Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Interview with Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Ted Nugent, etc)
Interview with Marco Mendoza December 18th, 2010
I know folks, I've been talking about getting this posted for sometime, but with loads of news stuff to keep you all up to date with and with new albums and DVD's dropping in the mailbox every day - Ask the missus, she'll tell you! Right love?! - oh and did I mention the family and dayjob ... Yeah, I know, stop whining right?!
You're right, I'm very lucky to be able to do this and I thank you all for your support. Cheers folks!
Marco Mendoza, I first saw playing with Ted Nugent and then Whitesnake and then Soul SirkUS, which featured his old mate, Neal Schon who you'll read more about in a while.
He of course has done so much more than those three bands, including stints with Thin Lizzy and some serious solo work, including his latest album for Mascot Records, 'Casa Mendoza.'
The guy is a serious talent and an absolutely fantastic guy to talk to!
My sincere thanks to Michael Mazur for setting this up and of course, Marco for his time, locked in his bedroom to talk to me! More on that later too!
So here we go, oh and also one other thing, he's back with the reborn Thin Lizzy line up featuring members from the Phil Lynott period in Brian Downey (Drums), Scott Gorham (Guitars / vocals) and Darren Wharton (Keyboards / vocals), alongside new Lizzy blood, Viv Campbell (Def Leppard, Dio, Riverdogs) and Ricky Warwick (The Almighty). Since we did the interview, Thin Lizzy have announced a US tour, to keep many of us over here, rather happy!
I'm also leaving in the pleasantries, to help you to understand, what a great guy Marco is, oh and by the way ... This is another long one!
Please read on, thanks!
AW: How are you doing Sir?
Marco: Doing good bro! I actually just left you a message on your other number …
AW: Ahh, you know my wife grabbed my cell phone (Laughs)! She’s actually talking to my family in England at the moment.
Marco: Ah OK, cool! Where you from man?
AW: I’m from Portsmouth, England.
Marco: Ah cool man. So where are you right now?
AW: I’m in Sterling Heights, MI.
Marco: Oh, Michigan, that’s cool.
Marco: So, tell me about Chambers of Rock? – Editor’s note: Who’s asking the questions here?!
AW: Chambers of Rock? OK, well, it came about after I’d been writing for some other sites like http://www.classicrock.about.com/ (Dave White) I did a bunch of stuff there, load of interviews and that and I’ve written for http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/ you know Jeb Wright over there and did some live gig reviews and stuff.
Marco: Ah, that’s beautiful man.
AW: Yeah and another site that’s closed down now, called Rock ‘n’ Roll Universe and I also get on pretty good with Andrew McNiece too at http://www.melodicrock.com/
Andrew and I shoot stuff back and forth from time to time too, so that’s all good.
Anyway, after that I thought I’d set up my own site, so my wife thought of the name, Chambers of Rock!
Marco: I like it, I dig it man!
AW: Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool too man.
Marco: Yeah, it sounds timeless, you know? Like the archives of rock and roll, you know, very cool! I like that.
AW: I thought so too, hopefully it stands the test of time and all that, you know?
Marco: I apologize for yesterday man, I know we were supposed to do this yesterday but everything’s upon me right now man, Christmas and my daughter … I’m moving around so fast, sometimes my wife leaves notes for me and emails me and I’m just doing too much and my daughter had her Christmas thing yesterday at school and I couldn’t miss that …
AW: Oh, no worries …
Marco: You know how that is right? You got kids?
AW: Yeah, I’ve got two kids, a son who’s four and I’ve got a daughter who’s five, here’s the thing, I’m a bit of a late bloomer, because I met my wife, after I moved here in 2000, I met her in 2002 …
Marco: Oh wow!
AW: Yeah, it’s been great.
Marco: And now you’re in Michigan … Where in Michigan are you?
AW: Sterling Heights …
Marco: Oh yeah, yeah. Cool, very cool … That’s Ted Nugent territory you know?
AW: Exactly man, I know you guys are into the hunting stuff together right?
