INTERVIEW WITH JACK RUSSELL’S GREAT WHITE GUITARIST ROBBY LOCHNER
Date: May 6, 2020
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda
LEAD GUITARIST ROBBY LOCHNER OF JACK RUSSELL’S GREAT WHITE CAUGHT UP WITH SLEAZE ROXX TO PROVIDE US A LITTLE MORE INSIGHT INTO THE BAND’S BRILLIANT NEW ALBUM ‘ONCE BITTEN ACOUSTIC BYTES.’ IF YOU HAVEN’T PICKED IT UP, DO SO, AS IT’S WELL EXECUTED REWORKING OF THE CLASSIC ‘ONCE BITTEN’ ALBUM.
Sleaze Roxx: I remember watching Jack Russell’s Great White perform a set on the floor at NAMM 2012. I was pleasantly surprised with Jack’s voice, he was on the mend by that point and the voice sounded great.
Robby Lochner: Yes, that was the early part of his return. He was still getting his legs under him but definitely roaring back! We had one other show under our belt before that one.
Sleaze Roxx: How far back do you go with Jack?
Robby Lochner: I first met Jack in March of 2011 through his former drummer [who then became the early drummer for Jack Russell’s Great White ] Derrick Pontier. I met Derrick though Dario [who was the bass player early on for Jack Russell’s Great White] when Dario brought Derrick to a ‘NAMM Jam’ I was doing in 2011. I invited the two guys onstage and the three of us played a 30 minute set ‘off the cuff’ that went over pretty well. After that, I kept in touch with Derrick and he brought Dario and I out to the desert to meet with Jack about doing his solo band. In early December of 2011, I met with Jack again. He was now living in Redondo Beach and he asked me to join him in Great White, because he was firing his other band, and here we are going on nine years.
Sleaze Roxx: When the idea was posed about cutting an acoustic version of this classic Great White album, what was your first thought? And was there any apprehension?
Robby Lochner: Originally, it was supposed to be just Jack and I playing how we do the acoustic duo shows. I wasn’t apprehensive. However, we figured if we are going to do this, let’s do it right. Not just one guitar and him singing and me backing him up, bring in the band. We did record “Rock Me “ and “Save Your Love” in the duo way when we confirmed bringing in the band. “Save Your Love” was easy to add the band to, but “Rock Me” was a little tricky. The guys wanted to play “Rock Me” like we do with the full band live and I needed it to be like our acoustic version. I’m hearing people say they really like the version of the song, which is great but I’ll tell you I struggled getting it to work and getting the mix right.
Sleaze Roxx: You reworked some of the songs for this album. I assume a lot of these songs have acoustic roots?
Robby Lochner: That, I don’t know. I wasn’t a part of the writing of any of the songs, just the remakes. I never did ask how they were written. Jack has talked about how he and Stephan wrote “Save Your Love” and I think that one was done on an acoustic.
Sleaze Roxx: You produced this record. How do you balance being a member of the band and also being the guy cracking the whip and trying to get the best performances out of the guys in the band?
Robby Lochner: When I produce, I never whip crack [laughs]! Especially with this band! All the guys are pros. I listen to what they have and then comment accordingly. Anytime I produce, it’s the same kind of thing. You listen to what a player brings regardless of what I have in mind. Sometimes, it’s better than what I envisioned, sometimes not. If not, then I nudge them in my direction. I rarely dictate something to be exactly like I’m hearing it. I’ll say something like “Try something like this sort of groove,” or this sort of rhythm or these general notes or whatever until we’re all happy. It’s really about making everyone happy. However, if I’m not happy with something I will push ’til I am and they are as well. In Jack Russell’s Great White, ultimately, Jack has to be happy.
Sleaze Roxx: The response to this album has been great. I was a little skeptical only because acoustic albums can be hit or miss and reimagining an album, at times, it can be disastrous. Well done.
Robby Lochner: I’ve been hearing and reading that a lot. People were concerned it wouldn’t stand up. I learned a lot doing Herman Rarebell’s acoustic Scorpions. I knew doing this, it would have to have… Well, for lack of a better saying… ‘a nut sack!’ I also knew we’d have to change some things up but would have to remain true to a lot of what was done. Redoing any classic album is dangerous. I know doing it acoustically actually makes the most sense. I had no doubt this way was ‘safer’ than trying to redo it electrically. It’s automatically different, just add some new cool twists with vibe, some old flavour with vibe, include balls and voila!
Sleaze Roxx: How much of a Great White fan were you back in the day?
Robby Lochner: I was a Jack Russell fan from the first time I heard him! I loved his voice and knew who he was. No disrespect meant but I did not know who the players in his band were until I joined up with Jack. The first song I heard from Great White was “Face The Day” and I thought “Man, that guy has got a kick ass voice!” I was also familiar with Jack from the first Herman Z German record. Then of course, subsequent songs that followed. Jack and Don Dokken really stood out to me on the first Herman record and it made a lasting impression. The cool thing was doing all the steel string acoustic guitars for Herman all those years later, and Don and Jack were on the record along with a lot of other great singers.
Sleaze Roxx: How big of a fan were you of ‘Once Bitten’ and what’s your favorite song on the album?
Robby Lochner: My favorite songs were “Save Your Love” and “Rock Me.” This version of the record, my favorite tracks are “Save Your Love”, “Never Change Heart,” “Livin’ On The Edge” and “Fast Road.” In my opinion, there is something special about those tracks, maybe a notch above the others. I really like how “Babe [, I’m Gonna Leave You]” turned out though. That of course is a [Led] Zeppelin bonus track.
Jack Russell’s Great White‘s “Save Your Love” single (from Once Bitten Acoustic Bytes):
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