Myles Kennedy: Melodies are Paramount for us

Myles Kennedy: Melodies are Paramount for us on Fortress

Passion. Emotion. Melody. Aggression. These are the hallmarks of Alter Bridge, one of the most acclaimed hard rock bands around. Formed in 2004 in Orlando, Florida, the band includes: guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, drummer Scott Phillips and vocal powerhouse and guitarist,Myles Kennedy.

Together they have steadily, but purposefully, risen to the upper echelons of the rock world thanks to a mixture of supreme songwriting talent, musicianship, and an unerring collective belief in the power of music.

The band’s first three albums – One Day Remains, Blackbirdand ABIII – have helped Alter Bridge to accrue a huge international fan base, all of whom will be thrilled by the prospect of hearing the band’s fourth album, Fortress, for the first time.

Fortress is a bold, ambitious and exhilaratingly powerful collection of freshly-minted anthems that refines and redefines its creators’ trademark sound, while simultaneously raising the bar in terms of speaker-melting, state-of-the-art sonic values.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with both Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti while visiting New York for a press run. Part two of this two-part interview series features Myles Kennedy where we discuss collaborating with Mark on Fortress, why this is such a personal CD for him.


Robert Cavuoto: The first thing that crossed my mind when I heard the CD was that somebody must have really pissed you off. You’re like the Taylor Swift of hard rock. Tell me about the rage and emotion behind the lyrics?
Myles Kennedy: [Laughing] It came from looking around and seeing things that upset me that was happening in other people’s lives that I care about. A lot of these situations were not necessarily things I was personally dealing with. I saw dear friends and family members being put through the ringer. We have all been in situations where we have been betrayed or hurt, so it’s easy to tap into those emotions. It’s just part of being human.

Robert: Sounds like a very personal CD.
Myles Kennedy: It comes across that way. It’s a CD that touches on a theme and I’m definitely expressing my discontent for what people do to one another.

Robert: Tell me about the writing process with Mark Tremonti?
Myles Kennedy: You never know until you get in a room with your writing partner. With Mark, we write separately. With Alter Bridge it’s about writing with heart, it’s important to have a stock pile of riffs, choruses, and verses.

We’ll get together and I’ll say, “I have this chorus do you have something that will work with it?” So, once we start to build a skeleton of the song we can just take it from there and know where the story will go lyrically. For me I tend to wait until the very end to write the lyrics, that’s the last piece of the puzzle. The music is the sound track that will inspire the lyrically story.

Robert: When writing songs do you take into account if you can simultaneously sing and play guitar to it?
Myles Kennedy: It’s actually great because if you come up with a part that you know is going to be challenging to play and sing at the same time, you can turn it over to your partner.

For example on “Bleed it Dry”, I came up with the guitar riff, but Mark plays it because it’s easier for me to focus on singing. Then Mark has a song “Waters Rising” and he has already alluded that he wants me to play the clean guitar part live so he can focus on singing. It’s great to have two guitar players that can cover the bases live.

Robert: Who are some of your influences as a songwriter?
Myles Kennedy: There are so many, but Zeppelin is probably the biggest for me. There are many others in different genres that have affected me. Stevie Wonder is huge influence and Sting lyrically, I think he is brilliant. I’m certainly not the lyricist that he is. I think he is on a different level than most.

Miles Davis; Kind of Blue, is one of my go-to records. I will listen to that all time. I try to put all those influences into a musically caldron and stir it up.

Robert: That’s interesting to hear. The choruses are heavy, yet melodic. I would imagine that you have some solid influences that drive you down that creative path.
Myles Kennedy: I appreciate that! Mark is great at that too, so when it comes to guitar parts and melodies, it whatever best suits the song. He is a very competent melody guy. Melodies are paramount for us and we are always trying to make it as strong as possible.

Robert: One of my favorite songs on the CD was “End it All”, mainly because it gives the listener hope.
Myles Kennedy: It is the most anthemic and optimistic song on the CD. The lyric was inspired by my Mom. When I was growing up she would tell me, “If you believe in yourself, everything will work out.” When I was kid I had insecurities, so it was always good to have a mother to help navigate through life. The song is a reflection of that. Hopefully some of those lyrics will serve a mantra to other people’s live,s as well. That would be really special.

Robert: Tell me about the meaning of CD artwork and how the song “Fortress” ties it together?
Myles Kennedy: I think when you’re younger; you see a lot of the world around you built to keep you safe. You can view that from a government or religion standpoint or even marriage. As time goes on you start to discover that these things are not as invincible and steadfast as you thought. That song really deals with when those things around you break and the disillusionment you feel. You realize how fragile the world around you is.

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