Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge Talks "Field of Dreams," Solo Record and "AB III"
Mon, 29 Nov 2010 09:45:24
Alter Bridge have built something timeless with their third offering, AB III.
It's a heavy, heartfelt and hypnotic collection of hard rock that's robust and raw. Mark Tremonti's fret board practically catches fire during the solos on the likes of "Isolation" and "I Know It Hurts." Drummer Scott Phillips and bassist Brian Marshall cement a rock solid rhythmic foundation that's impossible not to groove to. At the center of it all is Myles Kennedy. The frontman can transport listeners into the very heart of darkness on "Slip to the Void," or he can bring inspiring light with "Life Must Go On."
Kennedy sings with every inch of his soul, and he can be felt in each note. That combination of emotion and refined thrashing leads to more than just one of the best rock albums this year—but a genuine experience. Alter Bridge have crossed into the realm of legend on AB III…
Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview. Myles talks about the message within AB III, why he loves Field of Dreams and Star Wars, what's up with his solo record and so much more.
AB III is available now!
Does AB III have one overarching theme or message for you?
As far as the theme of the record goes, it's definitely the loss of innocence. I think that's where people are picking up on the dark vibe. It's that idea of someone really questioning everything that they've believed all their life, doubting that suddenly and not having something to fall back on as a foundation. I think maybe that's why people are reacting to some of the lyrics because that idea is pretty common for a lot of people at certain points in their lives.
That feeling of doubt is probably one of the few things that absolutely everybody shares.
Yeah, I think so. The idea of questioning things is very much a part of human nature. That's what makes us different from a dog or a horse [Laughs]. We've got the ability to rationalize.
Do you feel like you were questioning yourselves at all in order to foster that musical evolution?
I think some of that musically has come from the trust level in the band. As writers, there's a certain thing Mark and I have been able to develop over the years that helped give the record more coherency. It's a little more congruent than past records. We've been able to grow as a band, and I feel like we've really come into our own. I started to feel that happen on Blackbird, and I think this album was a continuation of that.
This album essentially picks up where Blackbird left off.
Definitely! I totally agree with you on that. We're always writing. Some bands will finish a record, and then they won't write for years. Then, they'll get together and say, "Oh, we've got to write a record!" Mark and I always keep the ideas going. Some of the ideas on AB III were actually around when we were recording Blackbird. I remember sitting in the room with Mark when a lot of the music for "Words Darker Than Their Wings" happened. We were in the little apartment in Nashville that we were staying in during Blackbird. The intro guitar part of "Wonderful Life" came about around the same time. We're always creating and stockpiling ideas so perhaps that's why it sounds like there's a continuation there.
What does "Words Darker Than Their Wings" mean to you? It's one of the most epic songs Alter Bridge has done.
Lyrically, that one stems from a conversation that I had with a friend earlier this year. That was the catalyst for the song. After that conversation happened, I remember being very inspired lyrically, and that's where that came from. It is a dark and vibe-y song musically, so we wanted to make sure the lyrics fit in that respect.
Even though there are dark aspects of the album, it's still very uplifting.
We try to maintain that. There's a certain dynamic on our records. We try to keep the records from having too much of the same thing. If the entire record is heavy or somber and melancholy, that can get a bit redundant after awhile. A song like "Life Must Go On" is a little more uplifting and optimistic than something like "All Hope Is Gone" [Laughs]. When you're writing lyrics, you have the days when things are a little darker and difficult, and then you have the days when you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
How does the new material translate live?
Live, it's been incredible. We started the tour in the UK and Europe about seven weeks ago now. To see how people are responding to the new record has been real exciting. What's amazing to me is how many people already know the lyrics. I can literally turn the mic over to them and they'll sing right along. A lot of nights, they sing louder than me. It seems to be translating live as well as we could hope for. We're definitely a live band. That's what it's all about for us. We make records so we can go out and play for people.
Is there one song from AB III that's definitive of the whole experience?
There are a couple of them! For me, "Wonderful Life" is a special one. It was written to everyone that I hold dear in my life—family, friends and my wife. It's a last goodbye essentially. The thing about having people you cherish in your life is there's going to come a time that you're going to have to say goodbye. I put my mindset of, "What if I were standing by this person as they were about to take their last breath? What would I say to them?" I'd want to convey how much they meant to me while they were with me in my life. It's really special in that sense because it's very personal.
How's your solo record coming along?
It's still sitting on a hard drive. I just have to finish cutting the vocals, have it mixed and then it'll be done. It's really been strange how much has happened since I recorded the solo album with the stuff I've been able to do with Slash and Alter Bridge. Everything has kind of taken off! I'm trying to find a window to finish the solo record and go out and do a brief tour.
How is the solo material different from your previous output?
It's definitely different from Alter Bridge and Slash in certain respects. A few people have heard it and have said it's got a bit of a Mayfield Four vibe. Most of the songs were me sitting in a room with an acoustic guitar with my laptop putting stuff together. I really wanted to challenge myself as a writer and see what would happen if I didn't have anybody to bounce ideas off of. It was extremely difficult in that respect because I definitely cherish the idea of having a co-writer and somebody whose instincts I trust. I was like, "Well, let me give this a shot." There were so many ideas sitting around that I knew wouldn't have a home in Alter Bridge so I'm excited for people to hear it but I'm also a little nervous because I haven't done the usual approach as a writer and arranger to help each song be filtered. It's really me just laying myself out on the line and saying, "Well, here it is!"
What are some of your favorite movies?
Field of Dreams has always been at the top of my list. There's something really timeless and special about that movie. My father passed away when I was a child, and there was something that I really related to when Kevin Costner built that field and his dad came out of the cornfield. It really hit me hard. That's one of the reasons that movie means so much to me. There are so many great movies! Obviously, Star Wars! [Laughs] As a kid, that was one of those movies that came along and blew me away. It's obvious for any young boy. It'll hold a special place.
Which Star Wars was your favorite?
Probably the first one! I liked The Empire Strikes Back too though. Episodes IV, V and VI are the best!
Have you heard AB III yet?
See Alter Bridge's tour dates below!
Read our review of AB III here!
For more Myles click here!
ALTER BRIDGE TOUR DATES
Dec 10th - Grand Rapids, MI - The Orbit Room
Dec 11th - Chicago, IL - House of Blues
Dec 13th - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
Dec 14th - Pontiac, MI - Clutch Cargo's
Dec 16th - Baltimore, MD - Ram's Head Live!
Dec 17th - Sayreville, NJ - Starland Ballroom
Dec 19th - New Haven, CT - Toad's Place
Dec 20th - New York, NY - Gramercy Theatre
Dec 30th - Spokane, WA - Knitting Factory Concert House
Jan 1st - Seattle, WA - Showbox at the Market
Jan 5th - Tempe, AZ - Marquee Theatre
Jan 7th - Dallas, TX - Trees
Jan 8th - Houston, TX - Warehouse Live