Interviewed by Eamon O’Neill (Writer, Contributor)
It’s been thirty years since Great White released their first album and the man whose nickname gave the band their name, guitarist Mark Kendall is still at its heart. Despite selling millions of albums in the first part of their career the highs have been tempered by the lows; a parting ways with singer Jack Russell in 2009 and a court case that saw a legal tussle over rights to the band’s name. The tragedy of the nightclub fire that killed one hundred people in 2003 in Rhode Island is also never far from their thoughts. Here Mark talks about all these things and more, including sharing a stint in rehab with Steven Tyler, hearing Appetite For Destruction for the first time, and how his hair never wrote a hit song. He also exclusively reveals that a follow-up to The Decline of The Western Civilisation Part II: Metal Years Is in the works.
Let me take you back to the early days of Great White. You’re a band from the period that spawned the now legendary movie The Decline of The Western Civilisation Part II: The Metal Years.
That was very difficult to watch, you know, the Chris Holmes section because I was friend of his and was hanging out with him when he was with Lita Ford. They lived right down the street from me, and to see him guzzling vodka like that, it was tough watch for me.
The reason I bring it up is you are an L.A band and you obviously would have associated with a lot of the bands that are featured in the movie.
You know, it’s a very strange situation because going way back then, the band I put together was with Don Costa who ended up with Ozzy much later for just a very brief period, a drummer called Tony Richards who was a great drummer who played on two WASP records. I had a girl singer named Lisa Baker. That was the original band, because when I first met Jack Russell he got in a bunch of trouble just a couple of months after I met him [Russell was jailed for his part in an armed robbery in 1978], so I was left to start over. And that’s what I did and it was called Dante Fox. George Lynch had saw us play somewhere and he lifted my girl singer from me (laughs!) and put her in his band, so I got another guy who’s name was Butch Say, and he was a Rob Halford type of a singer. He was a really good singer, and we started playing around Hollywood, and that was the era that all the bands. There were a lot of bands that people really thought were going to be the next Van Halen, like Stormer. They were considered above us for sure. One thing I can say about that time is that the music scene was really healthy and people were just swarming into Hollywood, and we were playing all those venues; The Starwood, The Whiskey, The Troubadour. There were bands every night and the music scene was electric.
Great White didn’t feature in that movie. Would you have liked to have been in it?
I’m happy that I wasn’t in a way, but they’re going to do another part to that movie and I’m going to be more involved as far as telling my story.
So they’re making a follow-up to The Decline Of The Western Civilisation?
Yes, and I’m happy, for those bands that didn’t break out. A lot of those guys like Stormer played at the movie premier, and they’re getting a little bit of attention and I think it’s deserved. I mean the stars don’t line up perfectly for everyone, you know. And I certainly feel blessed. It could have easily been someone else out of the other bands that didn’t break out. But I’m really excited now to tell some of the stories. Like Steve Plunkett was in a band that were supposed to go huge called Wolfgang, who were one of the leading bands in L.A and he ended up being in Autograph. And we did showcases as Dante Fox but that name was just not going to cut it with Alan Niven. He said, I am not going to have a bad called Dante Fox. And we went, oh no we’re going to have to think of a name again, and he goes, no you don’t, you’ve already got the name ‘Great White’, and once we thought about the shark and all that we though, okay, we’ll deal with it.
Is Penelope Spheeris directing it?
For the latest movie, the director’s name is Bob. I met him and he wants to interview the band because they want to do another movie where they dig even deeper into L.A. They’re going to talk to more people and get more stuff out of the era. And I want get involved with that because there are a lot of stories to tell, like the early days of Motley Crue coming to our Dante Fox shows when we played the Whisky. We’d go back to their apartment after the gig. I played at Vince Neil’s high school before he was in Motley. A fiend of goes ‘this guy’s a singer’, and I go ‘really, what band is he in’, and he goes ‘oh, he’s not in a band, he just sings all the time’. And we were just playing in a hallway in a high school and Vince was standing right in front of me. Three years later I was playing in a battle of the bands with my band his band called Rock Candy, and his band came in third place and mine came in fourth place. So you got an idea of an embryo of something special in a singer like Vince Neil or a guitar player who was something special who was in a different situation that ended up in something much bigger.
