Night Ranger: ‘I would define our music as good melodic Rock and Roll’

Samedi 28 Juin 2014

Interview. Brad Gillis, guitarist and founding member of the American rock bank Night Ranger tells about his career and the creation and the recording of High Road, the brand new album by Night Ranger.

How could you define Night Ranger’s music? And what was the secret of your success and longevity?

I would define our music as good melodic Rock and Roll with memorable choruses and guitar hooks. It's feel good songs with a summertime flair. The kind of music that's perfect for cranking up in your car on a beautiful warm night. We've been very lucky to still be jamming together after 30 plus years. Our secret for such longevity has to be our passion for creating new music and performing live and all our members and crew get along with each other and keep the humor flowing while on tour.

What kind of music or which musicians had a major influence on your music?

The music that started my career was the mid sixties invasion of British rock with bands like the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. I received my first guitar for my 8th birthday and never wanted to stop playing. In the late sixties I started getting into Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Jeff Beck. They had an enormous effect on my playing. My older brother set me up with a homemade distortion box that hooked up to his record player and headphones. I would sit in his room and play all of his popular Rock records and learning those songs by ear. I'd play them over and over until I learned the chords and would tinker with trying to learn the solos.

I remember the MTV images of rock’n’roll bands in the 80’s. It looked like an endless party with gorgeous girls, alcohol, and not much work… What was life like for a rock star in the 80’s?

With the 80's being the breakout years for Night Ranger, we toured about 9 months a year through 1989. There were many fun times but what people don't realize is all the travel, interviews, early morning live radio broadcasts and photo sessions we were doing around the world. But when we had a day of or after a major gig in a fun city, we partied hard. But that was the 80's and everyone is now focused on the business and not the parties.

There are many live albums recorded in Japan in your discography. Which countries are the more sensible to your music?

Japan has always been one of our favorite countries to visit and perform. They love American Rock and roll and they still love Night Ranger. We actually will be performing there again in October and playing in Honolulu and Maui on the way back home. I have also love to play in Europe but unfortunately having performed there very much. They embrace us very well when we do perform in Europe

Acoustic versions of electric rock songs are sometimes disappointing but 24 Strings & a Drummer - Live and Acoustic was a great album. What were the main difficulties to convert the rock songs into acoustic songs?

We had to rehearse and reformat many of the songs for the CD and DVD. Many of the guitar solos had to be reworked for playing live. But we had the luxury of playing many of the songs for live radio broadcasts throughout the years and they came natural for us to play. A few songs were more difficult especially being stripped down acoustically. We had a blast recording 24 strings as we had all of our friends a family in the audience.

High Road is a very heavy album. Was it something that you wanted to do or something that your fans want to hear?

We always seem to record songs that excite us at that moment of creation. There was no set format when recording High Road. But we make sure we have all the elements to complete a record such as a few ballads, a few mid-tempo groove songs and a few heavy songs. It's been the same way for every Night Ranger record. We just seemed to have a few more heavy songs in this CD.

What can you tell me about the making of the High Road album? Was it recorded live?

We did not record this CD live but would record the basic songs with Kelly, Jack and me. We would then re-record drums over our basic tracks and then re-record bass and initial rhythm guitar over our old original tracks. We would then do a scratch lead and chorus vocal over the music. Then we'd add more guitars and keys on top of that. After finishing final lead and chorus vocals, we would then add lead guitars to finish the process.

Did you test your new songs live and what was the reaction of the audience?

We started playing the single " High Road" last month and have only performing the song 3 times. Initial response has been good but any new song needs time to settle into the listener.

Is there a chance to see you live in Europe and more particularly in France in the near future?

We would love to get back to Europe and France and as of yesterday, there's talk of a European tour in March of 2015..... We'll see what comes up for us to come back to Europe.

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Boris Plantier