By Gray Vickers
For most musicians, to have platinum and gold selling records and world tours with their band under their belt is the ultimate achievement, but to achieve that of success with not just one, but three bands is almost unheard of. For Mark Tremonti (Creed, Alter Bridge, Tremonti), it's life and he's about to bring his crazy world down to Australia and New Zealand in April with Alter Bridge as part of the The Last Hero world tour. Mark was kind enough to take the time to talk to me about the growth of the band, how he balances being a touring musician and a devoted family man, as well as what audiences can expect on this run of shows.
“I think it's the best reception we've had” Tremonti says of the audience reaction to their latest record, The Last Hero, Alter Bridge's 5th Studio Album. The band have been working through the US and Europe road testing the new songs. “We try to introduce as many new ones in each set to ease people into it, but the response has been tremendous”. And it's not surprising, like its predecessor, Fortress, The Last Hero is an absolute banger of vintage Alter Bridge fare rolled into brilliantly developed progressive tunes. Any remnants of Creed style timbres and textures present in the early part of their career have been washed away with brutal riffs and thunderous rhythms, giving way to a more adventurous and pummelling sound. “The path that Alter Bridge is on is to keep on exploring the more progressive elements and adding new sounds into what we're doing and, you know, creating more depth to our songs.”
What works so well in Alter Bridge's favour with this new style, is the longevity of the records, the reward value in repeat listens and diving deeper into understanding the music, even if it takes a few more listens to fully connect with the new songs. “I talk to my, even my family members before the album comes out and they're like, 'yeah I listened to it 6 times today and it took me a while to get this one, but now it's my favourite' so..” On top of the growing progressive nature of their music, Alter Bridge have continued on track to make each record heavier than the last, something Tremonti was unsure would continue after exploring his metal roots with his solo Tremonti band. “After I had done my solo stuff, I figured he'd [Alter Bridge Singer / Guitarist Myles Kennedy] come back and be like, you know you got your heavy side out now, let’s focus on some more atmospheric stuff with Alter Bridge. But he did the opposite, he came out and dropped some, you know, real heavy riffs on the table, and I was, you know, me and him were kinda matching 1 for 1 on the heavy riffs from there on out.
So now it's Australasia's turn to experience Alter Bridge in their full glory, with their first visit to Australia since playing the late Soundwave festival in 2014, and their first ever headline show in Auckland, having last played there as part of Disturbed's Music as a Weapon tour in 2008. Looking to really hit the market as much as the can, Alter Bridge are working towards making the trip over as memorable as possible. “From the first time we'd ever been there, we loved the country and we want to develop it there, and it's just a short little flight over, so we're making it happen”. Driving Alter Bridge as well is their connection to the audience with their performances as well, especially through the massive festival circuits they participate in, as they draw in new audiences with their passionate and powerful performances. “It's amazing, you know – we write these songs for ourselves and for our own artistic outlet, but when you see people connecting with it like that, it's amazing. Especially when you see those festival crowds, there's a lot of new fans out there and people that aren't familiar with what you're doing and then they get it on that first listen, and through a song like that [Blackbird] it's amazing.”
They won't be alone either, coming along for the ride are New Zealand ex pats Like A Storm, who in a way have become prodigies of Alter Bridge, following them around the United States and Europe several times over as they develop their own massive fan base around the globe. “When we first started touring with them, we just liked them so much personally and we saw how hard they worked, and we saw how they improved their performances and their song writing over the years.” He continues “it's good to see somebody go from point A to point B as you're sharing that experience with them.”
And while Tremonti's passion is performing and touring, at his heart he's also a family man who tries his best to balance both life on the road and life with his family as much as he can. “I make sure my family is out there as much as I can get them out there. Like on this last tour I just rented a bus for a week in the middle of tour so they could all come out. I don't like going two weeks without seeing them ever”. Maintaining that it's that balance that keeps him happy and sane with his hectic touring life, especially as tours come to an end and the end of tour blues sets in. “By the fifth week of a tour I'm always mental and can't wait to get home, but the first two or three weeks are always a blast, so if you can your family out there in the middle to offset some of that end of the tour blues, that's a good thing.”
So what can Australian and New Zealand fans expect in just under a month when Tremonti and co hit our shores? “Passion – we're passionate about what we do.” he continues “We give it all we got, it's all we know what to do, we love what we do when we're up on stage, it's work. That's why we can deal with all the travelling, because we love performing.”
Alter Bridge with Special Guests Like A Storm
Friday March 31st: Powerstation, Auckland
Monday April 3rd: Eatons Hill, Brisbane
Tuesday April 4th: Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Thursday April 6th: Festival Hall, Melbourne
Saturday April 8th: Fremantle, Metropolis
Tickets can be found at http://mjrpresents.com/ Hear the full conversation below! NOTE – The sound clip has been edited, the conversation has not been altered, but I have trimmed