“The Five Count” radio show recently conducted an interview with GREAT WHITE guitarist Mark Kendall. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On GREAT WHITE‘s recent “Full Circle” studio album:
Mark: “It turned out really good. The feedback has been amazing. You know, we went back and worked with Michael Wagener again, the producer. Back then, he wasn’t the icon he is today. He had only done ACCEPT and a DOKKEN demo record. I saw him on the Monsters [Of Rock] cruise and we were talking, and he just mentioned, ‘Why don’t we do something again?’ I’m, like, ‘All right! That would be great.’ That was a great experience. He’s such a taskmaster, so the production is amazing. Everything turned out really good. It’s a super-strong record. Like I said, the feedback has been amazing, and the fans seem to dig it live and everything, so we’re thrilled with the outcome.”
On how the “Full Circle” album title came about:
Mark: “We’ve never named an album until it’s done. That makes the most sense and sometimes we’ll name it after a song or whatever. We couldn’t come up with a title and Michael Lardie, our keyboard/guitarist player, came up with that. He goes, ‘What about ‘Full Circle’?’ We all liked it immediately because it made sense. He [Wagener] did our very first album, our first EP and then all these years later, we’re back working with him again. It just seemed to be in an apt title, I guess.”
On whether GREAT WHITE‘s writing process has changed with modern technology:
Mark: “Actually, our very first EP was released in ’82, but, yeah, no, in fact, even with the modern technology or whatever, we never change anything. We just get together, kind of show each other our ideas. As far as on our own, the only thing I do different is I used to use microcassettes and now I use my phone to put my ideas down. That’s about the biggest change we’ve made. I just learned over the years what works and we just don’t change it as far as we always just get together in a room and jam and that seems to always work the best when we’re playing together. We just do it like that. Sometimes we’ll sit around with acoustic guitars and kind of go, ‘What do you got?’ Somebody will go, ‘I have this idea’ and we’ll go, ‘Man, I really like that. Let’s work on that.’ Sometimes, songs stem from just a small idea and we’ll turn it into a full song. Other songs stem from just jamming together, like it will be some random jam, and something will happen after we’re going for a while. We’ll stop and go ‘Hey, what was that? Let’s do something with that part?’ But, yeah, you know, we don’t email or text our parts or whatever to each other. We always get together and that’s how we’ve always done it. We’re pretty much old-school in that regard.”
On the reason why GREAT WHITE continues to write and record new music:
Mark: “We actually continue to make music because it motivates us to stay creative, you know what I mean? That’s really why we do it. I’ve heard other people say that it’s pointless to make records because there’s no money, but as far as we’re concerned, I can only speak for us, we never really wanted to become an oldies band that just goes out every year and plays all the hits or whatever, although we are grateful of our songs, but we need to continue to write and that’s what keeps it going for us.”
On his current relationship with former singer Jack Russell:
Mark: “Jack and I, our whole life together, I don’t think we’ve ever gotten in an argument. [Laughs] We’re real close as far as being friends. It just got to where he was so bad. He had to sit in stools. It got kind of bad and we just had to let him go get well. We told him, ‘Just go get well.’ He’s got demons and all, so we just said, ‘Get help.’ I work with alcoholic addicts myself on a daily basis, so I’m real familiar with the range of what it takes for people to get sober. One guy might just get a DUI and he quits drinking forever. Then you’ve got guys who lose everything, and they still don’t stop, so it’s a tough go. Some people make it. Anyway, yeah, we just told him to go get well and the next thing we know, he was suing us. I guess he wanted to just go grab random people and just play GREAT WHITE and take the band name. We had no choice but to defend ourselves. The final outcome was we kept the name and we gave him a way for him to make a living by making his name prominent but calling it ‘JACK RUSSEL’S GREAT WHITE‘ or whatever. That’s just the way it worked out. We’ve moved on. We have a great singer [Terry Ilous] and we’re just stress-free every day. We just want to have fun and make music. He’s out playing now, too, I think and so, he has our blessing, and everything is great. Like I said, we’ve always been brothers as far as when we played together. It’s like a marriage. We’re together and he just got into a rough spot and couldn’t get out and then the next thing we knew, we were served papers. So, I don’t know what to say about it apart from that. I have no animosity toward him. I never take it personal when somebody’s in trouble with demons or whatever. I know it’s not personal. They’re not doing it to hurt anybody; some people just can’t get out of that life. I hope he’s doing good today and that’s that.”
Russell sued his onetime bandmates in 2012 over their continued use of the GREAT WHITE name after the singer had taken a leave of absence from the band for medical reasons. A short time later, Russell was countersued by Kendall, Lardie and Audie Desbrow, claiming the singer’s self-destructive behavior was damaging the GREAT WHITE name (they also alleged he was charging promoters less for his own touring version of GREAT WHITE). The parties settled in July 2013 without going to trial, with Russell now performing with a new lineup as JACK RUSSELL’S GREAT WHITE while the others are continuing as GREAT WHITE.
“Full Circle” was released in June 2017 via Bluez Tone Records.