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The Melody Inside: An interview with Myles Kennedy


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“I had written and recorded a totally different record before and that was the one that was rumoured for a long time. To me, it wasn’t as focused. There wasn’t a congruent thing happening sonically and I felt like that was pretty important for the vision I was trying to convey.”

Myles Kennedy

It seemed apropos to begin this interview with Myles Kennedy by attempting to chart the storied and near-decade-long journey that has led him to his brand new solo album, Year of the Tiger. The disc is one that has been anticipated by fans of his metallic work with Alter Bridge and Slash since 2009, with nine years of on-and-off toil resulting in the frontman recording his latest release not once, but twice.

“Essentially what happened with that was that, once it was all done, I stood back and gained some perspective,” Myles explains of his first attempt at what would eventually become Year of the Tiger. “I just had to be honest with myself as a creative person and admit that it wasn’t the best first step forward, so I decided to leave it on the shelf and restart from square one. The way that it was recorded and the approach used, it just wasn’t right.”

Work on the rendition of Year of the Tiger that is hitting shelves worldwide today (9th March) only began in December 2016. And, upon listening to the twelve-song collection of acoustic and down-trodden blues that marks Myles Kennedy’s solo debut, it becomes clear just why the singer/guitarist wanted to take his time and make his first impression as a stand-alone star as perfect as possible. The album’s title is a reference to the Chinese zodiac of 1974: the year that Myles, at only four years old, would lose his Christian Scientist father to illness.

“This is obviously a very personal record,” says Myles. “It’s telling my family’s story. The thing that was really difficult was with songs like ‘Blind Faith’ and ‘Nothing but a Name’. Those are basically journal entries, more or less. They’re like I’m asking my biological father these questions and presenting these themes. That was the moment where I said ‘This is really putting a lot out there,’ and I had to really do some soul-searching there out of respect for him and my family. But in the end, I felt it was appropriate and that these were the right things to explore, for my own catharsis, ultimately.”

The personal overtones omnipresent throughout Year of the Tiger’s lyrics also extend to the album’s musical content. In lieu of the arena-filling heaviness of Alter Bridge and Slash, Myles’s solo tunes are delivered in a blues-inspired folk style that reflects his deeply-rooted love for the dulcet acoustics of Mississippi John Hurt, Chris Whitley and Led Zeppelin III (1970).

“I’ve always had an insatiable appetite for any music that’s good and authentic. I don’t digest a tonne of hard rock and I haven’t in a long, long, long time: it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that there are so many other genres that I’m interested in.

“I’m kind of like a curious kid: ‘What’s that? And what’s that? What’s that all about?’” he laughs. “One day I could be listening to Ella Fitzgerald, the next day I’ll be listening to Rachmaninoff, the next day I’ll be listening to Gojira.”

Despite Year of the Tiger representing a huge leap from the rock ‘n’ roll that he has built his name upon, Myles refuses to feel any anxiety about how listeners will respond to his newest output. When asked about whether or not he feels any trepidation regarding the album’s release, the vocalist answers with an apt quote from the classic 1989 film Field of Dreams“If you build it, they will come”:

“There were moments where [nervousness] would start to creep in, but I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve become very aware of the human ego,” he elaborates. “For me, I had to cast that aside, like: ‘You know what, sure, there are gonna be people out there where this won’t be their thing but, in the grand scheme of things, you have to do this for you!’ The ego is what asks ‘What if people don’t like this?’ and you just deal with it. If you’re honest and conveying real emotion in an authentic way, there’s always a place for that.”

It would be hard to disagree.

As Myles Kennedy finally delivers the end result of almost ten years of precise perfectionism and personal introspection, it stands as one of the best-written and most emotionally fascinating albums of this year thus far. Its roots in unabashed Americana and guitar-driven proto-rock make Year of the Tiger a quintessential throwback to music at its simplest, purest and most fearless.

Myles Kennedy’s brand new solo album, Year of the Tiger, is available now via Napalm Records.

Myles will embark on a sold-out UK tour later this month.

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