Our fans are the are the most loyal fans in the world. We are totally grateful and feel very blessed! - Mark Kendall
The story of Great White has many twists and turns; rising to a hard-earned status of world-wide popularity in the 80′s, with millions of albums sold, resulting in an instantly recognizable and branded band name, a 1990 Grammy nomination, touring across the globe with the industries biggest name bands, tragedy, a media intensified change in lead vocalists, lawsuits and then… Elation. With the arrival of Terry Ilous as the new frontman for Great White, a whole new era of Rock ‘N’ Roll spirit was ushered in as well for this legendary band.
Mark Kendall, Great White’s founding member, guitarist and songwriter, has recently took the time from his packed schedule to be interviewed by me; for which I extend a tremendous thank you to this talented and legendary gentleman of Rock. Mark elaborates on what the current vibes within Great White are like, the band’s newest studio and live albums, the changeover with lead vocalists and of course the fans. Here is what Mark Kendall had to say:
Stone: What was (until now) the untold “big break” that Great White encountered during the early days of the band?
Mark: One of our first big breaks was meeting our Manager Alan Niven and making our first 5 song EP. This was such a huge moment for us. Michael Wagener was brought out from Germany to Engineer and Produce it and we already knew of him because of his work with Accept. Then when airplay followed on the 2 biggest Radio Stations in Los Angeles on KMET and KLOS we had really started to get excited.
Stone: After all these years, can Great White declare a feeling of Elation, just as your new album title reads?
Mark: Absolutely! We are really enjoying ourselves at the moment and the energy within the band is very positive!
Stone: During the exit period of Jack Russell was there ever a time when you thought Great White was “on the ropes”?
Mark: I never felt the band was on the ropes, but I felt Jack was. It’s very difficult to watch a person self destruct and you can’t do anything about it. I have never put that much energy and attention into trying to get a person sober and healthy in my entire life. It just wears on you and it’s a very difficult thing when someone just won’t accept help. His addiction unfortunately is winning and it has literally destroyed his body. He has this huge extended stomach, skinny little legs and just looks so sick, it’s very sad. I asked people who have 30 plus years sobriety is there anything I am missing or is there something else I can be doing for him. I was told that if an addict is not ready to surrender to his addiction there is nothing anyone can do. I work with a lot of struggling addicts and alcoholics on a daily basis, as well as I am involved with the Grammy Foundation through MusiCares to give back to the program and help people. What I have found is the ones who do well and are successful are the ones who want it more than anything! One can only hope he finds help before it’s too late..He remains in our prayers…
Stone: Is there a new-found feeling of brotherhood within Great White, now that Terry (Ilous) has become your new lead vocalist?
Mark: Everything is just easy and fun. We are having fun again without any drama. That alone is worth its weight in gold! Terry leaves it on stage every night and always brings everything he has to our live shows. He is a pleasure to be around and always has a positive vibe. He makes you feel good when you’re around him. The brotherhood is totally intact and our creative juices are flowing like crazy! I can’t wait to do the next record.
Mark Kendall – Guitar
Michael Lardie – Keyboards & Guitar
Scott Snyder – Bass
Audie Desbrow – Drums
Terry Ilous – Vocals
Stone: Mark, how did it all unfold as Terry becoming the lead vocalist for Great White?
Mark: He filled in when Jack was on his path of self-destruction. Jack had to pull out of a tour with more than 30 dates on the books. To save face with the promoters we asked Terry to fill in. Terry had already filled in for one show. We actually had Jani Lane fill in for a few shows as well. When Jack reached the point of no return and announced he was moving on, Terry was a no brainer. We loved the man. Terry is such a good singer and a total pro. He is very dedicated and wants to work very hard all the time and is always very motivated. He vibrates at a frequency that’s a little higher than your average person!
Stone: Of course money is essential to live, however, what is more important, selling multi-millions of albums or playing the music that you love, live for your fans?
Mark: Playing live is everything to us!! Selling music has nothing to do with anything as far as just pure enjoyment. The great thing if you are selling millions of records though means your music is reaching a lot of people. That probably means more people will be at the shows and that’s very cool. Playing live is my favorite thing about making music though. Nothing else even comes close!
Stone: I look upon your newly released “30 Years – Live From The Sunset Strip” (Frontiers Records) as not only a celebration of Great White; I look upon it as a band that has persevered and showcases one of America’s greatest live Hard Rock Bands of yesterday and today. Did you guys have to be prodded for this live anniversary album or was it always in the cards?
Mark: No we didn’t. This is a tremendous milestone and we really wanted to celebrate it. We felt what a great way to do it by bringing it back to where it all started for us on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood California! It was such a great night. All our friends, fans and family came down to the show. We brought the video cameras out and recorded the show.
Stone: Media and fan response to “Elation” and your hit single “Hard To Say Goodbye” has been phenomenal. What were your expectations with the release of “Elation”? I look upon it all as a tremendous fresh and new start for Great White.
Mark: The feedback from everyone has been absolutely amazing!I think it’s a very great first effort. It was a lot of fun to make and we are all happy. I think the album is consistent and for writing, recording, mixing and mastering the album in 35 days we can’t complain. I really look forward to doing the next one. I am ready to make a statement and the next album I feel is going to be our strongest ever. I am setting my goals high and I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t believe it. This is a new chapter in the Great White book and we are enjoying riding the wave. Our fans are the are the most loyal fans in the world. We are totally grateful and feel very blessed!
Listen to and watch “Hard To Say Goodbye” below!
Stone: Frontiers Records has continuously signed the crème de la crème of 80’s Rock and Hard Rock bands. Were you approached by Frontiers or did you approach them?
Mark: We approached them and a few others. I think it’s great that there are labels that help get rock and roll music to the people. It’s a different world now than it was back in the day. We no longer have all the mediums like MTV and Radio, so it’s harder to get our music to the people. I just want people to hear our music. Everything is internet now so you really need a good team of people who know how to network.We have a great staff who are doing a wonderful job!
Stone: Mark, could you pinpoint the greatest moment you’ve experienced as a musician, regardless of how small or large the moment was?
Mark: For me it was having a musician father that encouraged me. I had some natural ability and there was always music in my house. I think having a Mother and Father that encouraged just about anything I did musically was a great experience and I don’t think anything else could really compare to that.
* For more info on GREAT WHITE, click on the links below!
facebook: Great White [Band]
LONG LIVE MARK KENDALL.
LONG LIVE GREAT WHITE.