We spoke to bass legend Marco Mendoza ahead of his new album, New Direction’, about said album, his upcoming tour and any advice he has for new bands. Check it out down below!
Talk to me about the new album?
It’s coming out September 16th. I’ve gotta say I’m really excited about it! We started recording this in September ’19, so three years ago. After 2021 just for a minute it felt like ‘is this thing ever going to come out’, you know? At the beginning of this year we were working the logistics with the label and even then we didn’t know what was going to happen.
So, when they released the first single ‘Take it to the Limit’, the response was great. More than expected. Then ‘Shoot for the Stars’ also got a lot of thumbs up and stuff. Then ‘New Direction’ came out, the title cut of the album, and everybody seems to dig it. So I’m really happy man. From ground zero to the release of the album, I have some dates to announce, including the UK.
So hopefully we’re headed in a new direction, we’re trying to find our way back home after our industry got hit hard. So there’s specs of a light at the end of the tunnel, a lot of hope and optimism. It’s not going to happen by itself, you need to learn to roll the dice and believe in it. I’m excited to say the least. I was forced to listen to the songs back and I’m really proud of it. It’s a good album!
And would you say it’s a new direction in terms of the sound?
Well, it’s a trip. In our industry we start labelling everything, ‘this is hard rock, this is classic rock, this is metal, this is black metal and this and that’. And at the bottom of it all is pop music. Back in the day, the people I grew up listening to had songs on the radio, so they were pop songs. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Ted Nugent… they were playing music on the radio. So to me, that was what pop represented. Then as we got into the 70s and 80s we started labelling things and I get it, it’s fine.
I would say if we had to label it we’re leaning more on the songwriting, the pop side of music if you will, which is fine.
The new direction is that we found a direction again! Like I said, we lost our way somewhere and for a moment it was pretty grim. The world came to a screeching halt and we weren’t sure when it was going to start, there was a few false starts too. September/October last year I ended up rolling the dice and I got invited to do some stuff and with all the restrictions and lower capacity, we had a successful tour. That’s what gave me a little more gas in the tank. The new direction is the right direction.
Is there a different approach taken to writing with your solo stuff as opposed to with the likes of the Dead Daisies?
Yeah, well the Dead Daises was put together to be a collective, meaning every member of the band would get around the table with acoustics and collectively throw ideas into the melting pot. We’d come out with 20-25 ideas that were almost finished and then our producer would also be there and we’d all agree which to pick.
With my solo project it is different, it’s a little quicker. I’m not saying it’s better or easier, just harder. I’ve written with cats that are songwriters and for me to be part of that I just stay out of the way. There’s a lot of different dynamics depending on the situation. You learn to compensate and navigate and adjust.
With us being a solo project, Sorrin being my producer/guitar player/songwriting partner, him and I make decisions so it’s quicker. It’s very sincere, very honest. We don’t over-analyse stuff, we just know when something’s working, we document it. It’s a faster process. And then we get the players in and they play the songs.
The process is different; it’s quicker and… not more productive but it’s a faster process. I like to work fast when it comes to music. There’s two schools, one is play, learn the songs, record it, boom, done. Then the other method is a lot of playing and adjusting and relearning. It’s like baking a cake, you’ve gotta make sure it’s right before you take it out of the oven.
What goes into the decision of choosing a single?
Well I think with the previous album, Viva, the first song that was written was ‘Viva La Rock’. We got together and within an hour, hour and a half the song was done. We sent the demo to a label and they loved it. They said this is the title for the album, this is the first single.
It kinda repeated itself again this time around, the first song was ‘Take it to the Limit’. Again it was written within hours of us getting together and sent to the label and they said it’s great and it’s the single and title of the album. The decision was made but then 2020 and 2021 came and I did a couple of runs under the Take it to the Limit heading so we decided to change it around and look at how relevant these other songs are to what is going on. New Direction had a great response so we chose that instead of Take it to the Limit, which was overused.
I believe the album has more than three singles to be honest, but logistics and decision making and all that, it’s got to go through due process. New Direction being the title cut made sense.
It’s back and forth ideas and suggestions. For me, to be honest, I have a great team of people working with me. I put my two cents in, I take a few steps back, then I either agree with the process or I put my two cents back in, then I take a few steps back again. It’s all about trust and knowing that people are pros and are making the right decisions. I think the single choices were good.
Is it just touring for the rest of the year now?
Yep! Next week I do a festival in Romania and then we start in Germany begnning of September. And then we’re booked all of September, October and all the way to November 25th I believe. It’s a trip. We started with 20 dates, now it’s this and this and we two more and then three more. When you announce you’re going out people are aware of it so you start getting ‘well you’re here, can you come here?’. That’s the process. But I’m really looking forward to coming to the UK!
Do you have any advice for bands just starting out?
The not to dos are very simple for me because I did it the wrong way. Pay attention. Do it for the right reason. Do it because you love the music and because you’re passionate about it. And set goals, long and short term, to stay focused. Be willing to put the time in, through blood sweat and tears, because there will be blood sweat and tears! Sometimes the music for me is its own reward. After all the logistics and travel and financial worries, getting up on stage and get away from that and let the music take me places, that’s my reward. It keeps me coming back.
Also, be okay with letting it go when it becomes frustrating. I think there’s something to be said for learning stuff while you’re having fun. You’ll accomplish a lot. And believe in yourself, no matter the people around you. Gravitate towards people who support you. You can’t expect anyone else to support you if you can’t support yourself.
The not to dos for me very simple: don’t drink, don’t do drugs, don’t do anything mind-altering that can impede your ability to be there and be as productive as you can be. I went through it and I went through hell. I came out of it, thank god, but I often think what would have happened if I’d have stayed on the right side of the street.
And the reality is there’s hundreds if not thousands of projects and artists and bands that want to be in your place so if you start goofing off people are going to say ‘next’.
And work work work, practice practice practice, and book as many shows as you can. I know it’s sometimes hard as the finances aren’t there, but in terms of human nature when we want something, we make it happen.
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