Last month Alter Bridge/Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti released his first solo album, entitled “All I Was”. The album is comprised of material that didn’t make the cut on previous Creed or Alter Bridge material and it showcases a much heavier side of him. I had the pleasure of doing an interview an interview with Tremonti himself.
Your new solo album is quite a surprise. It’s not a typical instrumental shred album, nor is it a full-blown speed metal album as rumour has it. What is your take?
Well, in a way the album is a reflection of all the speed and thrash metal I grew up listening to. It’s very much a back to the roots sort of thing for me. The album is build around parts and songs I presented to my band mates in Creed and Alter Bridge, but they didn’t like it or they simply didn’t work out within the musical frame of both bands. I did push Alter Bridge in a much heavier direction, but Alter Bridge isn’t a metal band at the end of the day.
The lyrics on the your solo record come across as being very personal. Can you shed some light on them?
When I write lyrics they’re usually about the things I witness and things happen in my life. Many of my lyrics are about getting betrayed, people you thought you know well suddenly turning their backs to you and of course the various struggles we had in Alter Bridge with various record companies. When you’re in the music business, you’re successful and there’s lots of money at stake things can become very ugly.
The uptempo parts of “So You’re Afraid” reminds me of “Battery” and “Damage Inc” off the “Master Of Puppets” album and “Wish You Well” reminds me a lot of vintage Annihilator. To what extent are Kirk Hammett/Metallica and Jeff Waters/Annihilator sources of inspiration on those particular tracks?
I’ve never listened to Annihilator, but Metallica is my prime source of inspiration, especially when it comes to downstroking on the guitar. Plus “Master of Puppets” is still one of my favourite all-time records. The song you mentioned isn’t meant as a deliberate tribute or something. It’s all feel and emotion. “So You’re Afraid” is actually based on part I used for one of my instruction videos. It was one my favourite riffs and thus it made it way to my solo album.
“Brains” , “The Things I’ve Seen” and “Doesn’t Matter” could easily been included on “AB III”. Would those happen to be leftover material?
Some of those songs are indeed used during the “AB III” sessions, but we never managed to make it work within that context. We simply couldn’t get the melodies right, so I decided to keep those ideas and use them for one of my own projects.
To what extent are Whitlock and Friedman involved in the writing process for “All I Was?”
They didn’t actually write or contribute material, but their input was vital to see which material would be used for the solo album. They also added their flavour to the album by the parts they played. All the songs were written by me.
What I like about your guitar playing is that you managed to find a nice balance between feel/emotion and technique. How did you manage to develop your signature style?
By practising thousands of hours and watching all the guitar instruction videos I could get my hands on. Nowadays, there are lots of instruction videos on YouTube from all kinds of people, so I use that for inspiration and learning new techniques. I don’t consider myself being a very accomplished guitar player, so I keep on practising to this very day. There’s so much you can learn and I’m always striving to become a better player. Nowadays, I focus a little more on feel than technique.
You are one of the most lauded guitarists within rock and metal and you’ve sold millions of records with Creed and Alter Bridge is very celebrated band as well. How do you manage to stay grounded and level headed as a person?
I’m in the music business for all the right reasons. I simply love playing and creating music and I don’t believe in my own myth. I’ve won many prizes and it’s nice to get so much recognition and receive those accolades, but there are many guitar players out there that are so much better than me. They never get the recognition they deserve, because they’re not known within the mainstream music. A shame, really.
How do you deal with the rigors of touring and how do you keep yourself in shape both mentally and physically?
By trying to eat healthy and once I get back to my hotel room I’ll try to sleep as much as I can. I’m not known for being a party animal. Of course I’ll enjoy drinking a beer while being on tour, but my hometown buddies in Florida who have regular office jobs simply out drink me. I try to do regular fitness exercises as well.
Would you consider doing a project within the jazz/fusion or progressive rock/metal genre?
I actually love playing blues and jazz, but I feel I’m simply not good enough to be a bluesman. Blues may look easy to play, but in fact it’s easier to play a thousand notes per second. That’s all technique and that’s something you can learn. Feel is something you can only pick up after years of playing. I would love to do a blues or jazz project in the distant future, but at this point I’m not going to release anything which is not up to par with the things I’ve released in the past.
Time for the final question.Is there any chance you’ll be touring in Europe to support your solo album?
We’re going to play four dates in the UK in October and we’ll play everywhere there’s sufficient demand. I’ll just wait for my agent to tell me where we’re going to play.
Special thanks to Lars Uyttenboogaard for inspiration and input.