Mark Tremonti, lead guitarist with American rock band Alter Bridge, chats with Kevin Cooper about working with Myles Kennedy, growing up in Detroit, their latest album Walk The Sky and their forthcoming tour of the UK.

Mark Tremonti is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and author, best known for being the lead guitarist of the rock bands Creed and Alter Bridge. He is a founding member of both bands, and has also collaborated with many other artists over the years.

He formed his own band, Tremonti, in 2011, releasing the album All I Was in July 2012, followed by Cauterize in June 2015, Dust in April 2016 and A Dying Machine in June 2018. The metal rock opera A Dying Machine has been adapted by Tremonti and science-fiction novelist John Shirley.

Having formed Creed with lead vocalist Scott Stapp in 1993, they were recognized by many as one of the major acts of the post-grunge movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Tremonti and Stapp have been collectively recognized as one of the most prolific song writing teams in all of rock music. Disbanding in 2004, Tremonti with two other Creed members went on to form Alter Bridge.

After asking Myles Kennedy, formerly of The Mayfield Four and the future vocalist for Slash’s solo project, to be their lead singer, they released their debut album, One Day Remains. To date they have released six studio albums.

Tremonti later began expressing interest in releasing a solo album in 2010. His solo band originally consisted of Friedman and Whitlock alongside Alter Bridge and Creed bassist Brian Marshall playing bass guitar as a touring member.

He is a collector of guitars, amplifiers, and pinball machines, and is known to enjoy playing table tennis.

Whilst preparing for their forthcoming tour, Mark Tremonti took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Mark, good morning, how are you today?

I’m good thanks Kevin, how are you today?

I’m doing very well thank you and before we move on, let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

Not at all, thank you for your time.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

I have to say that life at the moment is good; I am just kicking back and taking it easy.

That’s great to hear. Well we have to talk about the new album, Walk The Sky, together with the promotional tour; is it okay if we talk about the album first?

Of course, that’s not a problem.

Well I have been playing the new album for the past couple of weeks now and I have to say that I love it. I personally feel that it is a great piece of work.

Thank you very much.

Are you happy with it?

Absolutely, yes, we have been living with it now for the past four months or so and we are so pleased that it is finally out there. We are all really happy with the way that the album has turned out, and we are now really happy that the fans finally have the opportunity to listen to it.

I currently have three go to tracks at the moment; they are Godspeed, Pay No Mind and Forever Falling.

Thank you for that, that is really awesome.

The opening twenty-six seconds of Forever Falling really does lure you into a false sense of security and then it grabs you around the throat.

That really is great to hear, and I have to say that those three tracks are some of my favourites as well.

Do you have one particular favourite track?

That’s easy, Godspeed is my favourite.

For the first time, you and Myles (Kennedy) have written this album separately from one another. Whose idea was that?

Yes, we have, we had a limited amount of time in the studio, so we had to do a lot of demoing beforehand. Having said that, I personally feel that in the long run it helped us to make sure that we could put out the best record possible.

Did you not find it strange not being in each other’s company?

Not really. We have both done our separate solo things so many times now, that we are actually getting better at writing independently.

Will you and Myles be writing future Alter Bridge albums in the same manner, separately?

Yes, we will, to an extent. To be honest I think that we will do a bit of both; separately and together.

Are you always writing?

Yes, I am, absolutely. I find myself writing all of the time.

I must ask you, in your opinion, just what makes Myles so special?

Myles is just a hardworking, dedicated artist and an all-round good person on top of that.

The tour opens in Nottingham at The Motorpoint Arena on Saturday 14th December, are you looking forward to being back here in the UK?

Absolutely, the UK is a home away from home for us. We love it over there and really can’t wait to get back.

You are going to be supported by Shinedown and Sevendust throughout the entire UK tour. Are they a good fit?

Yes, they are, they both fit into what we are doing very well.

How many of the new songs do you think will make it onto the set list for the forthcoming UK tour?

To be totally honest with you, we simply don’t know about that at this moment in time. At the moment we are playing the four songs that have been released, and as we continue on the tour, I imagine that we will play more and more.

The last time that you were here in the UK I spoke to Scott (Phillips) and he told me that he has acquired a taste for our warm UK beers.

(Laughter) really, well that’s interesting to hear but being totally honest with you I like my beer cold.

In that case you will just have to have it with ice (laughter).

(Laughter) I will have to make sure that there is a refrigerator on the tour bus.

Scott also told me that you and Myles work very well together and he is so happy to be a part of that. Would you agree with that?

Absolutely. Myles and I have been doing this for a very long time now. We respect one another, we both work really hard at what we do, and we really do like doing it.

Alter Bridge has been active now for some fifteen years; have you enjoyed the ride?

What can I say; it has been quite a ride for sure. It hasn’t been an easy one, but it has been a rewarding one.

How do the UK fans differ from the US fans?

They are just mad (laughter). They really are wild, and we love that. Don’t get me wrong, we have got some crazy US crowds too but in general I think the crowds over there in the UK are just wilder.

I think that the warm beer may have something to do with that (laughter).

(Laughter) I never thought of that, it could just be because they are crazy about their warm beer.

We all know that you are heavily involved with both Alter Bridge and Tremonti, so I must ask, just how do you manage your time between the two?

That is all down to a hell of a lot of forward planning. We just make sure that whenever we release an album that it has ample time to see the light of day and to get promoted.

