Mark Kendall: The man behind Great White steps out on his own.
Shame on me for not getting this posted online sooner, but here it is. Being that it's an enjoyable and not overly time-sensitive interview, I think fans will still get a lot from it. This time however, it's not me doing the interview, but rather my Ohio buds Ron and Don Higgins, who help out transcribing interviews for the site. Their turn to sit down and chat away to one of the great guitarists from the last 20 years.
Mark Kendall Interview (Date 3/3/05)
Mark: We were going to a dinner and then we cancelled it and now I'm home. We were going to go with Joe, my singer, but they cancelled so we cancelled too.
Ron: That's cool.
Don: Not a big deal at all.
Ron: Every time we do one of these interviews something happens, so that's just par for the course. So that's great.
Ron: I explained to him, Don, about Melodicrock and that we're taping the interview, we're going to transcribe it and then have Andrew post it to the site.
Mark: It's a cool site. I actually went to it to check it out and it's pretty happening. I like it.
Ron: So we said, Why don't you let us do a couple of these interviews now? and he said, Sure. So now we've done a host of them. In fact, we just talked with Troy Lucketta from Tesla last week.
Mark: Excellent, man.
Ron: They were getting ready to do that benefit show up in Rhode Island.
Mark: Oh, cool. Did Tesla do theirs?
Ron: Yeah, Tesla. They were doing that Wake Up To Love thing.
Mark: Yeah, I heard they did one.
Don: Wake Up To Love is the Foundation that Troy is involved with and in cooperation with the Station Family Fund. They did a concert where Tesla performed and Shinedown and some members of Vanilla Fudge -- Carmine Appice and Pat Travers. It was on Feb. 25, I believe.
Mark: Yeah, I'm supposed to call Troy but I haven't called him yet.
Ron: The night we talked to him was a few days before the benefit concert and the night after Tesla kicked off their new acoustic tour.
Mark: Oh, okay.
Ron: So that was pretty cool, he was giving us some info about that.
Mark: Yeah, those guys are great.
Ron: Yeah, they really are. They're going to be in town here in a couple of weeks. We're calling by the way from Cincinnati, Ohio.
Mark: Oh, okay.
Ron: Which is kind of funny because we just heard you on our local radio station yesterday.
Mark: Oh, really?
Ron: Yeah, you had called in to WEBN.
Mark: Oh, yeah!
Ron: And talked to Mr. K and Wendy.
Mark: What a trip. It's freaky because it's a total coincidence because that's something that my publicist got.
Ron: Is that what it was?
Mark: Yeah, and I hooked up with you guys through Todd. That's just a freak thing.
Ron: Imagine, we're sitting there, we knew that this this was yesterday and we knew that we were going to be talking with you tonight and we're listening to that show and they say, We're going to be talking with Mark Kendall, and I'm going, No, way.
Mark: That's so weird.
Ron: It was a riot but it was so cool because they did play one of the new tracks off of your new solo album, which I thought was cool.
Mark: Oh, cool.
Ron: They played Hail To The Kitty
Mark: Oh, Hail To The Kitty. Okay.
Ron: Yeah. So that was kind of cool that they did that.
Mark: Did you guys get a copy of the album?
Ron: No, we didn't but I'll tell you what we did, both of us, we went out to cdbaby.com, which is where you can buy it and they've' got some pretty lengthy sound clips of everything.
Mark: Okay, good.
Ron: So we listened to every one of them and I think got a pretty good feel for most of the album.
Mark: There's supposed to be a tape on the way. I thought it was going to be overnighted.
Ron: Well, they might've sent it to Andrew. I don't know because we did this with Todd, not through a publicist.
Mark: Got it. I know what you mean.
Ron: I had asked Todd when he set it up if he had a copy of it and he didn't say whether or not he did, and Andrew is down in Australia.
Mark: Well before you guys go, I'll get your information and
do I have your address in any of the emails, or no?
Ron: Probably not, but I can just send it to you. I've still got your email obviously.
Mark: Yeah, just email me your address and I'll make sure you guys get a copy.
Ron: That's great.
Don: That's cool.
Ron: It's funny because Todd highly recommended it. I think his quote was, The guy sings as well as he plays guitar.
Ron: I'm thinking, Well, the guy can play a guitar so
Ron: But I didn't know what to expect. Of course, what am I expecting? Something that sounds a bit like Great White, and it really doesn't.
Ron: And that's not a bad thing. I love Great White but I always like when solo projects don't sound like the bands, because if it did, then why bother?
Mark: Yeah, well it's hard for me to sound like Jack Russell when I sing! <laughs>
Ron: <laughs> Well, you know what's funny? When I was listening to Hail To The Kitty, and I hope you take this as a compliment, but I thought you sounded a heck of a lot like David Lee Roth. Have you ever been told that?
Mark: I think somebody had said that they kind of hear those overtones.
Ron: Yeah. And I'm a huge Van Halen fan.
Mark: I'm kind of in his range. In fact, his range might be a little higher than mine with his squealing and that. When you don't have a high range you have to deliver with a lot of attitude. That's the way I make people believe me, I have to just give it maximum attitude.
Ron: Well, Todd was right. You can sing.
Don: I thought Lift Me Up definitely had a lot of DLR sound to it.
Mark: In the very early days of Van Halen, I used to really
because I saw them when I was in the 8th grade in a backyard party.
Ron: You're kidding.
Mark: They were playing like 3 blocks away from my house.
Mark: I lived in El Monte, CA. They played mostly all covers. They were like the backyard party band. I just thought that they were a little better than everybody else. I was pretty young and everything, but there were a lot of bands around and we used to go see them play and a lot of people were playing in people's backyards.
Don: Is that when they were still calling themselves Mammoth?
Mark: No they were called Van Halen when I saw them and them my friend we used to go see them, they were playing a few bigger venues like little basketball arenas, you know, high school arenas. They were the best band around. Their whole following was like mostly musicians, you know. There were mostly guitar players in the crowd, because of Eddie, how he played the guitar. But back then, he didn't have the whammy bar and he didn't use his right hand a lot on the finger board or anything, but he played a little bit outside of where most people were playing.
Ron: I had heard, I don't know if this is true, maybe I read it in David Lee Roth's autobiography, but it said that he used to play, when he played live in front of a crowd, he would turn around so people couldn't see what he was doing. He was kind of trying to protect his trade secrets or something.
Mark: I never saw him do that, but I heard that George Lynch used to do that.
Mark: George Lynch, when he used to play in The Boyz, he was doing that right hand thing on the finger board before Eddie was.
Ron: You're kidding?
Mark: No. So he would face his amp when he did that part.
Mark: What they say is, now this is just the rumor, but Eddie knew what he was doing, kind of took that idea, now he probably wouldn't admit to it, but this is just what I heard because I grew up around all those guys, I know a lot of other guitar players too, and what they said is Eddie just turned it more into a musical thing, where Lynch made it more of a noise maker.
Mark: Like he used to do the hammer-offs but he also did a lot of sliding with his right hand and stuff.
Mark: And when he would hammer with his left hand, instead of alternating fingers, he said he had a hard time doing that so he would slide his finger back and forth.
Mark: Lynch. You know.
Ron: That's cool.
Mark: Eddie just turned it into more of an orchestrated thing, like with Eruption.
Mark: He would literally, you know, put beautiful melodies together incorporating that right-hand.
Ron: That's funny, because they're both phenomenal guitarists, but they definitely have distinctive styles.
Don: Yeah, with George Lynch I don't think of him as much of doing the hammer-ons and tapping but he always seemed to be more efficient at very fast plucking. He really sort of perfected that.
Mark: Yeah, he definitely has his own kind of thing. I just went and saw him the other day. This guy came down from this radio station called WMMT and he did a couple of shows with me. I can't think of where it was
Ron: George Lynch did some shows with you?
Mark: No, no. he was playing in town out here, going to the NAM show and stuff like that and I guess he'd done some things with Lynch too and told me that he was playing so I went and saw him the other night at the House of Blues in Anaheim.
Ron: That would've been great.
Mark: I hadn't seen him in a long time. He was playing with kind of unknown guys, I guess, but it was good. It was cool.
Ron: Have you seen Dokken with their new guitar player? I thought he was pretty good -- Jon Levin.
