Radio Metal: The Last Hero was released three years ago, but in the meantime, you and Myles have been very creative and busy: Myles made her solo album and a new Slash album, you made your conceptual solo album, and with Alter Bridge, you had that experience with The Parallax Orchestra. So you did a lot of things before you put on this new Alter Bridge album. How did you manage to find creative resources despite this hyper-activity?
Mark Tremonti (guitar):We almost never stop writing. It's something we do when we have free time. It's our hobby, it's our passion, it's our career. If I have a free day, I take my guitar and compose. I think when you're creative, you stay creative. If we take breaks, if we stop being creative for a year, it's hard to get back into that state of mind. When creativity is never extinguished, it continues to grow and grow. I never find myself lacking music to work on. We are always ready to go! We spent a lot of time doing demos of ideas for this album. I think we both have so much material that we will never have enough of a life to get out! It's fun to have all these different outlets. I think that as soon as you bring new experiences, new strengths and new ways of seeing how to write a song, it helps to perfect our sound. It makes it evolve.
While you were composing the songs, you were looking for some old synth loops and you worked by passing them in the background to inspire you. It is well highlighted on songs like "Godspeed", "Pay No Mind" and "Walking On The Sky". How did having these synthetic sounds orient and influence your approach to songs?
It's exciting to go on new fields. This time, I heard a song called "Tech Noir" from Gunship. I loved it. She hit me, it's one of my favorite songs of all those I've heard in recent years. I sent it to Myles, and I said, "Listen to this song! I love it. I would like to try to incorporate this kind of atmosphere in the next album. He immediately said that he adored and was on the same wavelength. So we integrated some sounds to John Carpenter, in the vein of old synthwave music, in two or three of our songs. The idea is to set up an atmosphere and let it put you in a certain state of mind. Then there is only to catch the inspiration when it manifests itself. These loops and sounds spark new things from us. It's one thing to compose on a drum loop, but when you have a different approach where you are confronted with something that is not so much rock'n'roll, it pushes us into another state of mind. From now on, I'm more open to looking for loops that, at the base, are perhaps more likely for hip-hop songs, or any style of music other than heavy metal. Because if you're always doing hard rock and heavy metal, it'll inspire you, but it will not force you to take other directions. It's all about trying to stay inspired and finding elements that will renew our composition, so that it does not make sense to always do the same thing. As a composer,
How does the current 80s revival and synthwave movement inspire you?
I grew up at that time, so it's something, when I listen to it, that reminds me when it first appeared and how cool it was. I was never a big fan of keyboard in groups. Some bands did it well, but I really like it when the synth made its first appearances - as I said, the stuff we heard in John Carpenter's movies. This kind of synth, that's what I love. It was good to bring that into our music.
You and Myles have composed totally separately before you get together and combine your songs. I imagine you could have composed very different music, so how did you end up with a common direction for the album, from your respective song idea bundles? Is this what explains the diversity of the album?
We composed more or less all alone and we were lucky that when we put together all that, it sounded like a coherent album. It's not something we deliberately did, it happened naturally. In the past, we wrote individual parts, then we assembled our parts to make songs. On this album, we composed separately complete songs, then we found ourselves and adjusted them slightly. But nothing was really conscious. It became what it became a bit all alone. The energy of the album was created naturally. In general, with each album, we want to try to create a set of songs as varied as possible. We want the album to be dynamic and like a trip for the people who listen to it,
"People often think that all the heavy stuff comes from me and that all the quiet stuff comes from [Myles]. This is not true. I think people would be surprised: Myles loves heavy music. [...] With time, our borders are blurred, we have become very similar in our way of composing. "
So you changed your usual method of creating songs together with your producer Michael "Elvis" Baskette. Why this change of method?
