Alter Bridge taking a break, Myles Kennedy working with Slash, Mark Tremonti got plenty of time working on some new solo stuff for : Tremonti!
Hello Mark how are you?
Mark Tremonti: Good, very good!
How do feel a few weeks before the release of your new solo record?
M: I’m excited you know. I still have to wait until June 9th, it’s long way till then but we’ll start rehearsing and tour by that time.
First can you explain us the title “Cauterize”?
M: At the first I wanted to name the album “Providence”, but I went back through and we decided “Cauterize”, because it’s a stronger title and it means to burn the impurity of flesh or what not, so we made the artwork little sci-fi, created a big monster that is burning the impurities out of mankind making it more pure.
Was it already a track’s title before choosing it for the record?
“Another Heart” is the first single. Why did you choose this track?
M: We had a listening party where fans came in from all over the world and we gave them a piece of paper with all the songs, we aired the all 20 tracks, waiting for feedbacks, “Radical Change”, “Flying Monkeys” and “Another Heart” came into the first places and when we went to the folks we hired for service radio, we said that “Another Heart” would be the best choice and I went “ugh” because “Flying Monkeys” is my favourite track, so I stepped on it, listened to all a few times and now that I look back on, we made the right choice. It’s more digestible, “Flying Monkeys” might be cooler but I’m fine with it.
You had a very productive work around this album. How can you explain it? Why did you record two records?
M: I really wanted to run through my hard drive and get out all the ideas, tons of ideas, I’m always writing, and I have a fear is that when I get older I’ll have all those unused songs. So I told Elvis I wanted to record a lot of songs so I wrote about 24 songs and we cut it down to 20. We didn’t know if we were going to release a 13-song album with 7 B-sides or what but we started hearing the mixes and I didn’t want to have anybody thinking that so we cut it in 2 parts, 10 songs each. When I look back, I think it’s the best idea we had because I grew up on 8-song records and you digest them, from front to back, knowing them really well and now people put out 14-song records and you get lost in them. Plus we’ll just wait until people are hungry about another one hopefully sometime before the end of the year and we’ll release “Dust”.
This time Wolfgang was there, what did he bring with his bass guitar playing comparing to the first album?
M: He just made the rhythm section really tight. He’s a very professional player and he makes his sound really nice and tight.
How do you work on your solo songs? Does it differ from the Alter Bridge process/concept?
M: I write the same way, I just sit down and record parts. When it’s time to record an album, we organize those parts and kind of decide where they’re gonna go. But between Alter Bridge and Tremonti, there are different rhythm section, Alter Bridge is more groove and pocket playing and Tremonti more syncopated bass and double kick drum, that kind of stuff. Tremonti is supposed to be the heavy band, but Alter Bridge is getting heavier and heavier (laughs), so I have to keep pushing Tremonti (laughs) before you know we’ll do blast beats.
About the singing, did you improve your approach? Is there or do you feel an evolution regarding it?
M: I think the biggest thing that has affected my singing is going out and touring. On the first record I’ve had never toured before as a singer and I took only one lessons between the records. I was only going out every night and pushing my voice to its max. There’s just little things you learn to how manipulate your voice when you’re tired at the end of the set or whatever, like on a high note, where you can’t hit it with your full voice but you can hit it another way, things that you can’t really explain, you have to go out and do it. I felt more comfortable as a singer, for sure.
What about the lyrics? What are we dealing with?
M: “Radical Change” is about facing an enormous change in your life. For example you wake up on morning and your boss says you no longer have a job, or your wife leaves you or you lose somebody to cancer. In my case, it was when my first successful band came in and we made the decision to end the band and go somewhere else. It was the first time I had a professional career with my heart and I didn’t know if it wasn’t going to start all over, was it an horrible mistake or? I just knew we were unhappy and we deserved to be satisfied with what we do so. That radical change in my life was to take that step off and go different directions.
“Flying Monkeys” is a song about somebody who holds on to grudges, somebody who can’t forgive and can’t forget and holds on this bitterness till then. Somebody I don’t want to be but I’ve been a few years but I’ve grown and I’m just reflecting that.
“Cauterize” is about a tyrant leading his country to the ground. Every time I wake up and turn on the news, you’ll hear about somebody in Syria running the country into the ground and using chemical weapons against his own population or North Korea completely just the most backwards ass country in the world, treating their people like dogs, Iran, Irak, every time you turn on the news, you see. Once these people get rounded out, there’s another guy who steps in 6 months later and do the same thing. So “Cauterize” refers to the corruption of the absolute power.
