Interview with Mark Tremonti via Hard Rock Daddy

Interview with Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti

Alter Bridge’s latest album “Fortress,” has received rave reviews from critics and fans alike(see Hard Rock Daddy review). Prior to the album’s release, Hard Rock Daddy interviewed AB guitarist, Mark Tremonti. The posting of the interview was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances.

Most bands start out heavy and mellow as they age, but you guys seem to be getting heavier as you go. Was this a conscious decision as you were writing “Fortress?”
I think that when we were putting the record together, we had in mind that we play these songs over and over, tour after tour, and we wanted to make sure that it was going to be a good time playing them. We’ve learned over the years that the up-tempo, heavier stuff is more exciting to play live, so we made sure that the album was more along those lines.

In the HRD review, I draw comparisons to bands like Iron Maiden, Rainbow w/ Dio and Classic Queensryche. Are these bands that influenced your writing style?
We like Iron Maiden, all the classic metal and classic rock bands like Zeppelin. Beyond that, everybody has a different set of influences in the band. Personally, I’m more of the speed metal guy, influenced by bands like Slayer, Metallica and Celtic Frost.

“Fortress” seems to have a lot of the elements of classic Queensryche albums. Are you a fan of the band?
You know, I was never a big fan. I didn’t dislike them, I just never bought any of their albums, but I always dug tenor vocalists back in the day, and the metal thing. Hopefully that’s what contributed to our sound a bit.

AB has the most dedicated international social media fanbase in hard rock that I’ve come across, but you still seem to be flying under the radar a bit in America. Do you think that this has anything to do with the challenges that you’ve had with record companies over the years?
We’ve definitely had our fair share of trouble with the record labels, but I think that the rock and roll scene in general is not as big in America as it is over in Europe, South America and other parts of the world. America nowadays is more of a rap and pop kind of scene, which is kind of disappointing at times. There are definitely markets in the U.S. that are better than others for rock, but it seems to me that rock is on a down cycle at the moment in the states.

I’m surprised you feel that way. I feel like hard rock is in the best place that it’s been since the grunge movement…
Yeah, there are a lot of great bands out there now, but if you look at concert attendance, it definitely isn’t as strong as it was back in the day when you had many, many bands filling arenas. Nowadays, it’s hard to count five modern hard rock bands that are out there headlining arena shows by themselves in America.

I see your point. The bigger shows nowadays seem to be more festival driven with a number of bands playing together.

It’s unusual for a band to be so dedicated to each other while also being just as dedicated to your various side projects. How do you manage to balance your schedules to come together to record and tour?
We just have to schedule everything in advance and have our years planned out so we put the right amount of time behind it. Whenever we come back to Alter Bridge, we have a renewed sense of excitement.

Do you use a lot of the influences from your time away to bring to Alter Bridge when you get back together?
Yeah, anytime you challenge yourself to go and tackle something new, you bring that experience and new tricks to Alter Bridge.

The general consensus on “Fortress” is that it could make Alter Bridge a household name in the United States. If it does elevate you, to what many people believe should be your rightful place in hard rock and metal, will you still continue doing side projects or will you record another AB album to continue the momentum?
We’ll still do the side projects. I think that over the years the 3-year record cycle has really worked for us. We’ve kept our fans engaged, and we’re not throwing too much music at them so they really get to appreciate each album. This cycle has always worked for us. We like the freedom of being able to go out there and experiment without feeling like we’re handcuffed in any way.

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