Mark Tremonti, Interview – ‘Marching in Time,’ Alter Bridge + More

2021-09-28

Mark Tremonti of Creed and Alter Bridge poses for a promo photo.

Mark Tremonti – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Scott Diussa

Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge and Creed joins Anne Erickson to talk about Tremonti’s new album, “Marching in Time,” and what’s new with Alter Bridge in this extensive interview

Longtime guitarist and vocalist Mark Tremonti divides his time between a bevy of projects. Not only is he the lead guitarist in Alter Bridge, but Tremonti also heads up his own band, Tremonti, plus, once in a long while, jams with his original outfit, Creed.

Now, Tremonti recently released his band Tremonti’s fifth studio album, “Marching in Time,” via Napalm Records. The collection features the guitar-driven rock that fans have come to know and love over the years, plus some very personal songwriting, including the album’s title track, which Tremonti wrote about being a dad during a worldwide pandemic.

Tremonti joined Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio to discuss the new album, his fall tour and what’s new with Alter Bridge and Creed. Read the Mark Tremonti interview below, listen via the YouTube player and hear it via the Audio Ink Radio show on Apple Podcasts here and Spotify here. Find Tremonti online here.

Anne Erickson: You’re coming up on the release of your fifth studio album with Tremonti, “Marching in Time.” That’s a significant title. What inspired that name?

Mark Tremonti: Usually, after I’ve finished writing all the lyrics and putting an album all together, I’ll just kind of look at the song titles and individual lines and see if one encompasses the vibe of the record. When I looked through this album, “Marching in Time” definitely popped out.

Did you write “Marching in Time” during the pandemic, and if so, how did that impact its songs, if at all?

We did the whole record during the pandemic, but there’s only one song that was inspired, lyrically, by the pandemic. I didn’t want to make a record that was just a time capsule of the COVID era. I think it would just be depressing looking back on it, and I don’t think it would age well. It’s just the title track that has anything to do with it.

Speaking of the title track, it tells the story of a father having a child during a pandemic and how he prepares for life during that time. What a very personal track. What has that experience been like for you?

She’s sitting here with me right now. It’s been awesome. The silver lining in it all is that I’ve had more time at home than I’ve had in the last 25 years. I’ve been here every single day, seeing every moment. Tonight, we’re leaving, and it will be my first time away from her. So, I’m really sad about it. It’s just going to be really tough. But, the song itself is kind of inspired by almost looking at an older child. Bringing up kids at all in the world as it was this year was just a scary thing. It talks about trying to keep that purity- keeping your kids the way you raised them and not letting the world kind of bring them down or change them in any way.

That’s actually a theme that many parents understand, even without the pandemic.

Yeah. You put your kids in a new school or a new city or anything, and they’re going to be influenced by their friends and the people around them. You can’t keep them in a bubble. They have to be responsible, and they have to make the right decisions. Especially the way the world’s been been recently, I don’t want them to turn on the news and see all the hatred. People can’t even have a discussion anymore without an argument about it. So, it’s just about raising them right and making them know that they don’t have to live their lives that way.

From album to album, you get stronger on vocals. Do you feel more confident now more than ever on vocals?

I just love singing. It’s always been something I’ve really enjoyed doing whenever we’re in the studio. Even before the Tremonti stuff, I always loved doing the backing vocals and harmonies. I’m the first guy at a party to jump on the mic for karaoke night. I just love to sing it. So, in between these last two solo records, I probably sang more than I’ve ever sung in my life, just taking my son to soccer practice for three hours, sitting in the car and singing Sinatra tunes or whatever it is. I just love to sing.

You have tours with Sevendust and Daughtry this fall. What makes touring with those artists a good fit?

Well, I’ve played more shows with them than any other band in the world. It’s probably been hundreds of shows, because they used to come out with us back in the Creed days, and then we’ve done Alter Bridge and Tremonti tours. John Connolly (of Sevendust) is one of my best friends. He lives about 10 minutes from my house, and our wives are best friends, and our kids are the same age and grew up together. So, we’re really close. Then, Daughtry, we were friendly years ago. I got together with him once to try to put a song together, but he was only in town for the day, so it never worked out. But, (he’s a) nice guy. Great musician. They’re going to put on a great live show. I think the good thing about it is there’s going to be a variety of people there at the show. When it’s a Sevendust, Tremonti tour, a lot of our fan base are the same folks. When you throw Daughtry in the mix, there’s going to be a whole other base of folks that come out. Travis Bracht is opening up the show, and he’s awesome. I can’t wait to see his performance, as well.

I’m sure you’re seeing, like me, a ton of tours having to cancel dates due to a band or crew member getting COVID. Are you nervous about that situation on the road?

