October 15, 2014 Interview – Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge
One of the most prolific names in modern hard rock guitar playing over the past fifteen years has been Mark Tremonti. Storming onto the scene as lead guitarist of generation defining band Creed, upon their disbandment in 2004, many were curious where Tremonti would end up next. Wasting no time, he and his bandmates began a new project named Alter Bridge recruiting Myles Kennedy, formerly of The Mayfield Four, to take on vocals. Now a decade later, Alter Bridge has established them as a leading force in rock-n-roll with a list of accolades a mile long. Spending extensive time on the road putting on exciting concerts, building strong bonds with their audiences, and living their dreams, Alter Bridge is poised to remain atop the mountain for a long time. Recently we sat down with Tremonti for a personal look at his impassioned work ethic, his time in Creed, forming Alter Bridge, touring, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You started at a young age with Creed and then in 1997 something amazing happened with the My Own Prison album. That album has sold an amazing six-million plus copies. Since then, every album thereafter was a massive success. At that young age, what was going through your mind as you were riding so high on success?
Mark Tremonti – When we first came out with the record, it was not like it was an overnight success. It was quick if you look back on it, but to us it was a slow incline in people’s awareness and people buying the record. We worked it the hardest we could and every step of the way people would say you are going to be a one hit wonder, then it is your sophomore slope on your next record. There were always naysayers and we always fought to stay alive. After all these years now, I think we feel comfortable in what we are doing.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it is always true, when there is success there is always negativity from naysayers like you said and it is really amazing and redeeming to see that you have done so much. When Creed disbanded in 2004 yourself, Brian Marshall, and Scott Phillips went on to form Alter Bridge shortly after with Myles Kennedy on vocals. Did you know the end of Creed was near and already had been working on new material for One Day Remains (2004)? It seemed like Creed disbanded, there was a short window of time, and a few months later Alter Bridge emerged with a full length album.
Mark Tremonti – Well I am always writing new music and it just turned out that when Creed was splitting up I had a bunch of new material that we could immediately go forward with. I just took what I was working on at the time. I saw quickly that Creed was coming to an end and did all I could to work as best as I could to get the new album together.
CrypticRock.com – It seems everything worked out and Alter Bridge has been very active and successful since. It seems each album you put out becomes more successful worldwide and to many fans your latest album Fortress is perhaps the band’s best to date. What was the concept and writing process behind this record?
Mark Tremonti – We just wanted it to be a unique record for us, not be predictable, just show growth artistically for us, and that is all we ever try and do. If you not getting better then you are getting worse, so we push ourselves to keep improving.
CrypticRock.com – Many would say you have accomplished that with the record. The record does show progress in the band, and at times it is extremely heavy. When the writing process came around, was being a little heavier something you were aiming for?
Mark Tremonti – I think we just wanted to make an album that was going to be fun to play live. I think the heavy stuff does the trick.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly does and fans are really enjoying it. Now backing tracking a bit in the midst of Alter Bridge’s success, in 2009 something unexpected happened and that was Creed reforming to tour and release a new album in Full Circle. There was obviously tension between the band members and Scott Stapp upon disbanding five years earlier. Clearly time mended matters, but what do you think was the key moment that you said let’s give Creed another go around?
Mark Tremonti – It had been seven years or so, so we kind of told ourselves let’s see if we can get back together and make the most of it. There are not a lot of bands that get to play the arenas and amphitheatres that we were doing back in the Creed days. We wanted to just try and see if we can all be civil with one another and do it. That is when we did that and put out a new record and went with it.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it worked out well and you guys did some great touring as Creed again. You did the album tours when you went out and played the entire Human Clay (1999) and My Own Prison (1997) records. That must have been a lot of fun.
Mark Tremonti – Yes, absolutely. It made me feel like I was twenty years younger.
CrypticRock.com – It was great for the fans especially, but for you as musicians to go back and revisit that material has to be special. With Creed and Alter Bridge both remaining active over in recent years, you have been extremely busy alternating touring between the two bands and releasing two Alter Bridge records and one Creed album. How did you manage your time between both projects?
Mark Tremonti – I am just constantly writing. I always have a ton of songs to work on and I always try to stay ahead of the game so I was prepared.
CrypticRock.com – Anyone knows that touring can be exhausting. How do you manage yourself being on the road so much and being away from home?
Mark Tremonti – I just try and plan things ahead and make sure that I am well-rested for whatever I have going on.
CrypticRock.com – Of course, you want to be rested because touring is grueling. As you were not busy enough with the two bands, in 2012 you released your first solo record. That album is very heavy and very well-written. You also take on the vocals on that record as well as playing guitar. It is obviously a very different kind of record than what you have done with Alter Bridge and Creed, so was this something that you had been itching to get out there for a while?
Mark Tremonti – Yes, absolutely, I felt like I had this big window, when Myles went out with Slash, where I could put these ideas together. I am glad I did it because I have always been a songwriter especially enjoy singing. I am glad I made it happen.
