GREAT WHITE guitarist Mark Kendall, who has been sober for 10 years, talked to "No More Heroin Survivor Series" about how he finally overcame his addiction after several relapses that left him in increased physical pain.
"I'd try it and then I'd quit again," he said (see video below). "So I'd literally keep starting and stopping and keep trying it again — try to drink like the normal guy that just watches the football game on the weekends with his buddies and has, like, four beers. I wanna be that guy and not wake up the next day and have to drink again. So I'd force it and not drink, so I could tell myself that I'm normal now. But then again, here it comes again — I'd end up in pain. So I kept trying and trying and trying — going two years, a year and a half, a year, another two years. And keep trying and trying."
Although Kendall started getting sober in 1991, he "didn't go at it wholeheartedly, a hundred percent, just get sober for me, doing everything the right way until 2008," he said. "And that's when I was successful."
According to the guitarist, he finally won the battle with the bottle by "really listening hardcore to people with lots of sobriety time — how they did it," he said. "Grabbing on to things that they taught me about one day at a time, and not just letting that go in one ear and out the other. Like, really grabbing it, holding on to it for dear life."
Kendall swears by the "one day at a time" AA slogan whose purpose is to keep people from feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of never drinking again.
"Nobody's ever gonna hear me say, 'I'll never drink again,' or, 'I'm done.' I just don't go there," he said. "I don't put these impossible tasks [in front of me]. 'Cause I don't know if I'll never drink again; I can't tell you if that'll happen. But what I can tell you is that I'm not gonna drink today no matter what happens. I don't care if I have guns pointed at me — I'm not drinking. That's how serious I am. And I know it sounds stupid simple to some of our audience out there, but when I do it this way and just leave the task to be today… I'm just not gonna drink today. Yesterday, whatever happened, I don't know; I don't wanna think about it. I probably didn't drink though. [Laughs] And tomorrow I'm not even concerned with. I'm not concerned about something that takes care of itself. Time takes care of itself. Years are gonna go by all by themselves. The only thing that I can control with confidence is being sober today only — that's my task. If I make it to midnight, I've made it through another day. That's the way I've done it, and 10 years rolled by. It's not like I sat there one day and [went], 'You know what? I think I'm gonna be sober for 10 years. I'm just gonna go for it.' I never did that."
Kendall now reaches out to others on social media who might find themselves in the grip of drug or alcohol dependence.
At the height of his addiction, Mark "pounded beers, like, every day, totally out of control," he told The Tribune-Democrat in a 2018 interview. "And even now, I know I am an alcoholic. I have that gene, or bug, or whatever it is. I was a walking time bomb.
"I remember calling my wife and getting honest — this was in 2008 — and having this moment of clarity. I got pissed off at myself. I was hiding it from her — out on the road in a hotel somewhere.
"My whole life changed. It got so much better — all the things I didn’t believe could happen. Now, instead of using Facebook to talk about me, I’m going to just offer my sober friendship."
Kendall told The Tribune-Democrat that he works with several addiction support organizations, including one online source with 94 members from the music industry, "some on the brink of death," he said.
Last year, GREAT WHITE announced the addition of new singer Mitch Malloy to the group's ranks. He replaced Terry Ilous, who was fired from the band in July.
The Ilous-led GREAT WHITE released two albums, 2012's "Elation" and 2017's "Full Circle", before Terry was shown the door.
This version of GREAT WHITE is not to be confused with JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE, which features original GREAT WHITE singer Jack Russell alongside Robby Lochner (FIGHT) on guitar, Dan McNay on bass, Tony Montana on guitar and Dicki Fliszar on drums.