Gary James' Interview With
Brad Gillis Of
They first exploded on to the Rock scene in 1982 with a song called "Don't Tell Me You Don't Love Me". Since then, other hits have followed, including "(You Can Still) Rock In America", "Sister Christian", "Sentimental Street", "Four In The Morning" and "Goodbye". Night Ranger is the band and they've sold over 16 million records, CDs and tapes. When I interviewed band member Brad Gillis, MCA Records was promoting their latest release, "Man In Motion".
Q - Night Ranger is a band that can both write and play. That's not always the case with so many of the groups today. Can you tell me why a record company would sign an act with obvious weaknesses?
A - It seems like they sign them first of all from the first impression, maybe seeing them 'live' or hearing one demo tape and picking out one song. To have a band go into the studio and consistently write 10 songs for an album is kind of hard to do. So a lot of these new bands are just pretty boys who come out and have the look. They really don't have the talent. But since they do have the one song, it gets them over. As soon as the public, the kids, latch on to that one song, the album is gonna sell and it pretty much doesn't matter what's on the album. They pretty much buy it for those one or two songs. What we try to do when we write our albums is we go for the songs. We try to make sure that the first thing is the song, the chorus, the feel, and we put the playing into it. We never try to do songs for, like, fillers.
Q - Where do you think Night Ranger fits in today's Rock world?
A - Well, I tell you Night Ranger is a true Rock band. Because of the record company, we're pretty much labeled as a ballad Rock band and that's really hurt and killed this band. We're pretty upset with the whole outcome of the last few albums. We never have a say with what we can release with the record company. They pretty much call the shots. We're at the point now where we have to go with the flow or else move on and we owe the label another album. When you've got a Rock band, you want to release a Rock song to establish the Rock band thing. They (MCA) don't understand that.
Q - Why did your keyboard player, Alan Fitzgerald, leave the band?
A - He's been around quite a few years. I've been a professional musician for 10 years and Fitz has been a professional for 20 years. He's been with Montrose and Sammy Hagar. He's in his late 30s. He just got married. His wife is pregnant and he just didn't want to go on the road anymore. And we could tell 'cause after every gig, he'd just go back to his room and he wouldn't hang out. He didn't want to tour and we had to tour. A Rock band has to tour.
Q - Do you still like the touring?
A - I like the touring the U.S. because people know who you are and why you're there. In Europe, you know you're someplace different. England is alright. You can have a good time in England. They don't really like Americans in France, so it can be difficult when you go out.
Q - Is it possible for a band to be unpopular in the U.S. but still be popular overseas?
A - Oh, sure. Record companies work the markets differently, so it depends on how much promotion and publicity you get in that particular country. I've often said we would make a career out of playing Japan because we're so popular there.
Q - When Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records died, did you and the other guys think your career was in trouble?
A - I never met Neil Bogart. At the time we got signed, he was already pretty sick and in the hospital. We dealt with the company's vice-president, Bruce Bird.
Q - Were you in the band when Night Ranger had the hit "Don't Tell Me You Don't Love Me" on the charts?
A - Oh, sure.
Q - I recall seeing Night Ranger open for Kiss during their "Creatures Of The Night" tour.
A - I remember that tour very well.
Q - The group seemed cramped for space on that stage. How can you properly showcase a band in those circumstances?
A - If you remember the stage, there were performers on each side of the stage. That's why there wasn't much room. But hey, we were the opening act and you have to take what's given to you. We didn't complain. We went on and made the best of it.
Q - You were the guy who stepped into Ozzy's band after Randy Rhoads died. Did you know Randy Rhoads?
A - No, I didn't. I saw him only once at I believe A Day In The Green.
Q - When you stepped into that band, did Ozzy's fans treat you well?
A - Well, not really, not at first. You'd look out in the audience and see these banners - Randy Rhoads Forever and that kind of thing. But after awhile it was better.
Q - How is "Man In Motion" doing sales wise?
A - It's doing OK. It's sold a couple of hundred thousand units so far.
Q - So what's next?
A - Well, right now we're getting ready to go out on the road with Kansas for about a month.