Night Ranger's Brad Gillis On '80s Bands, & Guitar Hero Fans

Categories: Q&A
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Night Ranger
​Night Ranger's song "Sister Christian" has had the whole world wondering what "motoring" is since 1984. Drummer Kelly Keagy wrote the massive hit for his little sister and it kind of ended up an anthem for teenage girls to keep their legs shut. 

After 30 years, a breakup and many side projects -- including singer Jack Blades playing with Ted Nugent in Damn Yankees -- Night Ranger is now not only on a world tour with Journey and Foreigner, the band also just released a new album Somewhere in California. 

Night Ranger will be playing at Journey and Foreigner on Sunday, September 18 at the Cruzan Amphitheatre. New Times spoke with Night Ranger guitarist Brad Gillis who formed his first band the Invaders at ten years old and who's been with Night Ranger since before it was Night Ranger, known then as Rubicon. Gillis has released solo albums, played for Ozzy Osbourne and right now is very grateful to be touring and showing new fans what he's got to offer. 
New Times: Somewhere in California, your newest album, the music is very emotional. You're from California. Do you have a favorite song on there, one that speaks to you most? 

Brad Gillis: I always like the song "Growin' Up in California" only because, basically, I born in Hawaii, but I spent all my life in California, it has a special place in my heart. The second song "Lay It On Me" that's kind of one of my favorite song on the record. It's kind of heavier, on tour it goes over very well. 

It's been 30 years since you first produced music together. You haven't played as one band the whole time. What's it like being back together? 

We all went off and did separate things, Jack went on to do the Damn Yankees, I did a records, other projects. We actually got a call from the Japanese to reunite the original band in 1995 to do a Japanese tour. That's when we all got back together, went to Japan and had a successful tour there and ended up getting a record deal out of that and pretty much resurged Night Ranger back into the forefront. 

Ever since getting back together, we've been at, every year, getting more shows and better tours and this year has been great because we have this major world tour with Journey and Foreigner. We did Japan, Europe and the United States, playing places we've never played, shows we haven't played live since the eighties. 

This tour seems really intense with so many cities. Most of you probably have families. They must be all grown up, so you don't have to rush home all the time? 

My daughter is 20 years old, she's moved out, she's going to college down in LA and basically, everybody else's kids are grown up. On the road, it's a lot easier without having kids growing up. It's three months on tour and that's a long time away from home. 

Especially since you guys seem pretty attached to northern California. Now that a lot of the other '80s bands are getting back together, styles have changed, and you guys have new music, how do you feel about the other groups reuniting and touring after so many years? 

It almost seems like these '80s bands are coming back around and regaining popularity and that's why so many of these rock tours are doing so well right now. Our numbers with Journey, Foreigner, and Night Ranger around the country are doing phenomenal, selling out amphitheaters everywhere, averaging 20,000 a show. To be on a sold out nationwide tour with a new record out is very exciting for us. 

You have gained popularity and reached a wider audience from being featured in TV and movies, Rock of Ages, and games like "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band." Do you have anything to say to a younger generation or new listeners about your music? 

We're gaining like this younger audience and I think a lot of it has to do with "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" coming out. It kind of bringing back guitar solos to the forefront whereas in the '90s and early 2000s there weren't many guitar solos going on. They're kind of reverting back to classic rock that maybe they heard their parents playing at home decided to get into it. 

I remember when my daughter was back in school in senior high school and I'd pick her up from school and see all these Journey and AC/DC and Metallica T-shirts and I said to my daughter, are those bands popular? She said, yeah, everybody loves the metal like Metallica or the mainstream pop-rock like Journey. It was kind of great to hear that music from 20 or 30 years ago is still popular with the kids. 

We see a lot of younger guys and girls at our shows singing the lyrics to our songs and it's kind of a good feeling that we can crossover to a younger audience along with keeping your core fans.

Journey, with Foreigner and Night Ranger. 7 p.m. Sunday, September 18, at Cruzan Amphitheater, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $32 to $291. Visit livenation.com.


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