The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
The Rockpit 2013 Interviews





Marco Mendoza is a helluva bass player with an impressive CV behind him; he’s also a helluva nice guy. Over the years I’ve caught up with Marco a number of times: twice at dates he’s played with George Lynch’s Lynch Mob and most recently when in town with Thin Lizzy. A couple of days after our last catch up I get my first official interview to talk about the new material he and a number of his THIN LIZZY colleagues have put together under the name BLACK STAR RIDERS. It’s an album highly anticipated by many, and from the extracts I heard will be well worth the wait, capturing as it does that classic Lizzy sound. If you read through Marco’s credits you’ll see just how highly rated he is as a musician: playing with John Sykes in Blue Murder, Bill Ward, Tommy Shaw, David Coverdale, Derek Sherinian, Soul SirkUS with Neal Schon and many others…  


Mark: Hi Marco, we are here mainly to talk about Black Star Riders, obviously, but I thought I’d just get a bit of a reaction from you from the tour so far. We saw you on the Perth date, and for me Thin Lizzy, stole the show, from Crue, and Kiss!! What’s the reaction been like so far?


Marco: Ultimately, over the top, man, to be honest!! Last night I got to hang out, I went and saw the boys from Motley Crue and Kiss, and I can’t give those guys enough credit, they are mind blowing, and the show is just over the top, there’s a lot of production, and the deal is with those guys is they have a catalogue of songs that’s been part of rock and roll, for years and years, you can’t take that away from them. I think the difference is, we go out there and we don’t have a lot of production, we mainly just give ourselves to the music, and performing, and playing the songs as well as we can, and have fun at the same time. So, that’s what it is, the response has been over the top! You’ve heard that and seen all the reviews. We are really happy!


Mark: So, did the show at The Billboard, go down really well?


Marco: Yes, absolutely. People are still talking about it. The difference between being a headliner and having a supporting slot is night and day, as support, we don’t have the benefit of a longer set, which is a little more dynamic and self-exploratory for the catalogue as far as Thin Lizzy is concerned. People end up having a blast. But, I’ve got to be honest, Mark, since we started this run at the beginning of 2011, it’s been pretty insane!! The response has been over the top, which is why we initially signed up to do maybe two or three months of work, and it’s just happening, man, there’s a synergy that’s going on between all of us. We are all at a place in our careers where we love Thin Lizzy and we love the music, and we are performers as well, so there you go!


Mark: It’s wonderful, and I think the thing I most got out of it, was talking to some younger kids, who couldn’t believe they were getting to listen to that music again! It’s great to keep the legacy of Phil, alive, and I guess that brings us on to Black Star Riders. New music, and obviously the name change out of respect for Phil and the family. I understand the name came from a cowboy film? Is Scott a big cowboy film fan? Or is it just a cool name?


Marco: It is, you know, to be honest; we were not involved in that process, the naming of it, but finding out from the other boys, that’s where it came from. That’s what the band is all about, carrying the heritage and the legacy of Thin Lizzy, whether it is a different name or not. When the idea began that we would carry on as Thin Lizzy, and we are all big fans from way back. I’ve been here since 1994, so it’s become part of my vocabulary, as a bass player. I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen, the response has been good, great music and great songs! I believe we are going to release something at the end of March, a single.
Mark: Wow! I believe the album is set to come out in May, is that right?


Marco: May, is the full album, correct. We’ve been out here listening to mixes, the mastering’s been done, and the sequence of the songs, there’s just a little bit of work involved. We have five members in the band, two in management, and a label, you can imagine, it’s been a bit of work trying to all agree on one thing.


Mark: When I spoke to Scott, he said it’s going to be an album, that has that classic Thin Lizzy vibe, but he said pay particular attention to Ricky’s lyrics. What sort of lyrical themes are you going to be covering?


