GREAT WHITE's MICHAEL LARDIE Praises New Singer BRETT CARLISLE: 'With His Vocal Range, We Can Do Pretty Much Anything'

April 1, 2024

In a new interview with Robert Miguel of Uvalde Radio Rocks, GREAT WHITE rhythm guitarist and keyboardist Michael Lardie confirmed that he and his bandmates are working on material for the follow-up to 2017's "Full Circle" album. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It's time. It's been about six years, so we're ready to go with that."

GREAT WHITE's upcoming LP will be the band's first with the group's latest addition, 26-year-old singer Brett Carlisle, who was officially named GREAT WHITE's new vocalist in October 2022. Brett joined the group as the replacement for Andrew Freeman (LAST IN LINE),who sang for GREAT WHITE for only five months.

Regarding what it has been like working with a singer who wasn't even born when some of GREAT WHITE's classic songs were written, Lardie said: "Well, I think he gets what we're trying to do. It's been a godsend to have someone with his youth, but at the same time he has what a lot of people would deem as an older soul. His parents did a great job bringing him up on '70s and '80s rock, so he's pretty well versed in that. And he comes from the South, so he's got a little bit of that blues and gospel edge to him."

Michael went on to say that he is "really looking forward" working on the new GREAT WHITE album with Carlisle. "In fact, before we were going on the other night, I was playing him a little bit of a thing that he and I are working on, and he's going, 'Oh, yeah, I got this idea,'" Lardie said. "So he's really psyched about working with us. And it's a joy to be onstage with him. He's turned into a great little performer, and when he's offstage, he's the most down-to-earth, righteous young man that I've come across in a while. And it's been a joy."

Michael added that Carlisle has the singing ability to handle anything from GREAT WHITE's catalog. "With his energy and his vocal range, we can do pretty much anything," he said. "If somebody throws out a tune, no matter how obscure it might be or how high it might be in terms of range, he's, like, 'Yeah, I can do that.' Like one of the songs we are doing from the very, very first record is 'Stick It'. And he hits every one of those notes spot-on every night. So it's awesome."

Regarding the musical direction of the new GREAT WHITE material, Lardie said: "It's hard to say. I would love the album to be kind of an amalgam of '...Twice Shy' [1989], 'Hooked' [1991] and 'Psycho City' [1992]. I mean, that, to me, would be a great combination of things."

Last month, GREAT WHITE guitarist Mark Kendall told The Logan Show about Carlisle: "Believe it or not, [Brett is] kind of an old soul in a way. And when we stand next to the guy, he don't look like he's standing next to CROSBY, STILLS & NASH or something, you know what I mean? So somehow it fits. Even though he's younger than us, he's kind of, like… Nothing overwhelms the guy. He's respectful and everything, but he's not, like, 'Oh, my god. Look at this. Oh, my god. [Look at] that.' He just goes out and just totally handles it every night. Yeah, he's younger than us and whatnot, and, like you said, he wasn't even born in our heyday or whatever, probably, but he just goes out, he really brings the crowd into the show. He's really good and natural at… He doesn't have a script when he goes out there; he just kind of whatever he's feeling, and he sings like perfect, no matter what. It's pretty incredible, really. We're looking forward to doing an album with him, I can tell you that much."

After interviewer Logan Crosland noted that "quite a few people online" have commented that Brett is "probably the closest-sounding singer to Jack Russell," GREAT WHITE's original vocalist, and asked if that was a criteria when hiring Brett to front the band, Mark said: "Not necessarily. What it was is he just sang the songs correctly and he has the range to sing 'em. I don't think his voice sounds that much like Jack, but he has the range of Jack in his heyday. And so we're able to play anything we want, and we really haven't been able to do that in the past. Like we're playing 'Stick It' off the first album, which is up in the astral planes with the vocal range, and he's hitting all those notes full power. I mean, it's not like a falsetto, weak high notes. He's like straight from the gut just like screaming these notes, like full power from A to Z. There's not a song in our catalog that he can't totally handle. And I've been writing with him."

Elaborating on the writing process, Kendall said: "Because I don't really have all the gear, really, that I need to make a proper demo here, I go to Tracy G's [Grijalva] [studio]. He's like a teenage friend of mine, a guitar player, a really good one, and his studio, he's done 28 records there, something like that. And he used to be in DIO; I think he was in DIO for seven years, and he was in a band with Jimmy Bain and Vinny Appice called WORLD WAR III. That's a pretty good record. Anyway, so I go down to his house and we've been doing these demos and stuff, and it's pretty amazing stuff."

He continued: "The only thing that's held it up — we were scheduled to go in for a couple writing sessions for two weeks, and Scott [Snyder], our bass player, had back surgery, which took him out of the loop for a couple months. So we put it on hold because we want the whole band to be there and involved."

Asked if fans can expect new music from GREAT WHITE in 2024, Mark said: "We wanna come out with something this year, without fail. We don't know exactly how we're gonna do it, as far as releasing 12 songs or just come with five or just a video on a song or maybe three songs. We're just kind of talking to people and seeing what's the best way, with today's world. Do we bombard them with 15 songs, like old school, or do we give 'em a video on a song and go to iTunes and Amazon, whatever. I don't know. We're not there yet, so I'm not really that concerned. The main thing is just writing some killer stuff that rocks hard."

Regarding whether he has any songs already completed, Mark said: "Oh, yeah. I probably have seven complete songs on tape right now. [They're] just absolutely killer. But we haven't collaborated. The way we do it is we get together and we sit in a circle and say, 'What do you got? Let's hear it. What do you got?' And if a riff kind of pokes out, we say, 'Let's work on that. That's badass, dude. That's killer.' And that way it's more of a group effort."

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.

In an April 2023 interview with Larry Mac of the 96.1 KLPX radio station, Kendall said 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."

In January 2023, 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."

In October 2022, Carlisle was asked in an interview with about his approach to singing GREAT WHITE'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."

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