White Noise

After last year's tragic fire, Great White is back on the road raising money and ire.

Ty Longley lived in Boulder before joining your band in 2000. Was it hard to find someone to take his spot?

It's impossible to replace Ty. I look at it as, 'There's another guy sitting in for him.' That was one of the hardest things about playing again: I look to my right, he's not there. He was my good friend, and I miss him more than you will ever know.

One of the greatest burdens on the state of Rhode Island is mental-health care for people with psychological problems stemming from the fire. You mentioned the psychiatrist's couch earlier. Are you in therapy?

Trial by fire: Mark Kendall and Jack Russell are Great 
White.
Trial by fire: Mark Kendall and Jack Russell are Great White.

I was in the psychiatrist's/psychologist's office for several months. I finally said, 'I can't do this anymore.' The most therapeutic thing for me has been talking with Pat Longley, Ty's dad. And I talk with a lot of the survivors. Being involved with the fund and doing something positive with my music is probably the greatest therapy for me.

Critics have been pretty harsh about your music when writing about what happened.Rolling Stone recently called you a "washed-up boogie band."

I've never played for critics. I don't know a single music critic that's ever paid for an album or a ticket in their life.

The perception is that the music industry doesn't want to come anywhere near you. Do you feel formally shunned?

I've felt shunned by the industry for twenty years. I had my heyday, and I'm comfortable with that. I've been comfortable with that for a decade.

There are a lot of really horrible stories about some of the survivors -- people who will forever be confined to beds, or have their eyes sewn shut, or have burns over 90 percent of their bodies. Life is different for a lot of people now. How is it different for you?

It's made me look at everything in my life. It's like a second chance. I've made some changes in my personality, my relationships. It's not like, 'Whoopee, I'm alive.' Because so many people weren't so lucky, and I wouldn't wish what I've been through on anyone. But by the same token, I'm here and I'm whole, and I'd better do what I can.

The first line of your bio reads: 'Great White knows something about survival of the fittest.' Does that seem appropriate to you considering so many people didn't survive a Great White show?

I think you're looking way too deep into a cliche.

Yeah, but it's a cliche that's representing you.

This band has gone through a lot of things. We've been counted out more times than Muhammad Ali. People don't realize that we were victims, too.

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