The 80’s were a tumultuous time for a lot of bands. For those of us who recall the days of glam-rock and nights of endless parties, we may look back and wonder how we ever survived those gnarly nights.
Having to overcome tragedy was one of Sunset Strips most famous bands: Great White. Following 1987’s platinum release “Once Bitten” and 1989’s double platinum “…Twice Shy”, Great White suffered its biggest tragedy under former lead singer Jack Russell’s night club fire in 2003. After a benefit tour and the changing music scene, founding guitarist Mark Kendall carried on with the 1980’s line-up of Audie Desbrow (drums) and Michael Lardie (guitar, keyboards) with Scott Snyder on bass. FULL CIRCLE is the second album with new lead singer Terry Ilous, formally of XYZ, as it blends the familiar Great White sounds of the 80’s with a modern feel. Founding guitarist Mark Kendall talks about what it’s like to record a new album and the first song on the album ‘I’m Alright’ with long time drummer Audie Desbrow. “Audie melds himself into the song. The song is like a journey for him; going from part-to-part and he complements the song. I like the way he feels behind me, he’s not dragging me back or pushing me forward,” noted Kendall. With 12 previous albums to draw from, you would assume that Mark comfortably enjoys his stardom and fame. The album’s first radio single ‘Big Time’ says otherwise, “I’ve met just about every guitar hero that made me want to play guitar; and even though they were a huge influence to me, they didn’t know how “big” they were. You might get a number one single, but you don’t really think you’ve reached your pinnacle. I think it’s a blessing that we are still making music, and that’s what keeps us motivated. It’s nice when we get good feedback, especially about this album,” shares Kendall.
Having one album already with new lead vocalist Terry Ilous, Mark shares how simple the original members have kept things over the years and now with Terry, “We’ve never changed anything, we still write songs the way we used to. Nothing has really changed, except for the range that Terry has. He has all the range, and a lot of power, and he brings a lot of positive energy. We don’t even email songs to each other [laughter]. Terry plays guitar, so we will sit around with acoustic guitars and work on ideas. We usually have a melody, then we share it with the group.”
‘This Is The Life’ gives you that classic Great White hook with gritty and strong vocals from Ilous, noted Mark, “I think part of the message of this song is that we never forget where we came from. The people that helped us along the way. I’m still in touch with guys who were in bands when we were trying to make it. There was a band when we were coming up called Stormer. They had opened for Van Halen, and they were really good; I’m still in touch with their drummer. Just because you have had opportunities, you don’t want to forget your friends along the way, because that’s a part of who we are.”
Fans familiar with Great White in the 80’s certainly remember the bluesy influences in songs such as ‘House of Broken Love’ and ‘Rock Me’. Two songs on FULL CIRCLE ‘Movin On’ and ‘Moonshine’ carry on that bluesy feel. “I like the bluesy feel of songs, the blues just come natural to me. Even back in the day, we had a blues influence. It’s hard to get away from ourselves. ‘Moonshine’ is just a fun song and a funny story. When we went into the studio, we didn’t have all the lyrics. So we recorded part of the song, then we went back to the house we were renting in Nashville and knew we had to finish the lyrics. The next day we showed up at the studio and our Producer Michael Wagener was ecstatic that we finished the song. We wrote and recorded the whole album in 10 days because of our touring schedule. We hired a production company to come in and film the making of this album, so we could document it. We knew it was going to be special working with an icon like Michael Wagener. You are actually watching the songs grow on tape, as we are writing them. We’ve never let anyone in the studio while we are recording, so the fans can watch the songs grow. We included that with the CD and made it a 2-disc set,” shares Mark.
While producer Michael Wagener (Ozzy Osbourne, Dokken) may have had some influence with a few harmonies and a horn section thrown in, it was Michael Lardie (guitar, keyboards) who came up with the title, shares Mark, “We didn’t know what to call the record until all the songs were recorded. We could have taken the easy way out and just picked a song from the album, but that didn’t make sense. Michael Lardie actually came up with the title. Our first EP was produced 30 years ago by our current producer, Michael Wagener. We hadn’t worked with Wagener since then, and Lardie thought it would be great to call the album FULL CIRCLE, as it was super special to work with him again. We are thankful to have come full circle and for all the loyalty and love from our fans.”
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CD: FULL CIRCLE Record Label: Bluez Tone Records
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