Interviews anglais

ALTER BRIDGE (20/08/13)

Version française

Coming out at September’s end/October through Roadrunner Records, “Fortress”, Alter Bridge’s fourth record, RockUrLife got the opportunity to meet Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti, and to discuss about their new release !

Hi guys, how are you?

Mark Tremonti (guitar) : Good, very good.

Myles Kennedy (vocals/guitar) : Fine, thank you.

So your new record will be out next month. How do you feel about it?

Mark : Very excited to get it out, very happy with the feedbacks so far, can wait to the fans to hear it!

Did the fact of having a short break, with the several projects: Creed, Slash, Tremonti’s solo album, help the band to keep up a certain impatience and great desire to make a kick ass album, which was planned before the break?

Myles : Yeah, I mean, we just have been working so hard and we just wanted to continue the journey, no time for rest, looking fine for that so we just wanted to do this with the intention of making a musically adventurous record and continue to evolve and grow, it’s very exciting but nervous too and we should hear it in a few weeks.

“Fortress” is your fourth album; first of all, can you explain the message behind its title?

Myles : What could be the message?

Mark : First we’ve made the title by looking to the song titles and then choose our favorite, then you’ll see from the album cover, you’d expect to see a castle or so but it’s a vulnerable, dilapidated, run down little shag because the term “fortress” instead of being something stable and with big fortifications, the opposite is taking about how nothings everlasting and about everything eventually dies, so it’s really hopeful.

Myles : (looking at Mark and laughing about the ending of his explanation)


Which approach did you have for this new record? In which way this fourth album is an evolution for Alter Bridge?

Myles : Risk, we’re taking risks, I think. We chose to kind of break out of certain tried-and-true methods averaging and we’ve done that in the past to a point but this one we allowed ourselves more freedom there and we weren’t afraid of letting the songs be longer than 4 or 5 minutes, we let them do what they needed to do and tell the story. So I think that was probably the main difference between this record and the other three; just completely liberating ourselves.

Mark : Yeah, there was just trying to show growth in our feelings like you’re going as an artist and not being predictable, constantly challenge ourselves, bringing the experience that we’ve had between the last record and this one.

AB III” was really dark comparing to the first two ones and this one also has some “dark” hints in another way, what did push you in this atmosphere?

Myles : I think that… we kind of just write; we found that just what gets us off and the fans seem to really like it, that darker side, the more intense side of the music. And initially we are more emphatic for all, a lot of hopefully anthems and we still try to retain a certain amount of that on the record, “All Ends Well” will certainly fill that gap. Time is gone, this is where it has taken us for whatever reason, it’s not because we’re dark or unhappy people, we get frustrated, you look around the world with things that piss you off, you write about it, but overall, we’re in a good place as people, fortunately.

There’re always two phases in an Alter Bridge record: the “in your face” tracks and the calm ones. Some bands will stick with the heavy and speed stuff but that’s not your case. Can you explain this desire to have both?

Mark : It’s all about dynamics and taking you in a journey when you listen to a record. I think if you have a record that’s all heavy it seems to be less heavy because the songs aren’t special, they’re nothing to compare with when you listen to it, there are no ups and downs; it’s just ups. We like to have dynamics on our records and on ours sets because it’s just more expressive.  

In which way Brian and Scott are involved in the writing process? Because the music is mainly written by both of you.

Myles : Well they actually have it all, I mean, the genesis of the ideas. If Mark brings something in or if I bring something in, when we take it to both of those guys, first of all, if they like it as well… if they don’t like something then we just kind of stop. But Scott has a lot of great ideas and he’s very important, Brian as well, in a different way. Brian bass lines are really unique, he’s got a very signature approach; we couldn’t do without them.


What was the atmosphere with Brian and Scott, before Myles got involved with you?

Mark : We just sit on acoustic guitars, just playing our sound files we’ve done written before we got together. So I played him an idea, he played me an idea and we would fit these just together, like a puzzle piece over the weeks and then, all together, put on the riffs and the arrangements with Elvis, worked them to death and see what we really get out of these songs and trying to make new things we never tried before; and then we split off and write our parts.

Myles, we heard a few years ago that you were working one a solo record, what about it? Was that rumor true?

Myles : Yeah I did. When those guys were doing their first Creed reunion, I pretty much lock myself away, in 2009, and work on that solo record and the instruments are recorded and everything is essentially ready to go, vocals are written, it’s just a matter of time, like a week or two, going in and track the vocals. And then I don’t know what I’ll do, I don’t know how, you know, between both bands, both Slash and Alter Bridge, pretty busy at this point but I’d like to get it out there.

Mark, with your solo record “All I Was”, you took the singer’s spot as well, what triggered your desire of singing on it and to not bring on another singer?

Mark : Because I’m a songwriter since I’m kid and vocal melodies are my favorite thing behind guitar and everything to write. You know, when you sing as a songwriter, at first you might not be that good but I think over the years you just develop, I got far enough for I felt and I wanted just to sing these songs, exactly how I hear them and this is a new challenge, I had fun doing it.


And what is it like to have a Van Halen in the band?

Mark : Yeah, he’s awesome, so talented; a great drummer, a great guitar player, bass player, nice dude, a great addition to the band.

Mark, you’re singing on “Waters Rising” with Myles, how did it come up like that? Who got the idea? Why didn’t we hear you on the three previous records?

Mark : I sang a couple of verses on “Words Darker Than Their Wings”, that was kind of my intro to the whole lead vocal. Since I’ve done my solo record, Myles and Elvis were talking about stuff and about Myles kept putting “Waters Rising” at the back of his list of things to get done and “why don’t we get Mark to sing this one?” and I took it ran with it.