“Arm Yourself” is about another fictional character who is born into a military family and was forced to fight. He tells himself his has no fear but he actually does, he’s just somebody born to life that lifestyle and maybe he’s the generation willing to change and not be that way.
“Dark Trip” is about a personal relationship where somebody was working for me, for the band and I welcome him into my family, showing love and affection, our wife and kids were friends and he took advantage of me and the band and everybody around, it was just those moments where you can’t believe someone could do something like that.
“Another Heart” is about hypocrisy and person who knew his a dark hearted bad person and continues to be and he doesn’t really try to make things different. He’s just not a good person.
“Tie The Noose” was inspired by all the police shootings in the US, riots and riots, I’m speaking from the place somebody’s writing and saying that the solution is to take your anger out. We all know what’s wrong but in the same time you also try to see their point of view, just being fed up being profiled. It’s not saying if it’s right or wrong, the whole thing is wrong and the police’s answers are jumping quickly into conclusions of race.
“Sympathy” is a song about fighting against adversity, just the trials of life. It’s about the person who’s always chasing that perfect utopia.
“Providence” is about people who do those unspeakable thing in the name of God thinking it’ll be some kind of providence or what, which is ridiculous.
Your top 3?
M: “Flying Monkeys”, “Providence” and either “Dark Trip” or “Radical Change”.
And what about “Dust”? Is it a third record or the continuation of “Cauterize”? Any links regarding the stories/songs?
M: “Dust” is the final track of the second record, but we thought “Dust” and “Cauterize” be good titles because what you cauterize turns into ash and that ash is dust so. There’s something in the artwork that ties them in. “Dust” is one of my favourite songs on the whole recordings and has my favourite solo in it. They are conceptually connected but they are all random songs.
Did you ever think of this same process for Alter Bridge? Recording two albums at the same time.
M: I think the one benefit of it is that when you record tons of songs and break it to a few of them, the record’s gonna be better but it’s not very time effective because it takes so much time. I think the next AB record will be about 11 songs and 2 B-sides because I think that the short records are so much more digestible and we don’t write 3-minute songs but 5/6-minute songs so the record will still be long.
M: He’s been talking about finishing it you know. It’s way overdue and, we’re getting together a few times this year to work on some AB stuff, he said “man I have a couple of weeks to finish vocals for the solo record” because he feels bad for the people who record it with him, they want it out, the fans want it out. He’s been so busy but I already heard the tracks. (laughs)
Oh really? What can we expect?
M: I don’t want to ruin anything but my favourite song is very chill, great melody, just a different vibe than both Slash and Alter Bridge. It’s more singer/songwriter-y but not to the Bob Dylan kind, somewhere between. He’s the best rock singer around so, it’s gonna be a great record.
A word about Fret 12 for those who don’t know what that is.
M: Fret 12 is a guitar community pretty much and has multiple purposes. It started out as an instructional company where guitar players record DVDs, teaching techniques. The series we put out “The Sound & The Story” where you learn guitar but also a story/biography of the guitar player. The techniques I chose to teach on mine were the actual solos ’cause I worshiped instructional tapes when I was younger and they never taught their damn solos, only techniques and tricks but never “here’s the solo of the song how I exactly play it”, so I did it for the “Blackbird” record, for the first DVD and for the second DVD, with Myles, we showed everything from the “Fortress” record. Jim Roots from Slipknot has done one, John 5 is on the books to do one, Leslie West and more and more guys. You can also buy artist gear on the website, there are interviews, hundreds of them and now they’re also record label for my solo project. We also organize clinics.
You’ll finally play in France! But the Paris’ gig is during Hellfest, we’re a bit disappointed.
M: Yes. It’s making me very angry, I’m very upset about that. I wanted to play Hellfest, asked and asked and asked but never booked it, and now it’s too late.
Any advice to young bands?
M: It’s all about the songs, the good songs. It’s such a changing business right now, it’s hard to say. When we made it, it was much different than it is now. If I had to start over, I would make the best damn Facebook page ever seen and put the best music I have on it, try and send it to any record label. Play with other bands, it’s just a new world.
What do you think of crowdfunding systems?
M: The business had changed so much and bands have to find another way to afford to play so if they have a fan base that can fund them recording music, that’s wonderful. In the perfect world, the fans are happy and the band is happy. They get something that they look forward to and the band puts out the music they wanted to.
Finally, we are “RockUrLife” so what rock Mark Tremonti’s life?
M: Oh man! Music, writing music and seeing people react to it.