Performing instantly recognizable hits like Sister Christian, Don’t Tell Me You Love Me, and the powerhouse, (You Can Still) Rock in America, Night Ranger is going strong as it celebrates its 35th anniversary. After a hiatus in the late 1990s, the band is back together. In the middle of an international tour, Night Ranger comes to the Ridgefield Playhouse April 25.
Andrea Valluzzo caught up with Jack Blades, who plays bass and shares vocals with Kelly Keagy.
Andrea Valluzzo: You guys recorded a studio album, Don’t Let Up, last year. Tell us about the album and its sound.
Jack Blades: It’s sort of a celebration of the 35th anniversary that Night Ranger has been around since the album Dawn Patrol came out. We wanted to make a record reflective of what this band is about, but circa 2018. Don’t Let Up — it’s sort of like this is our mantra. We are still here after all these years. It reflects what our lives are about. Night Ranger is a kickass straight-up American band.
AV: Tell us what the show at the Ridgefield Playhouse will be like. Old favorites? New music?
JB: At this stage it’s hard to figure out what kind of set to play, there are so many songs but certain songs people want to hear. We throw in a song from Damn Yankees, we play classics, everything you hear coming off the stage is coming from the five people on the stage. No artificial sweetening added. It’s just a great time. We are just looking forward to being in your neck of the woods having a great time, and playing some great American rock and roll. Everybody will leave the place with their voices hoarse from singing along.
AV: You guys have been touring together a long time. I read an interview where you said you all still really like each other?
JB: We actually enjoy each other’s company. That’s basically the way it is, we just really enjoy it and will keep doing it as long as it’s fun.
AV: What’s been the secret of the band’s success?
JB: I think a good song is always going to be a good song. Night Ranger has always focused on good songs. If I could not get a new song across with me strumming an acoustic and singing the chorus, then it was not a good song. If you can sit there and sing it and if people get it, then that’s a good song. The bands that have always had songs are still around.
AV: What’s your fan base at concerts today?
JB: It’s a combination of young people, older people, fans who have been with us for 30 years. It always amazes me when I see 17- to 18-year-olds singing along with our songs. Night Ranger has always been a player’s band with two guitars and two singers. A lot of younger guys, they love seeing players play.
AV: After Night Ranger broke up in 1989, you were in Damn Yankees. What was that like?
JB: With Ted Nugent and Tommy Shaw, we had a lot of success. That was a fun band, too, that was also a great kickass American band.
AV: When did Night Ranger come back together, and how did that happen?
JB: That came about after Damn Yankees. In 1996, Night Ranger decided to put on some shows in Japan. We tested the waters and said, Let’s go play some shows. They sold out immediately. It turned out so well we have been at it ever since.
AV: Tell me about playing bass for Ringo Starr. What was that experience like?
JB: This was back in 1999-2000, it was pretty amazing. The whole reason I play music is when I first heard the Beatles record in 1974, it was, Bam! That’s what I wanted to be. For me, it was the whole reason I was a musician, the inspiration I got from them, to be able to play with Ringo and hear his stories straight from the horse’s mouth … that was great.