Great White will be playing at the Snoqualmie Valley Casino on April 13th and I had a chance to talk to Michael Lardie of Great White about the show and a host of other topics. Mike and I connected on the phone and I was immediately struck by how easy he was to talk to. It was just like a couple of buddies sitting around, having a beer or two and talking about music.
We started of talking a little bit about the tour and what was coming up on the road for Great White. Lardie mentioned “We have been doing most of our shows with Slaughter and Skid Row this year.” He also mentioned a rock cruise coming up that starts in France and ends in Spain, “All of a sudden we got a call that the headliner cancelled. They asked if we could get it all together in a matter of three weeks and do this!” Great White did not think they could pull it off. They managed to find flights to various locations and are going to make it work so they can play this metal cruise in Europe. Lardie also mentioned that “80’s metal has been playing really well over in Europe, and they were looking to get back there late this year or early next year”.
As we moved on I asked Lardie about playing in the same band for such a long time. He commented, “I sang back ground vocals on Great White’s first album, theoretically as a writer, producer and performer it has been 31 years.” Lardie also added, “We are very lucky to have had the career we have had.” We also talked about our love of the Beatles and he mentioned, “It was the Beatles that inspired me to become a musician at a very young age.” Chalk up another band that we have been able to listen to for years because of the Beatles! Lardie also talked about how touring has changed a bit over the years, “We play 45 or 50 shows a year as opposed to slugging it out in a bus for a 150 days. It is a just a different model of touring these days.”
I asked Lardie about performing under tough conditions when people are sick or when things are just not going well on a tour. He mentioned, “The fans want to see the genuine aspect of an Artist. Putting their heart into the performance. If you are genuine with your performance, fans respect it.”
I then touched a little on their latest album “Full Circle” released last year. We talked about what it is like to do new music in this new digital age. Lardie had some interesting perspective on this, “We have always been a band that wants to do new music and keep it fresh. The industry has flipped 180. We used to tour all the time to help sell the album, now the album helps to sell tickets to shows. We have a very loyal fan base and people seem to dig new material.”
Next, I brought up the bluesy metal sound, that to me sets Great White apart from a lot of the 80’s metal bands that came before. Lardie talked about it this way, “Great White’s black record had a Van Halen vibe to it. When I heard Mark Kendall warm up and play on breaks he would play bends and blues music like B.B. King. That is they kind of stuff he should be doing. Right before we started “Once Bitten” we found the niche that Mark loves to play. The song Rock Me was very silky, bluesy and subtle and really takes you on a journey. That seemed to be what we were most comfortable doing. That helped us find our niche. People are more inclined to connect with it because the music is real”.
We talked a little bit how hard it is to get new music out to the masses now days. Lardie said, “We are really lucky with the style of music we play. It seems multi-generational, I love seeing a dad with his kid singing along to Rock Me. The biggest radio station these days seems to be You Tube, which is a great way to get music out there. Sirius radio has hair nation which also a good way to get the music out. The younger generation is realizing there is more to music than pop music.”
I wanted to ask Lardie a little bit about himself. He plays a ton of different instruments, he sings back ground vocals, writes and produces music and can pretty much do it all in the industry. “When I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan I knew with out a shadow of a doubt I wanted to be a musician. My parents thought that was so cute. One of my greatest moments was walking into my parent’s house with a gold record and telling them they have to take me seriously as a musician now. I looked at it as failure was not an option. I started on guitar and we also had a piano in the house. I taught myself piano and went from there. I would hear sounds I like so I would just figure out how to play it. A lot of hard work went into it. I would put on a Black Sabbath album and work it out on how to play it on my guitar.”
Finally, we touched on his work as a producer for lots of other bands including Dokken and the fact Great White was nominated for a Grammy. Mark was quite proud of this achievement, “With Once Bitten, Twice Shy we thought it would be a fun little thing to do. People thought it was much better than the original. It would be great for the radio, but we had no idea it would grow the legs and three heads it did and dominate the summer on radio and MTV. When it got nominated for a Grammy it was a pretty cool thing. I am actually looking at the nomination framed in my living room, that’s pretty cool for a rock n roll band to be nominated for a Grammy.”
Lardie was great to talk with and it was fun to get some insights into Great White and Lardie himself. I will be at the show on April 13th to photograph and review it and hope to find a few more minutes to talk with Lardie. He as so genuine and open about everything musically. It was definitely one of my favorite interviews I have done.
You Can grab Great White’s latest album “Full Circle” here!