Marco: Yeah, I haven’t done it in years here though, because of my scheduling has been … Going and going and Ted, he has a hunt every December, it was last weekend and I missed it as I was rehearsing with Thin Lizzy …
AW: Right …
Marco: And before that I was up in San Francisco working with Neal Schon, doing this new album and before that I was in London doing the Guitar Nation and before that I was … I’ve just been going and going man. I was in Slovenia and Slovakia and I was out doing a bunch of clinics and it’s been pretty interesting these past three or four years …
AW: I was going to say …
Marco: Yeah, a lot of bits and pieces you know …?
AW: Yeah. Well you know, you and I actually last met back when you were doing Soul SirkUS and you guys played the Magic Bag in Detroit ….
Marco: Ah, yeah …
AW: And you were just standing out the back, I think you were talking to one of your tech’s or something and then Neal Schon came out and joined us and in fact, my wife was pregnant at the time and she was standing in the line at the front of the building …
Marco: Oh no …
AW: Yeah and I went back to the car behind the venue to get something for her, saw you and we started chatted and then you said to me, ‘Hey man, you said your wife’s pregnant, you need to get back to her!’
Marco: Oh cool! Well, because I’ve got two little ones too, my daughter’s going to be eight here in a few months and Max is going to be four, so these are my youngest ones, I have adult kids too, I have five kids so having been through that I know what it’s like you know.
AW: Well, I’ve actually got a stepson in England too who’s actually flying in to spend Christmas with us here next week, so …
Marco: Oh cool man, that’s awesome.
AW: Yeah, well it’s great that we can catch up Marco, I know your schedule is really busy and that so I appreciate your time, I really do …
Marco: Thanks you man, well, I gotta do it! It’s part of the task you know. I asked Michael (PR guy), to kind of block things for me, so I can put a couple of hours and just do it, you know? That’s seems to work best for me with the family, because there’s always something going on and I’ve got people coming in, in about an hour and a half, from San Diego and we’re doing a Christmas thing today and then I have three interviews going, but you know … You have my info man and stuff, any dates that you need, we can stay in touch or whatever …
Michael Mazur told you about the new album I have yeah?
AW: Yeah, you know he sent it out, but I didn’t actually get it until Thursday (Two days back), so I’ve only had the chance to listen to it a couple of times, driving to work. That’s the best time for me to listen to anything , in the car you know …
Marco: Hey, that’s what I do man! Driving into work, I’m like an hour, hour and a half from the valley where all the studios are and that and I hear everything going in and on the way home too, you know, as you’re driving yeah?
So, have you had a chance to listen to it?
AW: Yeah I have … Sorry, my wife just walked in the room she has my old Mum in England on the other line!
Yeah, I did listen to it it’s quite different to the last one isn’t it?
Marco: It is, you mean from ‘Live for Tomorrow’? You have that one?
AW: Yeah I do … I mean ‘Casa Mendoza’ … You know I did some searches online and I understand it means your home right?
Marco: Yeah, well you know, the label wanted to come up with an idea that depicted that I’m going back to my roots right, I mean where I came from being Latino and having all these influences musically and the label gave me some freedom to move around.
AW: That’s cool man.
Marco: So I took that as direction to kind of go for it … You don’t often get that kind of freedom from labels you know, they kind of want to keep you …
AW: Pigeon holed?
Marco: Well, in one genre or another and I understand marketing wise they need to do that, but you know being the creative guy that I am, I’m always trying to push the envelope, when I’m given some room to work with I’ll go and stretch and push the envelope as far as I can you know?
AW: Right and …
Marco: So I did and now the reviews have been great and people digging it it’s a fun album, it’s all over the place, it keeps people interested. But on the marketing sense they’re having a bit of a question mark ya know? And that’s what I was afraid of ya know? Ya gotta do it man…
AW: You gotta do what you love right?
Marco: I mean for me creatively, ya know that comfort zone can be too comfortable if you know what I mean. Musically speaking I got things that I want to achieve and not Jazz Fusion but to fuse World music together has always been my thing to do. So I play around with that ya know? I play around with that and I have a trio that was composed of Renato Neto who’s Prince’s keyboard player now and Joey Heredia and myself and we’ve built a bit of a fan base and a reputation to be able to go and do things and we got busy and everybody started getting too busy and so I couldn’t really continue doing that so when Mascot records got in touch with me after Frontiers, they said ‘Listen, we know what you do with your trio and we want you to continue that. There’s a market out there and we’d like to check it out.’ So I said, ‘OK cool!’ So that’s what I did! If you’re an architect and you want to be contemporary, you’ll want to get out of the box and somebody tells you, ‘We want you to get out of the box,’ what would you do, given the opportunity, but of course it’s also my livelihood and it’s also my career so there’s a business sense that needs to kick in, you know? The other thing that happened there is that they gave me a three album commitment, so I figure, ‘well, let me see how far I can go on with the first one’ and check it out and we can always come back and get back on the classic rock genre, melodic rock or whatever you want to call it …, place … I wanted to stretch out as a bass player you know?