Like with the band London.
Exactly, Nikki Sixx was with that band, and Blackie Lawless was with them. George Lynch was in The Boyz and he was in other bands, a band called Exciter, a band called The Flying Tigers.
So is the movie is it going to be all new interviews or will there be some old clips?
They want to interview more people and continue on with two hours more of stuff to add to the story. It’s going to be an extension of what you have already seen, interviews with more bands that have more stories. It will be good for the fans.
That was obviously an iconic time, and the likes of WASP, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses and of course Great White came out of that scene.
We tried to play as much as we possibly could to put ourselves in a better position to get lucky and that’s what ended up happening. Alan Niven just happened to be in the crowd at one of our shows, and we did not know until later that that was his third or fourth time watching us play, and he approached us with a business card and invited us down to is offices which was in Enigma, a label that signed Motley Crue one year prior. The intention was to sign the band to this small independent label and then have a larger label put it out, which is what happened with Motley – they got picked up by Electra – and Tom Zutaut [producer] was involved with that and he was a friend of Alan Niven. Now Alan wanted his rock band and I guess we were it. Dokken had told him about us and said that we were the best band around. And then we made an EP with Michael Wagner and it was getting airplay and we really didn’t have a proper record deal so it was a pretty amazing what was achieved just by hard work. And Alan Niven is such a visionary, he was an amazing guy.
Of course, Alan Niven is quite well known, largely due to his association with Guns N Roses.
He really developed Guns N Roses. I mean for some reason, I don’t know how he does it but he can hear music that maybe sounds so horrid, like the quality of the recording , or the song isn’t so good, but he can hear through all that and see something that can be great.
He obviously saw something in your band because you went on to sign with Capitol Records, and your first album with them was ‘Once Bitten’.
The very first album was the five song EP. Then our first major label was EMI America which had Queensryche and that was pretty much it. We had spoken with nine different major labels, everyone in town, and we choose EMI America it was because we felt that they had such a small roster that we would get a lot of attention. But after the Judas Priest and Whitesnake tours we came home and we hadn’t sold enough records to get them excited so we parted ways. Now Capitol Records was the father company of EMI America, so for us to basically get dropped at EMI America and have Capitol sign us, I still can’t figure it out. So we had been given a second opportunity and we knew it was do or die. We were becoming better songwriters and we had Alan Niven directing us and bringing out the best out of each of us. On our first record he called us ‘Priest Halen’ because our early song writing was more heavy metal with just guitar, bass and drums, we didn’t have the keyboards or another guitar player. By the time we got the Capitol deal that was when we were writing more songs like ‘Rock Me’ that had more substance and dynamics. It was more of the blues influences that I was listening to. I grew up with Alvin Lee, I was really into Johnny Winter and I loved Richie Blackmore.
It was at a time when all the hair bands were going on, but that sound gave Great White a different dynamic.
You know, as far as the fashion, we blended right in. But our music really didn’t have much to do with our hair. I told one guy one time my hair never wrote any of those songs.
Following ‘Once Bitten’ you released ‘Twice Shy’, and those albums are kind of like twins. Was that the plan?
Well, there wasn’t a plan when we come out with ‘Once Bitten’. It just seemed like when the time came to make the record and we were coming up with ideas that the obvious follow-up would be ‘Twice Shy’. Actually it was Izzy Stradlin that came to Alan with the song, and Alan brought it to us. We didn’t think the world of it but we thought it would be a good album track. We had no idea that it would become what it did. But it certainly took off and it was definitely a breakthrough, but we had sold almost two million records with ‘Once Bitten’ so that definitely got us attention and we had the MTV’s and the radio in the United States playing our music.
So did Guns N Roses originally want to do ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’?
