ALTER BRIDGE – Building The American Fanbase “Still A Work In Progress”

August 29, 2017, a month ago

Aaron Small

feature hard rock alter bridge

ALTER BRIDGE – Building The American Fanbase “Still A Work In Progress”

Serving as an incredible souvenir of their most successful world tour to date, Live At The O2 Arena + Rarities - scheduled for release on September 8th via Napalm Records - is the third live album from Alter Bridge, and the second recorded in England; with the first being done in Amsterdam. Speaking exclusively to BraveWords, guitarist Mark Tremonti shares the reason why Alter Bridge chose not to capture a show in their home country of The United States this time around. "I think it’s just… the fanbase has been so… it kicked off over there (in The UK), and the larger fanbase is still over there. We spent a lot of time touring in The States this time around. But when you’re filming something like that, you want to go for the largest, most animated crowds, so you can really show what you’ve built up there. If we did it in some small town in America, it might not turn out as grand as if we do it in our largest market. That being said, I love touring America! It’s my home, it’s easy to be here; but it’s still a work in progress, growing the American fanbase.”
 
Tremonti mentioned “filming” The O2 show, yet the limited-edition DVD that’s available does not include the concert from November 2016. Instead, it features interviews and behind the scenes footage. Is the complete, 19-song show available on DVD or Blu-ray anywhere? “No, it’s just the live CD and like you said, a bunch of interviews. They had filmed a bunch of footage from the show, but it’s on the videos for ‘The Other Side’ and ‘Cradle To The Grave’ (both of which can be seen below). I thought they turned out great! The company that did it, Sturge Media, did a fantastic job; they did it with Go-Pros; I didn’t even realize they were around. The people who edited it, they just got it and everything looked great! They did a lot of slow motion stuff that we love. We decided to use them to film when we go to Royal Albert Hall (in London, England on October 2nd and 3rd) and shoot with the Parallax Orchestra.”
 
Not surprisingly, both shows at Royal Albert Hall sold out immediately as Alter Bridge will be playing with a 52-piece orchestra; surely another live release is on the horizon. “Yeah, that’ll be the full Blu-ray / DVD. That’s something we want to be a huge part of our legacy. That’s the kind of thing I want my Dad to see, I want my kids to see it. I want it to be filmed properly. I can’t wait ‘til it’s over to tell you the truth. We’re all very nervous about it. We’re putting in a lot of songs we haven’t performed a lot; some songs we’ve never performed. We had to make the setlist fit with the orchestra; it’s not going to be a hard and heavy festival type rock set, it’s going to be more atmospheric.” Rehearsal time with the Parallex Orchestra prior to the October concerts at Royal Albert Hall is capped at a brief two days. “But in the meantime, they’ve put together what they plan on playing, and put it into software that we can plug into and hear what their ideas are and go from there; and they all sound fantastic! I think it’s going to be great. The biggest challenge is our stage volume and how we’re going to make that work. We’re kind of a loud band on stage, you have to dull it down a bit so that orchestra can really shine though.”
 
The pairing of hard rock bands with an orchestra is becoming increasingly popular; The Dead Daisies just did it at Woodstock Poland. Previously, Deep Purple, Heart, Metallica, and KISS have all played with orchestras and released live recordings of those unique shows. “I think it brings out a real dramatic feel to your favourite band,” admits Tremonti. “Metallica was my favourite band growing up. When they paired with a symphony, it’s just that much better. I wouldn’t replace their old original albums with the symphony, but it’s something different. Something that makes it more epic, more theatrical and a one-time special event. We wanted to do a third night, but Royal Albert Hall was booked, so we couldn’t.”
 

 
Delving into the first two discs of Live At The O2 Arena + Rarities, at that point in time, The Last Hero had only been out for about seven weeks, and Alter Bridge played five songs from that album: “The Writing On The Wall”, “The Other Side”, “Crows On A Wire”, “Show Me A Leader”, and “Poison In Your Veins”. “We usually have one or two spots in the set where we change those out,” confirms Tremonti. “We do ‘Island Of Fools’ a lot, we play ‘This Side Of Fate’; we’ve never played ‘Cradle To The Grave’ yet, which I want to play. We’ve probably played eight songs or so from the new album, we haven’t played them all yet.” At some point, will all 13 songs from The Last Hero have been played live? “Who knows? We’ve got five albums now, and sometimes songs just never get played. There’s songs from the other albums that we’ve never played (live).” Does that irk you? There’s a song that you wrote, recorded, and was obviously good enough to make the album – which has sold thousands of copies – yet it’s never been played live? “Sometimes, but I always try to look forward. Once the record’s recorded, I seldom look back. I look forward to see which songs serve the live atmosphere the most. On AB III we had ‘Show Me A Sign’, which was my favourite song on the record when we recorded it; one of my favourite solos, one of my favourite moods. We played it live once or twice – the crowd didn’t get it, we stopped playing it. It’s just one of those things… I thought people would be on the same page with this song. People tend to like the more energetic, straightforward stuff, then they like the big epic ballads. Some of the darker, creepy stuff… people really have to be in the mood for it. When you’re out drinking at a rock concert, sometimes it’s not the song you want to hear.”
 
