I caught up with Jeremy Widerman and Steve Kiely of Monster Truck backstage at Welcome To Rockville and we had an intriguing discussion centered on breaking through on the American rock scene, and a few other random items of personal interest: Florida heat, NASCAR, Video games and more…
Legendary hard rockers, Great White are headed to Northern Florida for a show this weekend. The band has been a fixture on the rock landscape for three decades, and the talented musicians always put forth a killer show. We caught up with the band for a quick chat before they headed out on the road, and loved their unfiltered thoughts about today’s music, their future, The Allman Brothers and former front man Jack Russell.
Cretin: You guys have been rocking for over thirty years yet you still tour regularly these days; do you get more satisfaction out of making new music, like 2012’s Elation, or from touring?
Mark Kendall: Making new music is why we’re still here after 30 years. The key to our motivation has been allowing ourselves the freedom to make new music. Playing live is where we feel at home and making new music is what gets us there, so I would have to call it a tie. Michael Lardie: Recording new material has always been the thing that drives the Great White machine. It’s the creative part of what we do that keeps it fresh for us. Then, by performing, we get lay the new songs in the fans. It’s circular for us. One feeds the other. Audie Desbrow: I enjoy creating new music, things don’t get jaded that way. I also love to tour playing hits as well as new music. I get equal satisfaction doing both.
Cretin: During those three decades, you’ve seen the rock market evolve significantly over the years. What do you think of the new rock out today?
Mark Kendall: I like some of it. When it’s a band of people that have that human feel and are playing their instruments with melody, it’s probably going to get a favorable review from me. I’m just not a fan of music that comes from machines. Audie Desbrow: There’s new rock? Michael Lardie: There are some talented songwriters and performers. The sonics for me have changed dramatically. I must say I do miss the dynamics of a recording i.e. e. Zeppelin always had such a wide variance of sounds and textures. It made you want to really listen to their records. Cretin: How true. Could you imagine today’s bands going to a castle, church, or Bron-Yr-Aur to capture a great vibe? (See our list of Led Zeppelin’s Best albumswhen you are done here)
Cretin: Are there any emerging bands that remind you of a young Great White, or whose music you particularly enjoy?
Mark Kendall: There was a band that I met that reminded me of a younger us from our early years, and that was a band called “Veins Of Jenna”. I believe they are from Sweden but live in LA now. Audie Desbrow: I haven’t been up to speed on the new bands as much as before. Probably because there’s not much substance to them.
Cretin: You’re headed to Jacksonville this weekend – the place where Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers really broke through. Did those bands have any influence on your music?
Mark Kendall: Sure!!! When I was a young teenager I would sit and learn every Dicky Betts lick note for note for hours on end!! So the Allman Brothers definitely. Lynyrd Skynyrd was a great band from the 70’s also and the entire 70’s era had a huge impact on us. Michael Lardie: Both bands were a staple in our record collections. Great songs. Great delivery, great performance bands. Audie Desbrow: The Allman Brothers were part of my music upbringing I’d say. They had two drummers. It was harder learning the songs.
Cretin: Jack Russell was a talented front man, but even with that talent there seemed to be lots of distractions. Are both groups in a better place now that you’ve formally split the Great White baby?
Mark Kendall: We can really only speak for ourselves, and we are very happy to own the name, so there is only one Great White. Jack’s name is attached to his hired band and that eliminates any risk of confusion of who you’re going to see, and that’s all we ever wanted for our fans. Audie Desbrow: We are in a better place, we never split anything, we own the name, we are Great White, period.
Cretin: The band is playing on the Monsters of Rock cruise this winter with a great line-up of classic rockers. Is there any one act you are excited to see and to be sharing the bill with?
Mark Kendall: We have history with several acts on the cruise so it’s like a class reunion really. Tesla is one that sticks out that we did a very long co-headlining tour with in the late 80’s. It will be exciting to see everyone again. It’s not just the bands, there are crew guys, fans, and photographers from the past, and so it’s just a lot of fun to see everyone. Audie Desbrow: I really enjoyed watching Saxon, been a fan from early on. I’m always proud to be performing with all my friends from other bands.
Cretin: Finally, you see some of the bands that broke through in the Sixties still touring regularly, and they’ve got nearly 20 years on you – how long do you see yourselves touring?
Mark Kendall: As long I have the desire to be creative, I will continue to make music and tour. We’re in this for life ya know. Michael Lardie: As long as it makes sense for us. Could be 5 years could be 20. That’s the journey of being a musician. You never quite know where it will take you. We are a family that has survived many ups and downs. To us it’s always been our career. I don’t think we are ready for retirement just yet. Audie Desbrow: I often think about that, I will do this as long as my health holds out and especially if the fans are still coming to the shows.