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Marco Mendoza – Bass with the Biggest Names in Rock, September 2014 Issue

Marco Mendoza has been the bassist for so many great bands and artists including Whitesnake, Ted Nugent, Thin Lizzy, Black Star Riders, Blue Murder both John Sykes, Bill Ward, and countless others, while still somehow finding the time and energy to front his own great projects.

We catch up with Marco to see what he is doing now.

Ty: You have a new band “The Dead Daisies“, can you tell us how this came about?

Marco: I was touring in Australia with Thin Lizzy on the Motley Crue/Kiss tour in 2012. David Lowy was there with one of his projects as part of the package there. We all hit it off and before you know it, I got approached by his management asking if I could consider doing something with them in the near future, and I said, “Of course.” Long story short, I go home after the tour, and a few weeks later I got a phone call saying that they would like to talk to me in a more serious way and there was an oppourtunity for us to do some shows opening up for Aerosmith in Australia. That was sounding really good, so I asked him to send me some music so I would know what was involved, and immediately I thought the songs were great, and I heard Jon Stevens sing and it was awesome.

I got totally lit and into the project and committed to it. I had a few sessions and things I had booked and was able to move them around so that I would be able to go down there. From the moment we hit the rehearsals, I realized this was something very special, with the musicianship, and Jon, at the point, was just kickin’ it and we just hit it off. Also, in the process, they let me know that they were talking to Richard Fortus. Richard and I have a history with Thin Lizzy. Later on they brought in Dizzy Reed from Guns n’ Roses. The lineup now is Richard Fortus (guitar), Dizzy Reed (keys/vocals), Brian Tichy (drums), David Lowy (guitar), Jon Stevens (vocals), and yours truly on bass and background vocals. It’s just a band to be reckoned with, we have a lot of fun, writing constantly, and in the matter of my relationship with them in two years, we have accomplished so much.

From the Aerosmith tour, we got on the radar. Tyler, Perry, and the boys were digging the band. The word got out and we were invited to do the Uproar Festival last year with Alice in Chains and Jane’s Addiction in the US throughout the summer. That led us to going into the studio, and writing more songs. We got invited to join the Bad Company/Lynyrd Skynyrd tour, which we just finished a few weeks before we started the Kiss/Def Leppard leg of the tour. We are having a blast playing in front of tons of people.

The feedback has been over the top. As you can imagine, a lot of us have been around for a few years and we have a lot of friends in the industry and people seem really receptive to what we are doing.

Ty: You just finished up your tour with Bad Company/Lynyrd Skynyrd and are now on tour with Kiss and Def Leppard, any fun stories to share?

Marco: There is constantly stuff going on, like going up on stage and not having monitors or nothing working! We are working out the kinks and that did happen a couple of times. Just take it with a grain of salt and have fun onstage with the people you are getting acquainted with but don’t really know. Anything goes at this point as long as it is good on stage.

There’s a ton of little bits and pieces that I could get into but lets just say, playing Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company was a great experience and every night I would go to the side of the stage and take a listen and there’s no doubt why they are where they are. Skynyrd has never sounded better and they have a fan base that just doesn’t quit. They have the catalog and all of the guys are really nice, it was nice hanging out and having dinner. Bad Company, we know some of them too, Simon and Howard, it was all good. Now we are here with Def Leppard. I’ve known Joe quite a while now and he was a big supported of Thin Lizzy happening. I’ve known Joe, Rick Savage, and Vivian Campbell, who has a history with Thin Lizzy, for a while now. It’s been a great run and every day is an event.

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Ty: You recently left Black Star Riders, is this a permanent move?

Marco: I would say yes at this point, for me personally. The guys need a team of people to make a 100% commitment to that project. The transition from Thin Lizzy to Black Star Riders was so nebulous. The band is great, the music is great, and everyone in that band is just amazing. Scott Gorham and I had 20 years together on the books starting with Thin Lizzy in 94. Then Damon Johnson came in, and Ricky is an amazing front man, and Jimmy Degrasso. Since we started doing the BSR thing, I’ve been getting a few offers, including I did some stuff with Neal Schon and Dean Castronovo. He’s talking about touring, and then the Dead Daises came up and we are touring. There were a lot of conflicts in scheduling, and for me personally, I had to make that decision. I do miss the guys, we spent a lot of time together.

