MARK KENDALL On GREAT WHITE's Music With New Singer BRETT CARLISLE: 'It's Coming Out Amazing'

April 20, 2024

In a new interview with George Dionne of KNAC.COM, GREAT WHITE guitarist Mark Kendall 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): "I've been having [our new singer Brett Carlisle] out recording new stuff. Because I want him to be inspired and just not singing our [old] songs perfect but put his name on some new stuff. So we've been recording. I got a friend, his studio is a little bit more upgraded than mine. This guy Tracy G [Grijalva], he's like a teenage friend of mine who was in DIO. He just has a better studio. So I go down there and lay down ideas and then I have Brett out and go, 'Check this out,' and we sit together. And it's coming out amazing."

Regarding how GREAT WHITE is planning to release its new music, Mark said: "We're not sure how we're gonna put it out, with this day and age. We're talking to a lot of people about it. 'Cause we don't want the music to kind of get lost, with this downloading world. It's not like when we were growing up, we'd buy a record and sit there and listen to [LED ZEPPELIN's] 'Physical Graffiti' all day. Now they just download a couple of songs from this [album], a couple of songs [from that record]. So we're thinking maybe the idea could be [to] just put two or three songs out, maybe a video, and just keep coming with three at a time or something. That way, the music isn't wasted; it actually gets to the people. That's all we're concerned about. We know it's gonna be free on the Internet immediately."

He continued: "Even in our heyday, I was always more interested in the feedback. I want people to tell me, 'Man, I really like this song' or, 'I hate it,' or whatever. I used to go straight to a friend of mine, as soon as we were done, before it was out or anything, because you've gotta wait about four months. So I'd ask him, I go, 'Man, please tell me I'm great. Tell me something good.' He would always pick the singles. And the guy can't — he can't hold a tune in a bucket. I mean, he's so tone deaf, it's insane. But he can listen and he could always pick the singles. I'm going, 'What are you judging by? Is it the beat?' He goes, 'I don't know.' So there's no answer there. But I always like to get the feedback 'cause I wanna know… You have to wait this waiting period after you finish a record to find out if you're good or not, or if people are gonna be accepting. So it is a frustrating time. So I always race all my friends and play it for 'em. So that's what I'm more interested in than the dollars, really, is what people think. And maybe we have a chance to create some more memories."

Asked if he and his bandmates were "a little bit apprehensive" about the fact that Carlisle is only 26 years old while GREAT WHITE, as a group, has been in existence more than four decades, Mark said: "He's in his late 20s, but, believe it or not, he's kind of an old soul in a way. Nothing overwhelms the guy. He just goes out and just totally handles it every night, engages the crowd. He's real good with the interaction. He sings perfect all the time. And he's got really good song sense for a young man. I'm used to feeding people melody ideas when I write a song because that's the way I do it. Everybody has their own way to do it, but I always know that there's a lot of melody available, and he sometimes comes up with something way better than I had. So that's a good sign. And the way he delivers the new stuff, he really has a good handle on the music. And I don't know — I think he was born in the wrong time or something. In other words, we can stand together. It's not like he's standing next to his grandpa or something. It's not like we're CROSBY, STILLS & NASH, and, 'What's that 13-year-old doing there?' When we stand together, it just looks like a band. It doesn't look like we're with a little kid or anything. He's a little better-looking than us, but apart from that…"

Carlisle 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, the band's rhythm guitarist and keyboardist Michael Lardie told Robert Miguel of Uvalde Radio Rocks: "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."

In March, Kendall told The Logan Show about Carlisle: "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."

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 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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