Mark: Yeah. In fact, we did a show with him last year, we did a few shows with Dokken last year, some festivals, and that guitar player, Don said, I've known Don since 1975, so he's like, Yeah, but the guy's too much like Lynch. He's exactly. Yeah, but that guy is good.
Ron: Well yeah, and then you find out that in his spare time he's a lawyer. Its like, Wait a minute!
Mark: Oh, really?
Ron: Yeah, he was their lawyer.
Mark: I think somebody told me something about that!
Ron: Yeah, he was their lawyer and doing stuff for them and he obviously plays and he still does a lot of stuff for the band.
Mark: The guitar playing lawyer!
Ron: Yeah. He even said, he couldn't get in too much trouble and stuff because he's married and he's always doing paperwork on the bus. <laughs>
Mark: Oh, my goodness.
Ron: I told him, You're kind of killing the whole rock and roll sort of image here, buddy!
Ron: He was great. He was one of the other guys we were fortunate enough to interview.
Mark: Talk about something to fall back on!
Ron: Yeah <laughs> If the whole guitar thing doesn't work out
Ron: But he was phenomenal. We saw Dokken last year with him when they came to Annies, that's the place down here in Cincinnati, and we were really impressed. Actually, the last time I saw Great White was at that same place, called Annies, down on the river.
Mark: Oh, yeah! I remember that. And a couple of guys from Cinderella played?
Ron: I don't remember that but, gosh, it's probably been 7 or 8 years when I saw that.
Mark: Oh, you're talking a way long time ago.
Mark: Oh, I thought you were talking about last year or something.
Ron: No. Did you guys come to Cincinnati last year? You were close. Maybe you did.
Mark: Oh, no. It might've been St. Louis.
Ron: I know you came close because either you or Jack, I think it was Jack, called that same radio station, and they were talking up the gig, but I think it was up closer to Dayton, Ohio, which is only about an hour and a half away.
Mark: Yeah, it probably was Dayton. That sounds familiar.
Ron: There's two things that I remember about that show. One, you guys were phenomenal live
Mark: I think we did
didn't we play there last year?
Ron: I don't remember. If you did I'm mad because I missed it! You might have.
Mark: It's like a large club? I think we played there with Warrant.
Ron: You know what, you might've. Warrant's been through town a lot.
Mark: It holds about 900 people?
Don: Yeah, it's got an outdoor area.
Mark: Yeah, it's got an outdoor thing that wraps around and then there's a lot of wood on the inside and stuff.
Mark: Yeah, we definitely played there last year.
Ron: Wow. Cool.
Mark: We played one show with Warrant last year. And the opening act was
oh, no, no. It wasn't Warrant. It was the guitar player who used to play in Warrant. Billy something. Billy Martin. That's where I met this radio station guy. It's WMMT, he was down there in Arkansas Mountain Radio, or something like that. Anyway, he was just out there and it was a freak kind of thing.
Ron: That's cool. Well the other thing that I remember about the show, other than it was a great show, was that after the show, every person in the band came out and met the fans and signed autographs.
Mark: Oh, yeah. We always do that. I don't leave until the last little pick is signed.
Ron: That is awesome. I've been to so many shows where
Mark: Everybody tells me that, Oh, so and so band didn't even stay - they all went and rushed off like they were The Beatles or something, and I get so sick of hearing that. When you're playing the big places, like all those years when we played the big arenas, it was hard for us to get to the fans, you know. You really can't go out and sign 20,000 autographs, you know?
Mark: Or you wouldn't even make it to the next show. Since we are playing the smaller venues, why not take advantage to meet some of the people and hear the stories, or whatever.
Ron: Well, I'll tell you, as a fan, I really appreciate that and I think all of the fans do.
Mark: That's awesome. I'm a fan myself and I know that seeing Johnny Winter, well he's pretty sick right now, but when I saw him a few years ago I got to go on his bus and got the full treatment. I saw him in a small venue, which was really cool. When I used to see him as a teenager, you know, I was like always in the last row of an arena and he was like the size of a B.B., or whatever?
Mark: To see your favorite artist in a smaller place is awesome.
Ron: It really is.
Don: Yep, yep. Because like you said, sometimes
Mark: From a fan's point of view. Of course, we all want to be playing stadiums! <laughs>
Ron: Right, right.
Don: It's fun to go to the big shows, you know, I've been to the big stadium concerts and it's cool when you've got 40,000 people, but then again, like you said, usually the artist is so small, unless you get really lucky and get really good tickets. I pulled that off once. I saw the Billy Joel/Elton John combined tour, they were up at Ohio State University and they had the whole Horseshoe sold out and we ended up in the 10th row on the floor and we're like, These are great seats, but look at all those people behind us!
Mark: <laughs> Right.
Don: It's still a fun atmosphere.
Ron: Yeah, but we've been on the other side too. The Monsters of Rock tour in the late 80s.
Don: Oh, with Van Halen.
Ron: It was at the Hoosier Dome and I swear Eddie Van Halen was the size of an ant, we had the worst seats. I think our ticket stub actually said Worst Seat In House.
Don: I remember that. We were so far away, that you would watch the drummer and he would hit his cymbal and then you would hear the sound like a half a second later.
Mark: I know, I know.
Don: You were so far away that the audio and video
Mark: Yeah, we played some of those kind of shows with Iron Maiden in Germany and I can't imagine being
I mean, they had two sets of delay towers, they were so far away.
Mark: Because we would play with like Iron Maiden, David Lee Roth, KISS
Ron: I'd pay good money to see that.
Mark: And I think Anthrax and a couple of other bands, one from up North like a Metallica like thing, but they were just really heavy. They guy sang through an Echoplex, like a hundred octaves low and stuff.
Mark: Yeah <laughs>. One of those kinds of gigs, you know. It was cool. It was fun to play for so many people but.
Don: It's almost like you're not even there to see a band. You're just there at a really big party with really good music on the radio.
Ron: Right. With really expensive beer.
Mark: I went to a concert, the last really big concert that I went to because my manager was managing Guns and Roses, is we went and saw Aerosmith. Now this is after they cleaned up and were all kick ass and everything. We went and saw them at the Universal Amphitheater here in California and I had my wife with me and we got the full treatment and everything and we got these great seats right by the board, like we were going to have these real awesome seats, and these two huge bikers were in my seat and I showed them my ticket stub and they ripped them up and said, What tickets?
Ron: Oh, no!
Mark: I said, I'm not going to deal with this, so I just hung by the board for a couple of songs and then went backstage. <laughs>
Ron: That must've been the same two cats that were at the Aerosmith show in Cincinnati one year. A buddy of ours had to go to the hospital because it was the same thing, we were in the pavilion, this was down at Riverbend, which is an outdoor amphitheater and he came back with a couple of beers and there were two big biker guys in his seat. He decided he was going to get tough with them and they put him in the hospital.
Don: Yeah, he came back during the opening act, which was Jackyl, and the biker said, We'll move when Aerosmith come, and I'm thinking, yeah, sure they're going to move when the headliner comes. And he believed them.
Don: Well, they didn't and they all started swinging and like a fool, I put one of these biker guys in a headlock, I don't know what possessed me, but I was yelling, Get off of him! I guess they thought I was like a worker or some sort of security
Mark: Oh, a security guard or something.
Ron: Lucky for you!
Don: Yeah, but my friend got knocked about two rows back and we had to carry him out and take him to the hospital.
Ron: Yeah, so it must've been the same two cats that were in your seat.
Mark: Yeah, I didn't go that far. I figured that they wanted to see them worse than me.
Don: Well, my friend was arguing with them and I'm just thinking, we can scoot down and squeeze you guys into our seats. I'm not going to tangle with those guys, but they had other ideas. Aerosmith, drawing in the ruffians, I suppose.
Don: Of the half of the concert I saw, it was very good.
Mark: Yeah. Right on. They sounded amazing. I couldn't believe it. I saw them like probably 1978 at the U.S. concert. I don't know what it was but it was a long time ago and they sounded kind of sloppy and the sound was really bad.
Don: Yeah, they had a rough time there in the late 70's when they were fighting between each other.
Mark: They were all fighting and drinking and all drugged up.
Ron: They put on a good show now though.
Don: They turned it around quite a bit.
Mark: Oh, man.
