Rock and Roll Coffee: A Conversation with Myles Kennedy

Via: theweeklings.com

Silencing the headstone-etchers once and for all, Florida’s Alter Bridge have reaffirmed their commitment to muscular, arena-friendly rock with Fortress, their fourth studio release and their first real sign of life for eighteen months. But what a resurrection. Within the first week, the album stormed the charts and easily commandeered the number one slot on the iTunes Rock Album’s chart. Not too shabby considering that many of their own fans had expected an obituary before a new album.


In the past couple of years, you’ve released a remarkably successful album with Slash, you guys have toured almost the entire planet, and then you wrote and recorded the new Alter Bridge record. How would you describe the past year?
(laughs) In one word, “nonstop.” Yeah, it’s been essentially living to make music and then getting to play. I’m certainly not complaining, but it’s definitely a commitment—you’re very aware that you’re not going to have a lot of downtime when you jump into two bands and you commit to making records and touring. So I’m definitely collecting a lot of frequent flyer miles, which is nice.

With all the time you’ve spent with Slash, was there ever any sense that Alter Bridge might be done?
No. I know people were concerned about that, but it was something that didn’t cross my mind because number one, the fans would never let that happen—our fan base is so loyal and passionate about this band that I knew that was not an option—but also, we’ve been a band now for almost ten years and we’ve gone through a lot together. We just need to make music. We need to keep doing this.

So when would you say that the new album started to take shape?
I’d say January (2013). Mark and I had been putting our ideas together separately all last year, and we talked in the fall about getting together in January and putting those ideas together and starting to get the arrangements ready. So we did that for just a few weeks. It wasn’t a really long process. This record came together pretty quickly in that respect, and we started pre-production in early spring with Elvis (producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette), and then we started recording.

When you sat down to begin recording, did you set any goals for how the record would sound? 
Well, we knew from a song and arrangement standpoint that we wanted to try different things and make it unpredictable, because after making three records together, and especially after making Blackbird and AB III, we started to utilize a certain formula and a certain approach to a lot of the material, so we wanted to step away from some of that. As far as sonically, I think that because Elvis was going to be mixing it as well, I think that in the back of his mind, he was very aware of approaching things a bit differently. This is the first record we’ve had to not just produce but also mix, so there were definitely some changes that we were very cognizant of in that respect.

Where might your core fans hear some of these differences in Fortress?
I think the biggest shift is probably in the arrangements because I think the past, we had followed a certain approach. I guess not just in the arrangements, but in some of the chord progressions that we would use for choruses or for bridges, and so with this record, if we’ve been there and done that in the past, then we really tried to shy away from it. Now that’s not to say that we didn’t still utilize some of our old approaches, because some of that is very Alter Bridge and very much a part of what we do. We didn’t want to alienate fans at the same time; we didn’t want to make a record where there was nothing that they could relate to from the past. It’s a very fine line and it’s definitely a balance that you’re always aware of.

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