Because we only had five weeks to record the album! We knew we had very little time, so we needed to be more prepared than ever. That's why we had to write differently. As I explained, usually we end up with partial songs and we finish them together, whereas for this album, Myles and I were forced to create complete songs, each one on our side, and to arrive directly with finalized demos - with melodies, arrangements, lyrics and everything in place - to present to the group before they even begin. We put these demos on a Dropbox, so we could review them all before entering the studio. So we felt better prepared this time. We knew where we were going. Often, when we wait until the last minute to create the songs, we do not know how they will render. While when you have some nice demos, you know that the songs will be at least as good when you record them with the whole band. For example, on the previous album, we captured all that on the moment, while there it was much more thoughtful and successful, so it can be heard in the recordings. Then, as soon as we assemble Alter Bridge, the group, this one will always apply its sound on each song that one writes. It's a question of putting everyone in the same room to impregnate Alter Bridge's paw. In this case, we have drum parts programmed on the demos, and then Scott comes in and does his own thing on the drums. It's the same tempo and the same feeling, but he will make his own parties, and Brian will put down his bass lines. Because when I'm doing bass, I'm just following the guitar, so here I let him do his thing. They both have their own style, which is unique. Scott is very square and he has a real feeling when he plays the drums. Brian Marshall plays like no other bass player, he is in his own world. He finds these smart bass lines that are really clean. They bring their own color to the songs. he is in his own world. He finds these smart bass lines that are really clean. They bring their own color to the songs. he is in his own world. He finds these smart bass lines that are really clean. They bring their own color to the songs.
Elvis still remained in production and mixing. It's been since your second album that he works with the band, and he even worked on your respective solo albums. Did not you want to go through with the change and try another producer for this album?
No. Why touch something that works? Elvis is part of the family. Making an album and creating music is a very, very personal thing. It's scary to think of getting someone else into our world and being vulnerable to that person. There is trust and respect as a unit between us. He is part of the team. We trust him. He gets great benefits from us. We get along very well, we have similar tastes in music. It motivates us, we motivate it. And he lives ten minutes from my house now! He moved from Virginia Beach to Orlando. We know that we are creating good things together and we want to continue in this dynamic.
You called this album "sort of answer to AB III" and "yang to yin that was AB III". The latter was indeed very dark album while it is more enlightened, more Zen, as you also said. How do you explain that you found yourself at two opposite ends of the spectrum with these albums?
AB III was written ... I think we wanted to take people into a darker and morose atmosphere. It's an album that talks about disillusionment and loss of hope and faith, loss of spirituality. This album is more of an awakening to freedom, to be happy in the moment, to be at peace. At the time of AB III, we were in a different state of mind. It's part of life, and it lends itself to different styles of creation. So many years have passed, we have lived a lot since then, so these albums come clearly from different states of mind, which is a good thing, artistically speaking. And listeners do not always want to be pushed into this dark world and mope, they also want to put an album and feel good. On this album, we feel much more positivity than we feel listening to AB III. This is really what the illustration represents. On the cover of the album, we see a woman escaping with birds. She is zen and has found peace.
On the other hand, there are very heavy sides in Walk The Sky, and it looks like every album you push the heaviness of guitars a little further. In general, we associate the heavy side with something dark, but do you feel that there are different types of "heavy", that there is heavy exhilarating?
Yes ! It's just what excites us, this heavy side. And it's not just about doing something heavy to make it heavy, even if it's exciting to play; we also try to preserve a melodic sensitivity in which we draw systematically. It's something that makes you excited to play; that's why we write this type of thing. A song like "In The Deep" has a galloping side and under-tuned energy, but it's a positive song. Afterwards, "Indoctrination" is probably the darkest song on the album. It's not an exhilarating song; she talks about a guru who attracts people and brainwashes them. "Pay No Mind" is another song that does not have a positive message; "Forever Falling" is about addiction and someone who kills himself because he can not say no to drugs - I've known so many friends and people who have fallen into this trap . But a third, perhaps, of the album conveys a real message of peace.
"I'm the most creative when things are going well. If the album is well received, or if the tour sells well, it will make me want to write new songs. Any positivity creates more positivity and generates more creativity at home. "
Now that we've heard how Myles sounds solo, would you say that, musically, Alter Bridge is the combination of your respective solo projects?
