Great White was formed in the early ’80s by vocalist Jack Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall. Unlike many others, more glam influenced, bands from L.A scene Great White were playing more Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith- and AC/DC-influenced metal and they soon got their own rapidly growing base. The bands first release, an independent album called OUT OF THE NIGHT, sold more than 20,000 copies in 1982 and soon they were signed to major label EMI. Unfortunately that relationship didn’t last too long and band found themselves doing another independent album after just one release with. EMI. Another independent release SHOT IN THE DARK was released in 1983 at it did help the band to get a new deal with another major label Capitol Records. The album was released by Capitol in 1987 and later on the same year they released their breakthrough album ONCE BITTEN which went platinum. The smash hit single "Rock Me" became a true hard rock anthem. Things went even better with bands next release TWICE SHY which included the band’s biggest hit to date; a cover of an old Mott The Hoople classic "Once Bitten .. Twice Shy". The single had massive success and it helped Great White to get slots ongreat tours in late 80’s. The band toured with other multiplatinum bands like Ratt and Tesla and they played at some of the biggest European festivals like the Monsters of Rock -tour along with such bands as Iron Maiden, David Lee Roth and KISS.
In the early 90’s the band’s record sales started to go down and like many other bands from their era they finally got dropped from Capitol in 1993 after the disappointing sales of PSYCHO CITY. The band soon found a new home from Zoo and they released SAIL AWAY via that label in 1994. LET IT ROCK came out in 1996 and it was released by another new label Imago. Although the band wasn’t in headlines much anymore they still kept constantly touring, mostly in clubs, across the U.S and in 1999 they got another deal from John Kalodner’s label Portrait. Although the next album CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE did pretty well and sold about 80 000 copies in the U.S alone, the band slowly disbanded after band member after member left and finally it was only Jack Russell left from the classic line up. Officially band called it quits after the farewell show, including almost complete classic line up, in the end of 2002 and later on that show was released as a live album called THANK YOU GOODNIGHT.
Jack Russell continued his career as a solo artist and soon he started to call his backing band Great White. Although Jack Russell’s Great White, also known as a "fake white", were soon joined by Mark Kendall on guitar they were totally forgotten by the mainstream. That was until pyrotechnics used by the band sparked a fire in a Rhode Island nightclub on February 20, 2003, killing 100 people, including the band’s second guitarist at that time, Ty Longley. Since then the band kept on touring and doing benefit concerts for victims of the fire. In early 2007 the band decided to regroup its classic lineup: Russell, Kendall, Audie Desbrow, Michael Lardie and bassist, since 1996, Sean McNabb and celebrate their 25’Th anniversary with some shows on the West Coast. Later in the same year the band released their first album of original material in eight years called BACK TO THE RHYTHM. The band arrived to do their first European tour in years last January and I was able to sit down with Mark and Audie prior to the bands sold out concert in Copenhagen. Here we go, the past, present and future of Great White !
INTERVIEW AND LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
TRANSCRPTION BY NEIL BATTY
Like so many other classic 80’s bands you also decided to reunite some time ago, would I ask, what was the motivation for that?
AUDIE: Well, the band has been together, it’s not really a reunion, it’s kind of an anniversary. The band never ever completely disbanded we just changed personnel. Mark left for a while because he needed a break, things didn’t work out at the time for me, and I had substance abuse at that time. No one was thinking clearly at that time but we have grown up and sobered up. I got a phone call from Jack a little over a year ago and he wanted to put the original band back together and do an album. I thought that would be great, go for it! So here we are today, we actually put an album BACK TO THE RHYTHM out in last August.
After all these years, how hard was it to get this line up together because I remember there was a lot of stuff in the press saying that some of the members of the band had issues that cannot be solved?
MARK: There were all kinds of little things that maybe turned out to be big things but they all got thrown under the rug when we got back together. It was all stupid, retarded stuff that all mostly stemmed from hangovers! Most the time you have disagreements and you don’t remember what they are about. It’s like when you have an argument with you girlfriend! What was it about? I don’t know! None of us was in a sober state of mind, we hadn’t taken any time off in a number of years .The difference now is we are all happy, we are all friends. We are really enjoying ourselves.
Sean McNabb is now playing bass with you like he did in late 90’s/early 00’s tours and he also played in CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE album in 1999. Was he an obvious choice for you now?
