MARCO MENDOZA: “The Music Industry Is All About “Us” And Taking More But There’s Things That We Can Do To Make A Difference And Give Something Back”

THE DEAD DAISIES (Live at The O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., November 15, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

He’s played with everybody from Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders to Whitesnake and from Dead Daisies to Journey and Ted Nugent but now bassist Marco Mendoza is hitting the road to promote his solo work. That’s not all though as he is giving something back too by playing a show to raise funds for the Children’s Hospice Art Charity in Darlington on 18th November. Mick Burgess called him up to talk about his work for the charity and to have a chat about his latest solo album New Direction.

You have a run of shows coming up in the UK in a few weeks. Are you looking forward to playing over here again?

Every time I leave The States, I find it difficult not to stop off in the UK as we have a very long history. I’ve been coming there with so many different projects over the years and have made so many friends and the UK has been very supportive and loving.

You have an extensive solo catalogue to choose from not to mention songs from your time with Ted Nugent, Whitesnake, Black Star Riders, Thin Lizzy, Dead Daisies and Journey too. Will you be focussing on your solo material or will you be popping a couple in from your former bands too?

A lot of people want me to touch on my past but I think I’m going to focus on my own stuff. I’ve been so lucky travelling all over the world with Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Delores O’Riordan, Ted Nugent and The Dead Daisies but I feel that the market place needs new music and we need to encourage new, up and coming bands. I think people like to hear established music so if I do it in a smart way you can do that and give the fans what they want but also introduce new music in that as well. My mission right now will be to focus on my solo thing. It’s been good and people have been digging it. I will be sprinkling some songs here and there from my past. I’d say the show will be 80% of my solo music and rest from my past so giving the fans what they want to hear while also introducing new music.

On 18th November you’ll be playing a show at The Forum in Darlington. Is this the first time you’ve played in this town?

This is indeed my first time in Darlington. I’ve played in Newcastle many times and in Middlesbrough too but never in Darlington. I’ve played most of the cities and towns in the UK but Darlington is one of the few left that I haven’t been to yet so I’m putting that right in a few weeks.

Darlington was the home town of Michael Lee who sadly passed away in 2008. You had been band mates in Thin Lizzy for a while. What are your memories of Michael?

I first met Michael through Thin Lizzy. Brian Downey had decided he wanted to stay at home more as Lizzy were adding more and more dates so he wanted to kickback and get some rest so Tommy Aldridge came in but he got called back for a prior commitment which had been extended so Michael Lee joined and what a player he was. We had a real deep connection from a few tours that we did together. It was so sad what happened. He left a beautiful mark and was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known and his playing speaks for itself. He’s greatly missed.

Your show at The Forum is to raise funds for the Children’s Hospice Art Charity of which you are a patron. How did you first become involved with that?

When I was touring with Whitesnake there was a ‘Meet and Greet’ I got talking to some people about the charity and they suggested that I came to visit. Next time I was in Liverpool, I went to visit and I was just overwhelmed as there were so many children there going through health troubles and I have five kids myself so it really hit me. We stayed in touch and now I’m a patron and do what I can to raise money and raise awareness of the charity. I hope to be involved there as much as I can. My plan is to put on a music festival and raise funds sometime next year.

What does the charity aim to do?

Everybody gives their time to help others and it just gives me the chills thinking of those people helping others like this. The charity provides for medical needs, rooms and board and a lot of therapeutic facilities. They are doing an amazing job and they really need the support from all of us.

There’s going to be some parents from Zoe’s Place baby hospice and some patients from the Butterwick Hospice coming along as guests to your show. Is it important to you to not just help the patients but their parents too?

Parents need support too so I hope I can make a bit of a difference in my own way and hope that they come out and enjoy themselves. It’s all about love and caring for other people as much as possible.

Your latest album New Direction came out a while back. What is the meaning behind the title?

My career’s something where I really don’t have a plan. When I left the Dead Daisies in 2019 it gave me the opportunity to focus on my music. To my surprise it was so well received and the reviews were so good that you want to continue. I did Viva Le Rock and then Take It To The Limit came a couple of years later and now I’ve just done New Direction. I liked the message behind the song about needing to find a new way to live and we need to find better options to care for each other. I just wanted to get out there musically and in every possible way. The response has been great and I’m staying busy promoting it.

