GREAT WHITE - "Full Circle" Interview with MARK KENDALL

Born in April 1957, guitarist Mark Kendall has literally come full circle with his band GREAT WHITE and the release of their latest album. Mark has been a founding member and lead guitar player of GREAT WHITE ever since the band’s beginnings in Los Angeles in 1977. He is well known for his blues-infused Rock guitar playing, outstanding tone and exceptional songwriting. GREAT WHITE's latest record "Full Circle" has been produced by Michael Wagener, the producer of the band’s debut album released in 1984 - hence the title. We talked with Mark about composing and recording for the new album, as well as the equipment he used.

Mark, belated congratulations on your 60th birthday! We have been great fans of GREAT WHITE ever since the band’s beginnings. How was working with Michael after all these years for "Full Circle"?

Glad to do it and thank you for the birthday wishes!  Our fans are loyal and we don't want to let them down by becoming an oldies band. We like to continue making good music for them.

It was very exciting to work with Michael Wagener again. We had a lot of fun and the whole experience was just full of positive energy. Michael Wagener is an upper echelon producer who has an extremely impressive body of work to his credit. Besides his producer & engineering skills he has a great sense of humor, wonderful personality and you feel good when you're around him. The band and I felt completely at ease making this record and our energy was vibrating at a high level.

When Michael produced your debut album in 1984, would you have thought that GREAT WHITE would still successfully be producing records more than thirty years later?

To be honest, I never really thought about it, but it was a complete joy! I know that we are a band that loves being creative and we are grateful to still be making music.

Please tell us about how you went composing the songs for the new album, and how long did it take you to write the songs?

We haven't really changed anything. We all come into rehearsal with our musical ideas and jam. We just try to make the best music we can. We put the songs together in 9 days total. We all had ideas but we had to put it together as a band.


Do you have a special approach to writing?

When I'm at home and play my guitar I'm always writing different things. If I like something I record it immediately. Michael Lardie and I get together and show each other ideas. We might try some different drum grooves with a machine to see what the song sounds like. However most of the work comes alive when we play together in a room.

Have you heard Jack Russell’s album „He Saw it Comin’“?  

I saw a music video in my Facebook news feed, which I would assume was something new. The song seemed fine, kind of the musical direction his solo material had.


Do yo have all the parts worked out before you enter the studio?

I didn't have all the parts carved in stone before we went to Nashville, but we kind of had the arrangements close to finished. The lyrics weren't even close to being finished. After the drums and bass were finished and I knew what we were going to record the next day, I worked out my guitar parts at the house we rented.

We worked a lot at the house. Vocal harmonies, lyrics,and other things. It's all captured on our making of documentary which comes with our new release. We hired a film company called Rockslide Entertainment to film us in the studio, the whole two months. We wanted the fans to see how we write and make records.

So, I was prepared for the most part but we make some musical and arrangement changes along the way.

Can you please elaborate on the equipment you used, the guitars and amps?

Guitar wise I used an RH Custom guitar, which is an independent guitar maker named Rick Harrison, an Ed Roman, a Steinberger, and a Les Paul on something, but can't remember.

For amps I used a Kemper which is real amp profiler. Some genius duplicated the sound waves from thousands of different amps. I was using old Marshall heads and green back vintage cabinets with 25 watt celestion speakers.

Not many effects except a little delay, minimal reverb but did use it and a wah-wah that came with the Kemper!

Do you suffer from Gear Acquisiton Syndrom?

Not too much but I love TV Jones pick ups that are low output. They produce a lot of note value. I like a musical sound. I don't like too much distortion. I like the tubes to provide the distortion from pushing the tubes hard & get that saturated tube distortion. It's a truer sound.

Do you believe in the theory that a guitar sounds better the longer you play it?


I think practicing a lot is good for the soul. The more you play the better the guitar feels.



Please tell us about your favourite instrument?

My favorite guitar at the moment is the RH Custom. I had 4 meetings with the guitar maker and he built it perfect. Great sounding instrument.

What about your favourite amp?

I love the Kemper but as far as real amps, I like the sound of my Fender Bassman head. I also love an old Marshall I have.

How would you say has your style evolved over the years?

I haven't really changed much. I think if anything has changed it would be that I don't waste energy. I still play what I feel and what I think will compliment the song.

Do you still practice?

I play quite a bit. I'm always playing acoustic guitar around the house. My Godin acoustics sound awesome.

Please tell us about your beginnings. What was the first guitar that you lusted after?

My first two guitars were called Kay guitars. The first one an acoustic and the second one was electric. I got a Fender Telecaster when I turned 17 and it was awesome!

Who were your influences and how did you develop your skills on the instrument?

At 14 I only listened and played Santana and loved Carlos! Then it was Johnny Winter, Alvin Lee, Blackmore, Billy Gibbons etc.

Any chance of seeing you guys with the new album in Europe soon?

We are working on a couple things and are playing U.K. In October at Rockingham Festival...

Thank you very much Mark. You have been very generous with your time. Good luck for the forthcoming shows! 

Thank you! Another shout out to your readers, your team, and all our fans over the years. We really appreciate you.