Ron: I saw them last year with KISS and boy that was a double bill.
Mark: Oh, yeah.
Ron: That was fantastic.
Don: it's good to see when bands have been around for a while and can maintain and come back.
Mark: KISS. It's amazing, because their makeup must be worth a lot. We played with them in like 1994 and we weren't really filling arenas and we had some actual thin nights, you know, when they didn't have the makeup or anything. Attendance was good some nights, but we did have some weak nights.
Mark: It was amazing. They put the makeup back on and they're playing stadiums again.
Ron: Yeah. The first time I saw them was without makeup. This was about '86. They had just come out with an album and had a few videos and just when they start to lose their fan base, they put the makeup back on and boom, it's craziness.
Mark: Yeah, right back to the bubblegum cards and everything.
Ron: Gene Simmons is, if nothing else, a marketing genius.
Mark: Oh, definitely. No doubt about that!
Ron: Dude, say what you want, but.
Mark: Oh, yeah. He's definitely a smart guy. A friend of mine was in the band, I think he was only in for a month or so
Ron: Who was that?
Mark: It was New York, about 1984.
Ron: Mark St. John?
Mark: I was in this club called The Limelight and I was screaming, Mark, Mark, and he, I thought was saying, I'm on KISS but he was saying, I'm in KISS!. I finally got a hold of him outside and he said, Dude, I'm in the band KISS, and I'm like, No way! and he goes, Yeah. We're doing this record and this video and they've got this apartment for me in New York here and all this stuff, and I went and saw him the next day and we're jamming and stuff and it was just a trip. And then he got tendonitis -- woke up one morning and his hand was swollen to the bone. He couldn't play his guitar or anything. I guess he went and got it treated and was fine but when he went back they said they had found this guy Bruce Kulick.
Don: Is that Mark St. John?
Mark: Yeah. Mark St. John.
Don: He played on one album.
Mark: Yeah, he played on one album and a few videos.
Don: That was Animalize wasn't it?
Mark: Yeah, yeah. He was so bummed. That was his big break.
Don: I knew he had something medical but never found exactly what ever happened to him after that.
Mark: he basically disappeared. It broke his heart to be up there with a big band like that.
Ron: do you still talk to him?
Mark: He never really got going again. It was kind of strange because he played really laid-back, I mean, that guy could rip licks. On that KISS album he barely played at all. He really kept it tame. I think they told him to play a certain way or something
Don: yeah I always got the impression that Paul and Gene really control that kind of thing quite a bit.
Mark: I sat down with the guy before and I've seen him play live before. We kind of grew up in the same area. He can do Flight of the Bumble Bee backwards and all of that. The guy can play like Paul Gilbert and all of those guys. He played really laid back. I don't think he wanted to out-shine anybody.
Don: Yeah and like you said, if he grew up he was probably a fan and just so happy to be in KISS. As a fan, you're probably just so impressed that you're standing on stage with the guys.
Ron: Do you ever talk to him any more?
Mark: Oh, Mark?
Mark: No, I lost touch with him. I moved around so much. We were just friends in passing and we were playing the same clubs and that was quite a long time ago
Ron: I was just curious what ever happened to him?
Mark: He was in the band called White Tiger or something like that.
Mark: yeah it was a band that didn't quite get there and I'm not sure whatever became of him.
Ron: I'll have to go check on the internet; I'm sure it's out there somewhere.
Mark: Yeah you can probably just go to the internet.
Ron: That's cool. Well, we definitely wanted to talk about this new solo CD because it's pretty fresh and like I said we both went through and listened to the sound clips of everything. I really kind of like Hail to the Kitty but I'm The Man, I thought was a really good ballad.
Mark: Oh thanks, man.
Ron: It's kind of got a country feel.
Mark: What happened was, I was at the music awards, at this LA music awards, and I was talking to George Lynch and stuff and I was just toying with the idea at that time. I had just done a couple of demos. I go, What are you up to? I'm doing a solo thing. He said, Oh, cool, and then I went upstairs and I met this girl that was
we were just talking and stuff, you know, she looked like somebody out of the '40s like she was out of her era, you know.
Mark: But she was really pretty, you know? And I go, I'm just here with some friends and we were just checking it out. A friend of mine's band won some local band award thing, and I was just there for that. She said that she was a piano player and her husband was a producer for the Temptations and all of this stuff and I go, I have this song, you're a piano player? Because I have this song. I was working with this guy Douglas Day Stewart who was a movie producer who had done An Officer And a Gentleman he had won awards and stuff, anyway he had this new movie called Tanner's Wish and he had given me the script for it and I wrote this song but I hadn't recorded it or anything. She said her husband had this studio and I go, I'd love to show you this song and I would like to check you out. So anyways, I have this song pretty much finished but she added some touches to it that made it stronger and so when it came down to do my record
and then when I worked with her I brought musicians over and we recorded it and it turned out killer. I actually ended up having Jack sing on it because it was for a movie sound track.
Mark: It didn't really matter. I tried another singer but the guy was way too much drama, the way this guy was singing.
Mark: I couldn't handle it so I just got Jack and he knocked it out in about an hour or so. So we're building this songwriting relationship deal. Anyway, we were screwing around one day and I had some lyrics and I was showing her this piece of music I had and we did the same thing. That was I'm the Man. I actually co-wrote it with her.
Ron: Oh, great.
Mark: She came up with a couple of parts and we put it together and I go, Hey, maybe I can put this on my solo album. At first I thought that it might be too mellow but I thought that I would go ahead and record it anyway and when I put it up against the other songs it seemed to be fine, you know?
Ron: Yeah, it fits.
Mark: It didn't really matter that it was coming out of a really heavy song. It was almost a welcomed dynamic.
Mark: So it really didn't bother me. Some people responded to it and stuff so it's cool.
Ron: Yeah it was sort of a nice change. Obviously the record has a very bluesy feel to it. Great White is obviously kind of bluesy.
Mark: The reason that I think Great White is a lot different, it's because especially with all of the original members and everything, a lot of people had a lot of input so you're going to hear a lot of their influences, everybody's idea getting into the soup, and then you get more of a band sound, you know what I mean? Michael Lardie, the keyboard player, was into Elton John and Billy Joel.
and people like that, you know?
Mark: Jack was like the Zeppelin guy. He liked Aerosmith and all of the modern day rock stuff like that and I was kind of like Ten Years After, Alvin Lee, Billy Gibbons, Hendricks, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn and all of the big gunslinger type straight-ahead blues guys. I like the real stinky blues and heavy rock and stuff too but I was always more of the edge part of the band so when you've got those keyboard layers and all that stuff you can hear it in there somewhere but when you strip that all away and I just do something and especially with me singing it's going to be hard to sound just like Great White.
Ron: Right. Like I said, that's a good thing.
Mark: Sure, why do a solo album if it is going to sound just like Great White?
Don: Exactly. It's also cool because everyone knows that you're a good guitar player but since it's the solo album, and if you have some singing ability--as you obviously do although much different than the way Jack sings, it adds a whole other personal level to the whole project and it really comes across as, this is really Mark's solo album and a piece of who you are.
Mark: Right. Well, people say that I played way more guitar which is kind of true but you know I don't sing like Jack and also when I'm singing myself, when I'm not singing I automatically play in between the parts, you know what I mean. Whereas Jack sings a lot more and that leaves less space for me to play so I just have to insert the solo in that spot. To where, when I'm playing it's like, Hey, yeah! < makes guitar sounds>. It's a little different, plus it feels way different when your singing because when you're not singing you want to insert some music, you want to have some breath and hear the band play and stuff like that.
Mark: Instead of judging people's phrases like especially when you're playing live, well, I know how Jack sings now, of course, I've played with him so long but, it feels way different when you're playing guitar and singing, you know?
Mark: You squeeze it into different spots because you can feel when you're going to stop singing you know what I mean? It's a whole different thing.
Don: I thought it was interesting because obviously as Ron had just said the Great White stuff is obviously hard rock/heavy metal with a blues influence. This album is definitely blues with a little bit of rock.
Don: It's more of a blues album. But your vocals, if someone didn't know any better they would've thought that somebody went out and got this great blues singer to match this blues music. Your voice so fits the music. I mean, even if Jack was doing it
you voice fits it better than even if Jack was singing it. If that makes any sense.
