Mark Kendall of Great White

Great White emerged from the Los Angeles club scene in the early '80s with a blues-rock sound that attracted a loyal following. Their independent EP Out Of The Night sold enough copies in 1983 to land them a deal with EMI, which released their self-titled debut album the following year. Their breakthrough came in 1987 with the album Once Bitten, which sold a million copies on the strength of tracks like "Rock Me" and "Save Your Love." They followed it with ...Twice Shy, which contains the song that ties the theme together: a cover of Ian Hunter's "Once Bitten, Twice Shy."

The mainstays in the group were guitarist Mark Kendall and lead singer Jack Russell. At least one of them had a hand in the writing of most of their songs. In 2010, Russell fell on hard times, suffering from alcoholism, drug abuse, and a fall that put him in a coma. The band replaced him with a new lead singer: Terry Ilous. Russell ended up forming his own group, Jack Russell's Great White, which continues to tour as Kendall leads the original Great White, now with lead singer Mitch Malloy.

In this comprehensive interview, Kendall talks about his journey with the band and tells the stories behind some of their biggest songs.
Tom Leu (Songfacts): I want to start with a quote where you said, "We write on our own for a while, then get together and show each other our ideas and see what we'd like to work on. Once we finish the songs in pre-production rehearsals, we go to the studio, and then roll tape. It's simple and it works." Is that pretty much the process still?

Mark Kendall: That's close, that's the way it was done a long time ago. We just write songs, and before we had representation like a manager, producers, and all that, we used to go do demos and nobody would fix it. We'd just go in and record it. My singer, Jack Russell, his dad was financing our videos and stuff.

So, we had this library of tunes when we were presented with an opportunity from this A&R man, and they changed a lot of things, especially lyrics. Our lyrics were a hair corny, so that was kind of a weak area. Like "On Your Knees" was called "In Love." I have all these old demos of the songs from before and [Don] Dokken helped a little with that. He had more experience, so he helped with the lyrics a little bit. It was more of a sorting-out situation. But on our first album, we were really trying to be like Judas Priest or old Scorpions.

So really, we were writing for someone else instead of ourselves. We're trying to be something and be heavy. We were just a three-piece with the lead singer, bass, guitar, and drums. So, it kind of limits you a little bit to what you're going to do. U2 does it, but there's a lot going on with tapes, and his right hand never stops. So, they got that percussive thing and these little echo bits, and he assembles his guitars, it's amazing on the recordings.

Anyways, it was a little bit narrow-minded on our part. That's us trying to be heavy and totally failing.

As far as the way songs go, if I had a verse, I would just work on it forever until I felt like that is the perfect verse. And then, I would move down the road and then present it to the band. And they would say, "Oh, dude, that sounds like AC/DC," after I worked on it for like a month. That's the worst thing in the world. But at times when I really felt strongly about a tune, I wouldn't present it in a raw form. I'd go into a studio and literally record and overdub drums, bass, even throw on a vocal idea just so they wouldn't go, "Boom, that sounds like AC/DC," or whatever. Just shoot it down instantly. I think it saved a lot of ideas.

Songfacts: You put more time into the songs that you felt strongly about, and you presented them as more fully completed ideas so that they could hear what you were doing?

Kendall: Yeah, because part of the problem is, and I'm sure there's many artists, and I've always felt like David Bowie was this way, Jimi Hendrix. You're hearing an orchestration in your head, in between your ears, that they can't hear. So, when you just present a raw riff, they don't hear your idea.

It's really easy for another person to hear this raw riff coming from your guitar and go, "Oh, man, that sounds like whatever." So, on songs that I really saw a future for, that I felt might be viable, and people might like it eventually, I would go in and almost finish the song so they could hear what's in my head on tape, and I think that might have saved a few songs.

Songfacts: Can you think of one offhand? Whether it was earlier on or later, based on this scenario that you're painting?

Kendall: One I remember that I had an idea for two separate guitar parts was a song called "Congo Square." It had a lot of slide, and some different guitar sounds because I wanted it to dynamically work its way up out of the dobro world and into the electric guitar, and just build in that fashion. But in order to present it, I felt like I needed to show them sonically my ideas as opposed to explaining it and risk them going, "Oh no, that'll never work, dude."

Songfacts: It's good advice and it makes sense. And even at my level with bands I've been in, I would do something similar, because it's just too easy for somebody else to shoot down your idea because as you said, they're not hearing what you're hearing.

Kendall: It's different with Hendrix and Bowie because they were the leaders of their own destination. They didn't have the guy going, "Ah that'll never work." They're trying to get somebody like, well, with Jimi Hendrix, it was Eddie Kramer. He was actually able to get close to what was in his head because Jimi would explain what he was hearing. "I'm hearing the guitar going from this side to that side and I want to hear these different sounds and stuff." And I think he found the guy that could present what was going on in between his ears from the neck up.

Bowie used to go out and use his geography to find people that could represent what he was hearing. Whether it be an R&B artist or a certain guitar player that maybe has a certain way that he presents his skills that he felt would be able to get close to what he was hearing. So, he wasn't afraid to get in airplanes and go find it. Some people will take it to that length. But in my situation, I'm in a band of guys who have opinions. So, it's compromises and things you deal with when you're in a band. It wasn't Mark Kendall's show and just do as I say. Had it been that way, then I wouldn't even go in the studio and do all the stuff I did.

Songfacts: You're fighting for space on the records. You're fighting for co-writes or getting your songs or your ideas on there. I know with different bands there are different philosophies about all that. How has that process been for Great White through the years?

Kendall: Well, as far as the ego-trip vibe where people just want to get their music on so they can get their name on it, there wasn't a lot of that. But most of our arguments and fighting if you will stem from not agreeing on the way the song is or on a part in the song. A lot of times, I've been thinking about this for days and days and days, and I feel like I know I'm right. And I don't have to be, but I'm just saying I really have hunted this thing down. I've played it over and over in my head, I know it works. And then somebody who hasn't put that effort might say, "Oh, no, man. Let's do it this way." Instead of shooting their idea down, I try it and let it fully absorb, but I didn't always do that.

If I had a melody for a song and a vocal idea of how I think it should be sung, I wouldn't listen fully to the singer. But if he's singing a melody line and it was better, I could tell right away, and then I would be like, "Whoa, dude. Okay, that's cool." That's usually the way we work. I would have a musical idea and Jack would say, "Well, how does it go?" And then I would hum a melody over what I was playing.

I never wrote music that you couldn't sing over. I always hum along, and I'm singing, not words, but just phrases. And I know there's tons of opportunity for hundreds of different ways to do it, but I've grown away from going, "No, let's just do it this way." I really listen. But it took me a while to fully just sit back and shut up and hear what this guy's thinking.

Songfacts: When you say "a while" Mark, are we talking three or four albums in before that happened for you? How long?

Kendall: It was gradual when I started to see it working, writing together instead of me just presenting a song done. For instance, "Mista Bone," our bass player, came up with that riff and I wrote a song around that riff. "Rock Me," I presented the idea, because I used to like to have one note going but then do something else while that note would go. Whether it be a descending line, while a note's happening, or whatever. So, some ideas would start that way, and "Rock Me" kind of started like that. I was playing a riff with my thumb and kind of went, "Wow, that's pretty cool."

And then Michael Lardie came up with the B section and I go, "Well, I want to hang on this for a while," instead of doing the one-four-five thing, the "Johnny B. Goode" mentality where you go to the four when you think it's supposed to. I wanted to hang longer on the one. When you think it's supposed to change, it doesn't. Because I listen to a lot of the old R&B songs. And when you think it should change, it doesn't. They'll just sing over that same part but in a different way than it starts. Like they're singing the verse, they're still playing the same riff, but now they add something - layers on top of the same part.

But if you're just a stock songwriter, you would change to another chord, but they don't. I was not only inspired by that but super impressed by it because it was something that I didn't agree with. But God, look how great it works. That's cool, man. So, it got my full attention. I started thinking along those lines.

But when band members were coming with musical parts to help create the song, I was starting to dig it. Gradually it turned into, "Hey, I got this cool chorus and this verse, but I need a pre-chorus or a B section or something, and I'm kind of having trouble with it." It's a lot easier, I also notice, when somebody else is looking at your painting and just, right away, goes, "Yeah dude, just do this," and I go, "Oh, no way. I've been racking my brain for a week with this thing, it's driving me crazy."

That happened recently. . I had this song, and it was just this cool riff, and I couldn't get back to that out of my other part, musically. It didn't work. And I go, "Why didn't it work? Why isn't it working?" I literally worked on this for two months because there is no way that I can't get back to that other part. It was just a case of changing one or two notes that allowed me to get back there and have it sound right. So, that's really bizarre when that happens.

Songfacts: Did somebody else point that out to you, or you just figured that one out on your own?

Kendall: No, it took me putting many magazines in the gun and trying to figure it out. It gets me angry when I can't figure something out like that. And then a lot of songs, I might write the whole song and it just comes to me in five minutes. It just almost writes itself, that happens. But the hard stuff, somehow you get a little bit stuck. I'd listen to a lot of different ways that people write who are just masters, like Tom Petty and Jackson Browne, people like that.

I was really surprised on Jackson Browne because he did it the way I do it - I'm just not as good. But he works on a verse forever, and I've been doing that for a long time. I go, "I can't believe a pro like Jackson Browne does it the way I do it man. This is cool." I must be onto something.

Songfacts: So, when you're working on something for a long time and you have a block going on, do you skip it, or finally show it to somebody else, or just keep going?

Kendall: I like writing with other people in the band, especially with Michael Lardie. He has good ideas, especially if I have the song that is pretty far along, but I'm just stuck on this part. One thing I like to do is write the section where I'm going to solo over, instead of having someone just throw a couple of chords together. Because I like it when something has a nice melodic structure underneath a solo, because it makes it easier for me to do memorable things when there's not just a thrown-together change.

When I write a verse, there are limitless things you can sing over it. I know guitar players, and I won't mention them, but I know one that literally just puts chords together and just hopes somebody can sing something over it. He doesn't sit there and know all this opportunity for a verse that's available. You know what I mean? I'm humming stuff while I'm playing this part. And man, you'd almost have to be terrible to not come up with something.

Songfacts: Do you prefer certain styles or structures more than others?

Kendall: I never sit down to write a style. A lot of times, something will inspire me to grab my guitar, and believe it or not, this just sounds crazy but, sometimes, I get a riff in my head for some reason. I just get this riff and I go, "Wow, that's such a cool idea. I just hope I can get it onto my guitar and make it sound like I'm hearing it here."

It's kind of strange but this is just being honest. Sometimes, I'll be watching a movie or something, and there's something going on in the background, just a musical piece that just flies by like very quickly, but I was like, "What was that?" It'll kind of inspire me to hit mute, grab my guitar, and kind of play what I just heard, and it'll turn it into something from there.

And the reason I talk about that, and admit that I do that sometimes, is because I really don't feel like I'm stealing anything. I feel like I'm just inspired to come up with something in that vein and see where it goes. One thing I appreciate about Ritchie Blackmore is he literally tells you, "Yeah, I stole that idea from Batman. I stole that riff from this Bulgarian radio station." So, he sits there and flat-out tells you he steals riffs from people, which I think is the greatest thing ever that he admits that. But it's just that's where his idea stems from. But obviously, he turns it into this monster tune.

This is a similar thing except I'm not taking the exact riff, it just inspires me to write something in that vein, instead of me just sitting around with no ideas in my head and going, "You know what? I think I'm going to write a ballad." I've never done that. I'm always inspired to do a certain thing on guitar, or the other way things happen... I'm in writing mode. And I just have my guitar with me all over the house, and everywhere I go I got my acoustic. I'll even watch TV or watch a movie, but I got my acoustic. And all of a sudden, something happens, and I go, "What was that?", and then I'll go, "Wow, that is a cool riff right there." So, I'll grab my phone. I'll put it on my phone, and I'll start working on that riff only. And then, maybe a song will stem from that eventually. But I've never just sat there and gone, "I'm going to write like this really heavy tune," or "I'm going to write this kind of tune or that kind of tune." I am usually inspired by just the way I'm feeling or whatever.

Songfacts: Let me throw out some songs here, starting with the debut Great White record. "Hold On" sounds the most stylistically like what you guys became as far as your signature sound. What do you remember about the writing and recording of that one?

Kendall: That actually came pretty close to when we recorded it. We needed a few more tunes. I was staying at Jack's parents' house and came up with that riff.

What I've noticed about a lot of hit songs, at least the ones that are memorable and are structured this way, is they open with the chorus riff. Or, if they don't do that, they have a short intro that goes into the chorus riff. Maybe some kind of streetcars driving by, or some kind of ambient sounds, and then, they go into the chorus riff. So, I felt like that was a chorus riff, and then I go, "Well, I need a verse." It was a pretty cool verse with the picking, and the chord structure was a little bit different, like just a little bit outside of the box as far as the chords that I was picking. And Jack came up with a real nice melody for it.

So yeah, that came after we were signed and were doing a full record. We needed a couple of more songs. That one came, and then we struggled with this riff that we came with in the studio, which ended up being called "No Better Than Hell." That was a bit of a nightmare because we were struggling with what to call it. I remember that being troubled, but "Hold On" was pretty honest too, as far as my influences, even though there wasn't any kind of big Clapton solo or whatever, or Carlos Santana thing. Melodically, that was what I was influenced by: memorable parts.

Songfacts: Let's go to the title track from your second album, the song "Shot In The Dark."

Kendall: Well, I wrote most of the music. Alan [Niven] was very very intelligent and knew how to hear music and knew what was wrong. He was good at getting the maximum out of our strengths and identifying our weaknesses. And one of our weak areas was lyrics. Jack [Russell] got way better over the years with that, but Niven would just change say, the chorus line, or maybe come up with a better chorus that wasn't so corny. Get the word "love" out of there a little bit. "Come on, let's weed out the love." And then, he changed maybe a few words.

But over time, that started to grow. On "Shot In The Dark," Jack wrote the chorus and that idea for the song to be called "Shot In The Dark." But the other stuff, some of the lyrics he had teetered on a weak area. I can say this about Jack, it wasn't because he wasn't super intelligent. The guy read books like The Hobbit and all these different areas of philosophy stuff. He was always reading, reading, reading books. Somehow, that intelligence in his vocabulary and having brilliant parents, didn't translate into his ability to write lyrics... I just mean early on. We were both green and inexperienced. We were just putting songs together. We were just kids with a dream. So, we got better, and he got better. But Niven, his contribution was lyrics. But he's also good at hearing music and going, "Nah, why don't you do something different or whatever."

Songfacts: A song from the Shot In The Dark album, "Waiting For Love," has a really cool solo that I love. How did that song come about?

Kendall: Stephan Williams was a very good friend of mine and I got him to play in Great White for a month, but he struggled playing live. He was kind of a nervous wreck. But if you get him into a room, he was tremendous at songwriting and stuff like that. So, I got together with him for about three weeks, and we wrote together, and that was one of the songs that came from those sessions. Just me and him.

Stephan had some input. He came up with "Save Your Love," but had this heavy metal kind of intro and stuff. We just took that and turned it into more of an acoustic delivery, more pretty chords and stuff. That's another one of his bits.

Songfacts: Let's move on to Once Bitten. Did you guys have a sense that it was going to be a breakthrough record?

Kendall: Well, actually, it was a hair nerve-wracking because we were dropped off our first label. We had to make our second album on our own, borrowing $15,000 from some guy named Fred. And we got "Face The Day" on three stations with no record deal whatsoever. "Fred Records" if you will.

So the "Rock Me," Once Bitten record was kind of a do-or-die record. We were on Capitol, but I really feel had we not come up with something memorable, or something that people would want to have, it would have been career over right there. Not knowing it's going to be hit or whatever. But when I heard "Rock Me" back in the studio, over the speakers all blaring in front of the record company, I was getting chills. I was like, "Oh, my God."

One thing, and even Niven pointed this out, I have such tunnel vision, I'm just concentrating on my part, and I don't know what's going to happen. You're starting and stopping this big 2-inch tape machine. You're playing your parts and you never really hear it back until it's done, except maybe to hear your solo or something. So, when it was mixed and everything and I heard it back, I was almost dumbfounded in kind of a good way. "I can't believe that this is what we did." It's almost surreal. So, I did have a good feeling about it. I don't know who's going to love it, but I felt, "Man, we did some memorable things here."

It's a sweet song because it's real long. But there's so many different dynamics and areas where it goes, that it doesn't feel seven minutes. Because if you're just hammering along one dynamic and it's just straight-lining for seven minutes, you might go, "Dude, is this '2112'? What's going on here? How long is this thing? I got to be somewhere."

Songfacts: It kind of goes back to what you were saying, when you were talking about "Rock Me" earlier. That you wanted to stay on that verse part and keep it going longer. Where a lot of shorter songs or a traditional approach would be you'd switch to the four or five chord, or whatever. But you stayed on it. And not only that, but Audie [Desbrow's] drums and what he's doing with just the kick, and then the kick and the snare, and then the kick and the snare on the quarters.

Kendall: Yeah, a slow build. Also, if you notice, I just stay on that note forever, or the bass does. I just want to keep that note, but I wanna do different things over that note that are dynamic. So, we never leave the note, but I'm doing a bunch of stuff that goes in different areas while that note just continues to drone along. So, I'm actually picking up the dynamic slightly, despite the different things that I'm doing like that [riff sounds]. It's almost like creating an atmosphere, that kind of sucks you in, in a way, with the dynamic of that note that just keeps going.

If you ever notice, like when you hear a song, and it's memorable and it does this and that, but that backbeat, that pulse that's happening, just how important that is.

Songfacts: I remember the first time I heard "Rock Me" when I was in college. I was like, "There's no way that song is seven minutes." That song went by in a flash to me. But that's the power of what you're talking about, Mark, because it doesn't feel that long, but yet it is.

Kendall: There was one thing, and I've even heard [Alan] Niven tell the story to other people, that I was very nervous about the whole seven-minute thing. I was nervous because we never had a hit before. It was like, "God, I hope people like this." But we were literally giving the radio stations seven-minutes plus of a song, where they like those three- and four-minute songs to get to the commercial and all that. So, Niven, on that album, if you ever look at the times on each song, he put "3:59" on every song.

And he sent the single to the radio station with the B-side. I think it was "Wasted Rock Ranger" on the B-side. Everything was 3:59; just said 3:59. Nobody said anything, and that proves that that dynamic thing like you talked about that you couldn't believe it's seven minutes, I felt the same way. It was just one of the things that I brought up going, "Alan, seven minutes? Really?" But the record company had no problem. They were confident. "This song's too good, forget the seven-minute worry because the song's fine." And sure enough, it worked.

Songfacts: You talked a little bit about "Save Your Love," you said Stephan brought that in with Jack, but then, you said it was a different kind of a song, right? More of an uptempo, almost a metal song?

Kendall: Just the way he created it, he had this big bombastic intro and treated it more like muting, picking, and stuff like that. It just seemed like the structure was so pretty, that it would sound better delivered in a different way, acoustically and stuff like that. So, we used his idea, but we treated it differently, and delivered it in a different way.

Songfacts: Take me through the writing of "Lady Red Light." That riff is obviously what opens the record, and what you're doing on guitar there. It's just such a strong, slap-in-the face in the best way.

Kendall: We were just jamming, and I came up with the riff with the bass just plugging along. And from there, the verse is just real simple.

So, it just kind of goes along those lines. And we actually came up with a different way to play the verse after we recorded it. Playing those wide-open chords. That opens it up a little more instead of staying there. So, we had one guitar still do that, but I do something that dynamically lifts the verse a little bit on the second half. And then the opening lick came after the song was all done.

I think it might have been Niven's idea to say, "Can you do some kind of fast guitar thing in the beginning? Just kind of explosive?" And I go, "Well, I probably don't wanna try 'Eruption,' but I can come up with something."

Songfacts: Some kind of fast arpeggio. That kind of thing?

Kendall: Yeah, just a little thing, nothing too big. Just to bring it in. Like we talked about earlier, cars driving by, or a trash can lid making noise, it's similar to that mind of thinking. It is just something, like Slash has it in "Welcome To The Jungle." It's just something to suck in the listener and then we're going to show you how the tune goes.

Songfacts: I'm thinking of "Hear About It Later" from Fair Warning by Van Halen.

Kendall: Oh. yeah. He does that thing was the 12th fret. Yes. It really doesn't say anything, it's almost like a noisemaker in a way. Some people used to do it with effects records.

Michael Wagener never used effects records. Every noise that was ever made, he created somehow. If he needed a bell, I remember he hung a tire iron on fishing line, and just sped the tape way up, and we hit it with a little hammer, and then you slow the tape down to normal speed, it was like the AC/DC church bell. He did many things like that. If he needed a motorcycle, he'd go record one. He wouldn't find an effects record that had a motorcycle.

Songfacts: He wanted the authenticity it sounds like.

Kendall: Authenticity. No effects records. He made all his sounds himself. It was kinda neat.

Songfacts: You mentioned "Face The Day" earlier, which was a cover from a band called The Angels. And now we get into the Twice Shy record and you guys did the "Once Bitten Twice Shy" song, which was a huge hit for you, and that was an Ian Hunter song.

Kendall: Izzy Stradlin from Guns N' Roses presented the song to Niven. He was managing them at the time. I just thought it was a great idea because of the Once Bitten and the follow-up album, Twice Shy. We had encounters with Ian Hunter just by accident. Our soundman on the Judas Priest tour was his good friend, and Ian Hunter lived in New York. We borrowed his drum riser for that tour out of his backyard, literally. We picked it up. Another time, we hung out with them, and he went to one of our shows. I knew nothing about his solo career, whatsoever. I never heard that song before. I guess when it was played for Niven, he really loved the lyrics. He just thought the lyrics were amazing. He loved it because it was about being on the road, which was our whole thing. We never went home. We were just literally on the road all time, so it fit in that sense. But the song was never a big song when he did it, I guess. It was marginal, almost a hit in the UK, but nobody knew it here really.

So, it wasn't a case where we were trying to hunt down some kind of a bitchin' cover song to do. Usually, if you are doing that, you're not going to find a song that's never been a hit. Usually, you find a big song and kind of do it your way or something. You go get a song like "The Loco-Motion" or something and go review that. But this song was like never heard by anybody, but the lyrics fit so well. So, it was never the intention to make that the single, it just turned out so darn good that the record company goes, "There it is. That's it. That's the one!"

Songfacts: For years, I thought that was an original Great White song. I didn't have any idea that that was actually somebody else's song.

Kendall: I think a lot of that reason is just that the song was not known. We're doing an unknown song. So, why wouldn't you think that? I heard from a guy who was in front of me at a record store and he said, "My daughter loves this band. I don't know what they're called, but it's the 'Once Bitten, Twice Shy' band, do you have them?" And I was standing behind the guy. And I'm like the guitar player in the band he's talking about, and he wants the "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" band. So, that was pretty profound.

Songfacts: Talk about from that same record, one of your biggest ballads and one of your biggest hits, the piano ballad, "The Angel Song." So, obviously that's keyboards. Did you write that song on guitar initially?

Kendall: Yeah, it was completely composed on guitar. We introduced the piano to do the parts on the song and delivered it in that way.

The video was interesting because back when we did videos in those days, they had train tracks, and we used real helicopters because they didn't have drones. We got helicopters flying over a building in LA with cameras rolling. There was a lot more work involved in doing a music video. That turned out pretty neat.

Michael Lardie really did well interpreting my parts onto the piano. I really liked the way it was delivered. When you write a song on guitar, and then it becomes something else and you use different instruments, there's something about it that's pretty neat. That was a good thing.

Songfacts: On that song in particular, did you have some of the lyric or melodic ideas as well as the guitar parts?

Kendall: Yeah, I had all the melodies pretty much locked in with Jack [Russell]. To be honest, I don't remember exactly how that happened, but I think Jack and Alan kind of worked together on that.

There was something going on at that time. We had been doing these charities for [Ronnie James] Dio. It was about young women that go to LA, expecting it to be all glimmer and they're gonna be stars and everything is gonna go perfect. But they end up dead broke on the streets, on drugs, or being hookers or something to survive. And so, shelters were created by the Dio Foundation to give them a place to go if they get in a bad spot so they could call their parents or do something. So, we got involved with that, and the lyric went along those lines. You know, you go to Hollywood, you think it's all glitter and gold, and everything's bitchin'. And you get there and it's quite different. So, the lyric was all about that.

Songfacts: Did you contribute to the lyric writing in this case, or was that mostly those guys?

Kendall: No, that was mostly Niven and I think Jack contributed to it, but that was the subject matter. I pretty much had the whole song. If I remember correctly, on the credits it's just Alan and I.

I don't think Jack was really involved because I had all the melodies, so he could write to that and know where to insert the words.

Songfacts: Talk about the song "Call It Rock 'N Roll" from the next record Hooked from '91. That was a fun song. It was a hit for you guys. How did that one come about?

Kendall: It was in between the songs that we were recording. I'm playing something completely different. I'm playing Santana, I'm playing Alvin Lee, and it started to get Niven's attention. He's going, "What in the hell are we doing here recording this stuff when you're playing that? We should be doing that." I got happy because I'm going, "Really? I can do that? I can do this stuff? The stuff that made me want to play."

So, it was like a whole door was opened up for me. Although, we were still searching for it on Shot In The Dark, trying to find our way. But once he freed me up to do that type of thing, to just play from my Carlos Santana influences, my guitar heroes, and just do whatever I want, more in the blues vein if you will, that was a good thing.

"Call It Rock N' Roll" was kind of a basic blues thing, but it was a little bit close to "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" as far as style. So, the record company was very nervous about that. They didn't want us to put that out for a single. I remember Niven argued forever about it, and won the argument. But I agree with the record company. You want to give people a different look, and not have that same type of style but with a different hook. It worked in a way, but it might have fallen just a hair short of the next step. You know, "Wow, they can do this too?" That's what the record company meant.

Songfacts: Was there another song off the Hooked record, looking back on it now, that should have been a single instead of that one?

Kendall: You know, we did a cover song, "Afterglow," on that album that... you usually don't put out kind of a mellow track first, but I don't think it would have hurt.

Just come with "Afterglow." I mean, it's not a cookie-cutter. Nobody puts out a ballad first, but it had a vibe to it. It grooved, but not in a heavy way, but it had a great hook. It really showed Jack's skills. I played some wonderful clean things on it. So, it would have given people a different look instead of coming with something that was very "Once Bitten, Twice Shy-ish."

So, I understand where the record company's coming from. You know what it reminds me of? The Knack when they had "My Sharona." And then, on the next record, they came with "My Girl Talks Dirty," and it was like "My Sharona" backwards. It wasn't quite that bad, but it was still the same mindset of what the record company meant. Don't give them two "Once Bitten, Twice Shy"s. So, that would be one choice of mine, just to give them a shocking different look, almost like shock the conscience.

Songfacts: It's hard to go wrong with a Steve Marriott song.

Kendall: Yeah, such a beautiful song! The thing about Steve Marriott that was so great about him, to me at least, is everything that came from him was just because he felt that way at that time. And that's what the music was saying. He was just saying the way he felt.

I can almost promise you, he probably never sang "30 Days In The Hole" the same way twice in a row, his whole life. I don't think he ever repeated anything. It was all on the fly. I saw him work before with Herman Rarebell in the studio. He did a couple of takes and it was completely different both times. He just had such a good feel for the music, but he wasn't the cookie-cutter singer that's going to give you the same exact song time after time after time. They [Humble Pie] would randomly go into jams live, and it wasn't something like, "Oh, let's jam for 15 minutes right here." It just happened.

Songfacts: "Love Is A Lie" from the Psycho City record is a longer song. It's got some cool, extended solo parts. What do you remember about that song and how that came together?

Kendall: Niven came with that idea. Here's the thing, though. It doesn't bother me a lot, but it has a little bit of my attention that some of the lyrics came from Niven's personal experiences as opposed to the band's. But he's like a sixth member, so it wouldn't be as bad as somebody that wasn't a family member coming in and he's your lyricist. You don't even know the guy and he's talking about some fallen girlfriend or something. That'd be a lot more concerning. So, it wasn't as bad, but something like "Love Is A Lie" probably come from some part of his life. But it's a great tune and it had a nice video to that one too. It had a wonderful change to the solo over with elongated notes. It's a very memorable piece.

I really find it fascinating to watch other guitar players on the internet interpret our songs, and how I play different things. And they even do the solos and everything. It's fun to look at it. This guy, the other day, did that song, "Love Is A Lie," and did a great job on it. What I noticed is a lot of them will play the song correctly, but not in the same areas of the neck that I did. I still have yet to see somebody play the correct chord on "Rock Me," where I slide up the neck. That's like an A-minor up here though, and they'll do a little two-finger thing.

A lot of times you can play chords and the solo can come out of those chords by picking. I know a lot of guitar players that are schooled guys that use that a lot. I really enjoy that because they're teachers. People that want to learn a song by Deep Purple, there's a guy out there to show you that on the internet. I'm glad to see my own stuff, how they interpret it, and see if they get it right. Sometimes, they get close.

Songfacts: That's got to be surreal to see other people interpreting stuff that you wrote.

Kendall: I can tell you this. They don't do it, a lot of times, the way I played it because I usually find the easiest way to do things. Then they're doing it the more difficult way. But in their defense, when I used to learn songs by ZZ Top or Aerosmith when I was an up-and-coming teenager, I'm sure I didn't do everything exactly like Brad Whitford and Joe Perry. They probably did it different. I just listened to it and I'm doing it the best I can. They're doing pretty darn good for as close as they're getting, even though it's not exactly the way I did it.

Songfacts: When we get into some of the later '90s albums like Can't Get There From Here, which I read is a favorite of yours, and then Back To The Rhythm, which was much later, you had some other people working with you on some of those songs. You got Jack Blades from Night Ranger and Don Dokken doing some co-writes. How did those decisions come about?

Kendall: Well, it started out with Don in our studio. He was going to produce the Can't Get There From Here record when we were in the writing stages, and it kind of fell away. It wasn't working after about a week or so.

I think Michael [Lardie] and Jack [Russell] went up to talk to Jack Blades and came back with a couple songs that were kind of in the raw form, recorded already. I really liked it. I go, "Man, that's cool." I think they had the beginning of "Silent Night." They had "Back To The Rhythm," which we didn't put on that record, but we used it later. And I think they might've had part of "Rollin' Stoned."

Here's the thing about Jack Blades, man. I can show him a small musical idea, and he flies around the room and grabs the guitar. He has the energy of a 12-year-old kid on drugs. I mean, it's crazy. He is so skilled. He's like the melody master, and he gets so inspired just by a raw idea. It's almost like he hears the whole song in his head. I remember we were short, we needed one song. We had the music for it, and it ended up being called "In The Tradition." We just had a piece of the music. He ended up finishing it. He wrote the whole song with some Nashville dude on the phone in like 10 minutes. All the lyrics and everything. We did that song "in the tradition" of love gone wrong.

That was a great experience working with him, and I had to kind of let go. It's almost like getting out of your environment, going to this other environment, and having to let go of the way you do things normally a little bit. But I was very accepting with that. I really respected his career and the things he did as a songwriter. He was a staff writer for Sony. He's written for Aerosmith and Mötley Crüe, and more than people out there probably know.

Songfacts: Did you guys decide to bring him in, or was it the record company?

Kendall: It was a little bit of the record company. John Kalodner, he gets real involved. He thought Jack Blades would work great, and so did we. And we had a little bit of a Jack Blades pedigree. We toured with Night Ranger in the beginning of "Rock Me" being on the radio, so we were very familiar with how skilled that band, and he, was. He had that history being in Rubicon and had been around forever. We really liked him, and we already knew him very well. So, we loved the idea of working with him, and knew we're probably going to get an excellent production too because all their records sound amazing. So, that was fun.

Audie [Desbrow] wasn't doing that good at the time, so we had Myron Grombacher play drums on that album, which was really fun. He's so skilled. He played all the years with Pat Benatar and stuff. It blew my mind because when we were showing him a song, it's like he knew the song immediately, like he didn't have to work on it for three days. I'm just wondering how those guys think like that? He's like a jazz drummer. He's just this highly skilled dude. They must do some kind of mathematics thing, or just dissect that it has four parts and go, "Okay, I'm going to do this on that part, and this on that part." And the transitions, "I'm going to do this, this, and this." Because nobody can learn a song that quick. Bizarre!

We did all the drums and bass in LA with us playing and singing, but we were only recording the bass and drums. Then, we brought the tapes up to Jack Blades' ranch. Michael, Jack, and I did all the overdubs there. I played mostly through combo amps, apart from one song which was the B-side for Japan, "When The Good Die Young." That's the only song I used a Mesa Boogie amp. But every other song, I used combo amps. Like we're talking twin reverb time. And, I had a ton of them too, just millions of them. Man, I loved recording that way because I stood in front of the amp, I listened to my sound, I worked on it, and I go, "I really like this guitar sound right here for this song." When I recorded it, I listened back, and it sounded exactly like that. And it was two speakers in this little box, right? So, not only was it a great experience working with Jack Blades, but I learned something: that these combo amps record how your head hears it. I never knew that before because I never used them.

Songfacts: Was there a similar type of a setup when you did Back To The Rhythm years later?

Kendall: No, I went back to just using a Marshall on that album, but I really liked it. And when I've done my solo stuff, I always use my Fender Bassman with just the two speakers. Now, this is just coming from me: I don't know technically if I'm correct, but it makes sense that on a 4x12 cabinet, there's much more EQ floating around when you have four speakers in this cabinet. And I think that's why engineers put microphones in all these different areas when they record somebody's Marshall cabinet. When you condense it down into the smaller box with just a couple of speakers, there's less EQ. You can just throw a mic on it and maybe have a room mic if you want, but it seems to go on the tape the way your head hears it. You know, your ears are up here, and you're listening to it maybe a little lower than you. For some reason, it goes on the tape very close to the way you hear it.

It kind of makes sense to me. And when I was researching, I was reading about Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page, and how his first two albums he used a Fender Champ amp. I was like, "Are you kidding? That big guitar sound is coming out of one speaker?" As teenagers, we thought he had a wall of Marshalls. These guitars are so huge. He's Jimmy Page, so of course he's using all this tons of gear. And then you come to find out he had this little Champ that could be put on the back of his bicycle. It's kinda cool to learn that.

Songfacts: So, when we get to around 2012 and the last couple of albums, Elation and Full Circle, with new vocalist Terry Ilous [from XYZ], did your process and approach to writing change much when Terry joined?

Kendall: It was exactly the same. I never changed anything. I did everything the same. One thing I was impressed by with Terry though, just like every other singer, I'd show him the melody, and what he would come back with just blew the doors off of my idea every time. For some reason, he just had tremendous skill for that. It wasn't that my idea was bad, and instead of just changing it slightly, he would give me another complete interpretation of say, a chorus.

Instead of me pulling one of those, "No, man," I fully listened to his idea. And before even responding, soaked it in a little bit. I go, "That idea you just put on tape makes my idea go peepee [laughing]. It's horrible. It's so good what you just did. I can't believe how great it is!"

So that was kind of neat, and that's the way a band should be. You know, really listen to each other before you come back with your, "I don't know bro." Hold back for a minute. Give it a chance before you shoot it down, because a lot of times, especially the initial response, really give it a chance. Listen to it twice or something.

And I read this somewhere, and it has a lot to do with sobriety and stuff. When you hear somebody speaking, do it with the intention to listen to what they're saying, and not how you're going to respond to it. It's very similar in the music, the way I'm treating it. I want to fully hear this guy's idea, and not respond until I've heard it, and if it isn't quite as good as I'd like, I'll explain why. But if I just jump on him right away, I'm not really giving myself a chance to soak it in. I like to do that and give people in the band full opportunity.

Songfacts: I really like the song "This Is The Life" from the Full Circle record, the last record that you guys did with Terry Ilous. How did that one come about?

Kendall: It's really cool the way that one came about. Audie [Desbrow] came up with a musical riff, a musical idea, and showed it to Scott [Snyder, bassist]. Scott plays a little guitar, and they did this on their own. They came up with this little intro riff and just kinda jammed around a little bit with it. Audie hummed it to Scott, and then he applied it to guitar, and they kind of jammed a little bit. I took that riff and made a song out of it with a little bit different look, but the idea came from them. The idea came from my drummer. And yeah, it was pretty cool.

Then it was one of the things like we were talking about earlier, I wanted to have some kind of an intro thing. So, we were at lunch and Michael Wagener says, "Well, what are you talking about? What are you hearing?" And I go, "I just want to hear street noise, just some kind of atmospheric stuff, and just throw a pick slide right down the center of it." And that ended up being my 4-year-old grandson who did the pick slide.

Songfacts: Oh, how cool!

Kendall: Yeah. So, he was there, and Wagener goes, "Well, you know we've got to get him on the record, don't you?" And I go, "Well, we could put a pick slide through the middle of this and maybe he could do it. He hasn't ever done it with the pick in his hand, but he imitates people he sees on videos doing the pick slide. If we just throw a pick in his hand, maybe he could put it on the string and that's what he did.

I've even got a video of it. He grabs a metal pick, I think [George] Lynch used to use them. They tear your strings apart, but we felt like the pick slide might work. So, I just go, "Keep it on that string now." And he did it on the first take. He went all the way up to the headstock. Just perfect.

So that's how we got that intro. And again, Wagener made the sounds. I go, "I want it to be like a locomotive," like starting out slow, just how a locomotive train wheel would turn and the sound it would make. Kind of starts out slow and then, whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop, just that idea. Plus add some ambient noise, and then the band launches in out of that. I like stuff like that. Creating atmospheres and that stuff you're probably not going to do live. But that's not a big deal that you don't duplicate perfectly live. Some songs like, "Bohemian Rhapsody," that's different. God, how are you gonna to do that? A million voices and doing all that stuff, which I still say is awesome. They did it because they could, and it was wonderful what they did. The stuff I like to do is just creating some kind of atmosphere or just noises and whatever.

Songfacts: Can you think of a song or two, from any of your records, that maybe wasn't one of your hit songs, but just something that sticks out to you that you thought was a really strong song?

Kendall: Sure. Well, even though our first album fell short as far as being a commercial success, I thought "Hold On" was a great song. It just got no attention because I feel like if everybody around the record doesn't work as hard as we do, then you don't get the marketing dollars. You don't get people doing their jobs, getting on the phone, talking to radio, doing this, that and the other. It has to be a giant machine of people that all have the same goal, which we got with Capitol [Records]. Capitol were completely professional at getting our music to the people and radio, so that was great. But I think on that first album, and I know there's not a lot of commercial-type stuff on it, but a song like "Streetkiller" was kind of cool in its own way.

There are so many, what they call B-sides, which are basically songs that didn't get the attention the other ones did. It doesn't mean they're bad, but I've even heard Ritchie Blackmore make this assumption about what is really a hit. It's a hit because that's the song that got all the attention. It doesn't mean that one of these other songs couldn't have done it, it's just that was chosen, and that ended up being the one that people heard the most.

I could just grab a song out of the air, a Great White song. If it got enough attention, it could have done something. But usually, you want to pick a song that is written well. You feel like it's constructed in a very good, dynamic, cool way. Maybe it has a good message in the lyrics, and some memorable guitar parts. At least, that's the way I think. I want people to remember what I did, instead of this [annoying riff sound]. They're impressed by it, but then they don't remember it tomorrow. Because I have people coming up to me going, "Dude, that solo, I can hum it." Which, it might not be super impressive, but it was my goal as a teenager. Because I love Carlos Santana so much, that I go, "This guy, he gets to play all this beautiful, memorable, killer stuff." But he also squeezes notes for dear life, and he's like sweating bullets, and he looks like, "After this note's done, I'm willing to die" [laughter].

That's the way he played. So that was my goal, to play like him. I wanted to be that guy. I wanted to be Carlos Santana. So, if somebody remembers something that I played, and it's a solo, I go, "I'm not Carlos Santana, I'm still that teenager, but I did something this guy remembered." Because that's what I wanted. I reached what I wanted to do. I can still do fast things to use for dynamics or whatever. The only example I can think of off the top of my head is the "Stairway To Heaven" solo. You can hum that solo. It's something you remember. Like, if he came with a different solo, you would wonder what happened. What are you doing? Where other solos, they can do it differently every time and it doesn't matter. It's just another fast thing that they did.

Songfacts: That's a really good point that you make. The whole purpose of my conversation with you today is to talk about the writing of these great songs. But then, it's not just the melody and the lyrics. Everybody knows that the core of a song is the melody and the lyrics.

Kendall: It kind of comes from when I was a little kid, because I used to sit by my parents' record player and sing along to everything. I was singing, singing, singing, singing. That's all I did. Because I was just fascinated by the vocal melodies by everybody. Even when I got Cream, Hendrix, and The Doors, I wasn't listening to guitar ever. I was just singing along. I was singing "Hey Joe" and singing "Manic Depression," and all those songs. "Manic depression," I was blown away by that.

It was when I started to get a little older that I really started paying attention to the guitar. And when I hear somebody like Carlos Santana, I was like, "Holy cow, this guy's like all those singers that I love." He does that too, but on guitar. You can actually do that memorable stuff on guitar too. Like my dad, he played me all these jazz guys, and I was really impressed by the ripping solos. But when they went back to that cool theme, I'm going, "Dude, at least they're doing that too. That's cool because I love that part. That part is so memorable and bitching and cool." They all do it and there's some harmonies there going on, but I dig that ripping too. So, I like both worlds. I like themes that are memorable that you remember 20 years later, but also dynamically, you gotta show them you've got some other skills too, but it's for more of a shock. It's like, "You wanna hear 64 notes a second right now? Okay, let me show you? Okay, so I'm doing that right?" And you're totally impressed. Now a minute rolls by and I'm still going, and what are you saying now? You're going, "I'm still impressed..." you know?

Songfacts: Still, and getting bored [laughter].

Kendall: Yeah, at some point, you gotta do something elongated and pretty, and do that too. It'd be like a singer just singing so high. The highest note known to man, and you're blown away by it, but when is he going to come down to earth and tell us how the song goes? So, dynamics in all parts of music, to me, is the most important thing.

You wanna have those skills in the bag that you can go to but use it for a dynamic. Don't give all that away, and just keep going because there's no place to go. If you're showing this guy that you went to GIT for 20 years, and you're the fastest guitar playing the world, I am completely floored by that. And I will bow from the ankles to this guy because he's so damn skilled.

But, you also have to think along the lines when people are listening to a song, they want some kind of a musical quality that they can bring to their hearts and minds. You can't just keep confusing them with all the blistering-fast stuff, even though it's totally impressive to me. So, I like to also include melody and structure, and something that's pretty.

Songfacts: You've written songs with a lot of really talented people going all the way back to your former partner, Jack Russell, and everybody in the band. What are a couple of songwriting things that you've learned from some of these other people like Jack Blades, Jack Russell, Allen Niven, or Michael Lardie?

Kendall: One of the things that keeps me going is, I always feel like I can get better, and I think I can do it better. It's not going to come easy, but I just feel that I know enough now. And usually, the goal for me is to not repeat myself. Make it interesting, but not lose the memorable riffs quality, but do things I haven't done before. And, I've been doing that lately, and coming up with a few things that you can only hope people like it.

I'm a little bit selfish when it comes to the songwriting. I want it to be great, and I always hope that someone's going to like what I did and hears it the way I do. I'm a little more confident with that now only because I'm a fan. I'm literally a music fan. One of the absolute geekiest music men you could ever know. I am such a music connoisseur, know-why-I-like-it, person.

So, if I really like something, and I'm talking about hearing it back and thinking I got it right, somebody has to like it too. They just have to. But, like I said, it's more evolving and trying to be creative in the sense of not repeating yourself. But I don't know about learning from all those people. I learn things more from the neck up, than songwriting skills, and how to do it differently. So, it's more about being a better listener, giving people the opportunities, be a team player, somebody who can work with people, and have it work good. Just listening to their musical ideas too. They're a band member. They have things to say. Even if I don't like it, I'm going to tell them why. But I'm going to give it the absolute best chance it can have, and I would hope they'd do the same for me.

Songfacts: And I think what you said earlier about being a good listener and giving something a chance is excellent advice. I always like to say, "Let it breathe a little bit. Let it breathe." Maybe you don't have to remark on it right now. Give it a day, or two, or longer depending...

Kendall: Yeah. I don't know if you've ever heard a song, but it almost scares me of people just love it to end-all-else on the first listen. I'd rather have songs grow on the guy, and kind of not even realize how good it is until after three or four listens, or after living with the record for a week. Discovering other stuff going, "Holy God, I didn't hear it the first time. This song is killer, oh my God!" So, if somebody just gets it all on the first listen, to me, it might not live long. They might get tired of it, you know?

A friend of mine, he's kind of been my critic. I used to play him stuff, almost every single record, dating all the way back to our EP. For some reason this guy, he can't play a chord on guitar, he has no clue. He's a little bit tone-deaf in a way too. But for some reason, he can tell when a song is good or not. It's very strange. It's like my trusted ears, but he was not your typical trusted ear as far as musical knowledge. He just knows... I don't know why. So, when he tells me something's good, I really trust it. He's picked single after single and told me the songs that are gonna do well. Songs that are gonna live, and the ones that are gonna die. It's pretty amazing.

He told me something the other day, he said hadn't heard the Psycho City album for a long time and didn't really like it that much. But he told me, "That is a killer record! I missed it. There's good things on that record." And I'm going, "Oh... okay."

Songfacts: That's great to have a person like that in your life as a musician.

Kendall: It really is. And I almost have to think, especially the main songwriters of bands, have a guy... because that four months you have to wait to find out if people like it after you're done with the record, is the most torturous. I mean, you're bringing this thing around our friends and going, "Tell me, come on... you love it. I know it. I know you do!" "C'mon, before you even hear it, just tell me how much you love it" [laughing].

Songfacts: You need that, right? Because, do you start doubting?

Kendall: Well yeah, because you don't know. I mean, you think people should like it, but you're not 100% sure that people aren't just going to hate it. I always hope they'll like it, but I kind of judge by a group of friends, and like that one guy, if he tells me he likes a couple of songs, I feel strongly it might do okay. It's not like when you play live and know instantly if you're horrible or not, because the crowd, right after the song ends is like, "Boo!" And they start walking out, right [laughing]?

This is more of a four-month window where you just don't know if people are going to like it. It's the worst thing ever. But one of my favorite things to do is to record and be creative, construct a song coming from some raw riff you had on your phone or your little cassette player, and have it turn into something and just watch it grow into this thing that you listen back to and go, "Holy crap, man. That's cool!" It's a lot of fun to see that. Then you've got that couple of months where you waiting to find out if it's good, or if people like it, you know.

Songfacts: Do you have a favorite video you shot?

Kendall: You know, I'm kind of a fan of the girls being in the videos and having some different looks of different things that kind of relates to what we do. So, I think "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" as a video, without being this astronomical best-director-in-the-world, just comes with this wonderful video. But, for who we are and what we do, I thought it was cool. They showed the bus, we have the women singing with us, hanging out, partying down. I'm in this pick-up truck on a phone like this big [gestures]. It was like the Wall Street phone you know? When they first came out with cell phones. This big old thing. It was pretty cool. I'm on this phone in the truck.

It's funny because I was telling this guy the other day that we played one of the biggest shows we could play headlining at Irvine Meadows, which is the local amphitheater type-thing. So, we have a little success, and we got our buddies coming to the show. And the MTV cameras came down because our video is #1 on MTV, this "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" video. And what I'm trying to explain to people is that it has nothing to do with the song, the video being great. It's judged because the song is so big, because the song is being played everywhere on the radio. It's a Top 5 single on the chart.

That's how MTV gives you your gold star. It's not because, "Oh my God, Great White, have you seen their video? It's the greatest video ever made in the world." It's like, "No. No, it isn't." It's an okay video, but it's not #1 because the video is so great, it's because the song did well. That's what I'm trying to explain to people. It's still great. I mean, it's still fun that we did the video, and I dig it. I think it's okay. It was fun. We drive away on the bus at the end. "Rock Me" was a decent video too.

Songfacts: Very cool video. On the big sound stage right?

Kendall: A big sound stage. We had the girl shooting the flipper gun. Whatever the hell they call those things, I don't know [laughing].

Songfacts: How many days to shoot that video? A couple of days?

Kendall: Two, yeah. And it was amazing because like I was telling you earlier about the helicopters, now we can use drones with cameras. And I did a video right down the street in my hometown. We went into this guy's welding shop. We're waiting until cars go by so I can run out in the street and do my solo. We have the drone, and a lot smaller gear that gives the same results. You don't have to spend $150,000 to do a video. They don't need big railroad tracks, and these guys in seats, going back and forth, getting the shot.

Songfacts: It's true, and it's even with recording equipment these days. With what you can do now with computers, and some people are down on that I understand, but you can't argue with what it used to cost, versus what it can cost now. I mean, they're shooting serious TV shows on iPhones these days.

I don't want to take advantage of the technology, as far as sucking that human element out of the music by looking at the computer screen and seeing that the bass note misses the spot here and fixing it, and turning it into a machine. I still like to listen to music and trust my ears and go, "If I listen to something and it sounds good, it is good." You know, have that mentality instead of, "Wait, no it isn't. The computer said... I can see right here. Look at the bass note, it's a little off the kick." You can go in and fix every bass note and put it right with the kick perfectly.

Songfacts: Snap it to the grid as they say.

Kendall: And you get a machine. You're turning music into a machine. You're literally sucking the human element [out of it]. Because we all want to get better, but we make mistakes. "That's a little bit of one, but I think it's okay. Let's leave it." You know?

It's okay if the time waivers a hair, you pull it back a little in this one part. That's a human feel thing. It happens when you're playing with people. A machine can't do that. I've used the example before, but the reason the Eagles sound like the Eagles is because when they play together, it makes that sound. It's not a machine that does that. And the way bands get their identity is because they sound a certain way. When Deep Purple gets together and play, it sounds like Deep Purple, and a machine can't do that. If Deep Purple records, and then they go in and move all the parts around, and make it like on the grid, like you're saying, it's not Deep Purple anymore, it's a machine Deep Purple. Well, Machine Head [laughter].

May 24, 2022

The audio from this interview is available on Sound Matters

More on Mark and Great White at

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photos: Neil Zlozower

About the author:
A musician, radio and TV host, author and published photographer, Tom Leu knows what it's like both onstage and backstage as a music journalist and artist himself. Tom hosts and produces the Sound Matters radio show and podcast and also contributes to photography publications specializing in concert photography.

Tom has interviewed and/or photographed hundreds of artists for radio, TV, and print including members of Def Leppard, Cheap Trick, Queensryche, Nine Inch Nails, Kiss, Korn, Heart, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Soundgarden, The Offspring, Tesla, Night Ranger, Keith Urban, Eric Church, and Jason Aldean among many others.

Follow Tom on Twitter, Instagram, and the Sound Matters radio show and podcast.

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