What about the result?

Mark : Yeah, I love it; singing is fun.

Myles : Sometimes… and when your voice works. (laugh)

Having “Fortress” track at the end is it a way to say “well, all those songs before is the Fortress”?

Myles : No I think it was more making sense to close the record with it. Lot of the songs, not all of them, but a fair amount of them lead up to touch on themes that help breakdown the fortress and the term “fortress” really comes from the idea of anything that you, whether it’s governments, marriages or anything you think is going to withstand the test of time, that’s very fragile.

Mark : Santa Claus.

Myles : Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny. (laugh) So yeah, a lot of those songs touch on certain themes that can break that down.

The record was once again produced by “Elvis”. What did he bring to this new record?

Mark : He’s the master of getting it, the sounds is huge. In the preproduction phases where he really shines, that’s where he become another member of the band and we just challenge ourselves to make the most of what we have and arrangements with transitions, keeping it energetic, unpredictable.

Would you try and work with another producer, trying new things out?

Mark : We tried that out in the past.

Myles : It was just the right fit for this band. We knew it on “Blackbird” (2007), it just felt that this guy gets the band and pushes in directions where we wanted to be pushed.


If you had to pick up 3 songs that describes the best the record, which ones and why?

Mark : “Cry Of Achilles”.

Myles : “Cry Of Achilles” yep.

Mark : Kind of sums up the record directionally from the first track. “Fortress”, another one?

Myles : “Fortress” yep.

Mark : And one for dynamic sake…

Myles : I don’t know, I mean… “Calm The Fire” maybe? That’s tricky because there are other songs that aren’t so epic. We got the “All Ends Well” there, also really heavy “Bleed It Dry”; I’d say “Bleed It Dry”!

Mark : Yeah, that’s my third; those would be my top 3. They don’t really represent the whole album; there are different flavors in the record.

What can expect the fans about it?

Myles : I think Alter Bridge’s most adventurous record musically and the most intense, that’s probably the way I’ll describe it.

Mark : For sure.

Well at first, when we listened to the single and then the album, the reaction was “ok, there’s the single and there’s the rest”. The single isn’t representative of the album.

Mark : The single is just one color of the record. There were about four songs for the single, you got “Peace Is Broken”, “Cry A River” and maybe “Farther Than The Sun” that are more direct hard rock and energetic stuff. I think as soon as they hear “Cry Of Achilles” they’ll realize “oh ok, this is what’s gonna happen in this record”.


Do you already have in mind the set that you’ll play during the tour?

Mark : No! And we were supposed to talk about it while we’re here so.

Myles : No idea, we have to sort it out.

Mark : We’re all going to write down our setlists and send them one another.  

Myles : True that.

Mark : How many songs? 20?

Myles : Oh I don’t know, it’s a good question I haven’t thought about.

And will you bring back these again?


Mark : Nice!

Myles : Probably not, we probably won’t do the live recording for this round.

Well, we’re not comfortable with this question but we’ll ask it anyway: your first two albums were huge success in the US. When Myles got involved with Slash’s solo albums and touring, since then, did it bring a new spot for Alter Bridge promotion? Bringing new fans to your music, to your shows as well. Well, personally I knew about Alter Bridge after Slash’s first record.

Myles : Yeah I think it brings a certain amount of awareness, I guess they weren’t there before hand and I think just constantly being out with Mark, doing Tremonti and also the Creed stuff, when you’re constantly doing it and playing. Being in the music business is like being a shark, when the shark stops swimming, it dies, and that’s how we look at it, you just have to keep going

Mark : When a shark stops swimming, it dies?

Myles : Yeah (laugh) I could be wrong. (laugh) But I think that all of our various endeavors have helped Alter Bridge.

Because you played at La Maroquinerie and then Le Zenith, which is way more bigger.

Myles : Yeah it was definitely huge.

Mark : Next we’ll play the Louvre courtyard next time. (laugh)

Which bands did you listen to recently?

Myles : Oh boy, so many. Karnivool’s new record.

Mark : Good band.

Myles : Interesting.

Mark : All the progressive new stuff is really inspiring for us who grown up on traditional metal. Last concert I saw was Animals As Leaders and Periphery; they’re incredibly talented young bands.

Myles : These damn wipers snappers! (laugh)

Mark : Kids and their loud music

Myles : (laugh)

Did you listen to the new Dream Theater album?

Myles : Yeah! It’s great, these guys are such monstrous players, it’s crazy, in a good way.

Their next tour will be “An Evening With” with a three hour long set. Can we imagine Alter Bridge with “An Evening With Alter Bridge”?

Mark : I don’t know about the three hours… maybe two hours. Maybe three if there’re bands playing between breaks; Scott Phillips and his comedy show.


Any message to your huge French fanbase?

Mark : Please tell your friends about Alter Bridge so we can play more than one show in France. We want to spread ourselves out and play multiple shows here in France and we love it!

Myles : Yeah !

Before the last question, Myles, what do you answer to all the girls that want to marry you? (laugh)

Mark : Wow, Myles is a French sex symbol!

Myles : Well, I’m happily married but I’m very flattered.

Mark : Open the party! (laugh)

Myles : (laugh)

Mark : Ready to mingle! (laugh)

And finally, we are “RockUrLife”, so as a conclusion, what rocks your lives?

Mark : Rock n’roll music, creating music, my children, my family, my friends; positivity man!

Myles : Wow that was positive! (laugh) What rocks my life? Rock music, any kind of music from heavy metal to blues jazz, yeah, we love music, it’s oxygen.


Photo credit : Fanny Schneider

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