I recently had the chance to talk guitar backstage with Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti prior to the band’s sideshow with Steel Panther during the monstrous Soundwave festival. Alter Bridge are about to release a live DVD via Roadrunner which will hopefully keep fans sated for a while in between Tremonti’s solo album and the next Creed recording. Mark is, and I say this in the most respectful way possible, a guitar nerd just like you and me, so it’s always fun to talk shop with him. So, enjoy!
How have the Oz shows been going?
We came down here without knowing what the crowd response was going to be, and it’s just like we’ve been touring here our whole lives. It’s incredible.
It’s been great watching you guys grow and evolve as a band, and especially seeing how nuts they go for you in the UK.
Yeah! This is very reminiscent of the UK over here in Australia. It’s seeming to grow very quickly. This is the second time we’ve been here and it’s already been over the top.
Slash got up and played a song with you recently. What was that like?
Oh it was great. Slash has played with us a handful of times now, and every time the crowd just eats it up. We love it. We’re all fans and we’re just honoured to have him out there.
And you’re playing with Steel Panther on this tour.
Yeah. We’ve known them for a while. We did a few shows in the States, we’re under the same management and they had the idea of putting us together on these sidewave shows. And I’ve jammed with them before, but I probably won’t do that tonight because they’re two very different shows.
Mark Tremonti gear links:
PRS Mark Tremonti Signature Model Electric Guitar Mccarty Sunburst PRS Tremonti SE Electric Guitar Vintage CherryT-Rex Engineering Tremonti Phaser Guitar Effects PedalMorley Mark Tremonti Patriot Wah Guitar Effects Pedal American Flag
What did you play when you jammed with them?
I started playing speed metal improvisations. That was it, I was only up there for about a minute. They’re hilarious.
You’ve got the Live at Wembley DVD coming out.
Yeah. We shot it in 3D. It comes out on March 26, and then a few months later the 3D Blu-Ray disc is going to come out. Dan Catullo is a great director, it’s very well done. I think we played about 21 songs on there, so it’s a very long DVD, and if you’re a fan of the band you’ll probably dig it!
And the Live DVD is a great way of ensuring Alter Bridge is still out there when you go back to doing Creed stuff for a while.
Oh yeah. It’s coming out right in the middle of the year, so it’ll give the fans something to chew on while we’re gone. We also have some B-sides we’ve never released that we might put out at the end of the year, to keep people happy.
Cool! What time period are they from?
I think there are two or three from the first record, one or two from the second record. But I dig all the songs.
So back to Creed this year then? What are your plans there?
When we get back home we’ll start rehearsing for the tour. We’ve already started rehearsing for the tour which starts in April, and we’ll get a new record out whenever it’s ready. Whenever we’re proud of it we’ll put it out.
And what about your solo album? That’s coming out soon.
Yeah! I’ve already mixed it all, we have a mastering date with Ted Jensen, the best masterer on earth. It sounds really nice. It’s the first time I’ve ever sang on a record, so it was a good challenge for me. It’s just fun! I’m a songwriter: I have lots of stuff sitting around that will never see the light of day unless I do something with it! So…
As a singer, have you always been a lead vocalist or is that something you had to push yourself into on this stuff? Singing lead is a lot different to doing backing vocals.
Well I’ve always been a songwriter, so I’ve sung while I was playing, but I write in my falsetto, so I’m hitting very high notes and all over the place, but I’ve always had a low range, so for my solo stuff I tune it way down. Y’know, I just never had the confidence before. I think the more I’ve sang over the years the more I’ve developed the confidence in my voice, and I’m finally ready to do it on my own. But it’s a whole different world.
Will we hear your shred skillz on the solo album?
Well, it’s melody driven. These are songs. It’s not shred for the sake of shred. It’s not an instrumental record, it’s a rock record, y’know? It’s definitely got some shreddy solos on there but there are some more tasteful ones as well. The record’s a harder, heavier record than I’ve done in the past, so most of the solos are kind of pushing it a little bit. But no tapping or stuff like that?
Any cool new guitar stuff?
Gear stuff? Oh yeah. I’m a gear nerd. My favourite new amp is a Bludotone Universal Tone. Brandon who makes Bludotones makes all the amps for the old-school Dumble guys. He builds for Carlos Santana, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, and now I got him to build me one of his newest amps. I’ve got a couple on order from him. Bludotones are incredible amps. One of my favourite amps of all time is the Cornford RK100. Just an amazing amplifier. On my solo record I use that amplifier for rhythm and lead. It sounds amazing. I just got a Diesel Hagen, which sounds like a monster. I love it. At NAMM I found probably the best amplifier for the price that I’ve ever heard, which is the Egnater Renegade 65. I love it. I’ve got a lot of high end, boutique amps that I love, and that’s the only $1000 amp that compares to them. It’s just an amazing amp. It’s great, man, great. Also I’ve got a couple of new pedals: the T-Rex Mojo Vibe is amazing. The new T-Rex Octavius pedal is amazing. I’ve got the new line of G Lab pedals this year. The delay and ‘verb are both so warm and rich. It’s the first delay I’ve ever used where you can EQ the delay, so if you want a nice big warm delay you can do it.
Any new guitars?
I try to use my Paul Reed Smith signature models 99% of the time just because that’s what I use on stage, but if I’m not playing that I’m either playing my Fender Strats, Teles, I’ve got a baritone acoustic that I dig. My favourite acoustic is actually a Washburn that I love. It’s got a hole in the headstock – I’ve never seen it before, but it’s just kinda my guitar that I leave sitting on the couch. It’s not a very expensive guitar so I’d just leave it kicking around, and now it’s my security blanket acoustic. It’s what I write on. And that’s about it for guitars?
Do you ever request changes here and there to your signature PRS to see what would happen?
Well right now I’ve got a baritone signature coming. A single-cutaway baritone. I’m real excited about two guitars, one with a fixed bridge and one with a trem coming, with the new crazy robot tuner. The newest technology there is. I think it has 327 tunings or something, and I use alternate tunings all the time so it’s something I’m really excited about. Because I spend half my time tuning the damn guitar and it drives me crazy!
Thanks to Roadrunner Records Australia.