Sometimes you have to make decisions based on your instinct and where you feel you belong a little more. Music is music and great music is great music, but there are a few other aspects involved and for me, I think I made the right move. I’m very happy.

Being involved with the Dead Daises is going to open up other opportunities to get involved in other projects, my solo projects, my Latin jazz trio, and talking to Neal Schon and Dean Castronovo about doing some dates. I’ve got 2 or 3 albums out in Europe with some different artists there. This is the way of projects and opportunities to be creative and to spread my wings a little wider.

Robby Crane came in and did the audition with BSR and killed it, so he is playing with them now. As of now, it’s a permanent thing, but I will say this, it is the music business and, I never say never. It has be proven to me to just be open and available to anything and everything that comes along.

Ty: Does this affect you being a part of Thin Lizzy?

Marco: Before I left the Black Star Riders project, management, Scott, and Brian Downey, were talking and mentioning a couple of things to me about possibly doing something next year and I said, “Of course, if I am available.” Which I don’t see any problem, it would be a cool thing to do again, so they are talking about possibly next year doing another run with Thin Lizzy. We’ll see what happens; if it were up to me, of course I would love to do it and I think it will happen.

Marco Mendoza Gibson © Savage Beauty - Photo: Tallee Savage

Ty: You recently got endorsed with ESP basses, can you tell us the model, features, and any chance of a signature model?

Marco: When they approached me, they were talking along those lines of a signature model. So far, so good, I love those guys, Jeff and Matt. Tim Carhart was the guy that came and got me and a friend of mine, Poncho, was talking about me coming on board. I always consider everything, I’m open to ideas. We met at the NAMM show, had a meeting and hit it off. They showed me their vintage line and that’s what I’m playing right now. The vintage 4 is an amazing bass at so many different levels. It sounds great in the studio and live, it’s got all the same stuff we appreciate. The neck playability is awesome, the balance onstage and the weight it really good; it doesn’t weigh a ton. It really is something that most players feel comfortable with a lighter bass. We’ve come so far on the technical side that those things can be done.

My favorite basses were always alder and maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. You grab the bass off the rack and it just sounds great. We are talking about the fives, and they just built me a six fretless and I’ll be using that in September and October when I do my Latin jazz tour.

Everything ESP builds is amazing, their quality control is stupid good, and nothing goes out that doesn’t amaze you in one way or another. For me to grab something off the rack and know it is going to have everything I need, I dig that. The 4-string vintage line has been my favorite now.

We are talking about a signature line and hopefully it will happen before the next NAMM show. I’m really happy with ESP, those basses, the 4, 5 and 6, they have everything you need, all the aspects of a good bass, solid, balanced and great playability. It seems like I have found my home now.

Ty: After you get done with your current tour, what’s next?

Marco: We finished on August 31st and on September 1st, I’ll be going home for a few days to get the kids ready for school, then on September 4th I fly to Frankfurt, Germany to do the Warwick Bass Camp. I’ll be there along with Victor Wooten, Dave Ellefson, Billy Sheehan, Nate Watts, Lee Sklar, and so many others. From there I fly to Moscow, Russia on September 10th to do the Musikmesse for ESP and Hartke. When that is over, I’ve booked some shows there with my Latin jazz-funk trio with Joey Heredia on drums and Renato Neto on keyboards. We are going to do a little run that starts in Russia, then to Scandinavia, Germany, then New York. We’ve just confirmed the Iridium in New York on October 3rd. We’ll be doing a performance clinic at the Music Collective and that will be October 4th. From there, we fly to Costa Rico to do three shows there, back up to Mexico City and we’ll do four or five in that area and finish off in Brazil. After that, I pick up with the Dead Daises again in November and will be talking with Dean Castronovo and Neal Schon to see if we can put some dates together with that project.

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Ty: Any final thoughts, shout-outs?

Marco: Shout-out to Hartke from the Samson Family. I’m so lucky in so many different ways. When we get to our level, we need to surround ourselves with the best tools possible and I am so lucky in that regard to have Hartke, EBS Pedals, ESP basses, and D’Addario strings. I’m working with Korg, TC Electronics, BBE Sound, and the Dunlop stuff. A shout-out to all my family there and the people that support me.

Support your local musicians whenever you cause because the bottom line, as we all know, is about the fan. Without the fans, doing what we do, we would be in a heap of trouble. I never want to forget that and ultimately it is about them. Support anything and everything you can on the music side and we will see you out there whenever possible.

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