The third disc included with Live At The O2 Arena + Rarities is an ultra-cool 11-track CD consisting of tunes that were previously difficult to find for many fans. In addition to housing the until-now Best Buy exclusives and Japanese bonus material, it contains two never-before released songs; “Cruel Sun” and “Solace”, both recorded back in 2004 during the One Day Remains sessions. “Yeah, those are songs that we always loved; they didn’t make the record because we didn’t like them. We had a dynamic record, and for publishing reasons, our record company wanted to put ten songs on the record and one B-side (‘Breathe’), with the extra tracks left over for future use. I’m glad we saved them, because now our fans can see what the band sounded like back in the One Day Remains years. We haven’t touched the songs, we haven’t tracked anything over it; it’s exactly how they were back in the day. We’ve always talked about putting together a B-sides album, and it should have come much earlier, but it’s happened now. The time was just right. We’ve been hustling so much all these years, there was never a moment that seemed right to release it. Now that we’ve had The Last Hero out for a year and a half, it seems like a good window to put out another project, so we’re not oversaturating everybody with new music.”

Picking Mark’s mind, he reminisces about writing and recording “Cruel Sun” and “Solace”. “The thing I remember the most about ‘Cruel Sun’ is sitting on my back porch – in the very first house I ever owned in Florida. I was with the guys from the band Submersed. I had my acoustic guitar and I just started playing that tune. Those guys were really digging it, I really dug it. I love the lyrics, I love the mood of it; it never made the record, but it always had a place in my heart, that song. With ‘Solace’, the thing I remember the most about that is – back in those days, we weren’t a very progressive band, we were pretty straight-forward. Going from a 4/4 to 6/8 chorus, we didn’t know if it worked or not? I think we second-guessed it because of that. When you listen back to it now, it flows nice and smoothly. But back then, that was a big thing! Can we make this 4/4 into a 6/8 back into a 4/4 thing work without sounding strange? Nowadays, we wouldn’t think twice about it.” After finally hearing these two songs, it begs the question – what else is hiding in the Alter Bridge vaults? “Well, there’s a bunch of other songs that we’ve worked on… I have demos from the One Day Remains record that, when Creed was breaking up, I took some Pro-Tools courses and learned how to record some really bad demos. I recorded a lot of the One Day Remains stuff, but there’s still five or six songs that just didn’t get finished. One of them is ‘Fall Again’ that I put on the Tremonti record, Cauterize.”
 
Not content to simply release a live album and sit at home, Alter Bridge will soon resume touring with September dates in Argentina and Brazil, followed by a run through The UK and Europe in October. “After that we go on another US tour, holiday shows and whatnot, for about three or four weeks, then we shut the door on this album cycle and I start getting into pre-production for my next solo record. And Myles (Kennedy) is actually right now recording his solo record. For Alter Bridge fans, they get to see kind of a split personality of the band where Myles comes out with his stuff, I come out with my stuff. It’s great because Myles is going to try and make his solo album a real big departure from Alter Bridge; he’s been real secretive about it with me, but I hear it’s very cool. It’s very moody and it’s going to be great.” Any word on Myles returning to work with Slash once the current Guns N’ Roses tour wraps up at the end of November? “I haven’t heard anything about that. But he’s all gung ho about this record he’s working on now; it means a lot to him. He knows the world’s been waiting on him to do this album for a long time. I think when he was working on his first solo record so far back, and that never came out, he’s got that many more eyeballs on him now. And he’s got a lot to say. It’s probably nerve-racking for him; his first solo effort and he wants to make it right. With the Slash thing, I don’t know? Who knows? I don’t know how much longer Guns N’ Roses is going to be at it, but I know the Slash guys all still want to keep on putting out releases every couple years.”
 

 

(Top photo by: Carlos Amoedo) 

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