Catching Up With Brad Gillis of Night Ranger
Well, a lot has changed. We don’t tour nine months out of the year any longer and recording costs are a lot different than in the past. Instead of going down to L.A. and then locking down into the studio for a couple of months to make a record we (Kelly, Jack and myself) all just get together now, jam things out. We started out at Kelly’s house in Nashville and came up with some great ideas. We then started to pass the files along and got Keri Kelli working on it and then got Eric Levy to add in his keyboard parts. We would then get together at each other’s studios and finish this thing off. It took quite a while because in between we would be touring, writing new material on the fly, Jack had some vocal troubles for about a month and a half but in the end, we were all so happy with how it came out. It’s getting great reviews all over the world and the first week it was out it was #1 on Amazon bestseller hard rock charts. Have not had this much excitement since the 80’s!
I get the feeling after listening to “Don’t Let Up” a few times that it picks up right where “Somewhere in California” & “High Road” left off? Agree or disagree?
Oh I agree. I think the last couple of records had some great songs on them. I think this record is getting a lot more action in terms of reviews and everyone seems to like every single song so I think we did build off those albums for sure. Fans are saying they don’t want to skip over any tracks so that’s so cool to hear! It’s exciting for us to hear this because we need to start to get together more often and learn these songs for our set when we tour in support of it.
There is a song off of “Don’t Let Up” that I instantly gravitated to when I first heard it and I put it up against any of your past albums or songs in your entire catalog and is now my favorite Night Ranger song of all time. Talk to me a little about “Truth”.
Wow, that’s my favorite song too. I got to tell you man, there’s something about it that’s a little different. Still quintessential Night Ranger but hits a new high note for the band. Being that it’s a mid-tempo tune Jack sings his butt off on it and it has a lot of soul to it. It’s funny you mention that because we were talking as a band and we all feel that we should be releasing this one because it could take us over the top, who knows? It’s a lot different for bands like us today for airplay on radio because we are considered classic rock. I agree that’s my favorite song also.
The recently released CD/DVD set “35 Years & A Night in Chicago” includes a “Don’t Let Up” track “Day & Night”. The band must have been very confident in the new material to not only include it in the set but it made the live album as well?
Well to be honest, we were just looking for something new to play live! When you start to play the same set list for 35 years you’re always looking to keep it fresh. We thought it would be fun to add this into the set not only because we were so excited about it but we rehearsed well enough and long enough to include it. It was in a way a preview to the fans of things to come.
I assume that you will be touring throughout 2017 in support of ‘Don’t Let Up”?
Oh yeah, we are gearing up for shows throughout the spring and into the summer/fall. Festivals with multiple bands, co-headlining shows, Japan coming up and we are trying to book some stuff for Europe. Best way to keep up is by visiting www.nightranger.com for the latest information on dates and ticket information.
You keep busy with other musical endeavors outside of Night Ranger. What other projects are you working on currently?
I’m constantly keeping busy. Over the past 15 years I’ve placed songs everywhere from ESPN to Fox Sports to Tiger Woods Sony PlayStation Games to EA Sports to The Fuse Channel. I’ve done songs in movies and I just recently placed something on the Price is Right. I’m currently working on a theme song for a returning sports show. Always keeping busy.
I would have to say, “Speak of the Devil”. I just think more fans have it and are aware of what it more in general. I do sign my fair share of “Hear n Aid” albums as well. The record that I have signed the most is Night Ranger’s “Greatest Hits”.
What do you remember most about the Hear n Aid recording?
It was a blast for me, just hanging out with all my great guitar player friends like George Lynch, Neal Schon, Yngwie, Vivian Campbell, Carlos Cavazo, Craig Goldy, Eddie Ojeda. Everybody got along and everybody had such fun doing it. Basically, everybody got to pick a 8 or 12 bars solo and I thought how do I complete with these shredders? I went in and did I do best and did a whammy bar solo. It was different from the rest so I figured it worked.
You have played with some pretty amazing guitar players within Night Ranger. In one sentence could I get you to describe them:
Reb Beach: Great player and a really fun guy.
Joel Hoekstra: One of my best buddies and still is and my partner in crime for his almost 7-year stint I Night Ranger.
Keri Kelli: Great addition to the band is just the nicest guy in the world. Plays his ass off and sticks to the traditional Night ranger sound and solos.
Jeff Watson: Spent a whole decade of decadence in the 80’s with Jeff and went through a lot together and had quite a lot of fun.
I must admit when I saw the cover of your first solo record “Gilrock Ranch” in 1993 I laughed. I still bought it, mind you ,and enjoyed it because it was a bit different. What do you remember most about that album?
Ha that’s funny. Glad you bought it. Meeting, hanging and working with Greg Allman. Greg had moved to the bay area and had been hanging out with a friend of mine and one day I hosted a barbeque and invited Greg over and showed him my studio. I had been working on this song and had this other guy singing on it and I wasn’t digging it at all. So I played Greg the song without the vocal. The song was “Honest To God” and when the song was finished he asked me to play it again. So I did and then he asked for a pencil and paper and started to write stuff down. He then said you got a microphone and I said ya I got a microphone. Why don’t you kick everyone out of here and we can work on this! No problem. He did it. Loved the way it came out. Then he came back and sang on “If Looks Could Kill”. That was what I remember the most about that record. What a thrill.
Best of luck on the road and we love Night Ranger here in New England and hope to see you here real, real soon!
Well we are booking a lot of shows and hope to be back in New England very soon. We love it there and always have.
For more info, visit www.nightranger.com