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Saturday, February 24th
The Hot Sweat
Hana Pestle
Hana Pestle
It was a match made in…well, not heaven exactly, more like, just in Alan’s head.  Take a small, sweet indie pop girl, and give her the reins for an interview with a major-label hard-rock/alternative band.  I must admit, I was intimidated to be just a tad out of my element…but thrilled nonetheless.  After all, this is seventy-five percent of Creed we’re talking about here!  (And for those who still don’t know, yes, Creed broke up several years ago, and a reunion is out of the picture.  Moving on.)

The act in question is Alter Bridge, consisting of former Creed members Mark Tremonti (lead guitar), Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott “Flip” Phillips (percussion) and a superb new lead singer, Myles Kennedy.  After buying themselves out of their initial record contract with Wind-Up Records, on which they released their 2004 debut album, One Day Remains, Alter Bridge found a comfortable home at Universal Republic, and released their second album, Blackbird, last October, featuring the single “Rise Today.”

The band will be continuing their European tour throughout February, with shows in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Sweden, and I’d like to thank them for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions.  Here’s my Alter Bridge interview!

Ashley:  For those who haven’t heard you (and haven’t heard Creed either), describe your sound.
Myles:  It’s kind of hard to describe both bands in the same breath since there is a difference in the sound.   Both Alter Bridge and Creed would be considered song driven rock bands if you want the simple answer.  Both bands are or were very melodic and guitar heavy.

A:  Many articles I’ve read on you have described Alter Bridge as “Creed with a new singer,” but as a listener, I know it’s probably not that simple.  What are the more subtle distinctions between the two bands, or the different times in your lives?
M:  Anyone who has really spent time with the second record Blackbird will hear that Alter Bridge has evolved into something different than “Creed with a new singer.”  We wanted to make a shift from the past and challenge ourselves as a band.  You have two main writers now as well as a great collaborative dynamic between the four of us.  Mark took his guitar playing to another level on this record while I play guitar as well.  Scott and Brian both continue to establish themselves as a fantastic backbone to the whole sound.

A:  Just how sick are you of hearing and telling the Creed anecdotes?
M:  I can’t speak for the rest of the guys on that one.  I will say that it kind of cracks me up.  It has been 4 years since that entity disbanded.  I am amazed that people continue to bring it up like it happened yesterday.

A:  Moving on…what were your first thoughts when you bought yourself out of your contract with your first label, Wind-Up Records?  Were you more liberated or intimidated?
M:  It was extremely liberating, but it was a huge gamble.  We believed that Wind Up was not the best home for this band, so we bet on ourselves and bought out of the deal.  It wasn’t cheap, but we felt like “The risk is worth the gain.”   Once we severed the ties with our former label, we knew we could make the record we needed to make.

A:  Here goes Musiqtone’s almost famous stock question: What is your philosophy on music?
M:  Our philosophy on music is pretty simple.  It is all about the song.  It’s about a great melody and good music to grab people’s attention.  Then it needs to be backed with a lyric that people can relate to.  We spend a lot of time trying to craft records that connect with people.  We don’t care about current trends in music.  We just try and create something that is universal and timeless.  We may not succeed every time, but we try our best.

A:  I’ve heard a lot about the sorts of musical influences each of you have had, but what other things (in life, in nature, in people, etc.) inspire you musically and lyrically?
M:  That is a good but tough question.  There are so many things that can trigger inspiration in this world.  Sometimes it can be a conversation with a friend.  It can be as simple as standing someplace and hearing two completely different sounds that give you a musical idea.  The other day I was watching a movie and the scene gave me an idea for an entire song.  It put me in a mental space and within two hours I had started and finished the music and lyric.  Most of the time it takes much longer.

A:  Myles, you have stated that you didn’t want your single, “Rise Today,” to be interpreted politically.  How political do you think it’s appropriate for bands to get in their music?
M:  At the end of the day it is up to the artist.  It all goes back to the previous question about inspiration.  When an artist is inspired by something they should have the freedom to convey it in their work.  That same artist should be prepared when his or her song ends up turning off listeners.  You aren’t going to appeal to everyone when you start voicing your opinion about political subject matter.  Chances are you are going to offend someone.

A:  If each of you were animals, what animals would you be and why?  What sort of animal would Alter Bridge as a whole be—other than a Blackbird?
M:  Since Brian’s approach to playing the Bass is very slinky and groovy I would compare him to a snake.  I would compare Mark to my Shi-tzu since they are both the most selective eaters on the planet.  I would compare Scott Phillips to something that isn’t actually a real animal, but alludes to one, the Chia Pet.  That guy has quite an amazing head of hair!  I would definitely be a monkey.  I eat a lot of bananas.

As a whole, I would best describe Alter Bridge as the “Cockroach of Rock and Roll.”  No matter how many times people try to step on us, or flush us down the toilet, we keep coming back for more.   We tend to be stubborn and resilient like that.

A:  How is the Europe tour going?  You’ve got a bunch of gigs lined up through mid-February.
M:  We start in Glasgow, Scotland on the 18th of January and finish in Stockholm, Sweden in mid February.  It is always a joy to have the opportunity to tour the UK and Europe.  The people who come out to the shows from that part of the world breathe so much life into this band.

A:  You have large and devoted fan bases all around the world, but if you had to pick a favorite city or venue, what would it be?
M:  That question is bound to get us into trouble.  We always seem to have a great time when we play the Astoria in London.  There is always a good energy there.  The UK and Europe are always great.  We love the U.S. as well.  How is that for dancing around the question?  I should be a politician.

A:  In what ways do you most like to get involved with your fans?
M:  We love the interaction between the crowd and us at our live show.  Getting to see the people who support the band in a live venue is what it is all about.  Especially when we see them singing the songs back to us.  That is when you really know the connection has been made.

A:  I really love your song “Watch Over You;” it has a much gentler and more endearing feel than your other material.  Was that about someone you know?
M:  The original version of that song was written about 5 years ago after I had experienced a set of circumstances with someone I had known.  Though it was a difficult time, it taught me a lot about human nature.  The key line in that song is the question “how can you love someone and not yourself.”

A:  What do you hope listeners will gain from listening to your new album and seeing you live?
M:  We just hope people find some kind of escape or comfort in these songs.  Or maybe just the thrill of cranking their stereo to hear a "balls out rock record.” Either way it is an honor to know that people enjoy what you do.   We will never take that for granted.

A:  And finally, the perfect stock question…what’s next for Alter Bridge?
M:  To stay afloat as long as possible in this crazy business known as “The Music Industry.”  In an age where file sharing has drastically changed everything, (not to mention a flood of entertainment options that compete for the same consumer) we just want to be able to keep the machine running.  Things have changed a lot in the last few years so it’s a new frontier.  We hope to continue to have the luxury of being a part of it.  Come to think of it, since it is no longer frowned upon to use your songs in ad campaigns, should we consider aligning ourselves with Corporate America? Something tells me that “Rise Today” would be the perfect anthem for Viagra.

Ashley WoolAshley Wool is...well we haven't decided what she's going to be yet but we'll let you know. All you need to know is she writes for us in some kind of weird, undefined capacity. You can reach her though at ashleywool@musiqtone.com.

(C) 2008 Musiqtone. All Rights Reserved. Any part of this interview cannot be used without written express consent from both the representatives of Alter Bridge and Musiqtone.
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