The album contains 10 songs. Are these all self-penned or did you work with a co-writer?

I’ve been writing with Soren Andersen. He’s an amazing guitarist, producer, engineer and songwriter. I worked with him on ‘Viva La Rock’ and he was a pleasure to work with. He ‘s such an asset to me. He was my first guitar player when I went out as a solo artist so he knows my strengths and weaknesses and focuses me in the right direction. He’s very cool in not putting any parameters so he lets me go where I can go to find new music and new ways of approaching lyrics, music and riffs and he captures the fun we’re having. It feels like being a teenager playing in the garage again, trying things and getting excited and we work together so fast. We had the album done within days so it’s really spontaneous.

You’ve recently been working with Neal Schon in Journey and also Journey Through Time. You had previously worked together in Soul SirkUS. Was it good to work with Neal again?

Those shows were a blast. Journey are one of the great bands of all time. I grew up listening to that music and I’m a big fan of Neal’s. I worked with Neal in Soul Sirkus and on a couple of his solo records and have toured with him so it was great to get to play with him in Journey. When I got the call, I was surprised as Randy Jackson was supposed to be doing it. I was in Copenhagen finishing my album when I got the call so it’s really nice to be on people’s minds when they need someone to help them out. The whole experience of playing with Journey was just great. The Journey Through Time shows that we did with Neal and Greg Rolie featuring a lot of the early Journey material was put together to raise money for the victims of the Californian fire. That was also an amazing experience. I’ve been working with Greg since then too. I’m still a music fan so to be involved with those was so exciting for me.

Last year you joined up with a couple of Whitesnake members, Tommy Aldridge and Joel Hoekstra along with singers Michael Sweet and Nathan James in Iconic. How did this band come about?

It was put together by Mario at Frontiers Records. During the pandemic when everyone was running around wondering what to do, we were all trying to stay creative. I have a great relationship with Frontiers and we were talking about putting some projects together when the world opened up again and we made a few attempts that didn’t fly for whatever reason. Mario called me up and said that Joel, Michael and Nathan were working with Alessandro Del Vicchio, their amazing in-house producer and that they had all of the tracks ready for a new album but didn’t have a bass player. He wanted to see if I was interested. Of course I said I was interested so he sent me the tracks and they were great. We scheduled a recording session and then I got another call asking if I could find a drummer. Immediately I mentioned Tommy Aldridge and they said absolutely, yes. So Tommy was brought in and we did the drum and bass tracks. It turned out to be a great project with some great songs and great performances so we’re in the process of following that with another album.

Do you hope to make Iconic a touring band or are you all too busy with other projects?

We’ve talked about it from time to time but we are all really busy and it would take some organising but I’d love to.

Earlier this year Black Star Riders, a band that you co-founded did a 10th anniversary tour which saw the return of Scott Gorham and Jimmy DeGrasso to the band. Damon Johnson was tied up with Lynyrd Skynyrd in The States so couldn’t make it. Were you invited to participate?

I wasn’t invited to take part and I think part of it was they saw my schedule and knew I was tied up so I couldn’t have done it anyway. As far as I’m concerned the door is always open. I met up with Scott in London recently at the Tribute To Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall and we had the best of times. He said we should get together sometime and put something. We’ll see where it goes.

What about the Dead Daisies – this has a revolving cast of musicians where John Corabi and Brian Tichy have left and returned. Is the door still open for you to drop in from time to time?

Again, that was a great band to be in. Things change from year to year. They know I’m here and I loved my time in the band. There’s been some great musicians in the band and we created a lot of great music. I think they are happy with Michael Devin, he’s a great bass player and it’s working well for them but of course if they needed someone to fill in and they called me and I was free then I would love to play with them again.

What are your plans for 2024?

I have a couple of things cooking at the moment that if they happen, will be amazing. A while back we did a Whitesnake alumni show with Dino Jelusick on vocals who was amazing. We had such a blast so that’s something we’re considering on doing next year. We’ve had David Coverdale’s blessing too and the plan is to get as many of the old Whitesnake guys together and play some shows so hopefully we’ll be able to do that. Right now I want to focus on my music and take it to the moon if we have to. I’ll be back over in the UK next year for some more solo dates too.

For more on the Children’s Hospice Art Charity visit:

New Direction is out now.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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