having a great time, hedonism, remembering your youth and if you’re still young, living it to its fullest!”, he urges.“ You’re only young once and you don’t live forever, as much as I used to think it would be true. I didn’t stay twenty-five forever. Of course I still feel like it in my head, but my body tells me no sometimes. But we still pound it out and I’d put out this band up against any band of twenty-year olds anytime. And we appreciate things so much more than we did when we were young because when you’re twenty-five you don’t appreciate anything. Every show is so important to me and we put all of our heart and soul into it. That hour and a half or two hours onstage is our whole life.“

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Great White
CD: Rising Record Label: Shrapnel Records
Purchase Rising on Amazon