Night Ranger - Kelly Keagy (1996)


Okay, so we all know who Night Ranger are, if not, check out my Jack Blades interview. This however was a slight variation on the form of the band, with original members Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis joined by ex-Jeff Paris bass man Gary Moon. They went onto record the very fine album 'Feeding Off The Mojo'. Here's the story.

So Kelly, how is the band and what are you up to currently?
The band is preparing to tour the south behind the newly released single ‘Precious Time’.

All the reviews I have read for 'Feeding Off The Mojo' have been excellent, are you happy with the reception for the album?
Radio is still focused on playing alternative music, so getting airplay has been frustrating.
However, we have been gratified by the reviews. It seems the consensus is it’s a great record and will be a shame if it doesn’t get the proper attention.

Many bands have comprimised their sound for the trends. 'Mojo' is a very contemporary sound, while still retaining everything a classic Night Ranger album should. How did you go about the song writing?
Writing the songs came naturally, we can’t do it any other way.
The songs were written out of personal experience or with a personal connection. As for the sound, we tried to keep the recording process simple. We didn’t want to over-process so we tried to keep the first takes in order to maintain the raw feel.

Kelly, your voice is obvious with the songs you sing on the album, but it sounds like there are two other singers with the diversity on this record. Who's responsible for the other leads?
Mojo, Last Chance, Try For Good Reason, Music Box and Longest Days were all sung by Gary Moon. I sang Precious Time, Night Has A Way, Do You Feel Like I Do/Tomorrow Never Knows.
Vocals were split between the two of us on Tell Me I’m Wrong and So Far Gone. Brad and David Pratter joined us for background vocals.

It is nice to hear some lyrics with hope and a positive message, like 'Try (For Good Reason)'. What was that song about?
Basically, the song reflects a particularly difficult time for us both as a band and individually.

In the absense of a better word, the album seems quite moody. Was that a feeling you tried to create, or again, was it just the way the band felt?
It came naturally. It is moody, we were moody. The moodiness probably comes through as a reflection of our own personal growth. Rather than just fast cars, girls, and how we can rock, we were motivated by a more spiritual side.

How long has this line-up been togehter?
We three have been playing together since 1992. We heard about Gary from Jeff Paris, a well known singer/songwriter from L.A.

I have read a lot of comments praising your recent live shows. All raved about the energy you guys created on stage. Is it just the three of you?
We are really enjoying playing with this line-up. The band is incredibly strong vocally, especially with the addition of David Zajicek for touring. David also does fine keyboards and amazing guitar work. In fact, he did some work on the record. All in all, it has been a great experience.

How did the band team up with David Pratter for the recording of 'Mojo'?
We met David Pratter through Don Grierson, the Executive Producer at the record company. Don Grierson had worked with David on Firehouse and we knew of his work with Dream Theatre.
Working with David Pratter was a learning experience for all participants.

And you assisted the production?
Yeah, I’ve been involved with engineering and producing for the past ten years, whether it has been with my own demos, other bands or previous Night Ranger records.

In previous years, there was talk of dissatisfaction regarding record label handling of Night Ranger. Was that frustrating?
All’s I can say is yes.

How much did that lead to the split of the band?

Wow! How is your current label working out?
It has been a great pleasure working with Don Grierson at Drive. We had a great respect for his accomplishments with so many artists, such as Heart and Cheap Trick. As our Executive Producer, he shared our vision and restored our faith in record company decision making.

There are a few guest writers involved with the writing of 'Mojo'. How did they get involved?
The guest writers were longtime friends who we felt added special flavours to our writing. We made an exception with ‘The Night Has A Way’. In that case, Don Grierson asked us to listen to the song because it had affected him so much and we couldn’t deny it did the same to us.

Any other plans for singles off the album?
As a matter of fact, ‘Precious Time’ was just released as a single to AC and CHR formats. We decided on ‘Mojo’ as the first single just to do something different. We have also released ‘Do You Feel’ to AOR.

Any favourite tunes?
Trying to pick favourites would be like choosing which child is your favourite. Each has their own special character. While it’s fun to play ‘Rock In America’ and ‘Don’t Tell Me You Love Me’ live, what excites me these days is playing ‘Longest Days’, ‘Last Chance’ & ‘Mojo’.

What was it like having a US number one with 'Sister Christian'?
I don’t know, I was on a bus riding 16 hours from one gig to the next! Did that place any unwanted pressure in coming up with more number one tunes?
I think everybody always feels that pressure, but you have to be who you are and try and write the best you can write.

Night Ranger have always seemed to have fun live, something a lot of bands have forgotten to do these days.
I’m glad you noticed, both that we have fun and others may have forgotten. We love to kick ass every night and enjoy playing with each other. The audience picks up on that.

Are you still incorporating your famous acoustic set into your shows? You were on of the first bands doing that.
Yes, I think the acoustic set is one of the highlights of the show. Of course, it’s a mix of the old and new.

What are you listening to right now?
I’m currently listening to Live, Weather Report and the Beatles Anthology.

Ever been to Australia?
No, but we’d love to, thanks.

What are your plans now/
Well, after your last question, it will depend on how quick you can get us those tickets on Qantas.

Well, if I could afford that, I would not be on the phone to you from Tasmania! Thanks Kelly for the time!


Back To c.1997 Andrew J McNeice