MARK: Sean McNabb has actually been in the band longer than any of our bass players.
AUDIE: He’s been in the band for probably nine years and the thing about Sean is he is a true student of the bass. The man is a bass fan! He loves the bass, it’s all he thinks about, and it’s all he talks about. He loves bass guitar! He knows everything about every bass player you could ever throw at him. So, there was no doubt about which bass player we wanted.
I have to ask that is this going to be a permant reunion or is it going to be just this anniversary album and tour?
MARK: The plan is that we are here to stay. There will be another album and tour, album and tour and so on. We’ll continue where left off before our break.
When you got this reunion together it was different from a lot of other band reunions because you had a new album and new material.
AUDIE: Right, we didn’t just get together and play the old songs, although everybody wants to hear all the old songs still! Which we will play and we will play our new stuff as well.
MARK: We don’t want to be an oldies band, so it made sense to make a brand new record with new material and that made it a lot of fun reuniting because we were playing brand new songs together. That’s how we have always done it, record then tour.
AUDIE: Year after year after year with no break, then we all took a break, and now we regrouped.
You can tell that by the strength of new material, its fantastic material. The new album is really strong and if you are not motivated you cannot write songs like that?
BACK TO THE RHYTHM sounds like it could have been released right after CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE, not a eight year break between those albums…
AUDIE: Well, I think for one, the album is very eclectic; it’s got a song for everybody on there. There’s the traditional old Great White on there, there’s a blues tune, there’s a ballad, a heavy rocker. It’s just the way it came together, Mark had a bunch of songs that he had written and Michael and Jack had songs, we took each song one at a time. We didn’t rehearse all these songs over and over then go ‘ok let’s go record the album now!’ We had these ideas, Mark would show us his ideas and Sean would pick it up and I would play my sticks on a seat! Then we would go and lay it down.
I would also say that new album has a kind of live feeling, in a positive way. Do you agree with that?
MARK: We didn’t over rehearse, we didn’t rehearse at all! It was fresh with a certain vibe to the music. I learned a long time ago, we put out a demo that we did with Michael Wagener for a song called “Street Killer”, it was a demo. By the time we had recorded that song on a record, we had probably recorded it 5000 times and it never had the energy it had on that demo because the song was brand new. You kind of learn that you know it’s going to happen before it does and it becomes homogenized in a way. When the songs are brand new you have an energy that is undeniable and instead of rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing then going to the studio we just went in the studio and boom on the tape, you know? It’s great to record that way.
Speaking of new releases, there’s DVD called LIVE AND RAW which has just been released. It includes two Great White shows from late 90’s… Do you want to tell some more about that one?
AUDIE: Yeah, that was done without our knowledge, permission or anything. It’s like someone just going to one of your concerts with a cassette player, recording a whole concert and then five years later its out everywhere on DVD.
It’s more like a bootleg?
AUDIE: Yes, it is. We would never approve the quality of that tape; those performances were not up to par, very bad quality. I think they even stole an interview of Jack and stuck it in there. He’s like acting like he is promoting this thing! Even though we don’t condone it, it would cost us more money to sue the guy, we did talk about suing the guy but not anymore.
But because you haven’t released any official DVD’s it’s a good release for the fans…
AUDIE: Right, of course!
MARK: It’s just the quality; if we were going to put out a DVD we would have professional cameras. If it could have been any other show but that one! Home movie camera, recorded on that condenser mic on the camera!
How about the shows on that DVD? I mean, forget the quality of taping but how do you like those shows by yourself?
AUDIE: There was a drum solo that was horrible, it was an off night, I never really did any solos but that year I did and I was still working on it. I used to have that exact show on VHS; we used those tapes as work tapes, study tapes, so we would never do that again or this again! Someone got a hold of it and though ‘Alright! I’ll release it on DVD!’
Do you know who the guy was who put it out?
AUDIE: Yes we do! He did the same thing with Axel Rose and Axel Rose lost that lawsuit! So we didn’t bother suing them! Just let it go, hopefully we will come up with something we do endorse and it will blow it away! We’ve had people bootlegging our T-Shirts for years, one time we caught a bootlegger and said ‘Hey come work for us! Your T-Shirts look better than ours!’