AW: Right and doing this certainly lets you do that, because it lets you use the bass, it really does and it really sounds obvious on ‘Casa Mendoza’ it really does you know …
Marco: Yeah, that’s what I really … I think it achieved that and let the fans, my rock fans … The people that follow me, because of my projects that I’ve been involved with, just to show them another side of myself but mostly the writing because it’s something I’ve put off for years and years because I’ve been real busy, working with Ted (Nugent), Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake and Blue Murder, etc, etc, etc, so many projects and Neal Schon with Soul SirkUS to name a few. Then Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries, I did her two albums too … I mean I’ve been putting things off, on the backburner and so this is an opportunity to kinda ….
AW: Get back to your roots?
Marco: Stretch out, so I did … As a bass player, I wanted to kind of stretch out, you know?
AW: Yeah, you certainly did.
Marco: And as a songwriter you know. So we did it and I mean all the reviews are good. I haven’t had a bad one, which is good. Everybody is giving me the response that I had kinda been hoping for, you know? They’re surprised, in a good way, they’ll like, ‘Oh! I had no idea?!’ So having said that it’s gonna pave the way for … The next album is gonna be a much deeper one because of the way I would like it to go.
Marco: Yeah, musically speaking I want it to kind of go into even the prog rock side, if I can, a little bit …
AW: OK, OK …
Marco: I got a lot on my mind man, so I kind of … I have half of the album done of the next one …
Marco: I’m going to get together with some heavy writers.
AW: Now you played on Derek Sherinan’s (Dream Theater, BCC), I can’t even pronounce his name …
Marco: Derek Sherinan, yeah.
AW: You played on his ‘Anthology’ didn’t you?
Marco: Yeah I did. Yeah, he called me to play on some other stuff and our schedules didn’t work out and that thing he’s doing with Planet X, you know, it’s just amazing. Musically it’s just … Man, you really have to be on top of your game. Unfortunately, on the business side if you want to put that hat on and we have to since this is our livilhood, that market is just dying, if it’s not dead already completely. I mean it’s just hurting …
AW: You mean the prog stuff …?
Marco: Anything that’s to do with jazz and fusion, if you’re not an established name already in that market, it’s just …, becoming harder and harder, you know? Which is kind of sad to see, because I came from an era where it was just established and it was abundant. I don’t know how old you are, but coming up starting to play in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s there was just so much stuff going on you know, stylistically speaking …
AW: Well I’m 48 so …
Marco: Yeah, we’re from the same generation. So having said that, I mean it’s coming down, the industry is coming to a screeching halt you know, you see it right?
AW: Yeah …
Marco: It’s sad but you know, real musicians, I consider myself to be a real musician. I didn’t get into this business to be … I wasn’t pursuing fame and fortune, this was just something I had an affinity for. I love it with a passion and I’m still pursuing it, so I’m going to be here until I can, you know?
AW: Well, that’s cool man because you’re a great player Marco, you know and I’m not just saying that …
Marco: Ah thank you man, I appreciate that.
AW: I’ve managed to catch you playing with Ted, I saw you with Whitesnake and Soul SirkUS … I missed you …
Marco: Soul SirkUS was a blast man! I got to pull out my fretless, I don’t know if you remember that …
AW: Yeah, Yep, I do …
Marco: We got to do our little solos, stretching out and I stretched … I was really … I had high hopes for that project …
Marco: And Neal and I since that project, have been like trying to work together and we’ve done some stuff for movies and TV and stuff like that and we had an opportunity to do an album just recently in these past three or four months and we’ve just finished it actually …
AW: OK, sweet!
