Alter Bridge, Scott Phillips Interview – ‘Walk the Sky 2.0,’ New Music + More


Interview: Alter Bridge drummer Scott Phillips discusses the band's upcoming "Walk the Sky 2.0" EP, whether or not Creed might ever reunite and more.

Alter Bridge – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Dan Sturgess

Alter Bridge drummer Scott Phillips joins Anne Erickson to discuss the band’s upcoming “Walk the Sky 2.0” EP, whether or not Creed might ever reunite and more in this in-depth interview

Alter Bridge had plans to tour heavily in support of their latest album, the powerful “Walk the Sky,” this year, but with tours on hold indefinitely, those plans obviously change. Still, band members have kept busy this year working on multiple projects and preparing a special live release.

Alter Bridge will release that live set, “Walk the Sky 2.0 EP,” on Friday (Nov. 6). The collection features recent live versions of songs from the band’s 2019 “Walk the Sky” album, plus a brand track called “Last Rites,” which was written and recorded during the coronavirus quarantine.

Alter Bridge drummer Scott Phillips spoke with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio about the story behind the “Walk the Sky 2.0 EP,” the status of new music from Alter Bridge’s band members, the timeline for a new Alter Bridge album and whether Creed might ever reunite. Read the full interview below, listen via the YouTube player and hear it via the Audio Ink podcast on Apple Podcasts here and Spotify here.

Anne Erickson: Hi, Scott. How have you been doing this year amid the pandemic?

Scott Phillips: It’s certainly been interesting obviously for everybody. This was not the summer we had planned. Not the album cycle that we had planned. But, everybody seems to be doing fine. I think we’re trying to make make the most of all of this free time that we’ve been unexpectedly given. I think for a lot of us, it started with housework that we’ve been putting off for years and years and years, little things needed to get done around the house that I finally started to take care of. I know Mark is doing the same thing. He and I were comparing our jobs pressure washing! But, we’re all holding up pretty good. I think we were starting to kind of see some light at the end of the tunnel. It’s going to be still a while before we can really get back together and have people gathered safely and get a chance to perform again, but there is a plan and sort of a very loose timetable. Hopefully, that’ll all come to fruition sooner than later.

Alter Bridge have the “Walk the Sky 2.0 EP” on the way. What gave you guys the idea to release a live EP right now?

Well, I think it was kind of twofold. It was A, we got completely shut down as a band and wanted to try and keep fans interested and just get some new stuff out there for people that are obviously going through everything that we’re going through. So, it was kind of treat for everybody else to do some live versions of songs that were already on “Walk the Sky,” and then the idea to do “Last Rites,” which is a completely new song, that was kind of born during the writing session for “Walk the Sky” but never really got its feet off the ground at the time, and then, all of a sudden, with all of us having an awful lot of time on our hands decided, why don’t we go ahead and finish that song? The idea that was really cool. The general vibe of that song and the riff itself was cool enough to finish. So, Mark and I are very fortunate that we happen to A, live pretty close to each other and then B, be pretty close to Elvis, who’s our producer. So, with his schedule becoming wide open, as well, since a lot of bands that he had were no longer able to travel, we were all able to go over there and knock out our parts pretty quick and have Myles, who was in Spokane, Washington, and unable to travel, was able to record his parts in his studio at his house and able to send it back to Elvis to get the song put together. I think we’re all really happy with the way that it turned out. It’s sort of a nice surprise for people that have been following us for a while to kind of get a brand new song out of the blue.

That’s a nice surprise. What is it about “Last Rites” that made you guys want to get it out and officially release it?

I think, at the time that we were sort of initially working on it, there wasn’t really a vocal melody or lyrics. It was just the idea of the riff itself, which all of us really liked. It just felt different than everything else that we were working on with “Walk the Sky,” which at the time, just seemed like, well, maybe we’ll set it aside and use it for an idea later or on another album– it was something just different stylistically than where “Walk the Sky” looked like it was heading. So, we didn’t finish it, and with “Walk the Sky,” released it as it was. Then, having this downtime, our manager, Tim, had mentioned it. He was like, what about that one song you guys had worked on? What do you think about finishing it up and releasing it? It seemed like a good idea. I think the four of us really liked the song itself. I was excited to hear it with vocals and lyrics and see what it really could become, because that wasn’t present when we first started tinkering with the idea. I think it turned out really, really cool. It’s certainly, to me, a different vibe than things what we’ve done in the past, which I think makes it unique, and hopefully everybody will like it.

The live recordings on “Walk the Sky 2.0” are from your shows that happened this year, before the coronavirus lockdown, correct?

