Interview: Dead Daisies bassist, Marco Mendoza discusses his new solo album, ‘Viva La Rock’
Photo courtesy: Mighty Music and used with permission

It’s been nearly eight years since The Dead Daisies bassist, Marco Mendoza released a solo album, but with the pending release of his monstrous ‘Viva La Rock’ [produced by Soren Anderson], Mendoza’s proves that the wait was worth it.

For Mendoza, whose resume also includes stints with such legendary bands as Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake as well as work with artists like Ted Nugent and Neal Schon, ‘Viva La Rock’ is a groove-fueled celebration of life and love as well as a tip of the hat to his musical past.

Songs like the album’s title track, a catchphrase Mendoza’s used for years, are rollercoaster rides of musical emotion, while songs like the power-ballad, “Leah” speak to the love he has for his wife and soul mate. Mendoza even includes his spin on a few cover songs, notably the Thin Lizzy classic, “Chinatown”, which features guest vocals from Mike Tramp [White Lion, Freak of Nature] and guitarist Richard Fortus [Guns N’ Roses].

AXS recently spoke with Marco Mendoza about ‘Viva La Rock’ [which will be released on March 2], The Dead Daisies and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: It’s been eight years since your last solo release. How did this new album, ‘Viva La Rock’ come about?

Marco Mendoza: My whole journey and career have been busy, but these last ten years have really been over the top, and I love it. But I’m always writing and there’s always a drawer full of ideas. I had just finished up with The Dead Daisies and found a window of about fourteen days. So, I flew to Denmark and got into the studio with my good friend, Soren Anderson. The time and energy was right. It was fast and a lot of fun.

AXS: How does this album compare to some of your previous work?

MM: I think this album is a little more focused. We really dug deep with the ideas and songs. It’s classic rock and roll. Catchy songs with good hooks and melodies and relevant lyrical content.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few songs from ‘Viva La Rock’ beginning with the title track. What can you tell me about it?

MM: The creative process is to follow the vibe, and “Viva La Rock” was the first song that we wrote. It’s a catchphrase that I’ve been using for years that’s become part of my vocabulary. I remember going in and grabbing the guitar. Soren followed along and within the hour we had the song. The lyrics also came quickly. When you do something for so long it's all instinct. You just open the flood doors and it starts happening.

AXS: “Chinatown” (featuring Mike Tramp and Richard Fortus).

MM: I've known Mike and Rich for quite a while. Mike actually lives in Denmark. Everyone in Scandinavia are huge Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy fans and everyone in the business was either influenced or inspired by them. “Chinatown”, along with a few other songs, have been part of my set list for a long time. They’re also part of my history. I decided to do “Chinatown” because it’s a little obscure and could shed light for the new generation on what Thin Lizzy was all about. If they like it hopefully they’ll dig a little deeper, because it only touches the surface. It's my way of saying thank you to Thin Lizzy and celebrating the legendary status of one of the greatest bands.

AXS: “Leah”.

MM: I'm a softie at heart and love ballads. I have a wonderful and amazing wife and the two of us recently celebrated sixteen years of marriage. My lifestyle is hard because of all of my traveling and I was really missing her. It’s about showing love and respect to someone you care about, and what better way to do that than through a song? This was my way of saying from the heart the love I have for my wife.

AXS: Can you give me an update on The Dead Daisies?

MM: We have a new album that’s coming out in April. It's an amazing album that I think is really going to turn some heads. We brought Deen Castronovo into the fold on drums and it’s fantastic. He's an amazing singer and drummer. Then we have Doug Aldrich [guitar], who I worked with in Whitesnake and have done a lot of session work with. David Lowry [guitar] is the founder and mastermind of the band and we have John Corabi, who’s a great singer/songwriter as frontman. It's been a blast for me.

AXS: What can you tell me about your upcoming benefit show with Neal Schon (Journey) on February 9th?

MM: I've worked with Neal a lot. We have a great friendship and musical connection. We talk often and he always keeps me in the loop. He told me he had some time off and asked if I’d be interested in doing a benefit to help the folks who were victims of the recent fires here in California and to bring some focus into what's going on. I immediately said yes. So, we'll be getting together with Deen and Gregg Rolie. They put the tickets out for sale and they sold out quickly. There’s even talk about adding another show. I’m excited and looking forward to it.

AXS: As an artist, what satisfies you the most?

MM: The ultimate test is to get out there with the songs. There’s nothing greater than seeing fans going bananas over your songs and singing the lyrics. I can't put it into words. That high and the feeling that you get in return is the gratification and reward. When you're up on stage, you're not thinking about anything else. You're in the moment. It's the gasoline that keeps you going.