GREAT WHITE's MARK KENDALL Says New Singer BRETT CARLISLE 'Brings It Every Night'
April 30, 2023
In a new interview with Meltdown of the WRIF radio station, GREAT WHITE guitarist Mark Kendall spoke about his working relationship with Brett Carlisle, who was officially named the band's new vocalist last October. Brett joined the group as the replacement for Andrew Freeman (LAST IN LINE),who sang for GREAT WHITE for only five months.
"[Brett] just brings it every night," Mark said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "He just turned 26, and it's kind of funny. But when he stands next to us and we take photos, it's not like he's standing with CROSBY, STILLS & NASH or something. Nothing against them, but you know what I'm saying — he just looks like a dude in our band. It don't look like we've got a 13-year-old kid in our band, and 'what the hell are you doing?'
"But he really brings it," Kendall repeated. "And I've been having him out here. I've been recording down at Tracy G's [studio], who used to be in DIO. He's a good buddy of mine. And we've recorded a lot of tunes, and [Brett is] singing on our new material, and it's killer. The guy has such a good voice."
Regarding the progress of the songwriting sessions for the new GREAT WHITE material, Mark said: "[We're] just putting stuff together. We're getting ready to collaborate with the [rest of the] band. We're kind of busy [playing shows] for the next couple of months. So I'm just trying to cram it in every time I can. I have Brett out here. 'Cause he lives in Alabama, I'm in L.A., so I have to fly him out. He stays at my house for a week at a time. We drive down to Tracy's; he lives an hour away."
Kendall continued: "We're also talking about how we wanna do it, if we wanna keep it old school and put out, like, 13 songs on a record or do we wanna do a couple of videos and put out maybe five songs at a time. I mean, the world's changed so much that we wanna talk to a lot of people and see what the best way to do that is. We're not really sure. So I'm just, in the meantime, just making music."
Asked if he has a lot of the new GREAT WHITE material demoed out already, Mark said: "Yeah, I've been making demos — we're making full demos. Not with the whole band. I'm just doing it with a drum machine. I'm playing bass. I'm playing all the guitar. Brett's harmonizing with himself and me. I'm going for finished songs; I'm finishing the songs, and playing them for the band. But they wanna collaborate on some things and throw their ideas in, and I want that too. And one thing I don't do is just shoot things down too quick. I try it, I live with it, and that way I can tell 'em why I like it or why I don't like it intelligently instead of, somebody comes with an idea and you go, 'No, man. My idea is already the greatest.' So I kind of learned to… That's part of collaborating — you wanna give everybody a chance to make it a group effort."
According to Kendall, GREAT WHITE will likely enter the studio after the summer to begin piecing all the new music as a band.
"We have so many gigs," he explained. "When we go to record, it's really difficult to play gigs in between that. I don't really like to do that. I want, like, maybe three weeks straight when we don't have a show. That way we can get things done and everybody's there every day."
He added: "It no longer takes six months to do a record. Our last one we did with [producer] Michael Wagener only took us, really, about six weeks."
Earlier this month, Kendall told Larry Mac of the 96.1 KLPX radio station that he is not as concerned about record sales or commercial success as he is about making sure the new GREAT WHITE songs are strong enough to stand alongside the band's classic material.
"Even in our heyday, I've never really thought dollars and cents; I just wanna know if people like the music or not," he explained. "To where I would be so desperate, I would go to friends of mine who are pretty hard on me — tough critics or whatever — just to get feedback. 'Cause that space in time after you're done recording to when it comes out is pretty brutal. So I always run to friends: 'Tell me you love me. Listen to this.' So I'm kind of the same way now. I just wanna get the music to the people and get feedback: 'How is this? Would this hold up in the '80s? Is it better?' Because I still feel really creative. And we can always get better.
"I'm really feeling pretty good about these songs that we're coming up with," Kendall revealed. "So I'm more anxious for people to hear it than I am selling a million records or whatever. And I think it makes us viable that we still are creative; we still wanna make new music. We're not quite an oldies band yet, even though they kind of label us classic rock or whatever. But that's not so bad. So, yeah, that's it. We wanna keep [creating] and not just go out and be the oldies band that plays the hits every year or whatever. We wanna come up with some tunes and get it to the folks and let 'em know that we're still making music for you. And no matter what's happened with the industry or whatever, we're still the same band and we still make music. This is what we do."
This past January, Kendall told the "Mark 2.0" podcast 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, 2022 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."
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.
In May 2022, 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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