Myles Kennedy Discusses Next Slash Album, Seattle Music & ‘Fortress’

Concertfy Interview: Alter Bridge Frontman Myles Kennedy Discusses Next Slash Album, Seattle Music & ‘Fortress’

As the frontman in both Alter Bridge and Slash’s band, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, it’s safe to say Myles Kennedy is one of the busiest (and most talented) musicians in Rock N’ Roll. On a rare off day at home, Myles was generous enough to take the time to speak with me about all that is going on his exhilarating world.

You are about to kick into high gear with Alter Bridge down in Orlando. Congratulations on the success of the new record Fortress.
MK - Thank you, we are really thrilled with the way things have turned out. We weren’t sure at first. We really pushed things on this record. We got a little music geeky at times with some of the arrangements. When you take chances you’re never really sure how people are going to respond but it seems overall to be pretty positive and the fans are liking it. It’s been a good year for us.

When the title was announced, I remember getting this feel from the public reaction and fan perspective that was like, Yes!, Fortress is such an appropriate title for an Alter Bridge record. It just seemed to make sense. There was this exciting momentum behind it just based off the record title alone. I had never really seen that before.
MK -  That’s true. It was really great. It’s funny when you are picking titles. You look at all the song names and search for something that fits. Once you finally pick what the appropriate title and theme is then you hope the fans dig it as well. Fortress did sound like an Alter Bridge thing, so that’s nice to hear.

At times it must be challenging to grow as a Rock band and writing new records. You want to evolve and try new things but you also don’t want to be a complete departure from what the band really is.
MK - Right. You don’t want to alienate anybody. I remember back in the 80’s one of the cola companies changed their formula and people threw a fit. It was like “no way!” we don’t want this new stuff we want what we are used to. It’s definitely something you have to be aware of.

How are you able to so seamlessly switch gears being the front man of two big rock bands? Is there a process you go through and say, OK, its Alter Bridge time now or I’m the front man in Slash’s band now?
MK - It is a little challenging at first. The first few shows I have to turn the dial to the other side because they are very different. I think the hardest part is going from one band where I play guitar and sing to another where I don’t play guitar as much. I started off as a guitar player so that’s kind of a security blanket but I feel like I’ve gotten better at it over time. Usually by the end of a Slash tour I’m very comfortable not playing guitar. But then I go back to Alter Bridge and playing guitar on every song so there’s a certain acclimation there as well.

How about when you are writing?  As a songwriter how are you able to determine which song is better suited for Alter Bridge vs. a song that is more in the vein of a Slash record?
MK -  It’s easy to dictate that in the process itself because there’s a significant difference in the way we write. Slash will generally send me a chord progression and riff with everything ready to go. Then what I do is put a melody and a lyric to it. Occasionally I’ll ask to change a chord progression to better fit a melody I’m feeling. Whereas with Alter Bridge it’s more bringing in full parts. So I’ll have a musical part with a melody or Mark will bring in a musical part with a melody and we’ll put those together to create a full song. It’s like a puzzle piece. With Slash, he more provides a canvas for me to paint on. It’s a different process all together.

Looking at your career in general what I find so interesting is that all the musical endeavors you have been involved in are all so different from each other. Even the just music genres they fit into. If you look back at your early work with Citizen Swing or the Mayfield Four, to more recent music like Alter Bridge which is more metal, it’s fascinating how all-encompassing your work is. Most artists don’t stray too far out of their comfort zone.
MK -  I really appreciate hearing that. For me since I’m such a massive music fan, I’ve never really been contained to just one style. My listening choice has always been so mixed up. It’s interesting, you’re right; Citizen Swing is so drastically different from anything else I’ve ever done. I was the song writer and it was a big learning experience. It was really an artist trying to find what he’s all about. The same with the Mayfield Four, I didn’t really know who I was yet. It has taken a long time for me to define who I am as an artist. Getting to do all these different genres and styles has really kept me inspired and kept  a fire burning creatively.  Even when I look at my solo record, it too is so different from anything I’ve ever done. I need to just keep pushing myself self to see where I can take things.

You mention your solo record, you’ve completed it, and it’s just a matter of finding the right time to put it out correct?
MK -  Yes, that’s the goal. I’m so lucky to be able to tour as much as I am and to keep making records with these great artists, it’s hard to slow things down now and find the time to put the solo record out. The record is pretty much done besides tracking a few more vocals. I just need to find a time where I can focus on it, put it out and tour on it to some degree. Probably just me with an acoustic guitar. It’s more an emotional record that portrays a guy that has something he needs to get off his chest.

I think that’s the beauty of solo record. Chris Cornell’s Euphoria Morning solo record really introduced me to that years ago. You just touched upon what I mean. It’s like, something is going on here, he’s got something to say and a real sincere and emotional way to say it.
MK -  Exactly. I really respect artists that do that. I love Clint Lowery from Sevendust solo project for that reason. I feel like that’s what he’s doing. I think it’s really healthy.

Growing up in Spokane how did it affect you being so close to the 90’s movement in Seattle? Was it something you have carried with you?
MK -  It was a really interesting time. I don’t think I was cognizant of how important it would be until after it had passed. When I had first started playing bars as a kid I would here about these bands from Seattle that would come over and open for national acts. I had never seen Alice in Chains. It was really wild to see this and to feel this thing that was starting to happen. I chose to stay in Spokane. I don’t think I was privy to just how big it was. One thing I did learn from that whole scene was that I respected so much that they did their own thing and didn’t pay attention to what was going on anywhere else. It made me feel like I really could do my own thing and not grab anyone’s coattails. That’s what Citizen Swing was all about. It was a complete departure. We had a trumpet. We were going to play funky soulful rock music. What I took from it more than anything was trying to find my voice as an artist. It took a look long time but the Seattle scene was certainly an inspiration for that.

Are you still a Spokane resident?
MK -  I am! I love Spokane. I’m here now. It’s a great place to live, a great place to power down.

Touring the way you do, are you able to bring your family out on the road with you?
MK -  My wife comes with me quite a bit. I wish I could bring my dog out too. But yeah, family is paramount to me so I do what I can to make sure that stays very strong. When you’re touring all the time and gone as much as I am, you have to make sure that base is covered.

So you’ve got your Alter Bridge tour starting in a few days which will take your through June, you’ve just finished the vocals on the third Slash record and it was just announced that you, Slash and company will be touring with Aerosmith starting in July.  That’s a lot of exciting stuff going on.
MK - Yeah, it’s a really good time. I’m very excited. The Slash record is done and we’re so happy with it. So it’s just a lot more touring but it’s all good. I’m the luckiest man in Rock n’ Roll. That’s the way I look at it. I love what I do and consider myself very fortunate.

And the new Slash record is slated for the fall?
MK - That’s the plan. I got the first mix last night and it sounds great. Our producer, Elvis Baskette did such an amazing job.

What can fans expect at the Alter Bridge shows coming up? A lot of songs off Fortress or more of a mixed bag?
MK - A mixed bag. That’s the beauty of having a lot of records; we now have a lot of songs to select from. We’ll try and pick from each era. Everyone has their favorites so you do your best to make sure everyone leaves happy. That’s the goal.

Rapid fire with Myles Kennedy:

Favorite professional sports team? –  Seattle Seahawks

Coffee or Tea? – Tea. We’ll can I say both? I’ve already had both all day long

Favorite city you have played live in? – Vienna

Favorite Alter Bridge songs? – Blackbird

Favorite Slash song? – Starlight

Favorite concert you’ve seen?  – Jeff Buckley – 1995

Credits: concertfy.com
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