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Mark Tremonti: “With doing other projects and other bands, we bring different talents to this band and we can become better all round musicians for the fans

Alter Bridge is zowel in de VS als in Europa een grote naam. Ontstaan uit de alternatieve Amerikaanse grunge scene, gaat hun muzikale evolutie tegenwoordig veel breder. Dat is eens te meer duidelijk op de fantastische nieuwe schijf ‘Pawns & Kings’, maar ook in het solowerk dat Myles Kennedy en Mark Tremonti met grote regelmaat uitbrengen. Wij hadden een leuk gesprek met gitarist Mark Tremonti over de periode die volgde op het uitbrengen van voorganger ‘Walk The Sky’ en de creatie van ‘Pawns & Kings’.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 21 oktober 2022

In 2019 we had a nice chat about ‘Walk The Sky’ and for some time, you could tour for that record, but then the pandemic happened. How did you face and handle that as a band?
Well, we were doing our other projects during covid-19, so I recorded two records during the pandemic and did some touring as solo artist. Some tours got cancelled, because of coves-19, but I tried to get back on track as much as I could. I did a record where I sing Frank Sinatra songs, so I recorded that. Furthermore it was very disappointing that we could not tour enough for ‘Walk The Sky’ with Alter Bridge, so fingers crossed that this new record will not be affected by things like that.

Did it affect the song-writing? Had it a kind of influence on the way you were writing songs for Alter Bridge as well?
No, I think that it maybe affected my last solo record, but it did not affect this one for Alter Bridge, because I was going back on tour as solo artist by then.

I found out that you hadn’t seen each other for two years when you entered the studio. That must have been a strange, weird experience…
Well, I see Scott (Phillips – drums) all the time, because we live close to one another but I hadn’t seen Myles and Brian for a couple of years, but we are all friends, so it was not a big issue. Me and Myles live on the opposite side of the country. I live in Florida and Myles in Spokane, Washington. As far as we could get (chuckles).

Is there a kind of reason why you ended up with the title ‘Pawns & Kings’?
When we do a record, we look at all the lyrical content and see what is the most thought provoking and I think ‘Pawns & Kings’ stood out the most. That became the title track, because we thought the title was something that countered up imagery in our brains. I think it capitulates what Alter Bridge does and it is the first song of the record we will bring out to hear. It is a very complicated song, there is a lot going on in it and it is a fun song too. We will play that one on tour for sure. It will be fun live.

It is reflective as well, although I have the impression that this record as a whole turned out heavier, with more drive…
Yes, I think when we write a record we want it to be fun when we play live and the heavier songs are fun playing live, so maybe that is why.

Indeed and I remember the first time when we talked, you were still at the beginning of your solo career and you were the heavy metal guy of the band, you wanted it a little bit more heavy…
Indeed and now Myles… me and Myles write for Alter Bridge and I think his writing has gotten heavier over the years, mine has always been heavy. With his thing getting heavier, the whole thing got heavier.

I think it is good that you both have a solo career, in that way you can channel all the different emotions…
Oh yeah I think, with doing other projects and other bands, we bring different talents to this band and we can become better all round musicians for the fans.

The album includes three long epic tracks. One of them is ‘Sin After Sin’ which has great grim riffs and a progressive tinge. Do you agree on that?
Yes, that was one of the songs I worked on the most on this record. I just wanted to raise something slow and heavy and almost doomy. I was in that mood and I fell in love with this riff, and that was why it ended up so long, because I was writing that song for a couple of weeks and I kept writing new parts and more new parts and when it came down on writing the final arrangement, I did not want to get rid of all those parts. I just made it longer.

Are there songs you have written together or was it strictly parted?
Yes, as a whole band we work on everything, but when we make demos, me and Myles are writing the demos and present them to the band. Like the first single ‘Silver Tongue’, that was originally Myles’ demo and I wrote the bridge to it and the song ‘Stay’, the ballad of the record, I wrote the demo and Myles wrote the bridge to that. Scott and Brian are writing their parts and everybody has their opinions on the songs. Maybe a song is stronger when we change the beat or make it slower. In the preproduction the songs change to their final form.

You always work with the same producer ‘Elvis’ Baskette. You must know each other very well by now…
Yes, very comfortable. He knows what everybody is capable of and we trust one another.

Another epic is ‘Fable Of The Silent Son’ and that is really amazing! Can you tell a bit more about this track?
That is the longest song ever recorded by this band. It has many twists and turns and a lot of different moods. Since we wrote ‘Blackbird’, back on the second record, that sort of songs we like to write. It is a long story of the silent son and that song represents that side of Alter Bridge.

In one of the songs you did the lead vocals again, something that has been going on since ‘Fortress’. Why exactly did you choose ‘Stay’ to sing?
Actually Myles decided to leave the vocals to me. Same thing happened on ‘Water’s Rising’, when we were recording that record.

How long did the recordings take?
I think two months, six to eight weeks we recorded. That is about normal, I think so. We always have a tight time schedule, that’s always been the case.

But with the pandemic I think you had a bit more spare time, isn’t it?
Yes, but that is when I signed for the Frank Sinatra record, a solo record. I worked in the house. I sold my house and I painted my house and had a baby girl. That is my third child, but the first daughter. She takes my whole day. She wakes me up in the morning and after eight o’clock when she is asleep I go to the studio.

Well, it is not easy to combine family and bands…
I manage to do it anyways… (chuckles)

Is there a kind of music you really turned to when the isolation of the covid-19 era happened?
I listened to big band, jazz music. I love things like Frank Sinatra’s music and I keep on discovering new things, Billie Holiday, that has only been since two years. Me and Myles were just talking about how we have heard so much heavy metal and so much rock and sometimes it is hard to find a new group where you think: ‘I want to listen to this’. But when I discovered this kind of music, I never listened to it in my whole life, except for Christmas time, you know, now I am really obsessed because it is so fresh and new to me. Everybody knows Frank Sinatra, but when you really dig in, there is so much to learn. A lot of great music to discover.

Never got into a kind of progressive stuff?
Yeah, I got into progressive stuff and I like it. One new band that I am really into is Sleep Token. Great band. I think they are from the UK, existing for five or six years.

Are there guests on the album?
No, no guests.

Now we have several video clips. Can you tell anything more about that?
We met with the artist who did the artwork for ‘Silver Tongue’ and me and Myles just told him what we were looking for and told him the story. we gave him examples of artwork that we liked and he made his version, making that video. The other lyric videos we created with an artist who presented us a few ideas and he went for it. We are not really visual artists, we just want to present something that we like and for the artwork, my brother did that. He is a great artist. He has done all our artworks.

What are the plans for the near future?
I go home after this promo trip and I will do a Frank Sinatra show in Orlando and then rehearse for a tour, hopefully we can come back this year last week of October to rehearse. We will tour Europe from November the 1st till December 12th in London and then we are going to tour the States the next year.