Not ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’, no. The only song that they almost did was kind of a joke rock song. It was called ‘Wasted Rock Ranger’ that was just this little B-side country song and they decided not to do it so we did that. That was the only thing that we both looked at. It was a friend of somebody in Guns N Roses that wrote the song about doing cocaine with your cornflakes, and it was just making fun of drug abuse basically. So we ended up doing that just for a B-side, just kind of something fun for our fans.
Having the same manager, did the two bands associate with one another in those early days?
A couple of times we rehearsed in the same place but we didn’t tour together or anything. We played one show together that turned out to be kind of a, I don’t want to say ‘legendary’ but it was kind of a big breakthrough for both bands, especially them. They were almost gold and they were really big in the East Coast and the New York area so we played a place called ‘The Ritz’ and MTV was there and we played together on that show. That was a pretty big moment as far as us playing together. But Alan kept us apart, probably to eliminate any jealousies or whatever. But obviously their record was just an epic phenomenon. I mean, the label wanted them to go in and make another record. ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ had not really taken off on the radio like the way they expected. But Niven insisted that they go back to the radio again with it, and he just kind of took over and kind of did the label’s job. And it just went crazy. The word of mouth just became so powerful that it just forced that album to go huge.
Do you remember hearing ‘Appetite For Destruction’ for the first time?
Yes I Do. I heard a demo for the first time, and the demo was not very good. Now I’m not saying anything that would badmouth anything to do with Guns N Roses because they’re not only my friends but they’re just masterful and they’ve done so much. But I wouldn’t have been like an A&R person that could have even listened to the demo and gone these guys are going to be huge. But Alan, he can hear, and that’s what I mean. But yes, I remember where I was. I got a copy of it [the finished album] and I went to my friend’s house who used to be my critic and I would play him things before they’d get released and he would pick the singles and say what songs were going to be big and he was usually correct, and we both flipped out. We were going, man, not only are these songs really good but sonically it’s so punchy and powerful. We just thought it was amazing stuff. And this was a real band with real music, and grooves that you weren’t used to hearing. I mean the power of the motor underneath that song was just unbelievable.
Do you ever think there will be a reunion of the original Guns N Roses line-up?
I don’t know. They’re just kind of out doing their own thing. I think the singer is real set in his ways, so I don’t really know. But I was never around Guns N Roses enough so I don’t know any inside scoops on the band hassles. Who knows what can happen. It seems like it could be a very large thing, maybe they could just do a large tour or something.
Back with Great White, and your next release ‘Hooked’ was a big album for you as well.
Yes, it was a big album. A lot of our fans love that album but to me, we didn’t quite get there. Looking back I think we really needed to come out with something that was just mind blowing and you know, it doesn’t always happen.
It was 1991 and you didn’t know it but the clouds were on the horizon as Grunge exploded shortly after.
Really the Grunge movement, even though it affected eighties rock, I wasn’t really as bummed out as I thought I should have been. I was almost relieved to hear something different because I really felt that at the end of the eighties it was starting to get watered down. It was becoming so predictable. Everybody was writing the same songs with the anthems, and to me it was just really bad. You know what happens is a handful of bands go big and they’re doing something that has substance and it’s pretty cool stuff, but then every major label wants their version of that. So when that starts happening over and over again, it starts to lose its vitality. And I was almost happy, I just thought it’s nice to hear this raw music, it was such a welcome change for me. Alice in Chains for example, I liked. Usually I’m pretty accepting when I hear music that has melody to it and that has some kind of originality. Their songs were maybe a little darker, about how screwed up the world was and doom and gloom, whereas in our era it was all about celebration and girls.
That’s a great way to sum up the two eras, if you had to describe them to an alien.
Our attitude was to get away from the problem, theirs was to embrace it. And it still sounded good, and there were a lot of good bands that came out in the nineties. But it was a dark period for bands of our era because the momentum had shifted towards the newer bands. I was talking with Rudolph Schenker of The Scorpions and he said that they basically didn’t play in the nineties, they had a ten year break almost, because of all the new music. We still played but we were kind of flying under the radar, because so much attention, so much deserved attention was happening with the new bands. In the eighties when we would tour there would just be the two bands, or there might be another opening act, and we’d fill arenas every night. In the nineties they had to put like seven bands together on a bill, and all of them had sold millions of records.