Marco: The thing with Ricky, and once I really started reading his lyrics, he’s just a really deep cat, you know. He tells stories, he’s very passionate about how he feels, I figure kind of along the lines that Phil used to do, it’s very much influenced and inspired by that. The facts are that he’s also from Ireland, from Belfast, so he’s been a Thin Lizzy, Phil Lynott fan forever!! So, I’m sure that was part of the influence and the inspiration where he got a lot of his lyrics from. He’s a very cool man, you won’t be disappointed, and it’s just very deep music. At the same time we were writing the songs, we wanted to make them available to the bigger audience.
Mark: I understand there’s a bit of a line-up change from Thin Lizzy, to Black Star Riders, in that Darren and Brian won’t be along for the ride.


Marco: Yeah, they won’t be along for the ride, we got Jimmy De Grasso, and the decision was made to continue without the keyboards. I have an opinion on that; I have come from a long line of bands that have always had keyboards, but in the songs there’s so much going on, in so many ways.


Mark; It’s always great to see your name crop up in a band, as I have seen you so many times over the years, playing with some great bands. How does playing with Black Star Riders, stack up with some of the other bands you have played with?


Marco: Well, the difference here is we are breaking new ground, and I’m always excited about that. It’s like a new child, we’ve got to guide it in the right direction and put as much effort and talent in to it, as we can. You have to put energy in to it, especially in today’s market. With all due respect to my other bands, they were all well-established bands, and it gets to that point where it starts becoming a job, and when that starts happening, it’s not good! It’s always worth breaking new ground, you know what I mean? So, that’s the difference, we are pretty much putting it all on the line, because it’s who we are, and we believe in this. For me as a bass player whatever I bring in to the mix will be rewarding, how successful it’s going to be, is yet to be seen. We can only go on what we have, and the music is slammin’! I’m excited for this part of my journey; I am always looking forward to new and exciting things. If you look at my record, I do so much stuff, because I absolutely love what I do.


Mark: That’s great! Is there likely to be a big tour announcement shortly?


Marco: Yes, absolutely, I believe the first date is confirmed for June 1st, it’s at Sweden Rock. Yeah, we come out of the box, and it’s like POW!!! We know what it is, mark, without meaning to sound pretentious or arrogant, we know what it is, the music is strong enough, the line-up is very strong, there’s celebrity, there’s history, and there’s all kinds of that stuff working for us, so we absolutely believe in this! The first date is definitely confirmed, and they’re trying to get other dates at the end of May.


Mark: Hopefully they will be confirmed then, as we are back in the UK! As a bassist, who was your biggest influence?


Marco: There’s so many, that’s going to be a two hour conversation!! But, I have to go straight to Paul McCartney, the first album I ever got was Abbey Road, but then I started to listen to music, in a bigger and deeper way. Initially, I was a guitar player, and then I was introduced to the bass and I fell in love with it. So, I started doing some digging and listening to Jack Bruce, Berry Oakley from the Allman Brothers, and I was listening to Grand Funk Railroad, Lynyrd Skynyrd, even Ted Nugent, who later I ended up working with. As I grew as a bass player, I wanted to learn to play more challenging stuff, for the progressive thing, I went to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Tony Levin from King Crimson, I think a lot of us went through that period.


Mark: There’s a wonderful array there of artists! Now, my final question, what is the meaning of life?


Marco: The meaning of life is, at the end of every day, believe it or not, at the end of every day, I sit down and try to think about what happened in the day, and the only thing that sets my mind at ease, is knowing that I tried to do the best I could, in every possible way. The meaning of life is to try and make a difference in this short, little time that we are here. I really believe in that, and it’s our job to decide how we want to make a difference, in a good way or a bad way. I tend to focus on the good way, as a father, a husband, a friend, a musician, and how you are fulfilled is part of who you are. At the end of the day, I want to know that I did the best I could.


Mark: Well your music certainly makes a difference to a lot of us out there. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, it’s been a pleasure, and I dare say sometime along the road, I’ll catch up with you again.


Marco: Take care, and stay in touch.




By Mark Diggins March 2013




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