|Elation by Great White|
|Great White photo by Shirley Ann Wilson Photography|
T-Mak: Today we chat with Mark Kendall one of rock’s most notable guitarists, ahead of the band’s Toronto gig at The Rockpile on August 20th. Mark, thank you so much for talking to us.
T-Mak: Let’s start with the new album named Elation. Congratulations on Great White’s 12th studio album. This is the first album the band has made with your new singer Terry Ilous. How was the experience of making this album overall?
T-Mak: You co-produced the album, describe to us what that entails?
Kendall: You know, I just wanted to get involved. The last album I co-produced was Once Bitten and I had removed myself from the production so I could have been a guitar player. But this time I wanted to get involved because I do a lot of side projects, I produce other bands which is my hobby outside of Great White. I just wanted to get involved for an extra pair of ears for Michael. He welcomed and and said hey we haven’t done this for a very long time and we are a good team”. I had Michael to bounce ideas off of and he would bounce ideas of me. Its kind of a trip when you are producing your own band. If he’s doing something I stand over him and say why don’t you try this or that, and he would do the same for me. For the vocals for example, Terry had never had anyone produce his vocals – they just let him sing – he has a library of chops, he is like Paul Rodgers and I wanted those to be used for more of a surprise dynamic element to where it wasn’t overdone. So we got really involved with that and Terry said he loved the working process and it elevated him to a new level. Normally we write a song, rehears for days and we go in , this time we really just let ourselves be free and you can hear the energy in the record. For the most part the feedback has been “wow you can really hear the energy in that record”
Kendall: I think it’s a lot different – it just seemed to be extremely electric in the early 80’s. Right past the new wave when there was motley crue, ratt, dokken. The Hollywood nightlife was super electric. When you went down there it was wow, the bands , the energy. You could actually make a few dollars playing. Unlike these days, band playing in Hollywood are literally paying to play. They give you 400 dollars’ worth of tickets and then you have to go out and sell them – they want guaranteed people now. It’s a little crazy, but I don’t hang out there, I can’t really give you a detailed description what happened. It just seems to be a little quitter. My daughter had her birthday party and wanted to go to the Rainbow so we went down there and I was like “wow, this is a Friday night? This is so dead, it was exploding back when I used to hang out here”.
|Great White photo by Jimmy Taylor @ Distorted Lens Photography|
T-MAK: You mentioned the lead single from Elation which is called I’ve Got Something For You. What was it like performing that for the first time live? Is there some satisfaction in premiering your new baby to the world?
Kendall: Ya it was a total blast – we debuted it in Switzerland. We hadn’t played the song live before and people just responded. Usually you have to have a song on the radio a long time, but at this festival people were singing along to the song by the time it got to the end. It’s a fun song to play, its up tempo. We did a bike fest a few weeks ago and people went nuts for it, so it appears to be a real fun live song. It’s real simple and fun.
T-Mak: Ya I agree, it’s a good party song. I don’t know your set list but to me it sounds almost like a perfect song to kick off the gig. Get the energy up right from the start.
Kendall: That would be a good idea. We actually don’t open with it and I think you’re right. In fact my son said that too, he said; “Why don’t you open up the show with that song that would be bad ass!”
T-Mak: Let’s focus a bit more again on the new album now. For anyone who has not heard it this record sounds great and has some apparent blues influences on it. Now usually when you ask any band what they think of their new record they always say it’s the best ever, but honestly what do you think of the new album?
Kendall: I don’t know if it’s the best thing we have ever done, but one thing I believe is that it’s a strong record. We were trying to come up with a lead single and everyone in the band had 2 different favorite song when asked to pick their favorite. I thought that was unbelievable because every record we ever did in the past, there were the obvious 2 favorite songs. I think it’s a very strong record overall, I don’t know we’ve written the classic hit of all time, but there are some really good songs that can be big songs. Its some of the most fun I have ever had in the studio – it was jovial, it wasn’t so serious. We just had a lot of fun so it was cool in that way.
T-Mak: The best work comes out of having fun doing it and not considering it work.
Kendall: Definitely, when you’re too serious and your nervous it doesn’t bring the best out. I used to be nervous when I was recording. I was kind of tight in the past and now I was just loose. Having fun, cracking up having a good time.
|Great White photo by Shirley Ann Wilson Photography|
Kendall: Whoaaa… You know theres a record I really like that’s flown under the radar. It was a ZZ TOP album called Rhythmeen and that guitar player Billy Gibbons is an amazing guy. I met him a few years ago. He is constantly working on his guitar sound, he tells me every city he goes to he is looking for a new pedal and stuff. Anyways in that album there is no real huge hit on it, but I am such a guitar fan that when I hear someone that’s been around as long as him and still working on his sound. That’s my inspiration album. Rock bands from the 80’s I really love the Scorpions, I just love their energy and their song writing. I don’t know if they have anything out in the last 10 years so I might have to go back further than that.
T-Mak: What about the last 50 years?
T-Mak: You are playing Toronto’s The Rockpile on August 20th, how do the crowds in Toronto rate with other cities? Are we truly laid back and polite quiet Canadians or do we know how to rock out at shows?
Kendall: I always kinda considered Toronto to be like the Los Angeles of Canada – just an electric place. I know we’ve done some cool shows there usually as an opening act for like Whitesnake or Alice Cooper. Yes I do love Toronto, it’s a great city. I know that a lot of our records were sold in Canada particularly in Toronto so I know we have a fan base in Toronto. At least it was in the past, but I don’t know any more (laughing)
Kendall: One parting thing is I want to thank the fans for all the years. We also do meet and greets and we don’t leave until the last pick is signed. We don’t run away right after the show like we’re the Beatles or something. So stick around and we will sign anything the fans want.