In a way, yes. I think his solo project was very different. I'm glad he was so different! But I think we each have very different sides in our personalities. On this solo album, it was his folk side that came out, but I think mainly it's a rocker. Often people think that all the heavy stuff comes from me and that all the quiet stuff comes from him. This is not true. I think people would be surprised: Myles loves heavy music. On "Would not You Rather", the first single, everyone thought I had written these riffs, but it's Myles who wrote them! Some of the quieter songs, like "Godspeed" or "Tear Us Apart", I wrote them, while people think they came from Myles. So you never know! On this album, even Elvis, our producer, said he could no longer differentiate us. When I bring an idea, he may think that Myles wrote it; when Myles brings an idea, he is there: "I swore it was one of your ideas! "With time, our borders are blurred, we have become very similar in our way of composing. Another example: the song "In The Deep", these galloping metal riffs, I've always loved that kind of stuff, yet it's from Myles, and I was like crazy when he introduced this idea. It's been so long since we've been composing together that we've developed a similar approach to things. I think it's inevitable after all this time. he may think that Myles wrote it; when Myles brings an idea, he is there: "I swore it was one of your ideas! "With time, our borders are blurred, we have become very similar in our way of composing. Another example: the song "In The Deep", these galloping metal riffs, I've always loved that kind of stuff, yet it's from Myles, and I was like crazy when he introduced this idea. It's been so long since we've been composing together that we've developed a similar approach to things. I think it's inevitable after all this time. he may think that Myles wrote it; when Myles brings an idea, he is there: "I swore it was one of your ideas! "With time, our borders are blurred, we have become very similar in our way of composing. Another example: the song "In The Deep", these galloping metal riffs, I've always loved that kind of stuff, yet it's from Myles, and I was like crazy when he introduced this idea. It's been so long since we've been composing together that we've developed a similar approach to things. I think it's inevitable after all this time. "In The Deep," these galloping metal riffs, I've always loved that kind of stuff, yet it's from Myles, and I was like crazy when he introduced this idea to me. It's been so long since we've been composing together that we've developed a similar approach to things. I think it's inevitable after all this time. "In The Deep," these galloping metal riffs, I've always loved that kind of stuff, yet it's from Myles, and I was like crazy when he introduced this idea to me. It's been so long since we've been composing together that we've developed a similar approach to things. I think it's inevitable after all this time.
"The Bitter End" and "Take The Crown" have a slightly symphonic side. Could this be a consequence of your experience with The Parallax Orchestra?
Everything could be, subliminally, a consequence, but it was not really in our mind. "Take The Crown" started with a heavy and groovy riff. The whole song was built around that, and in the end, this riff is not even in the song anymore! This song was ... The seed was planted with a heavy riff and that's how it was made. This is one of my favorite songs in the album. "The Biter End" was more ... It's familiar ground for Alter Bridge, much like "Before Tomorrow Comes" on Blackbird; it's that kind of song.
You went back to singing on the song "Forever Falling". The last time you did that, it was on the song "Waters Rising" six years ago. Considering your experience as a singer in your solo project, have not you considered sharing more songs with Myles to enrich the music, just as you share guitars?
Yeah. You know what ? I love it because I love to sing. Myles likes it a lot too, because he likes when he can take a break, rest his voice and let me take over for a moment. And fans love it too, because it offers a different dynamic. I think they would be furious if all of a sudden I sang half of the album, but a song or two, here and there, brings another dynamic. I like to call it our "secret weapons": Myles becoming the lead guitarist or me being able to sing a song, it's an extra card to play. Emotionally, it transports you when you have the opportunity to sing on stage. I would miss it if I did not sing at all.
During the composition process, you were "up until four in the morning, every night writing". Do you feel more creative at night?
Yes ! At night, it's clearly the moment when I'm the most creative. It's when my children are asleep, when my phone does not ring, when there is no one knocking on the door, and so on. I'm all alone, everyone knows that I should not bother when I'm doing my thing. I can then take time and not hurry. It's perfect.
The rest of the time is a normal day?
When I work late, I will probably sleep until around 10:30 am. My children are at school and when they get home, I take them to football training and I play in the garden with them. My children and I are very close. I do not think I'm a tour musician so we spend time together, because they often tour with me. And when I'm at home, I'm dad. I love that.