Mark: Yeah, it is funny. The way Great White writes is a lot different than the way I put this together. Almost everything stems from jams, like I jammed for like a month with two guys who didn't play on the record but who would really lay it down for me very simple to where I can just try riffs and screw around and play for hours and I would just go home and listen to the tapes and I mean I have so many CDs full of music and I was kind of listening to things and I would go, I really like that riff right there and I want to try and make that into something. To where, Great White wouldn't jam for hours and hours and have things come out of that, you know what I mean? I would get together with Jack and show him a riff I have and then he would start writing lyrics and stuff.
Mark: So it was like all of the music was written and then we would go rehearse it. That's usually the way they wrote, for the most part. Of course there were flashes of things that would happen when we were playing together and stuff like that. I always like to jam with a band. Things just come out of that. It just seems to have a different energy to it.
Ron : That's cool.
Don: That's the fun thing about, I'm sure, as an artist, for you to do a solo album is, you can approach the entire music project in a different way. You've got the freedom that once you step outside the band it just gives you a whole different approach to the music itself. It's got to be a little bit more fun and liberating.
Mark: Absolutely. Being in a band format, sometimes I'm afraid to tell them stuff because I'm afraid they're going to shoot it down or something. Whereas doing a solo project, there's very little compromise <laughs>.
Ron: Right. It's your baby.
Mark: It's my baby, man. These guys came up with some great ideas and I welcomed them. There's definitely a lot of compromise. 100% of your ideas don't get in there.
Mark: And that's really the whole reason for doing one, I think. Just to be able to express yourself 100% or 110%.
Don: Have you wanted to do a solo album for a long time and just finally got a chance to?
Mark: Yeah, I just finally got a chance. Actually, it wasn't that I've never had an opportunity to do it, but I was over a friend's house and he had a recording studio in his garage, you know, a pretty good little Pro Tools setup.
Mark: He told me that if I ever had a little guitar riff or a little song that I wanted to lay down, feel free to come over and stuff. This guy went to my church and stuff. A great guy. He was a bass player. He plays in like the heaviest, believe it or not, full on death metal.
Mark: But the guy is as religious as they come.
Ron: Oh, yeah?
Mark: Yeah. But anyway, I go, "Believe it or not Shane, I have a riff right now that I would love to lay down because I don't want to lose it. I just want to put it away. And he goes, "Come on over right now." He had a guitar out there, a bass, everything, you know. I was just going to put the guitar riff. So we lay down this quick track and I did "Buckle Down".
Ron: Oh, you're kidding?
Mark: All the way through from front to finish. I already had the whole thing together. All of a sudden, he had these drums and we laid down a beat and he had a bass so I asked if I could play the bass riff and so I played the bass riff and before I know it, I'm in the singing booth and everything, doing the full thing. I go, "That doesn't sound bad does it? My voice isn't, like, horrible." He's going, No, dude. You sound great!" So that just sparked me to realize, hey, wait a minute. I could put a whole collection of songs together and really do a record with me singing."
Ron: So "Buckle Down" was the first song?
Mark: Yeah, that was the first idea that I ever laid down.
Ron: That's got a really cool funky beat to it as well. It's got a good funky vibe.
Don: How long ago was that?
Mark: That was actually about, probably, at the beginning of last year. Right around January or something.
Ron: So that was pretty quick.
Mark: One night my wife and I went over there for dinner, there was no big plan to jam or anything, he's the one that came with it. It was just one of those freak things. Great White had a little time off so I went and just jammed with these guys for almost four weeks, putting all of these ideas down. And then I was in writing mode. When I was at home I was constantly writing on my acoustic and stuff. Laying things down. Grabbing riffs off of jam tapes and trying to come up with ideas. And then I was pretty much just scatting and I didn't really have any lyrics so I was just kind of scatting, you know how you're just kind of feeling the words and stuff, and then I came up and put it all together with some stories and things.
Ron: I've got to add, one of my favorite songs, and it is die-hard blues, is the last one "Kill That Red Rooster".
Mark: Oh, yeah. That's funny.
Ron: You sound like a 90 year old black guy.
Mark: The way I heard that, a friend of my wife about three years ago, she hooked up with this guy, he came over and was doing some work at our house or something and he goes, "Hey, I have a CD too. I have a band. Let me go out to my truck and you can give it to your husband and see what he thinks and stuff." Well, it was just like, these guys were really, really, good. They had an upright bass and harmonica and a wailing recording. It was really good. They did that song Red Rooster and I always wanted to do it so I just kind of took the opportunity to do it. I just wanted to do anything that I felt like doing. <laughs>.
Ron: Sure. It came out great.
Mark: Yeah, and the drummer and bass player were just phenomenal. These guys play on every project known to man, they're always recording and they're always playing somewhere, you know. They laid it down really good.
Ron: It's got a nice piano track in it too.
Mark: Yeah, that's the piano player I was telling you about. Her name is Jane Getz.
Mark: Yeah, what happened was, this guy has this huge, giant garage up in West Hollywood.
Mark: And he just converted the whole thing into this big, giant studio. They live in this full mansion and his wife would come down 4 flights of stairs and play the piano. We'd call her on the intercom and say, Come on down, Jane, and she'd come down. I'd say, I want you to play on this song. She'd listen to it once and then play it. This music is like so simple for her it's stupid, you know?
Ron: You're kidding.
Mark: Oh, yeah. She plays all of this jazz stuff. She jammed with like John Lennon and she's a little older than we are. She actually played live with Hendrix before.
Ron: No way.
Mark: I cannot imagine. Yeah, it was like a few weeks before he died or something. Some little festival or something. I've never even heard him with piano.
Ron: Wow. How cool.
Mark: She's phenomenal. She did sessions with John Lennon and did some recordings and stuff. So anyway, she'd come down and I would just kind of produce her you know, come up with some little lines and stuff. If I wanted a little strings or something I'd come up with a little line of strings, but we didn't really over do, I didn't want it to be too keyboardy. I didn't want a lot of keyboards on the records so I did strip it down a little bit. There would be some spots for a little bit of keyboards, so I think I got some on some songs. I wanted that real Honky Tonkish, it's almost a jazzy but more in a blues
Don: It's like an old Chicago blues.
Mark: Yeah, exactly. I'm just kind of wailing in the background.
Don: It's different than the rest of the tracks on there but it's a blues album and it certainly makes it fit. It's a cool way to end it, I thought.
Mark: Yeah, I always thought that the lyrics were really funny. Don't ever mess with my old lady or I'm going to cut your head. It's just awesome, take him out to the tree stump
The lyrics are brilliant. That's why I did it, just a funny little song.
Don: It's fun.
Ron: But your voice was awesome in that. I don't know if you heard me before, but you sound like you're like an old 90 year old black guy.
Mark: <laughs> Right on , dude. Well I love those old singers. I'm sure it's a big influence, and you say I've got a little David Lee Roth or whatever, I'm sure he's influenced by them too because he used to do all those old songs. I never saw him but I heard that he used to do all those old standards. He used to go out to the Ice House in Pasadena with his acoustic and do all those old standards. Have you ever heard them do that old song that Eddie's dad plays on?
Don: Big Bad Bill?
Mark: Yeah, Big Bad Bill and the way he sings and stuff. <Mark sings: Just a gigolo>
Don: He's definitely got that kind of voice and he's good in that style. Van Halen is always known as a big arena hard rock band, but his voice fits that style of music very well. He was performing out in Las Vegas for a while.
Mark: Yeah, he was doing a Vegas things and
Don: I think a lot of people didn't get it.
Mark: No, they way didn't get it. In fact, a good friend of mine, he actually married the daughter of the Imperial Palace, well they all went and saw David Lee Roth and he was playing out by a big pool or something.
Mark: He said that nobody was even paying attention to him, it was just like background music, like the David Letterman band. He's doing a big show and nobody is even watching. He felt really bad because, you know, those guys were our heroes when we were growing up. This was the friend that took me to see him when I was a young teenager for the very first time I had seen him.
Don: I think he had some good blues guys with him when he was doing that stuff. I think he had Edgar Winter playing with him.
Mark: Well I have tapes of Van Halen playing, like, Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo, they did Tobacco Road. They used to have like over 200 cover songs.
