Great White: After 30 years in the music business they are still Rock’n & Roll’n, touring, and creating new music. Friday May 31st they are coming back home to do a show at The Grove in Anaheim. Taking the stage with them for the evening is the one and only Slaughter, plus local up and comers Heaven Below. Today we chatted with Mr. Mark Kendall, founding member and lead guitarist of the now legendary Great White. The following is what he had to say to Rockwell UnScene – http://www.ROCKwellUnScene.com – about the new album “Elation”, The Monsters of Rock Cruise, and coming back to the bands former home of Anaheim, CA.
Rockwell UnScene: You just got off the Monsters of Rock Cruise recently as headliners, what was that like?
Mark Kendall: “It was fun. We got to do an acoustic show on an island in a Tiki Hut, on the boat we had Y&T on stage with us and we got to run into a ton of bands we knew from the past, in that regard it was like a reunion. We got to mingle with our fans – it was not the usual format.”
Rockwell UnScene: You guys have played with pretty much everyone, but who would you like to share the stage with that you have not and why?
Mark Kendall: “Yeah we have played with almost everyone. It is kind of a dream of mine to play with ZZ Top. A dream would be to share the stage with AC/DC.”
Rockwell UnScene: What is it like to play the hometown shows in SoCal?
Mark Kendall: “In the Hay-day we did not do a lot of L. A. shows…I don’t know why, that is just the way that it was. Our hometown base when we were up and coming was in Anaheim. We all lived in one house and we played a local place called The Wood Stock. We played there a lot before we started playing Hollywood. It is great to play around in California, especially where we grew up. This is where we started and we know lots of people around here.”
Rockwell UnScene: Where did the new Rock/Blues sound come from?
Mark Kendall: “We never have a pre-conceived notion of what we are going to do, we just write songs and the best ones make it. I am influenced by guys that are blues based. Santana, Ritchie Blackmore and more. They play out of their heart and that inspired me. Michael (Lardie) is influenced by Billy Joel and Elton John. Audie (Desbrow) likes the real heavy stuff. When we all write together we just make a certain sound. We just write what we like and we get on our knees and pray that everyone likes it too. We have not re-invented ourselves. Our new singer (Terry Ilous) has a slightly more blues roots influence. He listens to a lot of different music, Otis Redding, Paul Rodger…a ton of singers… maybe that is where the blues overtones are coming from.”
Rockwell UnScene: What have been the fan favorites off the new album?
Mark Kendall: “The first time we played “Ive got Something for You” the crowd connected, and sang along. We were really surprised that they already knew the song. It is a driving song and a simple song . Hard to Say Goodbye gets a really good reaction. We are just now going to start playing Shotgun Willie’s and we filmed the video to that on the cruise. In the past it seemed like a waste to me to only play a couple of songs off our records and never get any deeper than that, so I want to make it a point to play all the songs a couple at a time. We play a couple of new ones at a time. We don’t want to bombard the fans with all new music I have seen bands do that and it just don’t work. You need to play songs from the hay-day also.”
Rockwell UnScene: How much input did you have on the production of the new album “Elation”?
Mark Kendall: “ Being that it was our first album with the new singer (Terry Ilous) I really wanted to be involved. We knew this was an important album. I just gave Micheal Lardie extra ears to bounce off. Micheal and I work together very well. We did it in 35 days – record, mix, write, and grand master it. We played 4 shows in that time also. We had a deadline with the record company. If we missed that we would have delayed the release of the album for 3 months. We brought in George Tutko, a legendary producer who worked with The Cars, Rod Stuart, Cheap Trick, Bob Seger, Journey, XYZ, Duran Duran, and countless others He is off the charts amazing. He knew Terry (Ilous) and so we asked him to mix the one song “Hard To Say Goodbye”. It turned out so good we had him remix the whole album and it turned out amazing. It was a blessing to have him involved and he is a really good guy.”
Rockwell UnScene: What is it like playing with Slaughter and what other dates do you have with them?
Mark Kendall: “I have known Mark from the past, since he was with Vinnie Vincent…forever…and they are all super people and they have become friends of ours. They work with our booking agents and that is why we are playing 5 or 6 shows with them. They are great to work with – they get on stage on time and off stage on time. This coming full circle to Anaheim thing is pretty cool (Great White played with Slaughter on their home turf, Las Vegas, in July 2012)”.
Rockwell UnScene: What is it like to see generations of fans in the crowd?
Mark Kendall: “The cool part of that is we are not like Lawrence Welk. It is fun because we can play some Rock with the best of them. I see kids in the crowd, one was about 12 playing air guitar the whole show. Backstage now is like family time, not like it was in the 80’s. The kids discover that mom and dads’ music is cool. I work with up and comers also. I have an 8 year old down the street that I am giving lessons to. It is nice to have the kids involved.”
Rockwell UnScene: What is the plan for Great White in the Future?
Mark Kendall: “Check us out at http://www.GreatWhiteRocks.com We are going to go back into the studio soon. We are looking for options for a European tour. They have great festivals over there. The fans really want us and we really want to accommodate them. We still play about 70 shows a year.”
Great White are legends on stage, but one thing that sticks out to me is the love and appreciation they have for their fans. Filming the video to “Shotgun Willie’s” on the Monsters of Rock Cruise gave the band an opportunity to see how much the fans love and support them, and the fans continued support is the major reason they do what they do. If you missed the shows they have already done in CA, get your tickets for their show at The Grove in Anaheim now. They will be rock’n it all night with Slaughter and Heaven Below. Jump into the Shark zone and follow them on http://www.GreatWhiteRocks.com You can hear Mark Kendall live tonight on Metal Mayhem this Friday, May 24th at 9:10pm Eastern on WVOX.com. See you at the show next Friday, May 31st at The Grove in Anaheim!
Written by: Melissa Anderson, http://www.ROCKwellUnScene.com
Photo’s by: Rockwell Anderson Media, http://www.ROCKwellUnScene.com