Interview: Alter Bridge
Artist profile: Alter Bridge

Alter Bridge have shown us how it's done on record, with latest album 'Blackbird' having recieved glowing reports from fans and critics alike, and now they're here to show us how it's done live! We caught up with frontman Myles Kennedy and guitarist Mark Tremonti in Glasgow before the first date on their latest UK tour.

Rocklouder: First of all, Happy New Year to you both, did you have a relaxing break over the festive period, or were you hard at work?
Myles: Happy New Year to you!
Mark: Happy New Year. I had a pretty stressful time myself, as I found a couple of new leaks in my house, so that wasn't too good, but spending time with family evened that out.

RL: This is your first UK tour in support of 'Blackbird', are you excited to be back?
Mark: Oh yeah!
Myles: Absolutely. The people over here breath life into this band, it's amazing the reaction we get when we show up to play.

RL: Tonight's show has been upgraded due to the demand hasn't it?
Myles: Yeah, it's awesome.

RL: What can the UK expect from the Alter Bridge live experience?
Mark: Well tonight, who knows. So far my guitar rig has blown up, some gear didn't arrive til late, so I dunno... if everything goes ok, then a great show, but if anything else decides to blow up, you could see some stressed guys up there!

RL: You toured 'One Day Remains' for a good 2-3 years before 'Blackbird' came out. Was your plan from the outset to tour and promote the album for that long, or would you have rather gotten down to album two quicker than you did?
Mark: Yeah the reason it took an extra year was because we switched record labels, and so that took time, and we also switched management. But I think we're all glad it took that long because some of the songs wouldn't have turned out the way they did if we hadn't had that time, so I think it all worked out for the better in the end.

RL: You mentioned the switch of record labels, now that you're free from Wind Up, have you lost that pressure to live up to past successes of Creed?
Mark: I personally have never felt that pressure. In this day and age for a band to go out there and sell 10 million records is just not going to happen, it's a whole different playing field nowadays. Bands aren't selling what they used to with all the digital downloads and it's a whole different game now.

RL: Speaking of downloads, Lars Ulrich of Metallica took Napster to court and now people are being prosecuted for illegal file transfers and so on, what's your opinion on the whole thing?
Myles: Well it's inevitable that it was going to happen and it's too late now to stop it, but the best analogy I can give is; when you get a cold and you go down to the store and you get some medicine, do you just take it, or do you pay for it? It's pretty simple, and it seems as though this generation just expects that music should be free, and that's fine, but wait 5 or 10 years and people will start complaining about the quality of music and the reason will be that there's no motivation for bands. If you can't put food on your family's table then it just becomes a hobby at the end of the day, and there's a big difference between that and being able to put a lot of time into making the best piece of music you can because it's your job and you don't have to do something else 9-5 everyday. That's my stance, but there's not a lot we can do about it now, it's 2008.

RL: Your debut 'One Day Remains' sold around 3 million world wide is that right?
Myles: Haha, I wish!!

RL: Well that's what we got from the internet!
Myles: Really? Wow! Well you know it's funny, there's so many stupid numbers around about album sales and stuff.
Mark: I think it's actually about 750,000.
Myles: Yeah, but i like 3 million better!
Mark: It was about 500,000 in the States, and it usually works out that the biggest sales for American artists are in the US and the rest of the world is about a third of that. So far for the new record we've sold about 150,000 in America, and about 50,000 over here.

RL: 'One Day Remains' was mostly written before Myles joined the band, so did having Myles on board change your song writing approach?
Myles: It was about half done I'd say.
Mark: Oh yes, completely different. When 'One Day Remains' was first being written I was the lone guy, I had my studio at home and I did all the demoing. It's tough on your own cos it can take ten times as long to write. Now that Myles is in the loop makes things so much easier, two heads are better than one. Sometimes you don't want someone else in the fold, if you're very satisfied with the quality of music you write, then two many cooks can spoil it. But Myles and I have a mutual respect, I love the stuff he writes, and I hope he somewhat likes the stuff I do!
Myles: Well that's why I'm here, if I hadn't heard those demo's and knew what he was capable of, I wouldn't be here, I love you man!

RL: Myles, you've been with guys for a few years now, did you, or do you still, feel any pressure from fans, media, the rest of the guys, or even yourself, given the phenomenal success the guys had in Creed?
Myles: As far as the fans go, there was always that faction of people that loved Creed and they were either going to jump on board or they weren't, so once that was weeded out, it was fine. As far as the press goes, I don't read a lot of press, cos if I did I'd end up pulling my hair out, so I tend to live in a bit of a bubble. I was aware, like Mark, that times had changed and the success the guys had with Creed was such a phenomenon and to have success like that now is unrealistic, and so we just want to make the best music we can. It sounds kinda cliched but you know, we just want to be happy with what we do and have a fan base that sticks with us.
Mark: Before Creed broke up, I knew it was falling apart, and I remember seeing a band at the House Of Bluesand I was so jealous of the band selling out that venue (2000 capacity), because I knew I would have to start again and play places like that.

