GREAT WHITE's MARK KENDALL On JACK RUSSELL: 'There Has Been A Lot Of Self-Abuse Over The Years'

Marko Syrjälä of recently conducted an interview with GREAT WHITE guitarist Mark Kendall. An excerpt from the chat follow below. What is going on with GREAT WHITE at the moment?

Kendall: Well, our singer Jack [Russell] got really sick. He got, I guess it's called a perforated bowel, which is in the large intestines. He had to have surgery and we had about 15 shows left and out managers were talking to the promoters and we talked about getting a fill-in singer, so we got Terry Ilous who is from XYZ. We just wanted to fulfill our obligations and not cancel on everyone where the shows were booked already. We just had a few shows left, we'd done about 70 shows this year and we have about 15 to go. So a lot of the promoters are saying, "That's fine, Terry Ilous" at first…and then another promoter goes, "That name is not big enough." Our manager manages Jani Lane from WARRANT and he wasn't doing anything, so he goes, "What about Jani Lane?" So he [the promoter] goes, "OK, that's a bigger name so OK, we'll take Jani Lane." So we went and rehearsed with Jani and he did a great job. Can't hesitate to ask… is Jani Lani actually any bigger of a name than Terry Ilous, actually...and how you ended up doing this Sweden show with Paul Shortino on vocals?

Kendall: Well, I don't know… it is according to him [the promoter]. We like Jani, you know…. and Terry, I think he brought a little bit more, more of his own thing, instead of just singing the songs perfectly. He did them right but put his own touch on it. It was just fun; he really knows how to put on a good show. So we were really loving that, but the promoter was still like, "Jani Lane is a bigger name." So we said, "Fine," and we went and did two shows in Texas last week with him. He did great, he sang fine, he did the songs verbatim just like Jack, note for note. So then, we're going to Sweden and they don't want Jani or Terry (laughs). So somehow the name Paul Shortino came up and they go, "Oh, yeah, we love Paul Shortino and he's never been here before…" and I guess ROUGH CUTT is known more in Europe or something, I dunno. But I know Paul from years ago and we're friends so we called him up and he came up from Las Vegas and we jammed. He learned the songs and stuff and came and jammed for one day. This was a lot of information for the guy, you know. So he got through it but the others guys were, I think were…and nothing against Paul, he's a great guy and I love him and he has a great blues voice, but the other guys were a lot more prepared and they really handled it and got the crowd crazy and it was just smoother. So we're just finishing this and waiting for Jack to get well. The last we heard, it was gonna be at least eight weeks and it could be longer, so we're just hoping he has a speedy recovery so we can get back on board next year and we want to make a new record. Well, about Jack's state of health, there are some rumors with people saying that he might be out for one year or two years or even forever. How do you see the situation with him at the moment?

Kendall: Well, you know, I think it's up to him. There has been a lot of self-abuse over the years. His addictions are no secret, along with mine. I've been an alcoholic my whole life, but I was able to go through enough pain before I did too much damage to myself and then got away from it. I had 11 years of sobriety and I had one slip and it was only like two days, then I was right back in the program. I just lost my head and threw an excuse in the air to drink and immediately realized that no, this ain't working. Gotta get back in the program. Some people, some of the addicts I've met, they don't have a bottom. Death is their bottom sometimes. I've done everything I can to help Jack but I'm just praying that this is enough for him. So you're saying this is like the last chance for him …

Kendall: You see, he's taken a drug over the years called…. it's a steroid, it's a…what do you call it…it's for the voice... prednisone. It's OK to take a little bit of it, maybe on the fourth show where maybe your voice is rough so you just take a small amount. But he's been abusive with it over the years and it does a lot of damage. I kind of [did] a quick study on it. I went on the Internet asking about side effects and almost everything that is wrong with him stems from this drug. It's all the side effects like weak bones — I mean, if the guy falls down, he gets like 13 breaks in the leg. His bones are brittle… and now it's starting to attack his organs. Then he takes other medication for pain, so that becomes a rut, because he's an addict. He takes pills that would make you and I fall down, but when he falls down, because of his brittle bones… you know what I mean. So now he's got this damage, this stuff attacks your pancreas, your intestines, all kinds of stuff… and now that's starting to happen. So we're just hoping that this is his bottom, and that he does get well. He's admitted that this is the reason, that's a good start. So we're finishing out our obligations for these shows and then we'll see where we are at next year and how he's doing and if it looks like he's coming back. He seems to be optimistic and he wants to get better so time will only tell if he's going to get sober, get well, get skinny, and go out and be the rock god that he is or is he gonna become this other guy that just lays there ill. I don't understand. Like I said, addicts are different. Some need to die before they get it. Some get it sooner. Hopefully this is enough for him to wake up and change his life because that's what we're hoping for.

Read the entire interview from


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