"The only way to make a change would be to get out of the music, get into politics and get things started by really acting out, instead of just being a rock guy and nobody will take seriously. Otherwise, it will not create any change. It will only upset people, one way or another. If you want to change things, do not complain - do it! "
More generally, which context and environment is most appropriate for your creativity and what inspires you when you write music?
All that suits the mood of the moment. Sometimes I'm inspired by atmospheres, or maybe I would have watched a movie that makes me feel a certain way, and I subconsciously want to express myself like that. Or things that happen in life. I wrote "Godspeed" about a friend who died last year. On "Forever Falling," I wrote about addiction. We never know. Sometimes you balance a word and the rest is written alone. It just helps you ... Like when I wrote "Godspeed", the word "godspeed" came to me. I was there: "You know what? I never really heard that word sung in a rock song. I will use it and see what I can do with it. Sometimes these first moments dictate a little where I'm going to take the song. But I like to write when everything is fine and there is a lot of positivity. I think a lot of people like hungry artists who crush black. When sad things happen, we end up writing about them - as in the case of my deceased friend on "Godspeed". But I am the most creative when things are going well. If the album is well received, or if the tour sells well, it will make me want to write new songs. Any positivity creates more positivity and generates more creativity at home. or if the tour sells well, it will make me want to write new songs. Any positivity creates more positivity and generates more creativity at home. or if the tour sells well, it will make me want to write new songs. Any positivity creates more positivity and generates more creativity at home.
We have already talked a bit about it, but a song like "Indoctrination" seems to touch on a more political theme. But the last time, when we asked Myles about his vision of the US presidential election, he said he was trying to "avoid the subject, because it's cleavaging," and he was applauding the courage of groups such as Prophets Of Rage who take positions as they do. So, why could not Alter Bridge also have this courage, especially if you have something to say about these topics?
If we had sufficiently strong feelings on particular topics, we would talk about it. But we like to focus on being a rock band and writing our songs, without being bothered by ... You know, you say the wrong thing, and all of a sudden, your career is transformed into that of a politician. That's not what we are. We are guys in a rock band; I do not expect anyone to take our opinions ... If you want to affect the world ... People asked us this: "Do you feel like you have a responsibility to change the world and use your opinion as a platform as an artist? And I said, "There are so many bands, it's so saturated with music today. The only way to create a change would be that I withdraw from the music, put me in politics and get things started by really acting, instead of being a rock guy who no one will take seriously. Otherwise, it will not create any change. It will only upset people, one way or another. If you want to change things, do not complain - do it! If you can be both a local politician and a musician, go ahead, if you really want to change things. But complain about it, I do not think it will do anything, except to stir up a little bit of things. Maybe arousing things can push someone else to become a politician to create change. But I do not know ... It's a dangerous game, and life is too short to live in all this negativity.
Listening to engaged words may cause people to think differently and review their opinions, or confront that opinion with someone else's. It can become a vector of change.
We express our opinions, but in terms of choosing sides ... We are more or less expressing that the whole system has become a sort of circus. The previous album was written during the [American] elections, and it was just a big reality show. It was not an elegant and sophisticated thing, it was like a circus.
Finally, we recently spoke to Scott Stapp . He seems to have finally taken control of his problems of addiction and bipolarity; he is in a good state of mind today. He told us that both of you spoke not long ago and agreed that there was a lot of misunderstanding and that things are positive now. So, is there hope to see you again working in Creed?
You know, I said no years ago and we finally did a reformation. It just needs to be the right time and the right place. I wished him the best, I hope he ... I heard from everyone that he was fine. So much has happened ... I'm aware of a lot of things that have happened, of course, but when it comes to personal stuff, I know about as much as anyone; I learn this via social networks and in the news. That said, I actually spoke to him a few months ago, but we do not talk to each other often. He has released a new album, and I hope it works well for him. We never know. I am very busy right now with Alter Bridge. As soon as I'm halfway through this tour, I will write for Tremonti's next album to make sure it will be ready on time. Then we'll see what happens.
New interview with Mark posted earlier. http://www.radiometal.com/article/alter ... age,349308