The amazing, talented and very busy Marco Mendoza took the time to sit down with us for a quick interview this week. We talked about his upcoming UK solo tour, getting his band together and a few other projects he’s working on too. Watch/read below!
What made you want to bring back your solo stuff?
I always say there’s no regrets. I’m very happy with my career, with all the other projects I’ve been privileged to be a part of. But if I could change anything it would be to pay attention to my solo thing a little more. I love it and I dig it and the response has been absolutely over the top!
I’ve been a busy guy so eventually no matter how busy you get there’s down time. And I’m one of those guys not to wait around too long, I love what I do. So I’m always looking to put things together if there’s nothing cooking. I always had an outlet to stretch out as a bassist and as a singer, improvisational stuff and even what’s considered jazz funk, just to keep learning and challenge yourself.
That first album I did, ‘Live for Tomorrow’ came out the time I was working with Whitesnake. I’d get off the tour and go with Thin Lizzy and Ted Nugent for quite a while. And there was some time off and Frontier approached me and the chance came up so we got into the studio. To my surprise the response was good! We didn’t support it though, that was a big mistake on my behalf. But I was busy touring with all the other stuff. I did some dates to support the album, but that was like two years after.
Then the next album the same thing happened, I was juggling a bunch of projects and I had an opening so we got it together and released it and again I didn’t support it. It came out and then it disappeared.
This last album I was really busy with the Dead Daisies and thee was an opening. I went to Copenhagen and started writing with my buddy and before you know it we had the album, ‘Viva La Rock’. For some reason when it got released the writeups were really good and really encouraging and so I decided, back in ’19, I had some time. So of course when you do that the response couldn’t be better because you’re representing the album live. I got on the radar so I got invited to do a lot of stuff in Europe for ’20, and then we know what happened. So managed to do a bit in November last year but we’re pretty much picking up the pieces.
And also what else got postponed was the release of my next album which is finally going to get released this year. We’re aiming for August/September, but the first single is coming out April 13th, so I’m excited! There seemed to be a buzz out there when I announced the dates in the UK.
So, how did the line-up for the tour come about?
I got really lucky that I hooked up with Tommy Gentry who’s gig is GUN, through Kyle Hughes. So it’s just one of those things, word of mouth and then we get introduced and then they send me videos so I can check out what they’re doing. Kyle did some stuff with Bumblefoot (GNR) and I love his playing and I love his heart and who he is as a person. He’s a young lad but he plays with fire. He’s hungry, sings great and he really pays attention to what my vision is on stage. As a bass player drummers are very important to me.
And then Tommy just kills it as a guitar player and as a human being. We all get along really well. Unfortunately they’re talented folks so they get pulled away to other commitments so I’m happy and lucky to have them on the UK dates.
I’m juggling stuff right now so people can come in and out because the reality is my solo project, as much as I hate to admit it, is still in its infancy. I’m still trying to build something. I think after this year, after the album comes out and everything lines up and we do well on the live shows it’s going to go to the next level.
How do you approach a tour with your solo project in contrast to touring with the bigger bands you work with?
It feels very different! It’s a lot of responsibility. Fronting the band and being the singer and also standing behind your own music, but like I said I do it because I love it. After so many years I love the whole dynamics of writing a song and putting it out there and people digging it and people wherever you are on the planet love it and they learn the lyrics and they sing the song, there’s nothing like that.
The other thing is that I have a little more control over what happens on stage and how we deliver the shows and the message… I always insist on carrying some sort of positive message, something that’s uplifting and proactive. Something that’s very optimistic with what’s going on right now on the planet. It’s very important that you’re there for your audience and be able to escape for a few hours and get away from the everyday living. Sometimes it gets heavy.
That’s the other thing that’s very rewarding to me, I always insist on doing meet and greets and when people come round and say ‘Marco, thanks for coming here, I’ve been struggling and you put a smile on my face, I’m going to go out there and make a difference’, it’s like, WOW. Beyond all the business and all the stuff that comes along with being a musician that’s the rewarding stuff that really stays with you and it fuels you to keep going. It’s very cool.
Also the other side, when you’re part of a collaborative situation there’s always a boss and a big team so everything’s handled. I just show up, they hand me the bass and I play. While here you’re pretty much at ground level and doing anything and everything you can to put it together. A little responsibility but I’m up for it! When you love something so much you can’t stop!
So obviously you’re mainly here to talk about your solo project, but is there anything you can tell me about another venture of yours, Iconic?
That seems to be getting a lot of buzz! That project got together originally… Joel Hoekstra and Nathan James and Michael Sweet all work for Frontier so we all had that in common. I got a call from them during the pandemic, I think, at the end of ’20, when we finally realised that the world wasnt going to open for a while. They were putting projects together because they realised there was a lot of musicians just hanging out.
So they approached me and said they’re doing this thing with these guys and would you consider being the bass player, and I said absolutely. These are all cats that are at the top of their games, great players. I knew Joel and Nathan and I’d met Michael here and there. So they called me and said the guys would love to have you but we don’t have a drummer, who would you like to call? I thought of a few cats but everyone seemed to be tied up doing other things except Tommy, who was busy but seemed very interested.
So it’s a cool bunch of cats, big profiles, big resumes, the credits are amazing. And the music is very good. We got together here in LA not too long ago to shoot some videos to release. I gotta say that the energy in the room and how we all got along is that at the end of the day it’s all about the music. And the songs are amazing.
There’s nothing more I can say other than stay tuned. Hopefully if things line up we can get a tour scheduled. It’s a great band, it’s going to go out there and kill!
What would you make of the state of the music industry right now?
I’ve seen it suffer so much. It’s such a long conversation but let’s just say that the music industry, general speaking, we took the biggest hit during the pandemic. This is how we live, it’s our livelihood. And in the bigger picture you have a lot of staff and people behind the scenes that really got hit hard. The strongest survive and come out the other side with a little bit of struggle, and it’s good to see that it’s starting to pick up. There’s a lot of hope in the air.
It’s getting better but I don’t know what’s going to happen the next couple of years. The recording side of it has come down, it got so beat up when the technology kicked in. But I’m not going to stop, as long as I have the energy to do it I will. And there’s a lot of us around that love what we do. And the fans which is another big factor, supporting the local venues and bands, it all triggers that knock on effect. We’ll see what the next couple of months bring and the end of the year and hopefully 2023 will go back to ‘as normal as we can be’. We’re getting back to working again, which is all I can say. I always say always prepare for the worse and pray for the best!