Mark Tremonti svischar mellan två band, sitt eget soloband Tremonti och betydligt större Alter Bridge där Myles Kennedy (Slash) är sångare. Vi tog oss nyligen ett litet snack med Mark för att stämma av läget. Han berättade då bl a att de inför kommande album med Alter Bridge använt sig av en pledgekampanj, som så många andra band gjort i dessa kristider, för att finansiera inspelningen:
We did some things on this new Alter Bridge record where we sold guitars and VIP packages and what not to help pay for the record. We still, right now, don´t have a record deal for Alter Bridge so we went and sold off all the guitars that were used to track on the record and I think 50-100 “VIP for life” kinda passes. You just gotta do things differently these days and we´re all here on our own, so we had to figure out some way to finance it, so that´s what we did.
Tell me about the title track ”Dust”?
Mark: “Dust” is a song built on that chorus mainly. That part I´ve had in the works for a long time, so I´m glad I finally got it out there. It´s probably my favorite track off the record and that´s why we named the record “Dust”.
The songs for the two albums were recorded at the same time. Was it hard choosing which songs went on which album?
Mark: I just wanted each record to be real dynamic and let each of those two records stand on their own. I had to split the songs up as evenly as possible.
In what way are the two album covers tied together?
Mark: The guy from “Cauterize” is supposedly a science fiction armageddon figure who comes to the Earth and burns away all the impurity of the world and the “Dust” record is the aftermath of that.
It´s pretty bold to release two albums like this, considering what the music business is like these days.
Mark: We´re just releasing the music for ourselves first and foremost. This is how we wanna do it and the fans seem to appreciate it as well. We just keep shugging forward like the business hasn´t changed and we´re just being smart about how we run our business and how hard we work. We tour a lot more than we used to and we just do the best to stay in the black and not go bankrupt in this business.
You´re into art and sometimes it feels like the whole thing with album artwork and so on, kinda get lost with downloading and streaming. In 10 years time, the artwork might not be that important anymore?
Mark: I have no idea where the days are gonna take us. People have shorter and shorter attention spans and there´s everything at the touch of a button entertainment wise, so we´re just gonna have to work harder to keep everybody´s attention and put out quality stuff that can´t be reproduced by a robot.
Can you see yourself doing a pledge thing for an album in the future?
Mark: We did some things on this new Alter Bridge record where we sold guitars and VIP packages and what not to help pay for the record. We still, right now, don´t have a record deal for Alter Bridge so we went and sold off all the guitars that were used to track on the record and I think 50-100 “VIP for life” kinda passes. You just gotta do things differently these days and we´re all here on our own, so we had to figure out some way to finance it, so that´s what we did.
I recently talked to a French band (Black Rain) who as a part of their pledge thing had a song especially written for a fan. It ended up being a bonus track on their new album. Could you see yourself doing something like that?
Mark: We would never do that. We always keep our music completely legit and it comes from our heart. We try to come up with clever enough things for fans. We (Alter Bridge) did a fly on the wall thing. For two days four fans got to come in and watch us record and track in the studio and got to hear the first hints of the record and they really enjoyed it. Just trying to come up with things like that, that leaves both folks happy. It helps the band out and helps the fans out and gives everybody something cool to remember.
Working with Elvis Baskette and having done so for a while now, is he your Bob Rock, the way he was to Metallica?
Mark: He just becomes part of the band once we get into that preproduction mode. We put our ultimate trust in him and he´s always done a great job and he knows it´s gonna sound immense when he does it and he´s got great energy in there.
Do you see yourself continue working with him ?
Mark: Yeah, there´d be no reason to switch at this point. We´re a good team.
You´ve also got Ted Jensen mastering the albums. That´s a guy that´s done tons of classic albums.
Mark: I just think he´s the best in the world and he´s another guy that there´d be no point in changing because he´s the best we´ve ever found. He´s a genius.
Will Wolfgang (Van Halen) be touring anything with you guys?
Mark: When we started touring on this album cycle, the Van Halen stuff kicked off too and we hooked up with Tanner Keegan to come play bass with us. Wolfgang kinda shifted gears to do his own solo album, so he´s kinda right in the middle of recording that. He´s either gonna be the bass player in my band or the lead guy in his own band, so I respect what he´s doing. I think he´s recorded about 25 songs right now. I haven´t even heard a peep of it because I´ve been on tour and he´s been recording, I don´t think it´s recorded far enough yet where there are any vocals on it at all.
You´re coming to Sweden in June. What can people expect?
Mark: Just a high energy rock band. We give it all we got, so we´re looking forward to it.
Do you remember the first time you played in Sweden?
Mark: I can´t remember since it´s been so many times now. Always good memories. We love getting over to Europe in general. It´s a great fan base for rock and roll.
Are you playing mostly stuff from these two albums or what´s the deal?
Mark: We haven´t made a setlist yet, but for the festivals we´ll try and play all the high energy stuff and for the headline shows we´ll mix it up a little bit more with the new record. We kinda play it by ear.
What´s going on with Alter Bridge?
Mark: We´re in the studio now recording. We´re tracking now and I´m recording guitars. We´ve recorded 14 songs and we´ve got a little ways to go in the recording process, but it´s all sounding great and we´re working with Elvis on this one too. We´re gonna do a tour in the States in July and then head over to Europe in November.
Now that Myles (Kennedy) is not with Slash, I guess you can tour a lot more?
Mark: Yeah, it gives us the opportunity to go out there and make the most of it.
Are you the kinda guy that´s in a constant writing mode or does it go months in between writing sessions?
Mark: I´m always in writing mode. It´s kinda constantly flowing. I´m not good at writing a whole bunch right before going into the studio, I´m always working.
Do you also end up writing stuff that perhaps doesn´t really suit Tremonti or Alter Bridge?
Mark: I never know. I just sit down and write the best thing I can put out at the time. If it´s the heavy speed metal sounding stuff, it´s usually Tremonti, but other than that, it´s all up for grabs. Whatever best ideas I have on the table is what goes to whatever I´m working on.
Any fun Spinal Tap moments?
Mark: The worst one for me was stepping on stage in Austria and my guitar tech coming to me right before the show and telling me all my amps had blown up. I had to pretty much use a backup amp that I´d never used before and I didn´t even know the brand. It was in front of 35000 people. It was fun, it was a little stressful. (laughs)
Some band in the 80´s had a hard time with that movie because it struck a bit too close to home. Can you feel like that sometimes?
Mark: Absolutely. It´s definitely written around reality.
About your art? Do you have exhibitions?
Mark: You know, I haven´t had time since… this year´s been really tough and I think for the first couple of months of the year I got to paint a little bit, but I haven´t been able to for the last few months. I miss being able to do it, but I´ll get back to it once I´m done recording the Alter Bridge record.
Do you collect art yourself?
Mark: We did years ago, but you kinda run out of space on the walls, so me and my wife haven´t bought a new piece in a while. I kinda told her that from this time on I just wanna paint whatever goes on the wall.
Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen