GREAT WHITE's MARK KENDALL On First Show With New Singer BRETT CARLISLE: 'He Went Out There And Just Totally Killed It'
January 14, 2023
In a new interview with the "Mark 2.0" podcast, GREAT WHITE guitarist Mark Kendall spoke about Brett Carlisle, who was officially named the band's new vocalist in October. Brett joined the group as the replacement for Andrew Freeman (LAST IN LINE),who sang for GREAT WHITE for only five months.
Kendall said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "[Brett's] got a range from A to Z. He was [initially] just filling in [for a show in Las Vegas], because… Andrew, [he's] a wonderful singer [and] a kickass dude — I love him — but he's in [another] band. He's a part owner of the name. They just made a record. They're touring. It's hard for a band like us to have a singer that's in other bands too. 'Oh, who's your singer?' 'The guy from LAST IN LINE.' So this was just a fill-in thing. I almost didn't wanna do it. We had to audition some guy from George Lynch and another guy from SONS OF something; I don't even know. And then we heard this kid — 25 years old — sing on a couple of tracks. We gave him just the music and he overdubbed his vocal. I go, 'Well, this guy is at least singing close.' I go, 'But I'm not doing it if we can't rehearse. We've gotta at least rehearse once.' And so we rehearsed in Las Vegas, and I felt a little better but still nervous. [I thought], 'This could be career ending.' And it ended up being completely the opposite of what I felt; he went out there and just totally killed it. We're doing, like, 'Stick It', and he's singing it verbatim — I mean, hittin' all those notes. And it is high; that stuff is up there. And some of the songs, like 'Lady Red Light', are very difficult to sing. It's in that FOREIGNER range — the real upper midrange that hits a part of your voice that's very difficult. Everybody that tried to sing it always struggled. The kid nailed it — I mean, just absolutely… I didn't have to say anything — just one, two, three, four, go. So it was really good."
Kendall went on to say that he was surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to Carlisle's addition to GREAT WHITE. "It was world news," he said. "I'm seeing stuff on the Internet from Italy, Germany, the U.K. And even some of the more online dirt-seeking-type entities that normally are just huntin' for the headline to say, 'He said his singer sucks'. That's the article. That's the way it starts. These guys actually said good things and posted some of the [fan-filmed videos]. They're cellphone cameras, so the quality probably isn't… But you can hear it. You need to sing great."
Last October, Carlisle was asked in an interview with AL.com about his approach to singing the band's classic songs. He said: "I just want to do the songs justice, because that's what people expect to hear. They want to go to the shows and hear the songs the way they remember them, the way they know them. It's not about me and how many high notes I can hit or anything like that. I just want to do the give the people, and the band, what they want."
Brett went on to say that he is honored to be singing for a band whose songs — including "Save Your Love", "Rock Me" and "Lady Red Light" — he had previously covered with his other band ALL OR NOTHING.
"I just want to learn from them," Carlisle said of his new bandmates "It's just really cool to be included in what I've grown up listening to, like looking at the CDs and everything. And then now people are coming up after the shows asking me to sign like original GREAT WHITE cassettes and stuff. And I'm sitting here feeling like I'm not worthy. Because I didn't record that. But I'm like, I just sang with them, so, sure, if you want me to."
Carlisle made his live debut with GREAT WHITE on September 24 at the Cannery Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
According to Brett, he felt welcomed by his new bandmates and the GREAT WHITE fans from the get-go.
"After meeting [the GREAT WHITE guys], they're all super-cool dudes," he told Kevin McKay of the 99 Rock WKSM FM radio station. "In Vegas, we had a rehearsal the day before, and I already knew half the songs well enough to be able to do it. So I wanted to do the best that I could on 'em. But after we hung out, everybody was cool and stuff. I mean, it's a big crowd. I love big crowds; they're fun."
Last fall, before Carlisle's addition to GREAT WHITE was officially announced, Kendall addressed Freeman's Facebook comment that the singer "wouldn't give a fuck if" GREAT WHITE threatened to fire him over his touring commitments with LAST IN LINE. Mark said: "That's okay. I still have respect for him because of his loyalty to his band. There's gotta be something to say about that. If he made a comment that was kind of rude, I'm sure it was just to kind of save face or something. He's a great guy, and man, he can sing too. He was a joy to be around. I was really sad that he did multiple projects.
"If we were a different situation that we were used to just having random singers every gig… It's just too much work to do that, because when somebody has to cancel a show, then we've gotta audition people," Kendall added. "And we don't wanna go out there with a different singer every time. But I thought Andrew was really gonna work out, and then, all of a sudden [LAST IN LINE] get this tour. And then I don't know what's gonna happen in the future. We were really in a tough spot. And we're really happy that things worked out with Brett, 'cause he's dynamite, man."
Asked about GREAT WHITE's approach when making changes in the singer department, Mark said: "I'd like to say that we always kind of settled. People would just get the songs close, and we'd go, 'It's probably not gonna get better than that.' Then there was… I won't go into any details because I have nothing bad to say about any of [the singers we've worked with in the past], but there were some other issues, like things that today, to me, are… We're so past any kind of ego trips or whatever; we're just happy to wake up in the morning and start a new day and say, 'Woah. Everything's great.' That's good enough for us. And try to make the best music we can. But when there's some kind of a — I don't know if it's insecurity or ego or what, when there's anything drama-related, it just turns me off personally. So I'd rather just concentrate on the music, make that the most important thing, and just have fun and enjoy ourselves. And Brett really seems like he's that type; he's very enjoyable to be around. He's just at ease. He loves singing. And he sings our songs perfect; it's quite incredible. And his range is from A to Z. This guy has a full voice in every note. So it's pretty incredible to find somebody like that; they don't grow on trees."
Carlisle has been playing guitar and singing since the age of eight and counts bands like VAN HALEN, SKID ROW and METALLICA as his main influences.
Last May, GREAT WHITE announced that it had parted ways with singer Mitch Malloy and had replaced him with Freeman. Malloy had been in GREAT WHITE for nearly four years, having joined the group in 2018 following the departure of Terry Ilous.
Ilous, frontman of '80s L.A. hard rockers XYZ, joined GREAT WHITE in 2010 after stepping in for touring vocalist Jani Lane (WARRANT).
The Ilous-led GREAT WHITE released two albums, 2012's "Elation" and 2017's "Full Circle", before Terry was dismissed from the group.
This version of GREAT WHITE is not to be confused with JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE, which features original GREAT WHITE singer Jack Russell.
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