Alter Bridge Biography
Last updated: 07/23/2012 11:00:00 AM
Myles Kennedy – Vocals, Guitar
Brian Marshall – Bass
Scott Phillips – Drums
Mark Tremonti – Guitar, Vocals
The evolution of Mark Tremonti, Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall as artists is marked with the debut of Alter Bridge. After selling 30 million albums worldwide, Creed has called it quits and its members have chosen to pursue new creative directions. Over three albums, Creed achieved countless industry accolades, had two # 1 albums, and played to millions of fans around the world. Guitarist/ songwriter Mark Tremonti states, “After all Creed achieved professionally, I felt that I needed to refocus on the goals that I had personally. One of those goals was to get back to my rock and roll roots. After Creed took a break, band-mate Scott Phillips and I started to jam together again and realized that we both shared the same vision and were surprisingly anxious to get back out there and start doing it again.” The evolution continued when original Creed bassist Brian Marshall, who was not part of Creed’s Weathered album and had been working as a musician/ producer at his home studio, got a call from Tremonti. “When I got the call from Mark I could tell by the tone of his voice that Alter Bridge was something that he was really excited about and I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of it. He told me, ‘Your bass playing matches the sound more than any other, you’re the guy’, he told me. It’s great to be working with those guys again, we haven’t skipped a beat,” Marshall notes.
In addition to Tremonti, Phillips and Marshall is Myles Kennedy. Myles, formerly of the Mayfield Four, was recruited to be the band’s singer. Tremonti’s search for a vocalist had begun in late 2003. “We didn’t have a timetable and we were prepared to take as much time as needed to search the world for the best available rock and roll vocalist when we remembered Myles from the Mayfield Four who had opened for Creed in 1998,” Tremonti recalls. “We called him and asked him to lay down vocals on a couple of tracks we were working on. None of us could recall hearing someone with his voice or passion – as soon as we heard what he did we knew he was the guy. Then he came down to rehearse with us in Orlando and he was one of the nicest and most humble people we had ever met; everything just clicked with all four of us. As we were running through the songs, the future fell into place before our eyes.” The shared vision of the band seemed to coincide with a concept from Tremonti’s youth, and the name ‘Alter Bridge’ was born. The name comes from a long-standing bridge near Tremonti’s childhood home in Detroit, which was often regarded as a boundary to the children in surrounding neighborhoods; beyond it was uncharted territory. The small bridge epitomized “choice” and “the unknown” for Tremonti. While there remains a sense of familiarity amongst he, Phillips and Marshall, there is a natural level of excitement that is evoked from what is new, and ultimately unknown, about the future– they are truly starting a new chapter in their lives. Tremonti notes, “It’s a new road ahead of us, but the essence of this band is organic and honest rock n’ roll. The music is driven by melody and instrumentation. It is all about fun, and if it weren’t, I doubt any of us would be committed to the new band to the level that we are.”
As a way of indoctrinating Myles into the fold, the three chose an interesting initiation rite –they all went bungee jumping over a ledge from a 300-foot drop. As Phillips mentions, “This is representative of what is going on with the new band. Everything is a lot of fun for us.” Tremonti adds, “The three of us have always been great friends, so it was important to find somebody who could fit in and who we would be comfortable with. There is no doubt that Myles is that guy.”
On joining the fold, Kennedy mentions, “When the call came in from Mark, I was working on a solo record in Spokane, Washington and I didn’t expect to ever be a part of another rock band. Now that I am here, these guys are the antithesis of the prototypical rock stars, and the setting has made me feel more empowered than ever before.” Prior to joining Alter Bridge, Myles had been signed to Epic Records and released two albums with the Mayfield Four. Kennedy explains, “The experience was incredibly significant in preparing me for this opportunity, and I learned a tremendous amount.”
Alter Bridge’s debut album One Day Remains (Wind-up) was produced by Ben Grosse (Filter, Fuel, Sevendust). When asked about the choice Phillips mentions, “Personally, I have always been a big fan of his.” Tremonti weighs in, “I spoke to John Connolly from Sevendust and his thoughts combined with the sound of the Filter record were enough for me.” The selection is a perfect choice considering the fact that according to Kennedy, “The music we are creating covers a fairly wide scope and crosses a lot of boundaries – there are elements of modern rock, soul, and aggressive metal all incorporated into the mix.” Tremonti shared, “With this album, we are trying to learn from our past but begin with a different perspective. Ben definitely offered the setting we were looking for, and on a production level, his recordings are sonically huge. On the Filter album, you think every instrument will be drowned out by another in the mix, but he has this knack for making each track stand out without losing any of its sonic power.”
The majority of the songs took root in a small handheld recorder where Tremonti started by recording riffs and melodies. “The first track I started to work on was Shed My Skin - it really digs into events of my past that shape who I am today. From a lyrical perspective, I spent more time on this one than any of the others. All you have to do is listen and you will get a pretty clear picture of where I am coming from.” He continues, “There are a lot of themes on this record that are very personal, for example In Loving Memory is about my mother who recently passed away. In terms of purely personal significance, you cannot get any deeper than that. It is definitely a sad, but uplifting song.”
This band displays a respect for the roots of where rock came from. The lineage for the material ultimately draws its closest connection to the Seventies. As Tremonti mentioned, “Back in the Seventies, there seemed to be a greater focus on great melodies and great musicianship. Melody is the core of everything. It is more important than a vocal, drum fill, or bass line. Melodies run the show, and without them there is nothing.” He went on, “The Seventies can really be defined by one word --- real. From the beginning we have tried to work within the parameters of being true to that quality, while at the same time bringing the sound into the 21st Century. I do believe that the realness comes out in this music purely as a product of us doing this for the fun of it. It begins and ends with the love of the music.” Kennedy offers, “It is so important to begin with a great song. If the song is not there, it will never work. A great, timeless song is what rock n’ roll has always been about. Down to My Last, gave me the chills when I first heard it, and that hasn’t happened to me in a very long time.”
Given the history that Tremonti, Phillips and Marshall have together, there is obviously a natural continuity that still exists between Creed and Alter Bridge, yet there are new and significant dynamics in Alter Bridge’s music that can definitely be pointed to. Most notably, on tracks such as Open Your Eyes and Find The Real, the compositions feature Tremonti singing more harmonies than he has in the past. Also, with Myles there is the additional dynamic of having a second guitarist when the band plays live that definitely makes a significant impact. Tremonti adds, “Myles also brings an amazing vocal approach to the material he is able to deliver with an amazing ease, whether he is hitting the highest of the highs or the lowest of the lows. His natural projection is amazing.” Lastly, the trademark soliloquy guitar intro to the songs that made many of Creed’s tunes so poignant continues to find life within many of the compositions that make up this repertoire, and the guitarist continues to be a purveyor of tasteful guitar lines. The impact of the reunion of Phillips and Marshall is also very evident. Both players emerge as forces in their own right – whether it’s Marshall controlling the groove on Burn it Down, or Phillips delivering a constant rush in Metallingus.
As the quartet awaits the release of their debut, there is, as Marshall points out, “A combined level of excitement and fear in starting over. It definitely does feel, for at least me personally, like the My Own Prison days.” Phillips continued, “The most significant things that we are taking from the Creed experience are the lessons that we learned. From the beginning, we decided that it would be unfair to the fans and ourselves if anyone other than Creed were out there playing Creed songs. We truly believe that the decisions we’ve made for our future are the right ones. After writing and rehearsing the new material, we are confident that we’ve made the right choices.” Tremonti added in summation, “It’s no longer about the past – it’s about the future. This is a new band and a new beginning.”