Marco: It’s a project that has Deen Castronova, Neal Schon and myself, Steve Smith came in and played on some of the fusion stuff …
Marco: So you know, we’re gonna re-convene here after the holidays and get a name for that project and move forward whenever we can. He’s busy with Journey and I’m busy with Thin Lizzy and all that, but whenever we can man, whenever the opportunity knocks, we’re gonna go out with that one!
AW: That’s great, that’s sweet, so did you sing on that one?
Marco: Great project man! It’s very good. Musically it’s just everything’s there you know?
AW: Cool! So were you singing on this one as well Marco or not?
Marco: I am, I am and Deen is singing, who’s a brilliant … I’m a big fan of Deen’s, I am.
AW: He’s awesome isn’t he?!
Marco: His talent as a singer, oh my gosh!
AW: Yeah, he’s great!
Marco: And then Neal is singing too. It’s gonna be one of those power trios where everybody gets to stretch vocally so we’ve all helped, so it’s fun man! I’m looking forward to that one, so we’ll see where it goes and when!
AW: Absolutely, that’s really cool. I wanted to say on the album (Casa Mendoza), Rafael, his playing is stunning man and it reminds me of Luke a lot, you know? Steve Lukather.
Marco: Yes, Hoffa came from … He’s the product of Brasil and he came to L.A. to pursue his career and I met him with that trio that I was telling you about earlier. That trio, the word got out and everytime we would play around town, mostly in jazz clubs, little clubs, it would become the big hang for people coming into town and all that. We had a reputation, we still have it. So everybody from Lukather to Sykes to Nuno Bettencourt to Glenn Hughes to Dave Navvaro, on and on and on, everybody. Coverdale obviously and all the Lizzy boys, you know would come and hang whenever they came into town. So he (Hoffa) came in and the day he came in to hear the band he was just in L.A. for a few days, he was going to G.I.T. and John Sykes being one of his inspirations, just happened to be at the club, so he just freaked out you know. (Laughs.)
So, he did his G.I.T. thing, he’s a very dedicated and talented cat man and he started getting on the scene and he’s been doing real well, working with the likes of Paul Stanley, Pink, Christine Aggulierra and so on to name a few you know and so I grabbed him and we had been talking about participating and collaborating and his schedule worked out and he played and we’ve been doing some live shows here, locally in December and we’re going to be playing on the 28th and we’ll be in Las Vegas on the 31st, for New Years and then again on the 1st we’ll be playing here again at the Baked Potato and then I take off on the 3rd, to England to start with Lizzy, to tour with Thin Lizzy.
AW: Yeah, that’s cool.
Marco: Yeah, so I’m a little busy even through the holidays, but that’s cool man, but back to Hoffa man, he’s just one of those guys that, he’s got it, you know?!
AW: Well, I’m a little bit in the dark with Rafael’s background and everything, I mean I know what you said and I know he’s done a lot of TV stuff and that, but can you tell me where does the ‘Hoffa’ comes from then or not?
Marco: Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course man! He came from Brazil, he came from San Paulo …
AW: No, I’m sorry I realised that, I just meant I wondered about where the name ‘Hoffa’ came from, is it just your nickname for him or is that his nickname in the whole game or what?
Marco: Oh, no, no no! Hoffa is … He got the nickname because in Portuguese … His name is Rafael right?
AW: Yeah, right.
Marco: Well in Portuguese, the ‘R’ becomes like a ‘Gh’ combination, it’s like a silent ‘H,’ so the Hoffa thing it kind of starts to …. It just stuck to him you know …? Hoffa, Hoffa, Hoffa …
AW: Ah, OK then …
Marco: And so it was one of those things you know, but I kind of dig it man …, it’s a cool thing, but his name is R-a-f-a-el?
AW: Right …
Marco: So short for Rafael is ‘Raffa’ so then you go to Brazil or Portugal and the ‘R’ becomes an ‘H’ and it’s ‘Hoffa!’
