2012
10.22

From WheelScene magazine, January 2012.

Alter Bridge got game. Your average rock chick is likely to swoon at the mention of singer Myles Kennedy, with his lovely hair and sweet voice, while guitarist Mark Tremonti is a renowned influence on the YouTube masses of bedroom shredders. But there is, of course, more to them than what this writer words as abhorrent sexism and disdain for the online generation. A phoenix rising from the ashes of post-grunge stars Creed in 2004, it is only now that Alter Bridge have fully stretched their wings and began to burn at their brightest. Their latest album, AB III, sent them on a virtually non-stop journey across the Northern Hemisphere, lighting up the stages of major festivals and culminating in a headline show at Wembley Arena that will see a DVD release in the coming months. Yes, it’s fair to say the last year has been a good one for the Americans.

‘The touring cycle for the album couldn’t have ended in any better way.’ confirms drummer Scott Phillips to WheelScene. ‘The crowds were incredible. It was a real validation that we’re doing the right thing and that people appreciate the music we make.’
As the title suggests, AB III is their third full-length release, and, while they stick with their grungy melodic rock stylings, a large part of it sees a departure from the theme of hope woven through debut One Day Remains and sophomore Blackbird. Shadows are cast across the record, lending a more sinister feel to everything from the whispers of Slip To The Void to the jagged riffs of Coeur d’Alene. Isolation is classic if less upbeat Alter Bridge, while All Hope Is Gone lives up to its name through a palpable melancholy. It’s the honesty of the songs that rings truest of all however, and it saves AB III from becoming a depress-fest. The more confident moments Wonderful Life and Life Must Go On prove to be the light at the end of the tunnel, effectively turning the whole thing into a concept album about getting yourself back on track – which, suitably, the band also do in a sonic sense by its final curtain.
The ability to flirt with a more negative approach is a trait that Scott credits to coming of age as a band.
‘We’ve matured as songwriters, and I think the new record solidifies that progression.’ he beams. ‘Myles was going through some personal things at the time, but I feel that it brought a tonne to our sound, as did having him as a guitarist as well as a singer.’
Will they continue down this new path on album number four?
‘I honestly don’t know if we can get any darker!’ laughs the sticksman.

The exploration of darker territory is not only an exorcism of the frontman’s personal demons, but part of the new liberty bestowed upon the band by Roadrunner Records, with whom they inked a deal prior to the album’s release. Home to many of Alter Bridge’s hard rock peers, the union unburdened them of the stifling expectation to write hit singles that they had faced with other labels.
‘We were signed to Universal Records, but we felt they expected us to turn into something else.’ reveals Scott. ‘A company that big are always looking for the next radio smash. As soon as a new thing came along and caught their attention, we fell by the wayside. Roadrunner understand us for who we are and who we want to be, and we couldn’t be happier.’
And it’s partly thanks to one of these labelmates that Alter Bridge have enjoyed such success in the last year – top hat-sporting guitar legend Slash. After contributing vocals to a track on the Guns N’ Roses icon’s 2010 solo record, Myles was invited to join his band as permanent singer. They embarked on a world tour on which his powerful pipes satiated the hunger of Slash fans living in the cold, harsh world of Axl Rose’s Travelling Circus and an indecisive, vocal-less Velvet Revolver. The relationship had the blessing of Kennedy’s other bandmates.
‘There were people who didn’t know much about Alter Bridge who took notice when they saw Myles with Slash. From the first tour they did, people were like “who is this guy?”. Slash was very public in his praise of us. The whole thing was nothing but a positive force.’
Talk about friends with benefits.

By the time you read this, Alter Bridge will be gearing up to head south, where they’ll be taking part in Australia’s touring Soundwave Festival before Myles resumes his affair with Slash and the others rekindle things with their ex Creed. Wherever they may be, and whoever they might be with, however, this positive force is something that Scott wants to keep constant.
‘Being able to give back a certain something means a lot to us. The ability to help others through our music is amazing.’

That’s a hell of a lot of good fortune to repay.

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