Ron: Well Roth did Tobacco Road on his first solo album with Steve Vai doing the guitar stuff, and it was great.
Mark: Oh, really?
Ron: Yeah, it was one of the best tracks.
Mark: Well, they used to do that with Van Halen, years ago. They used to play that and there was a big jam in it and everything.
Ron: It's a great song.
Mark: Most of the covers they did, Eddie would do some of the signature licks, but most of it would be his own trip. Even in Trower, they would play Robin Trower, and in the solos he would play a couple of signature Trower licks but it was mostly his trip. It was good when they started doing their originals, because a lot of times I liked the way the songs were, and even though he was just brilliant, I was like, I like the Trower version. But when they started playing more originals then I was like, Okay, now his leads really fit.
Ron: Right. Now I get it.
Mark: Now I get it.
Don: He was just warming up.
Mark: Yeah, absolutely. It was his own style. No one else played that way. It would just make you go home and work harder on your guitar and then you go and see him again and he improves from there. We all keep getting better. Refreshingly.
Don: They just came around here finally, after all of the trouble they had, they put a small tour together a few months ago and I know that he had been a little bit ill and they had some problems and so forth, but I was still impressed with his guitar playing.
Mark: Well I went and saw him in Dallas, just at sound check because I'm friends with Michael Anthony.
Don: Oh, okay.
Mark: Years ago we played at a wedding for a friend of ours, he actually worked for Tesla, he used to work for Michael in the off-season and stuff, but anyways.
Ron: How cool would that be?
Mark: Yeah, I stayed friends with him, he's really down to earth, a cool guy, and I know that Eddie was drinking a little bit. At the sound check they had 200 people from the radio station come down and he walked down and said, My name is Bill W. <laughs>
Ron: Oh, no. Bill Wyman, how are you doing?
Mark: But he played good. It was great, for the radio station crowd they were playing Running With the Devil and Somebody Get Me a Doctor and Michael Anthony sang. Sammy didn't come down to the sound check. But it sounded great. Michael, he's got pipes, man.
Ron: He does.
Mark: He can even sound like Roth a little bit.
Don: The first time that I ever saw Michael sing, and it's funny because on this last tour, he sang Somebody Get Me a Doctor, but the first time I saw him sing lead was back when they were touring with Gary Cherone singing and, when that album came out I wasn't a terribly big fan of that album itself, it just didn't work, in my opinion
Mark: Yeah, it didn't work.
Don: But I saw the tour that summer with Gary Cherone and I thought that it was one of the best Van Halen tours because they were having so much fun and they were playing the complete catalog and Gary wasn't afraid to do his own stuff, Sammy's stuff, or Dave's stuff.
Mark: Oh, good.
Don: So they had a great set list. And that's the one where Michael comes out and sings lead.
Mark: Well he was a lead singer, years ago before Van Halen. I had never seen him, but he was in some band called Snake or something. They all met at Pasadena College.
Mark: He was in a little rival band so he decided to play bass when they got Roth because they had a singer. But he was a lead singer. He could sing Zeppelin or anything.
Mark: He's got a high voice. He could sing anything.
Don: Maybe that's Van Halen's answer to all of their troubles with lead singers. They just need to make it a three man band and carry on.
Ron: Hey, it worked for Genesis, right?
Mark: I think they like that front man thing, you know.
Ron: I know.
Mark: Basically, Michael doesn't walk around and say, How are you people feeling tonight? you know? He doesn't want to do that.
Don: Dave and Sammy aren't only good singers; they're good show people.
Mark: If you notice, over the years with Van Halen, their background vocals are really strong?
Mark: He's a big part of that.
Ron: And he seems like he's just a great guy. Is he?
Mark: He's the most down to earth dude I've ever met in my life in rock, period.
Ron: Wow. That's the way he comes across.
Mark: And he's got this huge house with 12 garages with 2 vehicles in them, and there's no ego vehicles, I mean, he uses these cars.
Mark: He has his brother fully hired just to clean the cars.
Don: Yeah I saw him on TV on one of those shows about cars.
Mark: He is kind of a collector, but he doesn't have tons of Lamborghini's or ego-trip cars.
Don: No, they were more like classic cars.
Mark: Show cars.
Don: Yeah, that had been fixed up. Something like from the 60's or something. Not all of the Lamborghinis and Porches, although he may have some of those.
Mark: He didn't have the dig me I'm a rich rock star cars. He actually goes to car shows and stuff.
Ron: Do you still talk to him a lot?
Mark: I saw him at the Dallas thing. Not a lot. He says, Call me, man and I'm like, Yeah, I'll call you, but then we never do, of course. Every time we see each other it's like high-five city. The guy is just a full bro. He dances at the house with my wife all drunk and shit. He's just cool. He's a down-homer.
Ron: He just seems to be one of those rock guys that you'd like to meet.
Mark: No doubt. He'll go to the picnic. He's a family man. He's a cool dude.
Don: It' s funny with the media, because they're such a huge band, and of course they've had so much drama and everybody wants to talk to Eddie, talk to Alex, talk to Sammy, talk to Dave
all of these people need to talk to Michael. He's the one that's been there the whole time. He keeps quiet but he's seen it all. He's down to earth so someone needs to sit down and talk to him.
Mark: Every time I go to see Eddie there's always something wrong. I think I was born not to meet the guy. I've seen him all these years and I can never meet him.
Mark: Michael invited me down and I went and saw them when Hagar first hooked up with them when they did the Poundcake video.
Mark: He invites me down. It's in LA at the Olympic Auditorium, and I'm down there and he's like, Well, Mark, today's not a good day. He's been drinking, he's kind of being an asshole. <laughs> I said, It's okay. It's cool, man. Hagar's all, Hey, you can come in my trailer, man. There ain't no rock star egos here, man. Anything you guys want
He's all cool.
Ron: Is he a cool guy?
Mark: Oh, yeah. He's like the old teenager. He's like full energy boy. He's the life of the party, always jumping around. Big energy guy. Really nice.
Ron: Excellent. Well, listen. We've talked about your CD, but I'm curious, are you touring on it at all?
Mark: What I'm doing is, right now obviously networking, trying to get a little airplay, trying to get it to some ears. I've been talking to a few companies about distribution. I want to get it out there. Try to get some airplay. I've got it on a few stations, XM radio and stuff like that. Getting a little attention. There's a couple of labels that I'm talking to that are interested in doing something and then I'm going to play this year in between when Great White plays, all I can, and then when, we'll probably play up until September or so, and then I was going to go out for a couple of months and maybe even 3 or 4 months if I can, and do a proper tour. I've been kind of doing it with a publicist and networking but I've got more people helping me.
Mark: A couple of record company guys are helping me and I'm talking to a couple of other labels. Just trying to do something that makes sense. I want it to be in stores and all of this stuff. Right now it's just on my web site, bigfinmusic.com. My whole thing is, oh I don't want to go triple platinum or whatever, that's never been my concern. Oh yeah, that would be great, but I want a lot of people to hear it. That's the main thing. I want a lot of people to say Oh, I hate it or It's good or something. But to just not hear it
I hate that, when you do a record, even the one we did for Sony, because I don't really think, John Kalodner is brilliant, he's a rock and roll guru, he is a really brilliant guy, but I think that the mistake he made, this is just my opinion, was he signed too many bands at once when he tried to revive the '80s. He signed Cinderella, Ratt, Great White, you know. I wouldn't have cared if he had just singed Ratt and put a bunch of money into them and try to make that happen. But to sign all of the bands without the proper amount of money. I mean, we were doing in-stores with Ratt.
Mark: They were promoting both records at the same time. It was a little goofy. Stephen Pearcy said, Let's sign each others names.
Mark: Don't these guys have any money? God Bless him for trying to do that, but it was hard because the budget he had wasn't the kind of budget you need to promote eight bands at once.
Ron: And it's a shame because when I first read that John Kalodner was coming back and signed all of these bands, which were my favorite types of music, I thought, Finally, we're going to get something, and it just didn't go anywhere.
Mark: It was a great idea because he feels the same way I do. It ended before it really needed to. When Great White got signed and then Ratt or something and Motley Crue got signed like a year before we did there weren't like 55 bands. There were a few and then towards the end of the 80s it was like everyone was writing the same song or something. Is it Slaughter, Dokken, Warrant. It almost sounded like everyone had the same production and the same predictable big hook. So I think when the Nirvana thing happened it was almost refreshing to hear that trashy guitar, at least something different.