Great White 2007 is Jack Russel, Mark Kendall, Michael Lardie, Sean McNabb and Audie Desbrow
THE EARLY DAYS
Is it ok for you to talk about the past times as well?
MARK: Of course!
In the very beginning you were called Dante Fox, where that name came from?
MARK: Well, we had a bass player named Todd Duncaster, the drummer name was Tony Richards and…
You mean same Tony who used to play in WASP?
MARK: Yeah, the same one! This was the band we had with Jack and me. We could not think of a name to save our lives. Duncaster had a friend who lived in San Diego who performed abortions with coat hangers; we were kind of Heavy Metal back then! But this guys name was Dante Fox and that became the name of the band. It didn’t really mean anything.
Whose idea was it to change the name to Great White?
MARK: In 1981 we were playing at the Whiskey; Don Dokken owed a favour to a guy called Alan Niven because Alan Niven introduced Don Dokken to Peter Finch and Cliff Burnstein so when he came to the US he said ‘I want a band! Who’s the best band around?’ Dokken told him to check out these guys called Dante Fox, there a really good band! So he went to see us 4 or 5 times and he wanted to come to his office in Greenworld, it’s an indie label. So we went down there and he told us he loves the band and the songs but he hated the name! Jack used to say every time I took a guitar solo he called me the Great White because of the white hair and complexion. Well Alan Niven liked the name Great White, we didn’t like it when he told us this, but these are some of the compromises you have to make when you are with the big boys, you know? So ok we’re Great White, whatever, but we are gonna lose all our following! He said ‘Don’t worry about those 70 people!’ (laughs) ‘I’m taking this band worldwide!’ Originally it was because of my nickname; later on we came up with having the shark as our logo and a part of our merchandise.
So that’s how Alan came into the picture?
MARK: He worked for Greenworld, then all of a sudden his business partners didn’t want us on the label but he didn’t give up on us and said ‘Ok ill put this out on my own!’ So he got it financed and we put out an EP with five songs. Then we started to get some airplay, we didn’t have a record deal but they were playing us on the radio in rotation in LA. This was in 1982.
How your brief collaboration with EMI started?
MARK: There was a little bit of excitement around LA so we went to about 9 labels over a two week period and chose our favourite one. The reason we went with EMI is because we thought we would get more attention because the roster wasn’t so large. They had Queensryche, a couple of other bands. Probably ended up being a mistake because if you chose one out of 9 of the biggest labels in the world your gonna leave 8 very mad! So they will be praying for your failure!
AUDIE: When I joined the band three weeks later, they took me to a party we were drinking and this guy goes ‘Oh by the way were not on the record label (EMI) anymore but we’ve got plenty of labels that wanted us’ but nobody wanted anything to do with us! Even Capitol records passed on us and said ‘Naw, not those guys!’
And that was just because you chose to work with EMI earlier instead of them?
MARK: We left EMI because we knew they were not going to promote our second record, we had a two record deal but we didn’t do the second record because they wouldn’t have done anything with it. So we decided to leave and again prove ourselves by making some kind of demo, so we made SHOT IN THE DARK again borrowing money, making a record, putting it out on our own. Then we started to get airplay with that! It was played in Texas and Arizona and LA, Capitol Records gets wind of this and comes down and signs the band! After the sister company EMI America drops us from the label the father company comes in and picks us up! So we came back to Europe ‘Hi we’re back!’ because EMI is a subsidiary of Capitol! Its crazy you know? Actually, it was the very first time we didn’t have to make a demo to get signed. We actually went in the studio and recorded a record for a major label from scratch. You know what I mean?
AUDIE: When they heard “Rock Me” they just went crazy!
How much you did re-record the material of SHOT IN THE DARK for the Capitol release?
MARK: We re-recorded some things, some remixing. ‘Runaway’ was re-done. And I think ‘Waiting for Love’ was re-done, keyboard wise. Then they basically took the same album cover and put their Capitol label on it, but then they said that this album has already been out independently for so long, you have played a few shows on this album, let’s go back in the studio and record a new album. Start from scratch. And that was when we really got a chance to record something for a major label from scratch. It was tough because we had a great relationship with our management and the president of the record company at that time and as years go by personnel change, different companies come and go, the president changed about three times, then these new people came in who didn’t know anything about us, then you kinda get ignored! They concentrate on other bands. When we heard that Gary Gersh, this is the guy that why we left EMI America, he was the main guy at EMI America! When we found out that he was coming to Capitol and gonna be the president of Capitol, we heard through the grapevine, through talk that he was gonna chop so many bands heads, he was changing the whole label. We knew we were gonna go so we got a buyout from the label, before he could say ‘Bye!’
