Interview: Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge doesn’t take his career for granted
Alter Bridge’s just-released album, “The Last Hero,” is a hard-charging concoction of lightning-fast riffing, pummeling rhythms and Myles Kennedy’s towering tenor vocals. The album marks the band’s first studio set in three years. After all, Kennedy has kept busy holding down vocals for Slash and his band, the Conspirators, and Tremonti has focused on his solo project. Now that the guys are back, they’re going full-speed ahead with the new album and tour dates going into 2017.
Amid a busy press week, Kennedy spoke with Anne Erickson about how it feels to get back to Alter Bridge, the story behind “The Last Hero” and what experience he hopes Alter Bridge delivers for their fans live. He also weighed in on why he thinks Guns N’ Roses’ reunion is great for rock ‘n’ roll.
Congratulations on the new album, “The Last Hero.” This record is doing so well. How does it feel to get back on the road and release new music with Alter Bridge after being away for a while with Slash?
It’s great. I feel like we picked up where we left off. It’s been three years since we’ve put out a record together, but I think because of the history and that we’ve been together for 12 years now, we’ve established that bond, which is great when you’re making music with people. It’s good to be back in that Alter Bridge saddle.
When you guys first got together more than a decade ago, did you ever look ahead and think you’d be making music together this many years later?
I’m pleasantly surprised, because I never take anything for granted, and I know that in the music business, people tend to have a short shelf life. So, if someone would have told me in 2004 that in 2016 we’d still be doing this, then I would have been very happy. It’s great to get to play music. Knowing that we’ve been able to build this up and it take all over the world and have a fan base and people that are interested in what we do is awesome, and I don’t take that for granted.
A lot of people might take this album and the lead single, “Show Me a Leader,” as being sort of a political statement, but I’ve read that wasn’t really the objective.
Right—we’re aware of how polarizing that can be, but it definitely was inspired by the political climate and state of the world, so with that said, I think we’re reflecting on how people seem to be feeling. I think the word to sum it up right now is “disillusionment.” A lot of people are scratching their heads, saying, “Where are we going, and how is this all going to pan out?” So, while the record is inspired by a political vision, there’s no political agenda.
What do you think of the whole idea of a “hero?”
I think it’s something that’s very important. Humans just have that need to know that people play that role in society. That was part of the catalyst for calling this record “The Last Hero” and examining the hero dynamic. It also touches on the need for heroes and what we tend to do to our heroes and leaders and how we build them up and tear them down. There’s also a song called “You Will Be Remembered,” which is a tribute to everyday heroes.
“The Other Side” kind of reminds me of an Alice in Chains song, because of the dissonant vocal harmonies. Has anyone mentioned that to you yet?
No! It wasn’t something we were aware of, but now that you mention it, I can hear that. To me, that’s one of the things about Alice in Chains that’s always so special. Not only the fact they would do harmonies but the kind of harmonies they would use that were very dissonant at times and not just your standard thirds. They were very interesting harmonies. I think when we were in the studio, (producer) Elvis (Michael “Elvis” Baskette) and I we were experimenting. If I remember correctly, some of the harmony ideas and approaches Elvis really pushed for. He’s a brilliant producer. From my vocal standpoint with the lead vocal on that song, I was shooting for a Chino (Morino) sort of feel from the Deftones. To me, I love what he does. That’s where my mind was at least for the lead vocal, especially for the verses.
Would you say there’s any particular mission with Alter Bridge’s music?
I think speaking for myself, the only mission I feel at this point is to try and continue to make people happy. By happy, I don’t mean writing uplifting songs that are strictly one emotion, but we’ve learned throughout the years just how passionate our fan base is and what these songs mean to them, so our mission and continued goal is to make those fans feel satisfied with our body of work and that when come to our shows that they leave with a smile on their face and got what they longed for and felt the power of music. I think that is how I look at it now. It’s really about trying to make people happy.
Have you been to any of the Guns N’ Roses reunion shows?
Yeah! I went to the first one in Vegas, and that was in April. I think all of the Conspirators and I went, and it was just awesome. I think it’s been amazing to see how that has been such a massive success and great for rock ‘n’ roll in general, because I can’t think of last time that a hard rock band was able to go out and headline stadiums in the United States, so it’s good for rock ‘n’ roll.
Is there any talk about a new album with Slash yet, or is Alter Bridge mainly at the forefront right now?
Alter Bridge is the forefront right now, but we’ve talked about reconvening in the next 18 months or so and doing another record with the Conspirators, so we’ll see how it all plays out!
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