RL: Myles, you come from quite a diverse musical background, with jazz and so on, was heavy rock and metal something you always wanted to do, or was it just how your career progressed that you ended up doing what you do now?
Myles: Well I started out like Mark as a metal kid, and when I started playing guitar I was definitely influenced by a lot of those players. But I tend to go through phases of imersing myself in styles of music, so I went through a heavy jazz stage many years ago. But what's so great about this band is that I've never played in one that's had so much metal so I feel like I've learned a lot and become a more well rounded musician because I've done many different things.

RL: Are you a classically trained vocalist? Or have you had any training of any sort?
Myles: I have had training, and the technique I use is used by opera singers, it's called Belconto. I've never sung opera, but I use the same techniques that have been used for about 300 years.
Mark: I heard you practicing the other night in the hotel when I was walking down the corridor!
Myles: You heard that?! How loud was it?
Mark: Not that loud, kinda muffled I guess.
Myles: You know I was trying not to be too loud cos I'm self concious about waking people up so I had my black leather jacket over my head, and I could barely breathe, so I'd sing a bit, pop my head out, take a breath, put it back on again, and I was just praying people wouldn't hear me and some hotel staff wouldn't come in and see this guy with a huge leather jacket over his head!
Mark: We'll restrict you to the tour bus from now on!

RL: Mark, as a very technical guitarist who would you say are you biggest influences?
Mark: Right now I'm into John Petrucci, and lately lots of bluesy stuff like Joe Bonamassa, but I grew up trying to be a shredder and I've been trying to get away from that, and I guess it's kind of my crutch now. I'm trying to get better feel... be a bit more Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan type of player but with a more modern sound. The shred will always be in my playing, but my weakness has always been the bluesier, real slow, feely stuff.

RL: So when you were 12, 13, who did you want to be?
Mark: Paul Gilbert was probably my number one guy, Vinnie Moore... Ingvie Malmstein I always thought was awesome, but I couldn't even attempt to come close, and all the tab books are wrong. Every tab book in the world is wrong so it was impossible to match.

RL: Does that include your work?
Mark: No, I've always made sure they're right. I get so pissed about people putting out the wrong tabs that I made sure that our tabs books were right, I sit down and check them before they're finalised.

RL: Back to the tour, when you toured the first album you mixed in plenty of covers given you limited amount of material, will you continue to do that?
Myles: Its top secret! Nah, just kidding. We'll try and mix it up, we're doing 'Whole Lotta Rosie' here cos of the history of AC/DC here in Glasgow, but we're talking about integrating a brand new cover into the set on this tour, but we'll keep it a secret!
Mark: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go! A little bit of Wham, or [b]'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' maybe!
Myles: Haha, yeah we could do a power metal version of that just to take the piss!

RL: On the first tour you resisted the opportunity or temptation to play anything from your previous bands, is that a stance you'll continue to adopt?
Mark: We don't want to give anyone the impression that they were coming to see a cover band, and that's what it would feel like to me if I was playing a Mayfield Four song, or Myles was singing a Creed song, and it's just kind of humiliating.

RL: What are your plans for the next single over here?
Mark: 'Ties That Bind' just came out a little while ago. Our singles aren't the same over here and in America, so I don't know what we'll release next. Maybe 'Blackbird'.
Myles: That'd be great, actually that'd be awesome.
Mark: If they'll play an eight minute song!
Myles: It's funny cos 'Blackbird' is so long at 8 minutes, yet in Spokane where I live, one of the radio stations just started playing it and now everyone phones in to request it, and they just keep playing it even though the label wants them to play something else!

RL: What are your plans for the rest of the year for the UK?
Mark? We're already booked for some festivals in the UK and Europe and we've scheduled another tour in November, so if we were to come back in between it would be on a support tour. Maybe the unknown Led Zeppelin tour!
Myles: Haha, in our dreams!! If they came true it would be unbelievable!
Mark: I think the crowd would just be boo-ing the whole time!

RL: Finally, how long can fans expect to wait for album number 3? Another 2, 3 years?
Mark: Probably about 2 years from now... shit, we better get writing!

Chris Leonard

Alter Bridge Myspace

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Alter Bridge
Interview: Alter Bridge
We catch up with Alter Bridge backstage in Glasgow on their current UK tour, to talk about the new album, touring, and supporting Led Zeppelin!