Don: You're exactly right. I think that's exactly what happened. And you had some good bands like you guys and Motley Crue when heavy metal was underground a little bit, but as soon as it hit the mainstream on MTV and radio, all these record executives said, Hey, we can make money with this, and they started signing anybody who even looked the part or sounded the part.
Mark: That's why I don't really blame the bands. If something works, every record company wants theirs. It's just like new music comes in. Hey guys, that's not enough Pendleton's. The singer has got to wear a Pendleton.
Don: That's what happened to Nirvana. Grunge rock was still hard and bluesy. I thought it all could've worked together but it was a new generation.
Mark: Oh, I saw it coming. I go, Okay, here's the next Nirvana coming out. Here's a new style of music. Grunge rock. But even some good bands came out of that. Alice and Chains, I thought that was a viable band. So some good music came out of that. They always say it comes full circle so eventually the rock will come back.
Ron: And I think it's starting to. Look how well the Motley Crue tour is selling.
Mark: And, if you realize it, it's the record companies that force you and burn it out. That's why we sound fresh again. Everybody's ears have been burned out to the sludge mania, kill your parents, sludge, sludge, sludge, and now you hear Rock Me or something and it sounds cool.
Don: Every generation has their own thing but then when Grunge was big everything had to look grunge and they didn't want anything to do with metal, and then that goes away and now nobody wants that anymore.
Mark: Well I love it that bands like Motley Crue are back together and bands like Velvet Revolver and stuff. Anything like that, I love it that that's doing well.
Don: And of course Aerosmith has weathered the storm and continue to do well.
Ron: And you've got Judas Priest with Halford back. And Iron Maiden
Mark: Right! That was one of the original big tours that we did, in fact, that was the 2nd tour we did was with Judas Priest. Way back in '84. We did a tour with Whitesnake in '83 in Europe for 4 months in England, Ireland, and Scotland and stuff. And then our first show in the States was in Niagara Falls with Judas Priest on their Defenders of the Faith tour.
Don: That would've been a good one.
Mark: Oh, it was awesome, man. I was scared to death. <Laughs> I go, We're going to play in front of that? They had monsters and a big arm that came down and they were filming a video and we're like, No way, man. Where do I put my amp and stuff. <laughs>
Ron: When you called in to our local radio station, you mentioned that Great White was going to be playing some festivals this summer?
Mark: Yeah. I just saw one with ZZ Top and Cheap Trick. There's a ton of them. We're playing a few shows with Dokken and they're putting a little package together. There will be a lot of outdoor stuff, festivals and stuff.
Don: Those kind of tours seem to go over pretty well because some of those bands aren't getting a lot of radio play these days but now that the fans are in their 20's, 30's and 40's, they've got family's now and don't have as much money as they used to but they say, Now I can see Ratt and Dokken and Great White and all of these bands together
Mark: Oh, right. It's funny, when we used to play there would only be 3 bands and we'd fill arenas and then these bands came out in the early '90s and there would be like 7 bands on the package. But they all sold like 2 or 3 million records. It was like, doesn't anyone go to these shows? They're selling millions of records but
it was weird. We would play a tour and be the center band and there would be an opening act and like Whitesnake or the Scorpions would headline and there would be 20,000 people. It's really weird that they had to put such strong packages together to fill arenas. Who could figure?
Ron: Who knows?
Don: It gets weird about what people will go to because the other thing I think is weird is you get a new band like Creed and then they're headlining tours and selling millions of records on their debut album.
Mark: Right. <laughs>
Don: I remember back in the day you'd have like Dokken, I'm a big Dokken fan, but you'd have them touring on Under Lock and Key, which is like their 3rd album, and I was still waiting for them to headline. They were still opening for people.
Mark: Yeah, that was hard. We headlined for like 5000 seat venues but we did a co-headlining tour where we flip-flopped with Tesla for like 13 months where we were both in our heyday of our success. One night we would close the show and the next night they would and we had an opening act. That was working out pretty good.
Ron: That was the same as the Aerosmith/KISS show I saw where they flip-flopped every night, which was kind of interesting.
Mark: That was a fun way to do it. We called it the Double Header tour. We had 2 girls holding a baseball bat. <laughs>
Don: I seem to remember that.
Mark: Oh, man.
Ron: Tesla's a good band too. I saw them about a year ago and they're coming back in about a week to do their acoustic thing. I'm not sure if I'm going to make it our not.
Mark: We just did an album for VH-1.
Ron: Yeah, the Metal Mania Stripped.
Mark: Yeah. They're thinking about putting a few shows together for that.
Ron: Oh, really?
Mark: All of the bands would go out and play 4 or 5 songs each.
Ron: That would be cool.
Mark: We just did it in Los Angeles. Not all of them, like the Scorpions weren't there, but most of the bands were there that played on the record. We played on KLOS, a local radio station here in LA and then we played over at the Key Club in LA. It was pretty fun to see all of those guys you haven't seen in so long.
Ron: Who are we talking about? Who was there?
Mark: Night Ranger, Kip Winger, the singer for Warrant.
Ron: Jani Lane
Mark: Yeah, Jani Lane. Slaughter. A band called Alias.
Ron: Oh, yeah. Alias.
Mark: Yeah, Alias played. Who else?
Ron: Yeah, they've got a song in a commercial now.
Mark: Oh, really?
Don: Yeah. I Need You Now
Ron: I think it's a Subway commercial.
Mark: That's so funny because we were offered so many commercials like McDonald's and this and that and our manager would always say, Oh this isn't that kind of band. We're not commercial. We're not going to sell cars with our songs. I was kidding around with Jack, I said that if they offered us a McDonald's commercial now, well, McDonald's is the greatest hamburgers in the world! <laughs>
Ron: That's funny. I don't know if you remember this, but back in the '80s Neil Young did a song, This Note's For You. It was totally making fun of people that were selling out and doing the commercial thing, but now, you've got bands doing commercials when they've had one album. It's like the first thing you do.
Mark: That's mind-blowing. You know, there's not too much wrong with that, I don't think.
Mark: I don't think it's a career stopper or anything. More people are going to hear your music but fans might say, They're selling Subway, what are they doing?
As long as it works lyrically, I think.
Mark: More people are going to hear your music.
Don: I think it's better for a band to actually write a song for a project, as opposed to taking a song that
Mark: Right. Taking a song that's already on the record. Yeah. I'd rather see that too. I know that Aerosmith sure has a lot of music in car commercials and stuff. There's one chick, I don't know who it is, but we have one cable station out here, I don't know if it's nationwide or not, it's called Time Warner.
Ron: Sure. We've got that.
Mark: Have you seen that girl that sings Time
. What is it?
Ron: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Rolling Stones song.
Mark: Yeah, the Rolling Stone.
Ron: Is it Mandy Moore?
Mark: No, it looks like her. It's some new artist. I forget her name.
Ron: Yeah, she sings Time Is On My Side.
Mark: Yeah, and it's got her album posted on the screen. But it's the only time I've ever seen this chick.
Ron: I know exactly what you're talking about. We have the same commercial here.
Mark: Talk about promotion. A lot of people are seeing that. I would think that she's singing it because time and Time Warner. I don't think that she does that song on her record; I don't think but I don't know. <Mark starts signing the song> It's cool.
Ron: I thought it was Mandy Moore, but I think you're right, it's another young girl.
Mark: Yeah. It's a new artist.
Don: If it's a new artist and nobody knows who you are, then you can't fault them. Any exposure you can get, go for it.
Mark: Yeah, the selling out bit, I remember when the bass player for Metallica, he's no longer with the band, but he said, Yeah, we sell out. Every place we play. <laughs>
Ron: Yeah. Gene Simmons likes to say that too. It's a classic line. But Miller Lite had a commercial a while back, it was a Buffalo Springfield tune, a Vietnam protest song. The whole song was about protesting the war, and they turned it into a beer, let's get drunk commercial.
Mark: <laughs> A friend of mine, it's the same guy I was telling you about who lived in Vegas, now he lives in Santa Rosa, but they were out to dinner and his wife that he's with now, knows a lot of stars, you know, and they were out with this guy that wrote Spirit in the Sky. <starts signing>. You know that song?