Band promo photo around 1985
BIG TIMES AND LINE UP CHANGES
Audie, in the very beginning, how did you came into the picture and ended up being in Great White?
AUDIE: When Jack was sixteen, I was in a band with Tracy G from Dio and World War III and we auditioned Jack from this little newspaper and he was sixteen years old at the time and we used to do all these backyard parties and stuff and we did a demo and stuff, we ended up getting rid of him. I used to live with him at his parents house and he used to do a lot of drugs back in the day just like everybody did but it wasn’t working out so we let Jack go. Then Jack teamed up with Mark, we did a lot of backyard parties and Mark was a rival backyard party band called ‘Zizix’, we were called ‘Riff Raff’. So Jack joined Mark and they used to call me late at night and go ‘Yeah I joined the band, man!’ and I would go ‘Yeah, Fuck you guys! You’re all fucked up!’ all of a sudden I’m in this new band opening for them, I met their drummer and thought I’m way better than that guy, I need to be in this band! Then months later I ran into Mark at this friend of ours party, a Halloween party. He told me they were getting rid of their drummer and I had to audition for them, so I ended up auditioning for them behind my bands back five times which included a studio demo, he came to my studio and picked up my drums in his car and had to get me back before my band found out I had auditioned for them because you know how that is. You can’t say ‘Oh I’m gonna go and audition for this band, if it doesn’t work out I’m coming back!’ Luckily it did work out and we have been in the band ever since!
Once you got the deal with Capitol you then added Michael Lardie into the band. How that thing came about?
MARK: It kind of happened accidently at first, he was the second engineer on SHOT IN THE DARK we wanted a keyboard part on a couple of things, so we kinda liked that we thought we could stretch musically and welcomed that. But when we played live we asked him to play the keyboard parts behind a curtain! But it ended up him playing rhythm guitar behind the curtain too and pretty soon there is no curtain, he keeps getting further and further out on the stage, then the girls are asking about him, I guess you’re in the band now! That’s what happened! Someone asked Jack, he went ‘How did Michael Laudie get in the band?’ he lucked out!
AUDIE: I remember too when I did my final audition with these guys they wanted to see how I could work in the studio, learn a song, record a song to make sure I could cut it. Michael was an engineer at that studio he was setting up mics on my drums for my audition and he said he was starting on keyboard parts for the band and was working his way into being a full member!
ONCE BITTEN was your first Capitol record and you had Michael producing. He had a big role in band right from the beginning?
MARK: Right! Michael was an engineer for a lot of really big producers. He had a lot of knowledge as far as recording goes.
He had worked with Don Dokken before?
MARK: Oh yes, absolutely. Michael has worked with several bands like with Queensryche and he has worked with lot of different producers.
You got Michael in the band but very soon you did change your bass player. So what happened to Lorne Black?
AUDIE: You know he was just really abusive as we all were but he was letting it affect really big situations, like being five hours late to a $100.000 video shoot! It was just getting really crazy, he was kinda letting his party ways affect the band. Very unprofessional and embarrassing us in really big situations. We gave him warning after warning; we don’t want to break somebody’s heart because he’s drunk! This was something that went on and on and on. Until we really had no choice, you gotta go get some help brother! He kinda refused to get help, he got worse. You never want to replace someone because of that but he just had no control.
MARK: Same old story, he’s still alive! He’s doing construction work now.
Do you know if he’s still playing?
MARK: That I don’t know?
AUDIE: I heard that he auditioned for a band but didn’t have any equipment!
Around that time, in 1988, you were on top of your game. You did some huge festivals in Europe like Monsters Of Rock and played together with such names as KISS and Iron Maiden. Any highlights from that time?
AUDIE: I thought it was great playing with all these heavy bands, Testament and Anthrax and Maiden you know? KISS was a big favourite of mine when I was a teenager. Somebody gave me a DVD of that whole performance.
MARK: It kicks ass! I couldn’t believe how good it was, there was five cameras, helicopter shots and everything…
I actually have the same DVD!