Correct. They’re from the run that we did in February, which started with ShipRocked. We finished in Spokane, and then the whole world stopped. But, we somehow were smart enough to record a bunch of those shows along the way. So, basically, we recorded every night. Our front of house guys are able to record directly into the mixing board that we use, and then take those tracks, bounce them to computer, and we were able to send those to Elvis and basically let him have his pick of which nights he thought were the better performances. Mix them up, and he’d send them to us for approval. I think everybody was really happy with the way that they turned out. It’s always, to me as a fan, I love doing it, as well. I do it with a lot of bands that I’m into. It’s always fun to watch songs that you hear that you’re able to layer and process and do multiple takes of in the studio and then put out the sort of finished, polished product and then hear how a band translates that live. It’s always the bands that I feel like are able to do that well that I really gravitate towards. I’m happy that I think a lot of these songs sound good. I feel like they’re good performances. It represents the band and what we do live really well.

Alter Bridge is a great live band, so it’s certainly cool to get some new live material from you. Have you been working on the follow-up to “Walk the Sky” or any other new music?

At this point, everybody’s kind of taking this time to work on solo stuff. Obviously, Mark with Tremonti and Myles, he’s working on his follow-up to his debut solo record. They’re sort in that mode now. I’ve got a project called Projected with John Connolly and Vinnie Hornsby from Sevendust, and Eric Friedman from Tremonti, and we’ve done a few albums together. Never had a chance to really promote it or tour it, but we managed to find time this summer to get into the studio and do a new Project record. Myles has just finished up recording his solo record. Mark is currently finishing up writing his solo stuff that he’ll start recording here I think within the next month or so, depending on what Elvis’ schedule is.

I think they’re taking this time to go ahead and do the heavy lifting on those projects now, so that after Alter Bridge is able to start back up again and do whatever touring we can do next year and sort of wrap up that album cycle, they can immediately get into their solo stuff and promote it and tour it, which, in effect, hopefully will get Alter Bridge back together and working on new material sooner than later, because they’ve done all sort of writing and recording for that now. I think, I’m hope hopeful that we’re shooting for probably 2022, not next year, but the year after, as being a new album for Alter Bridge, but we’ll just kind of have to wait and see what the future holds.

I was actually going to ask about Projected, because you guys recently finished recording the new record. Do you have any word on when that will come out?

I’m hopeful that it’ll be out this fall. I think that’s kind of the plan, though I know Sevendust is releasing a new album very soon, as well. I’m not exactly sure what the release date is, and I know that John would not want to convolute those two together and have one get in the way of the other. I think musically and album-wise, this is probably my favorite one that we’ve done. The other two or three, technically – the last one was kind of a double album – they’ve been awesome. I love doing it. We’ve never had a chance to promote it at all. When it comes to playing live, there’s always sort of an Alter Bridge schedule versus a Sevendust schedule versus a Tremonti schedule, and at least one of those bands seems to be working all the time.

So, we’ve never had a chance to get the four of us together and really promote it properly, like the way that we should- go out and do a tour and get in a van and go play some dive bars and stuff like that, whatever it is. So, I’m hopeful that maybe this time, especially now that everybody’s schedules have kind of been thrown into a tailspin, that there might be some opportunity to really properly promote that band, because we certainly have a lot of fun doing it. So, I’d like to be able to share that with everybody else.

You’re a drummer, and it’s a different genre, but I was wondering if you have any thoughts on Frankie from Quiet Riot passing away, because he was such a celebrated drummer.

Oh, yeah. That truly sucked. Quiet Riot was such a giant part of that early-’80s rock sound movement. It was before I even thought about the drums themselves. I started playing kind of late. I was 18 when I finally picked up a pair of sticks and really started to pursue that as my instrument. But, Quiet Riot was such a such a part of that sound- that early-’80s, thinking of electric guitars and spandex and big reverb on drums. To me, Quiet Riot is sort of that quintessential band. So, I was very, very sad to hear of his passing. It was Kevin who passed away years ago… So, that’s multiple members from a band, which is sad. It starts to signal the end of an era. So, I was heartbroken to hear about that.

A few months ago, Creed updated their social media with a classic photo, and people were speculating about a reunion. Is a Creed reunion on the table at all down the road?

I didn’t know that had happened! That’s interesting. I’m the worst when it comes to social media. I go through phases where I’m into it for about two days, and then I don’t pick it up for about two months. But, that being said, there’s always talk every now and then of the possibility of us getting back together and doing some stuff. We’re all in a good spot right now where we feel like we have a good relationship amongst the four of us. Obviously, Mark and Brian and I are in the same band together. But, Scott seems to be doing really, really well. There’s some dialogue. We tend to check up on each other when it’s birthdays and holidays, things like that. So, there has been some chatter, and there’s no specific timetable for anything or no specific plans, but it’s a possibility down the road. We’ll just kind of let it play out naturally and see what happens.

Thank you so much for chatting, Scott.

Absolutely. We certainly appreciate the support. Hopefully we’ll see you sooner rather than later.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Interviews, Music, Rock

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