Mark Tremonti Talks Fortress, Writing and Playing Live

I recently had a chance to catch up with Mark Tremonti from Alter Bridge by phone. He’s a very busy guy, but he was kind enough to give us the scoop on the band’s fourth album, Fortress, out on October 8, and also some insight on what makes him tick as a player and a writer. So, if you’re an Alter Bridge guy/gal like I’ve been for almost a decade now, read on and see what’s what:

Amps: First up. Let’s talk about YOUR signature sound. How do you get that wall of sound?
Mark: It’s just years and years of being a gear junkie. (Laughs) I’m like a woman with shoes, only with guitars and amplifiers. Every year I bring in new amps to rehearsal to try them out and I’m always working on my tone. But at the end of the day I think it’s about the way you approach your playing. It’s hard to explain the connection to the guitar, but like I said I’m a huge gear fan, so my sound is always changing just a little bit.

Amps: There has been such an evolution in Alter Bridge in that no two records sound alike. Is this something conscious, or more of a happy accident?
Mark: Well, we just try to keep growing as musicians. When we came out with our first album and since we had three out of four members from our previous band we got a lot of comparisons despite making every effort to sound as different as we could. And that put us on a course of always trying to reinvent ourselves.

Amps: Meanwhile “Open Your Eyes” is STILL on a million of my playlists to this day!
Mark: Awesome! Thank you very much.

Amps: What can the fans, old and new, expect from this record?
Mark: Expect a little bit of a change as far as the way we looked at song structures and time signatures. We just tried to really make these songs unpredictable and take people on a different path than they were expecting. And hopefully they see a band that’s constantly evolving.

Amps: Do you have a particular favorite on Fortress? I love to ask this of bands when they have a new record out.
Mark: “Cry of Achilles” is definitely one of them. The title track “Fortress” is another, “Bleed It Dry”, and “Peace Is Broken”. Those would be my top four.

Amps: (In mock outrage) Wait, what about “Waters Rising”? You sing LEAD on that one! That’s one of mine.
Mark: (Laughs) Oh yeah, well that one’s very personal to me just because it was my first Alter Bridge lead vocal. That was fun; it was a fun challenge for me.

Amps: “The Uninvited” was one of my favorites, too. The rhythm is almost serpentine.
Mark: Well, I appreciate that. That song came a long way in the studio from when we first wrote it in the studio. We weren’t sure if it was gonna be on the album or a B-side, but when we finally got it done we were all so happy with how it turned out, so it made the record.

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