Jack Blades: Label Paid Damn Yankees $1 Million to Avoid Third LP
Jack Blades, frontman for Night Ranger and Damn Yankees, detailed the '90s cultural shift that affected label Warner Bros.' attitude toward his music.
Damn Yankees — the supergroup featuring Blades, Ted Nugent and Styx's Tommy Shaw — opened the decade with two popular albums, 1990's Damn Yankees and 1992's Don't Tread. And after that point, Blades and Shaw found themselves with a lot of outside work, writing for artists like Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne and Cher.
"It was a good creative period," Blades told '80s Metal Recycle Bin in a recent interview. "So it was really a fun time, actually. Then our record label, Warner Bros., said, 'Why don't you guys do a record?' So we did the first Shaw Blades record [1995's Hallucination]."
Then the atmosphere at the label reportedly changed. "Right when [the album] was released, that's when all the guys at the record company decided they needed to shave their heads and be cool and all that kinda stuff. That was the real turning point — like '95, actually. That was the crazy time."
Blades added that Warner did "absolutely nothing" with the album, reflecting a broader change in musical tastes.
"The new regime came in, and they didn't want to do anything [with that style of music]. And in fact, they paid Damn Yankees a million dollars not to do another Damn Yankees record. We're like, 'Really? OK, we'll just take the check. Why not?' That was how it was because Damn Yankees had sold so many records and we were so recouped, so in our contract the next thing was like 'we get a million bucks to do an album,' and they just paid us the million dollars not to do the record. That's how much nobody wanted anything to do with that era and style of music."
Watch Jack Blades' Interview With '80s Metal Recycle Bin
In UCR's history of Damn Yankees, the band members recalled regrouping in 1999 for an unreleased third album, with Luke Ebbin (best known for helming Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" ) serving as producer.
"There was a scene change. That was right around the time that Nirvana changed everything. It was time," Shaw said. "Because there were starting to be these derivative bands and producers were coming up and creating bands that were in that same genre, and that always spells that the end is near. Somebody comes in and plays simple songs and all of a sudden clears the boards again, and it’s a reset. We were due for a reset."
"That will never come out," Blades said of the project. "It will always be the long lost record. Little pieces of that have dripped out on my solo record. Tommy had a song on Styx's Cyclorama record. Ted's done two or three of them. It's been hard to figure out, like, 'Oh yeah! That was one of our songs.' It's pretty wild. That record will never see the light of day, but the ones that came out are the best of it."
That album, tentatively titled Bravo, featured some contributions from guitarist Damon Johnson, who recently recalled stepping in after Shaw found himself too busy to participate.
"I just don’t think there was that one undeniable, knock-it-out-of-the-park hit … one song where it’s like, ‘Okay, this is undeniable, this is be the first single,'” he told AL.com in February. Still, he added, “It was a great experience, I learned a lot and I’ve got respect for all those guys. They treated me like an equal."