AW: Ah, OK, now I follow. I’m with you now! (Laughing)
Marco: So that’s where … He’s from Brazil so he goes down there and he’s got family and he stays connected and one of the reasons why we connected is that I’m a big fan of Brazilian music, it’s very rich. Rhythmically and melodically and I wanted to go there a little more on this album but my producer says, ‘Hmmmmm, you’re pushing, you’re going too far so step back a little bit.’ So you know, it’s pretty good. But if I could honestly man, I’d … Whether it’s commercial or not, I would love to do a Brazilian album, because musically it’s just so rich, you know? Maybe 20 people would buy it … (Both laughing), but hey …(Continued laughter) … I’m just kidding but …
AW: But you’d be happy to do it right (Laughs)?
Marco: It’s very trippy Alun, it is Alun right? A-L-U-N?
AW: Yes, it is Alun. It’s a Welsh spelling, because my Father was Welsh. It’s the Welsh spelling. My Father was from Wales in the UK.
Marco: Oh! OK, I was wondering, you know Darren Wharton was from, lives in Wales …
AW: Right, yeah …
Marco: From Thin Lizzy …
Marco: So, do you make it back there?
AW: You know, I manage to get back to the UK once a year. My wife’s American …
Marco: Uh huh.
AW: Yeah, my wife’s American as I said before and we met in 2002. We’ve got a shared love of music …
Marco: So you’ve kind of planted roots here and …
AW: Yeah …
Marco: I hear you man, I hear you …
AW: So we’ve got a shared interest in music which is cool. She plays keys actually and I play drums, so it’s sweet. It works really well actually …
Marco: She plays what, Keys?
AW: Yeah, she plays keyboards and it rocks!
Marco: Cool man, do you guys have a band or project? You do some gigs around town?
AW: We do, but you know what? We both played in bands before and tried to do the original stuff back in the day, but it’s like you know, these days we’re older, we’ve both got full time day jobs and we’ve got a family …
Marco: So you do the weekend warrior cover gigs then …?
AW: That kind of stuff yeah …
Marco: That’s a blast man! Why not?! Do it man! Have fun!
AW: Yeah …
Marco: Absolutely man, absolutely! I kind of miss those days to be honest. I have a lot of friends of mine, that will remain nameless who do that thing! They do the covers, with a different name, they disguise themselves and have a blast and if this economy keeps going the way its going, I might want to do something like that … But I would probably do like a prog rock band … I don’t know man …. I’m a big fan of Yes and Pink Floyd and King Crimson and … You know, the ‘brainy act’ stuff! There’s a side of me, I started telling you earlier that … There’s a very thin line between being a working musician and you have to work for a living and there’s that side of you that still wants to be creative and wants to keep learning and growing … It’s a very thin line and I’m very much in that place …
AW: Right, right …
Marco: I experience that a lot. You know, I miss the days, there was like 3 or 4 years earlier in my career where I just wanted to keep growing and I decided, I’m just going to play jazz … And I hooked up with the best players, that I could get my hands on and just started telling them, ‘Listen, let’s go man, throw anything at me. I’ll shed, I’ll work and I gotta tell you, those days, musically that’s where I did most of my growth … I understood music a lot better …
AW: Yeah, that’s cool Marco …
Marco: Having not having had any formal training persey … Yeah, it’s like having a canvas man and a bunch of colours and, ‘Here, paint your picture,’ you know? Pretty cool and you have to be really, really focused and your chops have to be … You’ve got to be on top man, because as a bass player, you got to solo and use all your modo stuff and your scales and … It’s a trip! You learn how to get inside the melodies and the music, you know and it really, really helped me in my other situation, basically speaking you know?
AW: Yeah, I think Mascot’s a good label for you though because they seem to get more behind the musician’s musician type albums, you know?
Marco: Yeah, yes! That’s what really drew me to them because … Yeah and the timing was right. They said, ‘Marco, we want you to really stretch …’ You know, they kinda requesting for the next album to do some bass solo stuff, kind of stretch out as a bass player even more …
AW: Wow! So that’s got to make you feel good, right?!
Marco: Yeah, so I’ve got a lot of app’s stuff. My fear, between you and me and whoever’s going to hear this is and read this is, my biggest fear is that I’ll put myself up against the wall there or in a little corner you know and my philosophy is this man, you try to identify with the biggest fan base possible, bring them to your shows and once they’re at your shows, you get to show them, you get to stretch out and show them who you are musically, onstage, you know?
AW: Right and that was what was cool with Soul SirkUS right?