CrypticRock.com – That solo record really caught a lot of people by surprise in a positive way. Can fans expect you to possibly do a follow up record in the future and if so what can they expect?
Mark Tremonti – Yes, I am working on that now. It is an exciting process. I’m trying to make it more dynamic; make the heavier stuff heavier and make the atmospheric stuff more atmospheric. I am trying to do the best with what I got.
CrypticRock.com – Well that will be exciting to look forward to in the future. With that and Alter Bridge, things are looking really good for you. Now going back to Alter Bridge, when you had taken Myles into the band to be the frontman, it ended up being an excellent choice. Obviously a unique voice but a lot of people did not realize that he was a great guitar player as well. Is that something you knew at the time when he joined up?
Mark Tremonti – That is something I just kind of learned. I think when I was at home and we were working on an album, I was going upstairs and I hear this Jazz coming out of my guest room. I walked in there, I saw him playing, and I was blown away. I was like, “How come you never told me?” So immediately, on the next record, we had him join in on the guitar.
CrypticRock.com – That is really pleasant surprise to find out. Alter Bridge has kept the lineup together for what is, unbelievably, a decade now. If you back track to Creed it has been even longer than that but how would you describe the chemistry the five of you share with Alter Bridge?
Mark Tremonti – It is great. We all get along and there is no end in sight.________________________________________
CrypticRock.com – That is extremely positive to hear. You have been doing some heavy touring in support of the new record and now will be partaking in the final stretch of touring in 2014 in October. How excited is the band for this tour and can fans expect any surprises on this final run of the year in support of Fortress?
Mark Tremonti – It is going to be great to hit the stage again. We will continue touring off the album, it is definitely not a done deal. We are going to find out where we have good windows to tour and we will keep on doing it. Next we get back in the studio.
CrypticRock.com – Great, so it is safe to say that 2015 will include more touring then?
Mark Tremonti – Absolutely, either my solo stuff or Alter Bridge._____________
CrypticRock.com – There is a lot to look forward to. It is obvious you do have Heavy Metal roots judging by your guitar playing style. Tell us a bit about your musical influences.
Mark Tremonti – I grew up with Speed Metal, that was probably my biggest influence when I was young. Slayer, Metallica, Exodus, and Forbidden; all that stuff was really my biggest influence really. I never strayed, people said I would grow out of it but I never did. I also like ’70s Soft Rock. I can mix with everything as long as it is good, passionate, and well-done.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, good music is good music and that is all that matters. You had just mentioned some really good Thrash Metal bands right there. It is kind of ironic that Creed was considered a Christian Rock band. You talk about Slayer, Exodus, Overkill, and all these bands which are the other end of the spectrum which you liked. Did you ever imagine being in a band that would be considered a Christian Rock band.
Mark Tremonti – No, I never did, it ts just how things worked out. It all worked out for good and I probably would not be doing what I do now if that had not have happened; it all worked out.
CrypticRock.com- Absolutely, now my last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. I would like to know if you are a fan of Horror movies what some of your favorite?
Mark Tremonti – The Shining (1980) would be one, The Re-animator (1985), The Evil Dead (1981), Day of the Dead (1985), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Night of the Living Dead (1978), and Return of the Living Dead (1985). When I was a kid, the fun ones were films like Fright Night (1985) and the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. I saw The Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors (1987) in the theaters when it came out. I have watched all the Faces of Death movies. I could not watch those anymore. My older brother Mike was a huge Horror movie fan so he had all the Horror movies posters and everything on his wall, he had Fangoria magazine subscriptions, so I have seen pretty much everything out there.
CrypticRock.com – Wow, it sounds like you are very well-versed in ’80s Horror cinema. You have mentioned all of the George Romero films such as Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and Return of the Living Dead. Those were all fantastic films. People who are fans of those films usually have a favorite. Do you have a favorite out of one of those?
Mark Tremonti – I like Day of The Dead. I am also a fan of The Walking Dead series. I think I am caught up to about the third season or halfway through the third season. I haven’t seen the fourth season. I watch Game of Thrones. That is probably one of my favorite shows. Other than that, I do not really watch a lot of TV. I like reading a lot of books and playing a lot of guitar.
CrypticRock.com – Right, it’s quite obvious a lot of your time goes towards music. You said that you are a reader as well, do you have a specific genre of book that you like to read?
Mark Tremonti – I am all over the place, mostly fiction. I will read some biographies but stuff like Game of Thrones and Sci-Fi, stuff in the world of escapism. I read the classics as well; whatever I can get my hands on.
CrypticRock.com – That is a good mix of topics to read about and Sci-Fi can be consider in the same realm of Horror sometimes. You seem to have a good grasp of some of the older films. What do you think about all the remakes that have been popping up in the 2000’s? They remade Fright Night in 2011, Day of The Dead in 2008 for example. What do you think about that?
Mark Tremonti – To be honest, I have not been really too into them pretty much. I did not go see The Evil Dead (2013) but I saw just bits and pieces of some of the movies. I have not been to a movie hall in a long time. I think the last one I saw was The Decent (2005).