Yeah. I mean, I’m nervous that we get set back once again. We’ve all been waiting for so long to get back out there. The music world has just been devastating this last year. That’s one big fear. Another big fear is gathering all your fans and having somebody get sick. Until you have somebody you know have something serious happen to them through COVID, you don’t take it too seriously. But, I just got off the phone with one of my friends at PRS Guitars, and they said they just lost an employee. It’s horrible. The last thing I want to ever have happen is to jeopardize anybody’s health. So, we’ve got to be careful, and we’ve got really, really strict policies going out on tour. I think one of them was a lot of venues in a lot of states are requiring vaccination cards, and a lot of people return their tickets, which everybody has their views on it. The whole band is vaccinated, so we’re going out being as safe as we can, but it’s a weird world out there right now. You’ve got to do all you can to stay safe.

I know. It’s really weird. I’m vaccinated, but with the Delta variant, it’s crazy. But, it’s so great to have live music back. So, it’s this double-sided thing.

Yeah. You’ve got to live your life. We can’t just stay in bubbles for the rest of our lives. It’d be smart to get the boosters or whatnot- whatever can help in any way. Who knows? We’ll just do our best. A lot of people say that the masks don’t work and the vaccines, people are still getting real sick from them or whatnot, but why not just try our best to take any precautions we can.

You’re also the lead guitarist in Alter Bridge. Do you guys hope to hit the road again or are you thinking of recording new music first?

We’re doing new music first. Then, me and Myles (Kennedy, vocalist) will probably get together on our break in January to go over what we’ve written at that point, and then we’ll go in the studio. We have April scheduled for some studio time. I don’t know if we’ll finish things up in that time or what, but we need to get new music out before we go back on tour. It’s just been too long.

That’s exciting. Have you started writing anything for the new Alter Bridge record yet?

Oh, yeah. I’ve written just a few ideas, but just kind of gotten started.

A lot of people are watching the new documentary “Woodstock 99.” Have you seen it, and if so, what do you think, and what do you remember about playing there?

I have not seen it, but the funny thing is, we kind of came and went real quick. We flew in or drove in, and I mainly remember the hotel lobby where all the bands were staying was just kind of bedlam- a bunch of people just hanging out partying, which was fun. Then, then the next morning, we drove into the festival, did our show and I think it was two hours before set time. We had two hours straight of press, and then we had maybe 20 or 30 minutes maybe tops to warm up for the show. Robby Krieger (from The Doors) was back in our dressing room, because he was performing with us, and he said, “Why don’t we play ‘Roadhouse Blues?'” This was probably 20 minutes before stage time, and we had never played it together before. We all pretty much said, “All right. Well, we’ve never done it. Might as well do it in front of a quarter of a million people for the first time without any rehearsal!” So we did that. Then after the show, immediately, I think we might have done a couple of interviews and then immediately left. On the way out. I just remember watching- for some reason, our transport had TVs in it that were showing the concert in real time. We could see all the fires and stuff breaking out and just all the rioting. But, we didn’t really experience it. We were doing our press, hitting the stage and taking off, so we didn’t get to experience the days of mud and partying and the violent stuff and the people complaining about waters being like, I don’t know how much the water was, like $10 waters or something.

I wore the dumbest shirt of all time in that show. (Laughs) I remember that. It was just a white and black shirt that looked like it was straight out of “Miami Vice.” It was a big show. I was like, I should buy this shirt and wear it for Woodstock. I still have that shirt. I look at it now, and I’m like, I can’t believe you ever wore that shirt to begin with. Not even at a show, but ever.

That’s funny. That actually reminds me that I think that Creed was the first band shirt I ever bought.

That’s awesome. That’s great. Do you still have it?

I do! I totally do. I’m very nostalgic. On the subject of Creed, people always want to know if there’s any possibility or talks of a reunion.

There’s nothing going on right now. Nothing’s ever off the table. It’s just timing, and it’s just kind of hard to coordinate. I’ve got so much on on tap right now. I’ve got this tour throughout next- I think we tour through next winter. Then, we hit the road with Alter Bridge, I think, in November next year. So, it’s just a nonstop thing, and I’ve got a 6-month-old at now home, and I’m trying to do the every other month kind of a thing, because I can’t miss out. So, it’d be tough to jam another another band in there.

But you guys still keep in touch with Scott Stapp and everything?

Not frequently, but every five months or so – every six months – we’ll either text or talk.

Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of Creed’s “My Own Prison.” What do you remember most about that era when the album came out, and were you surprised by its success?

Gosh. I mean, we were kids when we did that record. I remember being in college, and I worked at Chili’s as a cook. Scott Stapp worked at Ruby Tuesdays. Scott Phillips worked at a knife store at the mall. Then, Brian (Marshall)- I don’t think he had a job. I think his parents were paying his college tuition and everything. But, we all saved up our money, and we paid $30 an hour for these recording sessions with John Kurzweg in town and finally got it done. Pretty much what you hear on that record is what we tracked in college with that 30 bucks an hour. So, it was not the biggest-sounding record, but it kind of fit the mood right for the time.

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