Marco: Exactly and that was the thing with Neal, when we hooked up, it was like, ‘Marco, you got to have your spot ...’ What was it, Virgil? It was Virgil right?
AW: Right, yeah?
Marco: It was like jam packed! Everybody’s got to have their own little spot and then we started writing some songs and it was great! I was really disappointed when that thing just came to a screeching halt unfortunately, but that’s the business man you know?
AW: Yeah, of course Deen (Castronova) was involved in that at the start wasn’t he?
Marco: Deen - that was the first obstacle we came across, he got really sick. 2 Days before we were supposed to leave on tour.
AW: Ah, OK.
Marco: We had an option, we could pull the plug on it or continue, so we sat down and talked about it and we came to an agreement, let’s just see if we can move forward, talk to a few people, so we all started talking to people, flew in a few drummers and Virgil just came prepared you know?! He heard the music on the plane and came in and played … Great!
So … He was the guy and you know, what a great player he is man! Wow! Just chops, eh?!
AW: He was cool man! I was well impressed, I’ll tell you I was well impressed! That was really good and of course, he re-recorded the drum parts on the album didn’t he? He redid it all …
Marco: He did, he did and so right away we had to go in there and do it again! I can’t tell you how we pulled it off but we did! It was one of those crazy things, you know?!
AW: Yeah, but it was cool, that was great for you and everything … Back to Casa Mendoza though, that’s way more of a jazz funk, soul and rock mix, isn’t it?
Marco: Yeah, it is …
AW: I mean it’s more in the jazz direction as you say and an interesting version of ‘Living for the City’ man, very soulful.
Marco: Ahh, thanks man!
Marco: I’m a big Stevie Wonder fan from way back and I’ve been playing those with my trio, with Joey Heredia and Renato Neto for years and my producer being a big fan of that, he said, ‘Let’s do this and put in that and this kind of falls in the same vein and …’ so we did and you know there’s so much music out there man …
Marco: I hear so much …
AW: Yeah I know, I can’t keep up with it all man! (Laughs)
Marco: I know, it’s kind of tough but it sounds like you’re doing it, you’re staying on top of it, you know?
AW: Yeah, I’m trying to! I’m guessing that you’re probably a big fan of Glenn Hughes too right?
Marco: A big fan!! Big, big fan!
AW: I mean you two guys your styles are very similar it’s like you follow the same path, on the soul and funky side you know?
Marco: Yeah, yeah! I know Glenn and Coverdale, since the Deep Purple days and they’ve put a lot of great stuff out there. I actually got to sing a lot of Glenn’s parts with David, when we were out with Whitesnake. We started doing some Purple stuff and that was a blast.
AW: Yeah, Burn and all that yeah?
Marco: There’s only one Glenn Hughes man and I’m a big fan! Big fan!
AW: That was cool, I loved that!
Marco: Now we’re friends, we talk you know? Very, very cool guy and he’s out there once in a while and I’m starting to get out there more and more and more, but yeah … I think our influences are very, very similar you know? I would never put myself in his category, but, you know I tell people, I’m not a singer, I’m just a fan of singing and I don’t care! (Both laughing loudly!)
I don’t want the responsibility of being a vocalist, a singer, because that entails a lot of work and a lot of technical stuff – Me laughing! – and I just love to sing man and I’m not bashful about it you know, put me in front of an audience and I’ll do my thing and I’ll have a blast! I feel very comfortable in my own skin, you what I’m saying? But Glenn is just one of those … WOW! Amazing man! Every time I hear him, he just inspires me and I’m a big fan. He’s just … He’s got … Wow! What a gift man!
AW: Yeah, I hear you!
Marco: So I get to hang with him (Glenn Hughes) a little bit here and there and … Have you heard his last thing, with …
AW: Black Country Communion? Yeah, I reviewed that at the site.
Marco: Cool! Did you talk to Glenn yet?
AW: No I didn’t, I really haven’t. For me, the toughest thing for me Marco is … It’s been heartbreaking for me too, because I’ve had to turn down some really cool interviews because of my day job and everything. My day job, I work in the automotive industry and it’s just madness!
Marco: Oh man! Well you’re in the right place, Michigan man!
AW: Yeah! (Laughs)
Marco: But you know what? The bottom line Alun, if you really want something to happen, you can make it happen!