Even AC/DC struggled to sell tickets then, but skip forward to 2009 and they were selling out the same venues in less than ten minutes.
I know, and I saw some of those shows on cable channel and there’s like a million people in the crowd and they’re just packing them in. It just goes to show, because rock n roll has supposed to have died a million times by now.
Speaking of AC/DC, in the mid 1990’s Great White released a couple of covers albums, and one of them featured tracks by the likes of AC/DC, Status Quo and The Cult.
We used to do things for fun just in our spare time and the cover record that we did wasn’t even a planned release. We were just doing songs from our heroes. When we did that ‘Recovery Live’ album we just had all this free studio time and we were just messing around. We just rolled the tape and were just playing these songs for fun.
There was also a Led Zeppelin covers album.
The Zeppelin thing, one time we played a Led Zeppelin song for MTV unplugged. We were on the very first show with the Damn Yankees and Don Henley. The night before we played, our manager called and said learn ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ by Zeppelin. I was like, are you kidding? I mean it to not rehearse a song like that and just go play it, it was a little crazy. We rehearsed it in the dressing room and that was it. But it came out good, almost too good, because after that our fans wanted us to play Zeppelin all the time. And on MTV, it was the only song they were playing on rotation. So I don’t know if it was a blessing or a curse, but our fans were torturing us to play Led Zeppelin almost every time we played live. So one time on Christmas we thought, they want Zeppelin? Let’s give them Zeppelin. We’ll do a full blown tribute to them. But then it sat around for six or seven years, and we had some down time and I think Michael [Lardie – keyboards] said why don’t we mix it and put it out for the fans.
There’s also a recent covers release that you’re not happy with.
Right now there’s a record out that’s total infringement from some company called Collectors Dream Records [‘Saturday Night Special’]. They’ve released an album that they’re calling Great White that none of us even played on. It’s only got our former singer Jack Russell on it. He does these projects where he sings on these cover songs, but they’re calling this a full blown Great White release that none of us played on.
So you’re still having legal problems? I thought that the court case would have settled all that.
No, no it did, but this is an infringement situation where they’re calling an album a Great White album that has like Journey covers and Van Halen and Jefferson Starship. Trust me, it’s not us. That’s not what we do. We don’t do stuff like that. We got Amazon to take it down, and CD Universe isn’t releasing it. It takes a while for the lawyers to get it stopped. I just want to let out fans know that it’s not me playing and whoever’s releasing this is just out to make a dollar. When we come out with a release it’s going to be original new music, and if we do a cover song it’s going to be something obscure.
I was going to skip the relatively inactive years for the band in the late 1990’s and 2000’s, unless you wanted to talk a little about Rhode Island.
Rhode Island was was just pure unadulterated torture. We had all taken a break from Great White, and I went and did a solo album and tour. Jack went out was doing a solo tour and, it wasn’t going so well so the manager called me and I went out with his band, and that’s when that accident happened. It was just unbearable. It was very tough to deal with being a witness to something like that. You know, Great White have never used pyro. It wasn’t truly Great White that was there. I didn’t know anyone in his band. I just went out to try to help with his ticket sales. I had just met those guys, and they were just playing his music. I think they played ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ at the very end of their show but they weren’t playing Great White material. When I came out they started calling it ‘Jack Russell’s Great White’. But on the posters they had it just said ‘Great White’, and CNN and the press were reporting that, so everybody decided that it was just the classic Great White line-up, but really it was just me just filling in with Jack’s solo band.
As far as the accident itself, it’s the most horrific thing I’ve ever been through, and these days, I’m still on a daily basis in touch with a lot of people from Rhode Island. We’re very, very close with the people that started the fund the Station Family fund. It’s an ongoing healing process and we all stay really close. When we see each other it’s just hugs and love and that’s the way we get through it. You never forget about the people that were lost. You just don’t want to relive the accident itself every day. The people that were lost are in our memories.