Mark: He said that everyone thought that that was such a spiritual song, but it never was and they've done that in commercials that were kind of Godly, but he didn't write it about that.
Ron: Oh, really?
Mark: No. It wasn't a spiritual song. It was just a trippy song. The hippies, you know.
Ron: I didn't know that. Somebody covered that song in the '80s and had somewhat of a hit with it.
Mark: Oh, really. Oh, it was a big song.
Ron: Like you said, it was a big hit in the 60s, and I can't for the life of me remember who it was.
Mark: Yeah, I could call the guy right now and he'd tell me. I just don't remember the guy's name. We're all old now, you know. <laughs>
Ron: Yeah. <laughs> And we've got kids. That sucks all of the brain out of you. I remember that somebody re-did it and had a somewhat successful run with it in the mid to late '80s.
Mark: This same guy, he just did.
Don: Norman Greenbaum?
Ron: Yeah, Greenbaum.
Mark: Oh, that's it! Greenbaum. You've got it. That's his last name. Anyway, this same guy just played with a guitar player named Johnny Hiland. Have you guys heard of him?
Mark: This guy's like the best guitar player known to man right now. He's really a Nashville kind of dude but he's really breaking out. Every guitar magazine you get now has him in it. Fender made him his own guitar. Steve Vai saw this guy and goes, You're the only guy that I've ever said is like a million times better than me.
Mark: He's like frighteningly good. It's kind of that country picking thing, but he can rip leads, he'll rip your face off with soloing. His name is Johnny Hiland. Steve Vai signed him to his own label. This guy is frightening if you ever hear the guy play. He was just playing me some stuff on the phone, because my friend, he plays bass, he went and played on one song for a jingle or something because he knows this guy named Tom Finn who got him the gig. Now he's really good friends with Johnny Hiland. But Tom Finn used to be in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He writes for a lot of Nashville people. He writes some trippy, folksy stuff too. He's kind of a trippy writer and stuff. Anyway, listen up for that guy.
Mark: He was playing me some stuff on the phone today and it was just scary.
Ron: I've got to hear this stuff with an endorsement like that from you.
Mark: Oh, you've got to hear it. He's in every guitar magazine right now. He's just getting noticed. He's only like 29. He's kind of a heavyset dude; he weighs like 300 and supposedly he's all religious and stuff but his leads will scare you. You've heard some of these guys, almost banjo style?
Mark: But he plays rock stuff that he kind of throws in. It's wild. It's unbelievable that somebody would take that much time to practice! <laughs>
Ron: So Steve Vai signed him?
Mark: Yeah. I guess he's got a label or something.
Ron: I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for him.
Mark: Yeah, his name is Johnny Hiland. He's probably got a web site.
Mark: It's amazing because this guy, my friend, gave him my solo and they just played a show up in San Francisco and he had it in his pocket the whole gig.
Mark: <laughs> And he called Jim and he said he really liked it. It's so insane because this guy was a fan of Great White. He liked 80's rock and all this stuff, but the way he plays you'd never think that he was into anything like that.
Mark: But he's a young guy. I think he's 29 or 30 or something. He's totally frightening.
Ron: Well I look forward to hearing his stuff. Well, what to you guys have going on with Great White? You're starting a tour hear in a couple of days up in Canada, right?
Mark: Yeah, we're going to Canada for like 3 weeks and then we're going to do 1 show in Pittsburg and then come home for a little bit and then we're going to go to Europe for about 3 or 4 weeks. Then we've got a lot of festivals coming up. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to playing with ZZ Top, because I've never done a gig with those guys.
Ron: Yeah, that would be fun.
Mark: I was at a casino about 2 months ago, just hanging out. Actually it was with Jack's mom. Jack was out of town and his mom lives up here. She's like 75 years old and she likes to go to the casino so I took her so she could play all of the machines and everything. So I was just hanging out, playing a little poker and stuff and I was just kind of hanging out and having a smoke and this guy walks by with this big ol' beard and all of this ZZ Top garb and wearing a Levi vest, and I go, That guy looks like he wants to be Billy Gibbons. I didn't think it was him because he kind of looked old and stuff and it didn't look like him. I know what Billy Gibbons looks like and stuff and it didn't look like him. Anyway, I was talking to this chick at this restaurant called Low's or something and she overheard me talking about it and she said, Oh, yeah. He's in town. He's an outpatient. My mom works over at Betty Ford and he's an outpatient there.
Mark: He's just there for a little temporary help with a miniature alcohol problem or something. He goes in and out.
Ron: For a little refresher course or something?
Mark: He doesn't stay confined or anything. He was just talking with some counselors or whatever. So he was hanging out in town and I could've been hanging out with the dude.
Ron: On, no.
Mark: It pissed me off because he's my hero.
Ron: Well you'll get to hang out with him soon, I guess.
Mark: Yeah, we'll do a couple of shows with them.
Don: That'll be a lot of fun.
Mark: People don't realize that ZZ Top have had about 4 or 5 albums in the past few years that just haven't been heard because of the way radio is and no MTV. They have an album they put out about 5 years ago called Rhythmeen that just smokes.
Mark: And then they have another album called Deguello that's killer.
Don: I remember that one.
Mark: But that album Rhythmeen is really, really good. There's probably no big Tush kind of songs on it or anything but there's some good songs and incredible lyrics. It's amazing how good Frank Beard is on drums.
Mark: I never knew how good he was. That guy, over the years, always kept it kind of solid and straight, and I didn't know that he could just riff out so outrageously. There was one song where he just goes crazy. I said, My God, is he that good? I always thought that he was kind of drum machine guy.
Ron: Charlie Watts kind of.
Mark: One dude who really plays well played on my record. This guy won like Buddy Rich drum-off contests.
Ron: Yeah, I read that.
Mark: He's like insane on drums, right? And he said that Frank Beard is hot. He goes, Nobody's ever played 'La Grange' right. Everybody just plays it kind of how they think it is but here's how the beat really was, and he's playing me the beat and there's a little tricky stuff going on with the kick drum and stuff that people don't catch. Stock drummers that just play straight, they don't catch the way that he was playing that. It's got a really cool beat.
Don: It's funny, that's the kind of thing that other musicians will pick up on because you'll hear musicians rave about other musicians that maybe people don't always think of at first because they're not that flashy. Like with drumming, a lot of people rave about Steve Smith, the drummer for Journey, but when you think about Journey the first thing that pops into your mind isn't, Wow what a great drummer they've got.
Mark: He was a big school of outrageous
like, he played jazz and all that stuff. So people that knew that said, Yeah, he's upper echelon. But when they get a big gig like Journey they've got to strip it down. You can't be noodling out.
Don: You've got to be in a band like Yes before you can get away with that kind of stuff.
Mark: Exactly! <laughs>
Ron: Well, we don't want to keep you all night because this has probably been the funnest interview we've ever done.
Mark: Well, thank you.
Ron: And we could talk all night.
Mark: No doubt. No doubt.
Ron: You'd better stop us.
Mark: When I talk about music I could talk forever.
Don: Well I'll warn you, we may end up paraphrasing a bit of this interview or it'll take forever to transcribe.
Ron: Don, I've done longer ones. I'm transcribing one for Andrew right now of him with Joe Lynn Turner
Mark: Yeah, just paraphrase; otherwise, it'll be kind of like us just talking, which basically it's been like that, you know?
Ron: In a way, that's one thing that's kind of nice about the interviews on Melodicrock.com. It is more conversational because so many people do interviews and it's 10 stock questions.
Mark: It's the same questions.
Ron: Exactly. And it's like, we already know that. We can go to the internet and we can read that.
Mark: I totally agree. I like this format of just talking because I don't really think it's the artists fault to kind of fall into being scripted when asked the same questions all the time. You're not going to have different answers every time.
Mark: You're going to answer what's on your head, but it's going to come out similar each time if you keep getting the same questions. How did the band get together? What am I going to say, something different this time?
Mark: <laughs> What should I tell them this time? Maybe I should tell them that my birthday is this week.
Ron: Yeah, I have 5 kids tonight and last night I had 3.
Mark: Right <laughs> Exactly. When are their birthdays? Give a different answer every time.
