Myles Kennedy on ‘Year of the Tiger,’ Led Zeppelin + More – Interview

2018-03-12

Story by Anne Erickson

Interview: Myles Kennedy chats with Anne Erickson about his debut solo album, loving Led Zeppelin and more

Myles Kennedy has a lush tenor that would melt even the hardest heart, and that God-given voice has helped makes the music of Alter Bridge and Slash soar. Now, Kennedy has unleashed his debut solo album, “Year of the Tiger,” and the collection sees Kennedy going as personal as ever. Ahead of his upcoming, acoustic tour, Kennedy spoke with Anne Erickson from Audio Ink about the new tunes, what it was like getting personal on “Year of the Tiger” and why he’s excited to go unplugged on this trek. Listen to this interview on iTunes here.

Anne Erickson: Congratulations on the new album, “Year of the Tiger.” It’s an incredible album, and you really get personal on here. What was it like opening up on the release?

Myles Kennedy: I think it was definitely a little bit of a cathartic element. It’s a very personal theme that runs throughout, and so as a writer, sometimes when you go that deep, there’s always the fear that you’re exposing too much of yourself. But, that’s the interesting thing about being a songwriter.

You have to step back and ask yourself how honest you want to be. And at the end of the day, is this going to help somebody else? Is this going to resonate in somebody else’s heart and help them through some things? So, is the risk worth the gain? There are a number of interesting things you ask yourself when you choose to make something this personal. So, I decided to go as honest as I could and tell the story.

Anne: There are a lot of different sounds on the album: Americana, rock, country. How long have you been influenced by these different genres?

Myles: It’s been quite a while. I think my initial interest in more of the acoustic element, especially pertaining to rock, would have been when I discovered Led Zeppelin. Everybody knows Led Zeppelin for their bombastic element, and there’s a certain riff element that was very compelling, but it was their acoustic side that I remember really gravitating towards early on. In particular, their third and fourth record- there are moments on those that were very compelling to me. I think that’s where it started.

As the years went on, I would discover records that I really liked that were more acoustic in nature, whether it was more acoustic blues or had more of a county vibe. I remember hearing Eric Clapton on the “MTV Unplugged” record years ago, and that really opened me up. What I did is try to go back and discover the artists he covered. A lot of it was very challenging guitar parts, and that was what drew me to it. There was a certain level of technical expertise that those guys had that I wanted to learn and get into my own musical arsenal.

Anne: Do you have a favorite song on “Year of the Tiger?”

Myles: Gosh, that’s a good question. Right now, I’m practicing the set, and I really enjoy playing “Haunted by Design.” It’s a challenging guitar part, and there’s something about the song that I really like, so I think at this moment, probably “Haunted by Design.”

Anne: You have a bunch of solo dates up ahead. What makes you most excited to play these songs live?

Myles: I think just having the opportunity to see how people react in a room. I haven’t really performed any of these songs, other than last week, I went to a radio station and played it, but that was the first time I actually played these songs. So, anytime you unveil new material in front of a room full of people, it’s exciting and gets a little nerve-wracking at the same time, because you have to keep in mind that it’s new material, so people aren’t going to be as familiar with it.

You can’t expect them to get off on it as much as they would songs that you’ve been playing for 10 years that they’re very familiar with. That’s a lot to ask of people, so there’s a certain amount of realization you have to be aware of as an artist where you have to try and look at it from the audience’s standpoint. If the audience isn’t totally getting off, it’s not because your songs are bad, it’s because maybe it needs more time to incubate in the hearts and minds of the listener.

Anne: Will these be acoustic shows?

Myles: Yeah, the first few months, I’m going to do all by myself, and that’s going to be fun, but it’s different knowing that I’m not going to have a band there. There’s a musical tightrope that I’m going to walk each night, and you’re certainly more exposed when you perform the songs that way, but I’m excited. I think it will be fun. I think it will help me improve my game, so I’m always up for a challenge.

Anne: What’s ahead for you, as well as Alter Bridge?

Myles: The plan is lots of touring on the solo front. I’ll do an acoustic run for the first few months and then I hope to put a full band together and tour later this year. And while all that’s going on, I need to be writing and preparing for the Alter Bridge sixth record, which we will be doing next year. So, it’s definitely going to be a busy year.

Photo credit: Christian Barz

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