It was undoubtedly a tragedy. Do you think that it affected people’s perception of the Great White name?
Not for the most part for people who know what really happened. The place where the accident happened, the accident report said they had what was equal to thirteen gallons of gasoline on their walls with this foam. They even allowed smoking of cigarettes in the building so it was an accident waiting to happen. It just so happened that it happened on the night that we were there. But people who have read the books that they put out since, I really don’t think that too many people blamed the band because they [The Station Nightclub] had had pyro there several times before us. Just a couple of weeks prior to when we played there they had a Kiss tribute band where the bass player was breathing fire like Gene Simmons . They were just lucky that nothing had happened them.
Moving on, the band continued on through the 2000’s but you split with your singer Jack Russell five years ago.
In 2009 he was unable to perform and we had a lot of shows booked so we got stand-in singers. We had Jani Lane [late Warrant singer] for a little bit, a guy called Paul Shortino did one show, but the guy we kept going back to was Terry Llous who’s now in the band. He learned the songs on the plane on a day when we had a show and Jack had to cancel. He came out, and that was the first time I ever jammed with him, and we had a lot of fun that day, I couldn’t believe that he was that prepared.
You had found someone who you thought yeah, I can work with this guy.
It’s amazing because he’s such a blues singer, somewhere between Glenn Hughes and Paul Rogers. He has so many blues chops that it fits my guitar perfectly. And when I come with blues rock stuff, he really shines. And his energy, he vibrates at a frequency that’s higher than your average person. When I’m coming up with a couple of riffs in a sound check, he’s going to write a song right there.
Has it got the band to up your game?
It’s kind of lifted us all a little bit, yeah. We’ve come up a couple of notches with our live show and we’re all enjoying ourselves and realising how easy it is. When everybody’s treating themselves well it makes everything go easy. It’s like this isn’t so tough. Travelling is never easy, but playing the shows is fun.
And everyone’s behaving themselves?
I used to be a beer drinker years ago, but nobody in the band even really drinks now, and I’ve even quit smoking, so yeah we’re just making the music the priority and really enjoying it. And it’s fun making new music. That’s what motivates us. That’s why we’re still here. We’re always trying to come up with that one song. It eliminates the risk of just going through the motions or becoming an oldies band where we’re just going to go out and play the hits once a year or whatever.
Your first album with Terry ‘Elation’ came out in 2012 and it’s being remixed and re-released.
Yes, we kind of rushed the original mix a little bit and even the recording of it. We basically had no material when we went in the studio but we had an opportunity to make a record. Frontiers [Great White’s current label] wanted to hear what we sounded like with Terry before they committed to doing any kind of deals with us. So I had a couple of riffs and Michael had a riff and we recorded a song in one or two days and sent it off to them, and they went, ok, go ahead and make a record. They didn’t know that we had no material! So we went in the studio literally in the morning with acoustic guitars, and I had a lot of sound check riffs. And we would just start with a raw idea and go, hey, let’s work on that. By the early evening we would record it and then start working on melodies and stuff, and we did that every couple of days until we had the songs.
You are in good company on Frontiers. Uriah Heep are on there, Night Ranger and Tesla for example. It seems to be a great label for bands of a certain era.
Yeah, and a lot of these bands are making great music. I mean Night Ranger have some killer stuff. It’s nice that we have an avenue that can help get our music to the people, because we don’t have the avenues that we had before. With the radio it’s just all classic rock and for the most part it’s Tom Petty / 1982 all the time. They don’t play our new material so when a label like Frontiers comes along and releases new material from Ted Nugent and Journey and Tesla and all these bands it really makes you happy, you know? I mean, I’m not really concerned about selling millions and millions of records although it would be great, but I am concerned that I really want out music to get to our fans however we have to do it. I mean, we made four videos for the last album just with our own money. We just put them out for our fans so that they could know that we had a record.
The video for the song ‘Complicated’ is something different that you would not expect from Great White.