Ron: The other thing that I think is different is a lot of the guys that are asking these questions, they're getting paid to do this and it's their job. They may not even necessarily know you or the band.
Ron: Don and I, on the other hand, are fans first and foremost. We're not getting paid anything to do this. We're doing it just out of the love of the music.
Mark: That's awesome. I know that, being a fan myself, I know some kind of behind the scenes type stuff with musicians and stuff and we kind of touched on that. We've even talked about doing a book called Backstage or something just to talk about all of the musicians we've met and all of the behind the scenes stuff.
Ron: To me that's fascinating stuff.
Mark: I love that stuff. I always wanted to know, what does Billy Gibbon do on the weekend and stuff. What about Jimmy Page? Do they have a life off of the stage. That was my thinking when I was like 15. Are they like real human beings?
Ron: Do they eat
Mark: Yeah, do they drive through McDonalds or do they just pop out of the stage, jam, and then disappear? When I was a teenager I always thought that bands were larger than life. I couldn't picture them doing regular stuff.
Ron: It's kind of cool having that mystery because when Ozzy came out with this TV show, there's stuff about Ozzy that I don't care to ever know. It should've stayed hidden.
Mark: Yeah, a little too much exposure.
Mark: They must've written some big checks to get him to do that.
Mark: I wouldn't want to have a TV show at my house, man. Where that guy was then and where he is now, before Sharon Osbourne met him, I'm really happy for the guy for all of his success.
Don: He met a good woman, that's for sure.
Mark: Really good.
Ron: I'll tell you, if we could put Sharon Osbourne with Gene Simmons, now they might be able to solve the Middle East peace crisis.
Mark: <Laughs> That's good.
Ron: Those two
Don: They're always thinking aren't they?
Ron: Well listen, is there anything else that you want to talk about? I know that you guys are still donating a lot of your proceeds to the Station Family Fund.
Mark: Yeah, we're still doing that.
Don: Very cool.
Mark: We're too glad to help out any way we can.
I've gone through so much with the therapy and everything. I'm starting to move on. The fellowship with the families and everything and some of the victims. We're all healing together but to relive that night, I don't want those thoughts or those visions. But I want to keep the awareness of the Station Family Fund. I don't want that to go away.
Mark: I know that these people still need help and we're going to keep that going forever.
Don: That's great. That's a good attitude.
Ron: That's exactly why we didn't want to focus our interview on that. It's about the music. We wanted to talk about the music but we wanted to make sure that people are aware that you guys are donating proceeds from albums and tours to raise the awareness.
Mark: The music is part of the healing process.
Mark: Music. That's what we do. It's the only way we knew how to help. After that, I didn't even touch the guitar for so many months until I found out I could help. Once I found out I could help, then it was time to get busy and create some awareness.
Don: Sure. That's how you can help because that's what you area musician.
Mark: When Jack and I first got together, one of our main things was, we were pretty young guys, but we go, let's do this for our lives, nothing to fall back on, because everybody always said you've got to have something to fall back on but here we have nothing to fall back on. The only thing we have to fall back on is our music.
Mark: So we gave ourselves no outs whatsoever. <laughs>
Ron: That's cool.
Don: I've never heard anybody say that.
Mark: Yeah. You better get there dude. I swear, we fought. Even though it seems like it happened overnight, we played around for a few years and we played like 6 nights a week. We played all the time. We'd play anywhere. We literally played anywhere that had a stage, I don't care if it had 10 people in front of us.
Don: As a fan, and I first heard of you guys right when you first started making some more national noise when you came out with Once Bitten and you got a little bit of radio play, and actually at the same time there was a local bandthey're actually still togetherwho played at Annies where you guys played called Prizoner, and they used to play Street Killer and Stick It.
Mark: Oh, cool.
Don: At first I didn't know who sang them and then I talked with them and they said Great White. That was right about the same time that you guys came out with this album and then you also had the Recovery Live album so I ran out and got that.
Mark: That was our first album, with Stick It and all of that.
Don: That's how I became a Great White fan, by listening to some other band cover your songs.
Mark: Back then when we had those songs, it was the early part of our writing, you know, and we were young. We didn't have keyboards or another guitar or anything. It was one guitar, a bass and drums and a lead singer. Everything we wrote was pretty much in the heavier vain.
Ron: That's the other thing that I remember about the concert when I saw you guys, was after the show when you were meeting everybody, as I was going through the line and getting autographs or whatever, I said to, I think it was you and Jack, I said, Yeah I kept waiting to hear 'Stick It' or 'Street Killer', because it wasn't on your set that night, I remember Jack looking over at you and saying, That's the 2nd person to say that tonight. We're going to have to add that to our set. I was blown away.
Mark: We do play On Your Knees and we kind of do it a little different, we try to change the set around a little bit. You've got to do that to make it exciting. For us. You know, we keep playing the same set. I mean, there's a few songs that we have to play obviously but it's cool to play ones that
I always hated that, we record albums and then we never play some of the songs live ever. It's like, why do we even put that music on the tape if we're never going to play it. What, you just play it once and then that's it? You have to re-learn the song just to play it.
Ron: I always thought it would be cool if bands did a tour and they called it For the Fans and they didn't have any hits.
Mark: Well, we had an idea for our web site to have a fan write what his greatest hits would be, and we'll make him a CD like that.
Ron: Yeah! You know, Iron Maiden did something like that.
Mark: That's a good idea.
Ron: That's a great idea.
Mark: You tell us your greatest hits, I don't care if it's a live version or any song off of the first album, we'll make you a CD and create our own artwork and stuff.
Ron: That would be cool.
Mark: <Laughs> You know what I mean?
Don: With the digital revolution that certainly seems doable.
Mark: We should have like 500 fans pick their greatest hits album. Because the people that put out the Great White Greatest Hits just did it without us even knowing that it was coming out. We go, We would never put those songs on there, or I would've done it different or Jack would've done it different. You usually talk to the artist at least a little bit.
Don: That would make sense.
Mark: That's our greatest hits?
Ron: The greatest hits according to who?
Mark: Right. Well, whatever. OK, man. Thank you guys. I'll check out Melodicrock.
I'll keep you updated on my site. We're getting it built right now. It's been kind of frustrating. We went through a guy that's slower than a snail.
I want to make a really, really good site because we're doing a band Great White site right now and it's turning out really, really good.
Ron: Cool. Because it's mistabone.com right now, right?
Mark: This mistabone site is good for the fans to chat or whatever, but we need to get a proper site. I've been to some sites for like Van Halen and George Lynch and I go, These guys have some really good web sites. We need to get a good one going. So we're having one built right now and this guy's an expert. Even the first page is amazing. It's got this shark swimming at the bottom and then it comes out and there's stuff moving around. It looks awesome. It's a really good site. It'll keep people really updated on what's going on. Have somebody just doing that, constantly feeding people information. Don't have things from 3 years ago, you know. Come on! Tell these people what we're doing now, you know.
Ron: Right. Well, we'll keep an eye out for it. We'll just keep checking it.
Mark: This guy is going to work fast. We just had a meeting, we did a photo shoot in Hollywood a couple of days ago and then we had a meeting at the office with the web site guy and put a lot of ideas around and he's got a lot of ideas and we put it all together and he's going to build us a really good site. It's going to be called Greatwhite.com.
Mark: And then I've got mine. I've been having a really hard time with my domain name. That's why it's bigfinmusic.com right now. I want it to be markkendall.com but some other guy has my name and stuff and wants like a million dollars for it, so we're bugging the guy and we're trying to figure it out. I want it to be markkendall.com not bigfinmusic.com, because I just kind of came up with it. Jack's going to have his little site and then I'm going to have my site and then we'll have the Great White site.
Ron: That'll be great.
Mark: Okay, great, fellas. Thanks for calling.
Ron: Well we didn't mean to keep you so long.
Mark: Well, Rock On! And thank you guys.
Ron: Thank you!
Mark: It was great talking to you.
Don: It was a lot of fun.
Mark: See you guys in Ohio. I'm sure we'll be playing there this year.
Ron: Well, good luck with your album and with your tour.
Mark: Thank you, guys.
Ron: Take care, Mark
Talk to you later. Bye.
Mark: OK. Bye, bye.