Alter Bridge, the band that sprang out of the ashes of Creed, have quietly but insistently placed themselves to the forefront of American rock over the course of the last ten years and four albums, culminating in this year’s release Fortress which garnered rave reviews and sold over 300,000 copies in its first week alone . It’s all the more surprising when given the fact that there’s plenty of demand for the four musicians involved outside of the framework of Alter Bridge. Singer Myles Kennedy has worked with too many artists to mention, but most notable perhaps is his work with Slash from Guns n’ Roses – he’s also a succesful solo artist. The original Creed members, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, and drummer Scott Phillips have, between Alter Bridge albums reformed for a tour with Scott Stapp, while Tremonti has also brought out a solo album, and Phillips joined the supergroup Projected.
Myles Kennedy took some time out from the band’s busy schedule – they’ve just finished a European tour, and have announced various festival dates for 2014 – to answer some TMO questions (via email)
One of the things that always puzzles me about Alter Bridge is how you come together and work, despite the fact that you all have other musical projects and partnerships. Doesn’t the fact that you all play in other contexts create an instability/insecurity in the band? If anything it has helped us grow as a band. Having various outlets to express ourselves musically seems to enhance the songwriting process with Alter Bridge. It definitely had a positive effect on the Fortress sessions overall.
Stevie Wonder would be a dream come true. His talent and genius is undeniable. Definitely a huge inspiration to me over the years. I still listen to his music all the time.
Tell us a little bit about the title Fortress. Are titles important to you as a band, or are they just a necessary thing to package together a song?
Fortress is meant to symbolize anything that would be considered steadfast and invincible. This can pertain to government, religion, marriage or relationships. There are many things humans construct for the sake of solace. Fortress deals with the emotions one feels when any of those entities start to decay and crumble. Titles are important. They help tie in images with the music and hopefully take the song to a new level for the listener.
We’re living in an age where it’s increasingly easy for musicians to distribute their music, but with that comes a change in how people listen. How important is the album format for you? Would you hope that people listen to your albums in sequence, or do the songs stand alone happily?
We are aware that generally people will listen to these songs out of sequence, so we do our best to make sure each track stands on its own. At the same time, we do put a lot of effort into constructing an album. Hopefully there are still people who will take the time to listen in that context.
There’s a lot of darkness and pain in Alter Bridge’s music – is pain the key to great art? Do you need to experience hard times to write good songs?
You don’t have to experience pain to write a good song, but it does help to have experienced whatever theme you choose to convey. I think the key to great art is creating something that resonates with people. There are a range of emotions that one can draw from for inspiration.
If you had to associate one word with Alter Bridge what would it be, and why? Hope. Though a lot of our music tends to come from a dark place we also try to convey the idea that things will get better. Pushing forward and persevering is a central theme of what we do.
Music, good and bad, gets under your skin like nothing else; If there was one song in the world you could forget, what would it be and why?
When I was a kid there was a jingle for a toy commercial that went “Monchichi Monchichi oh so soft and cuddly.” That song used to drive me crazy because it would get stuck in my head….still haunts me sometimes:)
Let’s playfully imagine that you are forced to choose one of your songs to represent you to new listeners, what would it be and why?
Blackbird is still probably the song we are most proud of. It conveys what Alter Bridge is capable of as a band. People connect with the lyric as well. Loss is such a universal theme. Something we all experience and understand.
If you could write/record with any musician – alive or dead – who would it be, and why? Stevie Wonder would be a dream come true. His talent and genius is undeniable. Definitely a huge inspiration to me over the years. I still listen to his music all the time.