Even after 30 years, Great White guitarist Mark Kendall is still ready to rock.
“We play different sets every night,” Kendall said during a Park Record interview. “We do some extended jams to bring the crowd into the show. And sometimes we don’t know what’s going to happen. I love those moments.”
Great White — known for the hits “Save All Your Love,” “Rock Me” and “Once Bitten Twice Shy” — will play Saturday at the DeJoria Center. The show will open with Slaughter.
Kendall knows Great White is lucky to be touring and making music in the 2000s after hitting it big in the 1980s.
“You know, a band doesn’t figure to have this much longevity,” Kendall said. “The only reason I can come up with for us still being here is that we continue to make music.”
Kendall never wanted to become a greatest hits or oldies band.
“I could never sell the same painting year after year after year,” he said. “That would drive me crazy, because I need to continue to be creative. I got in this because I love to make music and play live.”
Although the band will play the big hits during Saturday’s show, Kendall said fans will hear some surprises.
“I just don’t want to entertain,” he said. “I want to blow our audiences away and give people their money’s worth.”
As a child Kendall was obsessed with the guitar and, he confessed, that’s still true.
“If I had to go to the store, I would take my acoustic and play it walking down the street like the goofiest human in the world,” he said with a laugh.
When it came time to form Great White, Kendall and the band had a plan.
“Our thing was to play more than anyone, even if that meant playing for free, which we did,” he said. “We would play six nights a week, five for free, and then plaster the streets with our flyers.”
The flyers served a purpose.
“You know when you go the store and buy Tide because of all of those commercials? Well, we thought if we put up more flyers than the other bands and played more than the other bands that people would like us and come see the shows because they thought they were supposed to,” Kendall said with a laugh. “We wanted to brainwash people into loving us.”
The guitarist’s dream came true in the early 1980s.
“We played at the Whisky a Go-Go and the right guy was in the crowd,” Kendall said. “Then a few months later, we were in the studio recording our first record.”
The band worked with German producer Michael Wagener on its first two releases “Great White” and “Shot in the Dark.”
More than three decades later, the band and Wagener are working on a new album together.
“We’ve been in Nashville for the past two months and the album is done and we’re really pleased with it,” Kendall said.
The band enjoyed the latest studio sessions with Wagener.
“The first time we worked with him back in the ’80s was at an early part of his career and he didn’t speak a lot of English,” Kendall said. “He had only recorded a demo album for Dokken and had worked with Accept.”
The big difference today is Wagener has a resume filled with bands such as Metallica, Motley Crue, W.A.S.P. and singers such as Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper.
“He has recorded albums that have sold millions of copies in his career,” Kendall said. “He has his own studio, so he’s really comfortable, and he obviously knows more of the English language.”
Wagener wasn’t only fun to be around, but knows how to get the best performance out of a band.
“He doesn’t use any auto tune programs,” Kendall said. “He doesn’t fix notes or [sequences] drums up on grids. He just gets the performance and that’s what he goes for. So, if it sounds good to your ears, it means it is good.”
The album’s release date is yet to be announced.
“We still have to wait for artwork and manufacturing,” Kendall said, adding the band will pass its time on tour playing for its fans.
“I love talking with our fans and hearing their stories,” Kendall said. “There is nothing more special than hearing how our music touched people’s lives. I’m totally grateful to that. It’s awesome to still do this and have our fans right there with us. It’s pretty special.”
Rock bands Great White and Slaughter will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, at the DeJoria Center, 970 N. S.R. 32 in Kamas. Both bands are staples on rock radio. Great White is known for the hits “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and “Save All Your Love,” while Slaughter is known for the hits “Up All Night” and “Mad About You.” Tickets range from $40 to $125. For information, visit http://www.dejoriacenter.com.