MARK: It’s pretty good huh?
AUDIE: I was so excited to play with all these bands I had grown up listening to! A lot of them were a lot heavier than us, I wondered if we would fit in the bill! But they had David Lee Roth and his stuff but like Testament and Anthrax I mean they are heavy!
TWICE SHY was another successful album after ONCE BITTEN, I think it was your best selling album to date did you already have the title TWICE SHY to follow ONCE BITTEN?
AUDIE: No, we didn’t but after we did ONCE BITTEN and we were going to record the next record it kind of an obvious thing to call it TWICE SHY.
MARK: Then the Ian Hunter song we were all familiar with and we were working pre production stuff and we went to lunch with our manager and he started playing that song, he looks at us and says ‘You guys could really tear this song up with your own version’ I’m going ‘I don’t know man!’ But we gave it a shot and who knew, it became a hit! It was never a hit when Ian Hunter wrote it! We made that song a hit in our own right! It was funny because we had gotten wind that every time Ian Hunter played that song people would go ‘Why is he playing that Great White song?’ when it was his song all along, but people didn’t know that it was his original song.
AUDIE: He was out of the music business practically, I knew a guy that was a sound man that knew him in New York and he made so much money from that song, he literally got his band back together and was on MTV!
So it was originally Alan’s idea to record that song?
AUDIE: He’s from England and he knows a lot of history, he knew a few more obscure songs.
MARK: He was a very controlling manager but he did do some good things for us.
I have read that at the same time he was managing Guns and Roses and they wanted to record that same song at the same time?
AUDIE: Well he tried to be a bit controlling to them.That’s the reason why he got fired! Because they were not gonna let that happen to them! Axl is pretty set in his ways about his creativity and he doesn’t want anyone coming in and telling him!
Audie, Jack, Michael, Mark and Tony Montana.
MORE ABOUT ALAN NIVEN
A couple of questions about Alan, it’s quite interesting to have someone that powerful, somebody with that big a role, manager, producer, songwriter…?
MARK: It was ok at first but the more he got, the more control, he created fear in you; you couldn’t tell him you didn’t like his ideas. When I would write a riff or an idea I would have to think about how he would react.
AUDIE: He was real good at talking you out of your ideas.
MARK: He really hindered my playing because I wasn’t able to play from my heart. I couldn’t play fully how I could; I was always intimidated by what his thoughts would be. When we were working on songs for one of the albums, we were doing ‘Save Your Love’, he came and listened to it and goes ‘Oh, Mark don’t play that lethargic crap!’ I wish he would have left us alone to play our own songs! It’s the only time I ever felt so strongly about something, I just wouldn’t let him shoot it down! Just leave us alone and let us play our songs! And that song ended up being a big song! After we recorded it he even tried to get the record company to change the lyrics! I think the bottom line is he was a frustrated musician, he was as close as he could be to being in the band in every way he could without actually being in it! It started out just being a few words, pretty soon he’s writing entire songs.
Was he only writing lyrics or did he also do some composing as well?
MARK: He did mainly lyrics, but he also used a couple of ideas.
AUDIE: He used Michaels experience in engineering in the studio to try and wedge his way into being a producer, he told us we would produce the record ourselves, you can save the band some money but little did we know at the time he would get all the credit.
MARK: Literally he would write one word and get half the song!
AUDIE: He made sure his name was on every song, even if he didn’t write the whole song. If he just put a word in there or a line, alright it’s written by Alan Niven now!
Even though you felt like this, you couldn’t get rid of him for several albums!
AUDIE: When you are that controlling you can really push people down. He had us believing we couldn’t survive without him, one time he said ‘If you guys ever need new management just let me know.’ We were like ‘No no we would never do that!’ When we did finally tell him he was like ‘Get the hell out of my house, you owe me 2 million dollars, I’m getting every Grammy!’
Do you have any idea where is he now?
AUDIE: In the desert somewhere!
Far enough? (Laugher)
GRAMMY NOTIFICATION AND BASSIST PROBLEMS
You mentioned Grammy award and you had one nomination in ’89 from the live performance of song “Once Bitten” but you didn’t won. Who did won back then?
AUDIE: Living Color, they won it but we got nominated which was cool. They won it for that song “Cult of Personality”. It’s a good song!
