With a career that spans more than 35 years, Night Ranger has amassed world acclaim with their signature sound and arsenal of hits. Their songs like “(You Can Still) Rock in America,” “When You Close Your Eyes,” “Four In The Morning” and “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” have become staples of classic rock radio and earned them legions of fans. Then, of course, there’s “Sister Christian”, the monster hit from their sophomore release, Midnight Madness, which became synonymous with the MTV generation and still finds itself being used in countless films and television shows to this day.
Never a band to rest on their laurels Night Ranger – which consists of Jack Blades (lead vocals/bass), Kelly Keagy (lead vocals/drums), Brad Gillis (guitar/vocals), Eric Levy (keyboards) and Keri Kelli (guitar/vocals) celebrated their 35th anniversary this year by releasing Don’t’ Let Up!, their first album of new material in three years and a record which feels just like their live show.
AXS recently spoke with Jack Blades [who is also a member of Damn Yankees and Revolution Saints] about Night Ranger’s upcoming show, legacy and more in this new interview.
AXS: What can fans expect from Night Ranger’s upcoming performance at The State Theatre in Easton, PA?
Jack Blades: The thing about Night Ranger is that you never know what to expect. It’s always a surprise because we’re always changing up our set list. We’ll play the hits everyone knows as well as a few new songs and even a few Damn Yankees things. We’ll even hammer out a few songs that we grew up listening to. It’s an interactive show where everyone joins in and sings along. This band doesn’t know how to phone it in, and we have no ability to do anything else but give 110% every time we step on stage. We may have played “Sister Christian” sixty million times, but every time we start those piano notes and you see the grins on everyone’s faces and they start singing along and having a great time, how could you not want to go out there and slam it?
AXS: After more than three decades, it might be easy for a band to just put things on auto pilot. What do you do to keep things fresh?
JB: For me, the moment you stop creating is when you start dying inside. That’s why we keep coming up with ideas and making records. There’s so much more to sing and play about. Music is everything to me and that’s why we keep churning them out. Whether it’s a live album, like our recent 35 Years And A Night In Chicago, or even the new album we released this year, Don’t Let Up!. We wanted to make a rocking album that was more like our live show. It’s like the song says, “Don’t let up on the big picture, baby!” That’s kind of been of our creed.
AXS: What are Night Ranger’s plans for 2018?
JB: We’re going to hit the road like it’s our 35th anniversary all over again. We had so much fun this year and did almost one hundred shows. We just recently got back from a sold-out tour of Japan where we played two nights in Tokyo. On the second night, we actually changed the entire set list and played songs we hadn’t played in years. The fans were so excited. Who knows? We may do that a few times next year or maybe even play an entire album. The sky’s the limit on what we can do.
AXS: Next year also marks the 35th anniversary of the band’s monster album, Midnight Madness. At the time, did you know how special it was going to be?
JB: We always felt pretty good about it. The first track released was “(You Can Still) Rock in America” and it got such great reaction and the video for it was great. But who would ever guess that a song you wrote in your living room would one day wind up being in the collective conscious of the nation?
AXS: What do you remember most about the making of that album?
JB: I remember we’d been on the road for eighteen months celebrating the million-selling success of Dawn Patrol and then were suddenly pulled off because the record company went bankrupt. So, we came off the road and went right back in the studio to start work on our sophomore album for MCA (Universal). We chugged it out and went right back out on the road for another eighteen months. Everything happened really fast.
AXS: Your other project, Revolution Saints with Doug Aldrich and Deen Castronova released their sophomore album, Light In The Dark this year. How has the reaction been?
JB: It’s been great. I don’t think anyone ever thought we’d do a new album. The first was more of a producer-based record but this one had Doug more involved and he plays so great. Of course, Deen also sings his ass off.
AXS: Of all the highlights of your career, what stands out to you as most memorable?
JB: There have been so many highlights, like when we played at Budokon in Japan for the first time. Then there was playing with my band, Rubicon at Cal Jam II in 1978 before 250,000 people. This was even before we had formed Night Ranger. Then of course, there was playing with Ringo Starr when we did VH1 Storytellers. There’s been a lot of highlights over the years, and I’m still enjoying them.