You know we never done a video with just special effects and graphics and space rockets flying through the air. It was just something fun. This chick’s way in the future and she finds the old rock n roll through the internet. It was just somebody who we knew through a radio station who was a fan, and he said he could do something that really would be a very expensive video but we could do it in a way that would be affordable. It’s a little different, I mean every video that we’d ever done in our entire history had been just us, live on stage; insert girls! So it was just fun to do something a little different. We’re not taking ourselves too seriously.
So have you any plans to tour at present? Have you any plans to come to Europe?
Yes, in fact we’re talking to some people now and we want to get something going for early next year and a proper tour, at least maybe six or eight weeks. I was talking to several bands, we’ll maybe do something with Uriah Heep, we talked to Y&T. We’re looking at a lot of different options. We’re talking to a few promoters and we’re trying to get something going. We want to play the UK.
It’s been a while since you’ve been over here.
Well it was just the state of the music industry and it’s so expensive to go over there, and play for like a dollar ninety-eight. I mean, it has to be a package where we can play mid-sized venues. We have people coming on our facebook from England and Ireland even. We just played in Switzerland and there were people there from Greece, Italy, Germany, the UK, people came from lots of different countries so we really want to make an effort to come over there and do a tour. We just have to get it figured out.
So what’s next? Are you working towards a new album or are you going to wait until after this reissue comes out?
We do a lot of shows so it’s difficult to find some space, but we’ve been writing. I’m really looking forward to doing another record with Terry. I’ve really learned what brings the very best out of him. So we’re really pumped and I just really want to come out with something that’s just mind-blowing. It will probably be in the latter part of the year and it will probably come out next year.
It must be great that the core of the band has remained the same for such a long time.
I’m the only original guy, only because I started it alone in 1979, but Michael Lardie has been in the band for almost thirty years. He is another key song writer and he has co-written almost every song and also produced a lot of our records. And since 1985 we’ve had Audie, the drummer. It’s definitely the core of the band, and every song you’ve heard I’ve played on and Michael’s played on. But you know, ‘Great White’ was my nickname and getting a new singer, bands have had to deal with things like this for different reasons. I mean AC/DC lost their gifted singer and were able to survive, and Deep Purple, you can never figure them without Ian Gillan but they came out with a record that just blew me away completely with ‘Burn’ and that was one of the iconic records of my lifetime.
You earlier mentioned that Richie Blackmore was one of your heroes. Have you ever met him?
Yeah. I was five feet away from him and he was checking his sound. We did a show with them one time in Atlanta. I’d heard so many stories that he’s kind of a dark person and I didn’t really have anything intelligent to say to him so I decided to just leave it a mystery. I didn’t want him to do anything to kill my ‘hero’ because he created so many great memories for me as a young teenager and young guitar player and I didn’t want to hinder that. I didn’t want to meet him and for him be a total jerk. I mean, I met Billy Gibbons and he was the most soulful, down to earth person that I’ve ever met. And one of my heroes is Johnny Winter and I’ve sat and had heart to heart conversations with him, and he’s the reason I play guitar. Another one was Stevie Ray Vaughan, He sat and talked with me and he signed a poster to me and wrote on it ‘keep standing tall’! I mean, those are my heroes and they play with so much feel and they inspire me to put my heart and soul into my playing. These are people that I’ve met and they ended up to be the most soulful people and beautiful people that you could ever meet in your life.
It sounds like as a fan yourself, you know what it is like to be on the other side.
One thing I can say, speaking for my band is that we never leave until every picture is taken, and every autograph is signed. We never ditch out of there like we’re superstars unless we have to catch a flight or something. Our fans appreciate that, and I think that’s why they have stayed loyal. Part of the reason they’ve stayed loyal is because we let them know that we are grateful for their loyalty. I never feel that I am worthy of some of the attention.
And after thirty-five years or more, the band is still going strong.
Yeah, it’s still there and the new generations of fans too, it’s mind blowing. I have a son who is twenty-two years old, and he brings his friends to our shows and he’s like, I’ve got these guys coming up going, dude, your dad shreds! And when we played in Sweden there were like thirty kids outside of our hotel that were twenty years old, and they were all dressed like we dressed in 1982.