Marco: Maybe the weekend is the time to organize things for you?!
AW: Yeah, I know, but I’ve got 2 small kids too man and I can’t blow them off, you know?
Marco: I know. I’m locked in my bedroom now and my kids keep coming in and out and I said, ‘I’m working …’ and they respect that, they recognize that …
AW: Exactly! I’m doing exactly the same man! I’m locked in our bedroom right now (both laughing) …
Marco: Yeah, yeah, yeah … That’s the way it is man! Listen man, not to be rude, but I have to take another interview call, do you have any other questions, so we could finish off?
AW: Yeah, sorry Marco just a couple more on Lizzy, real quick ones …
Marco: Yeah, sure, shoot!
AW: The Lizzy stuff, you’re back with Lizzy again and how are the rehearsals going with Ricky Warwick, how’s he shaping up because that was a real surprise man, Ricky Warwick …?
Marco: I know, well, you know … The Almighty, an Irish fellow from Belfast … He’s got the history. He’s more … He can .. You can ask him questions about Phil and the Lizzy history more than I can man. He lived it!
Ricky … I got to tell you … Everybody’s … You know, to get in that spot, it’s not an easy one and I gotta tell you, he blew me away in rehearsals. We just finished a few days ago – Reminder: This interview took place just before Christmas. Sorry again folks! - and he’s just one of those guys that does everything to the max, you know?
Marco: I can tell and I can tell that he put a lot of effort and time into just committing himself to just living the lyrics and the melodies and what we did at rehearsals was amazing! We recorded it and so I got to hear it after the fact …
AW: That’s cool then …
Marco: He did a brilliant job, I gotta tell you and it can only get better once we get 2, 3 or 4 gigs under our belt it’s going to be one of those cool ones, you know and the lineup … How can it get any better you know? Vivian Campbell being there, also being an Irish ‘Bloke’ and for me, it was so interesting grabbing these guys and picking their brains because they have all the information. They lived it!
AW: Right, right …
Marco: I’m a California guy, I’m a Mexican American Latino guy from Southern California …! (Both laughing)
So we got the Thin Lizzy fever in small quantities you know and then living and hanging out with these guys and then Brian is back. Brian Downey is amazing and nobody plays that stuff like Brian …
AW: No, I know, he’s phenomenal!
Marco: With all due respect to everyone else, Tommy Aldridge and Michael Lee and may he rest in peace …
AW: Yeah, that was tragic.
Marco: Brian Downey for me on drums, as a bass player, I was just excited to hear that, that was going on and then Scott Gorham and Darren Wharton … I gotta tell you, it’s going to be a good one man and the buzz is out and we are getting invited to go here to go there, go everywhere and so I’m a happy guy! (Laughs)
Marco: It’s not a bad place to be you know?
AW: Actually I just called Scott (Gorham) before I spoke to you and left him a message and I didn’t know if he’s in the UK or in the US right now …
Marco: Oh Scott Gorham, yeah, he’s back in London …
AW: OK, he must’ve been away or busy …
Marco: Well, he just got back from the States, we just finished rehearsals in Los Angeles.
AW: I just left him a message wishing him well for Christmas and good luck with the tour.
Marco: Oh cool man, he’ll call you back or email you or something …
AW: Yeah, I shot him an email afterwards just to touch base you know, but I did an interview with Scott last year so that was cool. It’s great that Brian Downey is back in and Darren Wharton, I mean can you say much about the whole situation with John Sykes and why everything there kind of fell apart or not really?
Marco: Well, I can, I can give you my perspective and I spoke with everybody. I spoke with Tommy (Aldridge), with John and John, you know, he didn’t like the fact that I had to split to do my other commitments, but he’s cool. John and I are always going to be friends.
John Sykes and I have done so much music and we live in the same town and we’re always talking to each other. We have kids, he’s got 3 boys, I’ve got 5 kids and we have a lot of things in common and sooner or later we’ll end up doing another thing. I don’t know when or how, but it will happen!
I think pretty much, I can surmise about the whole thing that John, just got … Not burned out, but got to the place where it was a little disorganized and things were changing and tours were being cancelled and the lineup was being changed here and there and he just felt like it was time to move on, you know?