MARK: I still don’t understand the guitar parts!
AUDIE: What’s really true about that record is that song is a really great song but it has nothing to do with the rest of the record, it sounds like a completely different band.
MARK: I would say is sounds like Lynyrd Skynyrd.
AUDIE: It’s their “Freebird”!
MARK: Fuck off!!
What was the deal with the censored cover art for album HOOKED?
AUDIE: That was another management’s idea. This is what happened, the chain of stores Target, K Mart and Wal Mart they refused to sell that album because they were considered that the album art was pornography.
So do you think that it was too much porno?
AUDIE: They did! Not us! Over here in Europe they have commercials with everything in it! Over there its censorship! Nowadays you could probably get away with it.
Another line up change happened when Tony Montana was let go prior the release of PSYCHCO CITY album. What ever happened for him at that point?
AUDIE: You see, Tony was originally a guitar player and he took the job as bass player for as long as he was interested. He played for five years with us and he wanted to do his own songs playing guitar. Just like if I’m a drummer and I can do this gig over here playing bass, I can only do it so long before I want my real love which is drums. And that’s what happened, there were no hard feelings, he wanted his own band.
MARK: He was disheartened, he couldn’t take it anymore. When we were doing rehearsals for PSYCHO CITY he was sitting in a chair with his bass and you could just tell he wasn’t into it. ‘Dude, go and play your guitar, man. We will be behind you all the way!’ I would back his decision, I would prefer him to put his heart and soul into is guitar than put a half-hearted effort into bass for us.
Then you got Dave Spitz to play the bass on the album?
AUDIE: The Beast, the brother of the guitar player from Anthrax. It really wasn’t about getting anybody in the band but to get somebody to play on the record that was a really good player and he was a really good player. He came recommended really highly, an excellent bass player.
He’s a true professional?
AUDIE: Yeah, a perfect name for the guy, The Beast! Now he’s an attorney!
How did you find him at that point?
AUDIE: That’s a good question actually! Michael would know about that, he’s the brains!
MARK: He was recommended by somebody but I can’t remember…?
AUDIE: Actually one time Tony had to go to a funeral and he told our manager we would have to cancel the tour, he said ‘No you can go to your funeral, we will get someone to take your place’ so we called Dave Spitz up and he learnt all the songs on the way on the plane then backstage went over two songs and flawlessly did the show! Tesla were on the side of the stage going ‘Oh boy they are gonna totally choke! This guy has had no rehearsals!’ But he went up there and took care of business! He didn’t have a singing voice because he has a really low voice but he’s a great bass player.
As a player he has a long history playing in such bands as Black Sabbath…
AUDIE: Yeah he played in Sabbath and White Lion in that movie “Money Pit”; he has quite a few credits to his name.
If I remember right he only played one show with you…
AUDIE: One show with us, and then that album PSYCHO CITY, if you notice “the Goodbye” video doesn’t have a bass player in it, we were still looking for one at that time!
How about the next bass player Teddy Cook?
MARK: Teddy, who came from Dio, we auditioned a bunch of bass players, we were trying to keep the image and I figured he came from Dio he’s gotta be good, he’s gotta be heavy you know?
He got fired after few albums. What ever happened for him?
MARK: Yeah we found out he was a poser, he did a lot of things you just don’t do. Like when we were opening for KISS he would go out in the front row after our set like a fan! He was told not to fraternise with any of the dancers and immediately he was doing so!
Yeah on that REVENGE –tour KISS had some amazing looking girls on stage every night!
AUDIE: Right, but they also had two main girls that went with them every night.
MARK: Dio, when they played there home town, when they went into a song called “We Rock”, he says ‘We Rock, he poses!’
But still, if you say that he was a poser, he played for three years with you guys?
AUDIE: Yeah! He was always very hyper, if you used his shampoo he would freak out, he wasn’t laid back.
After he was gone for good (?), then you had to call Dave Spitz up again?
MARK: Yes, Dave did play on LET IT ROCK. I almost forgot about that, we had a revolving door of bass players!
At that point, he still did not want to tour?
MARK: He knew he wasn’t going to tour, it was talked about. Then we went through the painstaking process of auditioning bass players, we auditioned the guy from Stryper remember him? Then all of a sudden Sean McNabb walks in and he totally fit in. He had the personality, a good player, he looked good and we hit it off ever since.
