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Interview: Mark Tremonti

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Mark Tremonti is a very busy man.

The ex-Creed guitarist is currently lending his skills on the strings to both his main band, Alter Bridge, and his new Tremonti solo project, which is hot off the release of its brand new album, Dust.

Despite Mark being a primary songwriter in Alter Bridge, Tremonti and formerly Creed, the music the three create almost couldn’t be further apart.

“I definitely get to use more of the metal roots that I grew up with [in Tremonti],” the guitarist explains.

“That was one thing that I really missed in the other two bands, not being able to put that foot forward. And that’s really where my strengths came as a player growing up. Plus, I get to be the singer, and my rhythm section is much different from the other two bands.

“After taking on the lead singer role, it makes it much easier to speak and sing on the mic. I used to be nervous to just talk on the mic, but now that I’m doing it night after night it’s second nature.”

Tremonti's two latest albums – Cauterize and Dust – were recorded simultaneously during the same sessions, yet Mark says he didn’t enter the studio with two albums in mind.

“Any time I get the chance to write, I will. If it’s in the hotel room, if it’s when the kids go to sleep, if they’re at school, if it’s the back of the tour bus… I just do it whenever I can.

“I never try to write before a recording process. As soon as I’m done writing one record I start writing the next one.

“So all I knew was that I wanted to record as many songs as possible while I had the producer’s time. We had about 25 songs, then we narrowed it down to twenty. And it wasn’t until we were in the mixing process that I decided to split them up into two albums.

“I took all our songs and I just tried to split them up as evenly as possible. I put the strongest song on the first record, second strongest on the second record and so on. We wanted to mix up the fast-paced songs and some slow-paced songs to make it all flow as well as possible.”

An example of one of Dust’s “slow-paced” songs is its title track, which was also released as the lead single and the first taste fans received of the brand new album.

“I just feel like for my entire career, every record that comes out, we’ve released a heavy, fast track first. This time I wanted to put our best foot forward, do something different on this album and release my favourite song. I think it’s a good choice, people have reacted well to it and it’s just something different for us.”

But despite Tremonti’s two newest albums being sibling records, the only aspect that ties them together is their artwork.

“There’s a sci-fi theme to it. With Cauterize, the album artwork has this monstrous figure come to the Earth and burn it free of its impurities, cauterising it of its impurities. And Dust is the aftermath of that.

“It was done by my brother, Dan. I sent him images that I’d seen on the internet; one was a painting of an ocean with this gigantic head popping out, I really wanted to run with that. He developed this scene and this creature for the album that will hopefully stick around for a few years.

“But as far as themes go lyrically, there’s not much of a tie-in.”

Now that Dust has been released, Tremonti has set its sights on touring, with two dates set to occur in the UK over the summer: one at Download Festival, the other in Glasgow.

“We have tremendous support there; with both Alter Bridge and Tremonti, it feels like the UK is our hub.

“It’s probably our biggest fan-base in the world. Every time we go, more and more people show up. It’s where we base our touring around, even more so than the United States.”

According to Mark, the success of his current projects in the UK comes “because of our previous work with Creed in the States.”

“Creed was very popular, it was hard to outrun the shadow of it. But in Europe, Creed didn’t really do much, so it was like a fresh start. I figured that’s how we got a head-start in Europe, but also I think tenor vocalists and bands with guitar solos are more accepted there than in the States.

“I think the States’ rock n’ roll is a little different – a little more straight-forward – and Europeans are more involved in the style that we make: more tenor vocals, more guitar solos, more progressive rock.”

And between now and June, not only does Tremonti have a European tour to embark upon, but Mark also has to complete work on the fifth Alter Bridge record.

“We’re still tracking it. We’ve gotten through almost all of the instrumentation, now it’s time to get onto the vocals. I think Myles [Kennedy, lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist] gets back to singing on Sunday [1st May]. We’ve got about thirteen tracks to sing on, then go behind them and do all the harmonies and my parts.”

The album’s schedule has not only been affected by Mark’s work in Tremonti, but also Myles Kennedy’s part in the solo project of Guns n’ Roses guitarist Slash.

“And Myles lives on the other side of the country,” Mark adds.

“We just have to schedule our time right and have him fly in. We’ll spend weeks at a time writing and then get into the studio. Me and Myles will get on Skype together and we’ll sing each other ideas to prepare for when it’s time to put the pieces together.

“We do this thing where I’ll write a part and he’ll write a part, instead of me just going to Myles and saying ‘I wrote this song, it’s ready to go and you just have to sing it.’ He’s not going to feel like he has a part in it. He’s got to put his heart and soul into it when he sings it. So we say ‘I’ve got a chorus, do you have a verse that fits it? Or a bridge that fits it?’ We piece it together. Every song that we do now, it’s a creation by both of us. That way we can both feel fully invested when we’re making a song.”

Regardless, Mark feels that both his and Myles’ work on other albums will help tide the fans over until the next Alter Bridge record.

There’s always going to be fans that just like one band or just like another, but I think the majority of people who like Alter Bridge will get into Myles’ stuff with Slash, or my stuff, or Myles’ upcoming solo album. He’ll come out with that one day!

“I think it all helps, because we always put three years between Alter Bridge records. That’s always worked for us, it gives us the opportunity to do other things. If you I just focus on one band for twenty years, I don’t know if that’ll be enough to artistically satisfy me.

“When we come back to Alter Bridge after everything else, it’s exciting. We have new experiences to bring to the band and we’re always excited to get back together again.”

Alter Bridge’s fifth album is slated for release at some point this year, but the album will have to be nothing shy of a masterpiece if it hopes to live up to the standard set by Dust, which is easily one of the best records of 2016 so far.

Tremonti’s brand new album, Dust, is available physically and digitally now via Fret12 Records. Read our review of the album here.

Tremonti is playing two UK shows – one at Download Festival and the other in Glasgow – in June.




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