11.14.2013

ALTER BRIDGE: UNDERNEATH THE FORTRESS



Alter Bridge seems to be following their older brother (both bands share three of their members) Creed’s way to success. Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti’s band is clearly having the wind in its sails, and knows how to make the most of it in order to mature their music that keeps getting better and better as time goes by. Fortress shows this perfectly: heavier and even darker than their previous effort, this is the work of Alter Bridge as their peak to this day. In the following interview, Myles Kennedy, the band’s classy frontman, comes back on the record’s genesis, and especially the meticulousness it needed.

Kennedy is not only a singer especially in fashion now, he’s also a guitar player. A role dear to his heart, he confesses, and that he wishes to improve to reach some kind of balance with fellow guitar player Tremonti whose voice we can hear more and more. And last, we took the opportunity to ask him about Slash: a new record is in the making, and the first riffs would already be written…

The term “fortress” represents something that seems safe, something you would hide behind, something that is steadfast and invincible. [...] Things that make you feel safe – and what happens when those fortresses finally crumble.


Radio Metal: Given the huge success of AB III, your previous album, what was your state of mind before writing this new album?
Myles Kennedy (vocals and guitar): It’s just to try not to overthink it, to just let it flow. Things did go relatively well on our last album cycle, so it has been easy to psych ourselves out. We just tried and keep the ideas pure, you know. On top of that, we tried to push ourselves musically and make sure that we were attempting to try and grow and have the band evolve. That was really important to us, pretty much paramount.


Didn’t you feel any pressure about that?
That was definitely one of the things we tried to avoid, just not to overthink. It’s part of being in the business: what you do will eventually be taken to the fans and scrutinized. If you’re always thinking that part of it, it can stifle the creative output. We just tried to live in our own creative bubble, and bounced ideas off one another and off Elvis [Baskette], our producer. It turned out pretty well that way, just shutting the rest of the world out.


Apparently you spent a lot of time on the pre-production this time around. Did you need that to have more hindsight on the songs?
We definitely wanted to make sure that we didn’t rush that process. It’s really the most important part of the whole thing, other than writing: to get in there with our producer and make sure that everything is where it needs to be before we commit to tape. I think we spent probably about three weeks getting everything straightened out, and then we started recording.


The new album is called Fortress, which is kind of an ambivalent title. It symbolizes power, but also the will to hide from others behind thick walls. Is it the reason you chose this title?
Actually, it’s a good question. We chose this title because the term “fortress” represents something that seems safe, something you would hide behind, something that is steadfast and invincible. The actual lyrics talk about when you’re a part of something like that – and it can pertain to many different things: it can be relationships, marriages, institutions, governments, or countries, things that make you feel safe – and what happens when those fortresses finally crumble. Given enough time, eventually, a lot of it will. Life is fragile, and institutions are fragile. That’s part of the reason why we have this kind of derelict shack on the album cover. Essentially, it was once a fortress, but that’s what happens after time takes its toll. We thought it was an interesting concept.


AB III was already a dark album, darker than its predecessor, and this new album is also very dark. Can we expect a lighter musical atmosphere for Alter Bridge in the future?
That’s a good question! I’m not sure. As the years go on, the music we make together seems to resonate with fans. Sonically, the music tells you a story as a lyricist, it helps point you in a certain direction. So as long as we continue to get heavier and a little more adventurous musically, maybe the lyrics will kind of be congruent with that. But it’s not to say that we don’t have uplifting moments on a record. A song like “All Ends Well”, the second-to-last track, is that song on this record. We put that in there for the fans who love that part of the band. We try to keep all the fans happy and not alienate anybody.

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