Steel Panther, although they’re doing it tongue in cheek, seem to be introducing that kind of music to a new audience.
Of course they’re exploiting excesses, but you know it’s fun. They really do have a goal in mind to keep the eighties thing going. As far as the imagery and stuff like that it’s a little bit of tongue in cheek but it’s cool, they’re a big draw and they’re great players. The singer, he’s been around for years just playing in little bands and nothing really taking off. And he’s a programme guy like me, he’s into sobriety and treating himself well and he’s very focused. He was in a band called the Atomic Punks and they were doing Van Halen covers and they did it perfect. And the idea for this Metal Skool just stemmed from that where they were doing the eighties rock with this theme of making fun of the excess and joking during the show. It’s flipping brilliant and it’s fun and it’s funny. But they had to change the name legally I guess, to Steel Panther which is even better. All that is fun and good with me.
They just played at the Download Festival in The UK. Would Great White be interested in playing the big European festivals?
I would love to slot onto some of those tours. We’re talking to a couple of agencies now that are going to include that with our tour. We’ll play some of the mid-sized venues but we want to bigger shows as well.
Someone else who played at Download that hadn’t been here in nearly thirty years was Jake E. Lee.
I’m really happy for Jake because I know he has been out of action. I spoke to him on the Monsters of Rock cruise and we took a picture together because years ago we were on the cover of a big guitar magazine, I think it was Guitar For The Practicing Musician. We had a cover shot and there was a big article and that because we were on tour and he was opening for us with Badlands. So it was great seeing him again and seeing he’s great and made a record.
If those guys can come over and play the main stage then there’s room for Great White.
You know, one thing about Europe that I’ve always loved is that they’re not afraid to put Slayer with Bob Dylan. I’ve shared bills with Three Doors Down and Linkin Park. There is room for everyone. On one stage in Denmark we played with Black Sabbath, Slayer, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, and people went just as nuts for Slayer as they did Bob Dylan. The only thing that kind of stood out above everyone and blew everyone away was when Sabbath weren’t even on stage but they played those three magic notes [the intro to the song ‘Black Sabbath’]. 300,000 people just lost their minds.
There are some headline bands that can just do that; Aerosmith for example.
Absolutely, I mean Steven Tyler, that guy, his whole life is music. I got sober in 1991 and I was in rehab with him and I hung out with him every day, and I’ve never seen a man so dedicated to everything. He just yields the maximum out of music and life, and his talent is just crazy. And he’s a drummer too, so you know all those Aerosmith grooves that you hear are in his head. I’m telling ya, that guy is a monster when it comes to song writing, and the way he delivers it, I don’t care if it’s a ballad, that guy will squeeze the maximum out of the vocal performance. It’s on its own level, it’s crazy. Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, I’ve never heard a band that put their guitars together the way those two do. They complement each other, they play different parts but the orchestration of it is just iconic brilliance. It really inspires us the way we deal with our guitars.
So are you currently self-managed?
We have a little more control over things now. We were tired of people telling us what we can and can’t do. The band has a lot more say-so than we ever had. There’s really no reason to have management but we’re not opposed to it. We’re talking to a couple of people right now, but we’re perfectly capable of making our own decisions on what can elevate the band to the next level. It’s no longer like it was so to have a manager who you’re paying all those tonnes of percentage just to make sure that you’ve got water at your show, I mean, it doesn’t really make too much sense.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I just want to let all the fans know that we’re not opposed to going to Europe. We’re going to do it as soon as we can. We don’t want to go over there and do just one show and go home. We want to do a proper tour, so we’re not hiding from you guys or anything, we really want to do it. So please be patient, and as soon as we have something solid we’ll let everybody know. We’re just appreciative of all the years of loyalty from all the Great White fans. It’s been an amazing ride and we’re so appreciative, and we will continue to try to make the best music that we possibly can. We totally love what we’re doing , and if we do, hopefully you guys like it too and that’s what we pray for.