That’s all I’m going to say without getting into details, having heard 3 or 4 different sides of the story. There’s always business involved Alun …
AW: I know …
Marco: That’s always difficult too you know? But I don’t really have enough information to go opening my mouth and say this or that but pretty much I’ll say this because I was there a few years ago before and I did a tour with Deep Purple and Styx. We did a UK tour that was brilliant, it was great. The band sounded brilliant! After that I had other commitments to Delores O'Riordan, I was working with Ted Nugent and this and that and my solo stuff and Neal Schon and after that he just, I don’t know? He just ... I would speak to him every now and then and he was just losing a lot of interest, you know?
AW: Yeah and that’s what I wondered …
Marco: He’s another guy that … I used to have the same talk with him. I told him, ‘John, you’ve gotta keep doing your stuff man’ and you have that side of you that needs to be ….
Marco: The side that needs to be fed man, the creative side and if you don’t feed that side man …’ Whether it’s commercially successful or not, you just gotta keep doing it, because when you’re a real musician man, you just gotta keep pushing and I think he got too comfortable and he’d only work 2 or 3 months out of the year and he would do Lizzy and that’s it and he would … He just got tired of it and he moved on and a few things happened like, Tommy Aldridge hurt himself and he wasn’t into replacing him with another drummer or auditioning and then things just fell apart and I was surprised to be honest with you, to get a call … I had no idea. I heard that something was cooking, with the original lineup and alumni and so I said, ‘Well, cool! Good luck! I hope they put it together, because that music needs to be out there!’
AW: Yeah, it does, I agree.
Marco: I really believe that, whether I’m involved or not and what better than to have some of the original cats too, being a part of that, you know?
AW: Yeah, I do.
Marco: You can call it whatever you want to call it, Tribute to Phil or Thin Lizzy. In my eyes, it’s Thin Lizzy minus Phil and I know that Phil was the founding member and a very intricate big part of Thin Lizzy but facts are, he passed away and he left a legacy of a lot of music. Scott Gorham was there from way back, Brian Downey was there and Darren was part of it too. So what better than to have this kind of line up to go out there and represent and …
AW: Keep the legend alive, yeah?
Marco: To keep the music alive. There’s a lot of generations man. The newer generations, they know the music but they don’t know the history and where it came from, so this is a way to you know refresh their memory or introduce these people, the fans to the Thin Lizzy legacy, you know?
AW: Yeah. You’re right man, you’re right. It’s cool.
Marco: That’s my philosophy and it is what it is. I’m entitled to my opinion. (Laughing)
AW: So Marco, can you enlighten me, do you think there’s any likelihood of US dates at all for Lizzy?
Marco: Yeah, in fact I can’t say much, but right now we are getting invited to participate here and there and that’s all I want to say. All I want to add, to finish is if people are interested in Thin Lizzy, stay in touch via my website http://www.marcomendoza.com/ and http://thinlizzyband.com/ and we will update and keep everybody informed, but the chances are looking really good that we’ll be over in the States. – Note: At the time of wrapping up typing this, Thin Lizzy will kick off their US tour starting in Jim Thorpe, P.A. on 3/24/11. - We already got invited to Asia, Japan and South America and Latin America, so Adam Parsons, great manager. He’s putting it all together. The boys are excited and I’m excited and so hope to see you guys out there and don’t forget to support my solo stuff too! (Laughs).
AW: I’ve got the album Marco so I should be doing a review too, OK?
Marco: Please do! OK brother.
AW: Well listen Marco, you take care, have yourself a great Christmas, yeah?
Marco: OK Alun, you too man, you and your family and I know we’ll come across each other somewhere down the line!
AW: Yep, enjoy your family and enjoy the Lizzy gigs, yeah?
Marco: Thank you and don’t forget ‘Casa Mendoza’ and ‘Live For Tomorrow’ are available through Amazon.com and iTunes.com!
AW: No problem, you got it! Cool! Take care!
Marco: Take care brother.
Marco's website, if you didn't already get it is:
What a great guy! Support this man, he really is a great individual and if you've never seen him play, you are missing out, he's great!
Thanks Marco and sorry it took so long, we're all busy right bro?!
Good luck to Marco with the album 'Casa Mendoza' - Review coming soon! - and the Thin Lizzy tour.