As we have mentioned, Alter Bridge have now been together for fifteen years. Are you currently in a position that you would liked to have foreseen some fifteen years ago now?

Yes, we are, we are all very happy with where we are at this moment in time. We are all very proud of our achievements.

I must just ask you about Creed; are they now dead and buried or are they a sleeping giant?

What can I say, you never know. With Creed at the moment it is a case of see where the day takes us sort of thing.

They always say that you shouldn’t believe your own press, but reading yours, you have been awarded a Grammy for Creed’s single With Arms Wide Open, you were named Guitarist Of The Year for three consecutive years by Guitar World, and in 2011 you were listed in Total Guitar magazine as the fourth greatest heavy metal guitarist of all time, not forgetting the Greatest Guitar Solo Ever on Blackbird. Surely, that must put a smile on your face?

Yes, it does but it is all rubbish (laughter). I’m kidding (laughter). It’s a great feeling and I have to say that all of the accolades really do mean so much to us. I think if anything, it pushes us on to be better. If people are saying those nice things, then that means that we have got to get ourselves out there and earn them.

Who or what has inspired you?

Gosh, just living life, and continuing to have this great career of being able to be creative, and to have people waiting to hear what you are coming out with is such an inspiring thing to have. I just remember when I was younger writing songs, and wishing that people would listen to them. Now I have those fans and it is such a privilege.

During the time that you have been in the music business, what has been your most extravagant purchase?

That would have to be a couple of really expensive guitar amplifier heads, which I have to say are very sought after.

On the subject of extravagant purchases, do you still collect pinball machines?

I do, I absolutely do. I absolutely love it. That is one of my obsessions for sure.

Which one do you play the most?

That all depends upon the day, but what I will tell you is that my favourite pinball machine over the years is a game called Medieval Madness.

You are quoted as having said that there are still “more battles to fight”. Just what battles are there left to fight?

(Laughter) there is always a battle or two left to fight. Like I said earlier I want to continue to chase down the best songs that you can imagine, playing to bigger crowds, performing in bigger stadiums, and trying to gather more and more folks who enjoy the music.

In your opinion, is there such a thing as a perfect album?

No, but I think that is what keeps us going because you always keep chasing that perfect album.

It is widely known that you run your own guitar and song writing clinics. How are they doing?

They are doing better than ever, thanks for asking. There has been an incredible turnout on this tour, and for me that has been really inspiring and I have had a lot of fun. When my manager said that I should do a guitar and writing clinic, by the time that I had responded to him saying “no, let’s not do that because it is so hard to teach someone to be creative as it is such a subjective subject”, by the time that I said that to him, he said “that’s too bad, it’s already on sale” (laughter). I tried my very best in order to come up with a curriculum, and more to the point, teach the unteachable. It’s not really teaching people how to write songs, it’s more like I am hopefully inspiring people and showing them that there are different ways to go about it.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

I would say that the two nights that we played at The Royal Albert Hall were my two favourite nights on stage.

We have established that Alter Bridge have been together for fifteen years. Where would you like to see yourself in the next fifteen years?

I think that it would be great if we were still able to be doing what we are currently doing in fifteen years’ time. My only complaint is that I wish that all of my family could do the entire tour with me. They do come out a lot, but I hate every second that I miss those guys growing up.

What was it like growing up in Detroit?

That was awesome; Detroit most definitely has an incredible music scene there. To be honest, I didn’t realise just how good it was until I moved to Florida. When I moved to Florida, I absolutely hated it (laughter). There was not a single kid at my school that I could form a band with, jam with, it just wasn’t a thing. So, as you can imagine, that was devastating for me. I had come from a school in Detroit that had Battle Of The Bands, talent shows with rock bands and all that kind of stuff, and the school that I had moved to had nothing of the sorts. It really was tough.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry is it simply dying on its backside?

No, not at all. There have most definitely been some bumps in the road but there is a lot of talent out there, and there are folks out there who are not prepared to let Rock and Roll go, and I am one of them so I think that it has still got a lot of life left.

Who do you currently listen to?

(Laughter) don’t laugh when I say this but I listen to absolutely anything and everything. Most of the time I find myself listening to backing tracks; I will be playing my guitar over them, practising my instrument and writing my own music. If you pushed me then I would say that I like a lot of 70s Soft Rock. If I am relaxing and feel like putting on some music in the background, it will usually be Michael McDonald, Gerry Rafferty, Rod Stewart, that kind of stuff. I find that stuff so relaxing.

Looking back, do you have any regrets?

We have made a couple of business mistakes along the way, but we have recovered, and we have learnt from them so we will keep those.

What was the first record that you bought?

The very first record that I bought was an LP by The J. Geils Band called Love Stinks.

Who did you first see performing live?

That was Iron Maiden, that was my very first concert and I was so grateful to be able to support them on their big European tour in 1987.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

(Laughter) Jeez, I can see why you ask that question last. That really is a tough question to answer. I always used to get emotional whenever I would listen to Lenny by Stevie Ray Vaughan. That was the last time that I can remember really getting emotional.

You are touring right up to 21st December so I was wondering just how will you be celebrating Christmas?

My whole family is coming over to be with me at the end of the tour and then we will all fly home together. Then hopefully, both of my brothers and their respective families are coming over to spend Christmas in Orlando with me.

On that note Mark let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been absolutely fantastic, and I will see you here in Nottingham on Saturday 14th December. You take care.

Thank you, Kevin, you take care and I look forward to catching up with you in Nottingham.