Did you know him from his work with Quiet Riot?
MARK: I heard about the things he had done.
The LET IT ROCK album is one of the most underrated of your albums. But you cannot buy it anywhere! Maybe you should think about re-releasing it?
MARK: Maybe in a box set, you know? We are talking about re-recording all our songs to re-licence them.
AUDIE: When we did LET IT ROCK we were on a label with the guy who had Chrysalis records, he just had one secretary and one publicist and he was always going on vacation, so when we were doing the record he just said ‘Bye!’ and that was it, we didn’t have a chance to be heard by anybody. He was established in the sense that he signed Pat Benatar and he kinda has a name from that. We liked the way that Babies album sounded, they had a really good sounding record and they were on that label, The Babies is that the right band? The Baby Animals! Then there was the Zoo label that Tool was on and Green Jello band or Green Jelly? They were huge in America and we were on that for the SAIL AWAY and like I say people change in these companies, we had so many labels its hard not to have one label be successful when you have four or five or six labels!
It took three years until the next album CAN’T GET HERE FROM THERE. That album was released another major label Sony. How did that album do? It was the first album since the 80’s that I could buy in regular record shop in Finland!
MARK: Yeah, it was a bigger label obviously.
AUDIE: But not as big as it could be! Even John Kalodner said he would probably do it differently if he had the time over again, instead of signing Whitesnake, RATT all these tons of bands at once with a limited budget, he could have gotten one or two bands really big because they really limited his budget to where literally RATT and our record, we held up our record forever so RATT could finish there record so they could do a simultaneous release. We were sharing billboards of the releases with RATT and Great White everything was dual. We would do meet and greets with their band too. So it was a little strange, John Kalodner really believes that the 80’s era was over before it should have been and he wanted to prove that by having all the bands like Whitesnake on this Sony label and show people that this music is not over but he was really limited by finances.
MARK: He spread himself too thin.
AUDIE: He convinced the label it could work, that the 80’s were coming back. Then he got too many bands at once and it didn’t pan out that way. So then we were left with no label again!
So how did the album sell compared to RATT album released at that time. I’ve heard that RATT album sold something like 80 000 copies in the States?
AUDIE: We did something like that too, about the same. But with the internet the days of selling hundreds of thousands of records has gone, oh I just want that one for 99 cents and ill burn the rest!
Promoshot from 1999
MEMORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA
It’s been a while since you guys have been in Scandinavia or at least in Finland. Do you have any memories from those visits?
AUDIE: Finland, yes, I remember when we actually tried to go to McDonalds from our hotel, The Strand, it was just right over there man! But we didn’t have any earmuffs, we would step inside a store and wait five minutes then walk a bit, we got about half way and man, my ears were about to fall off! We had to go back to the hotel and get room service, there’s no way we are going to make it. It was so cold! We could not physically get there!
It’s only about 3 minutes walk away!
MARK: It was that cold, we couldn’t stand the cold! It felt as though our ears would fall off! It was that cold!
That must have been in 1989. You were supporting Alice Cooper together with Britny Fox then?
AUDIE: Britny Fox, right!
Do you have any other memories but failed McDonalds visit?
AUDIE: That was one of them, it was very cold. I think we got kicked out of the original hotel we were at. I guess one of the bouncers at the hotel didn’t like Jack, our roadie. So we ended up in the Strand which was a nicer hotel anyway so it worked out to be good. Jack got maced actually! My drum roadie wanted to go downstairs in this club, and the bouncer said ‘You can’t come in dressed like that!’ I go ‘Hey what are doing messing with my roadie!’ and he sprayed Mace, so that’s how we ended up in the Strand!
What was the name of the hotel where you got kicked out of?
MARK: It was a five star hotel but it wasn’t quite as nice as the Strand! The Strand was a nicer hotel than the one we were in, I don’t remember the name of it. It had a downstairs club, jack got maced, and we got thrown out and ended up in a better hotel!
AUDIE: Oh right! We flew out bodyguards too, all of Alice Cooper bodyguards, everybody, thanks to Jack!
That was it, thank you guys!!
AUDIE and MARK: Thank you!
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PICTURES FROM GREAT WHITE SHOW IN COPENHAGEN