Best known to many as the guitarist with Creed and subsequently Alter Bridge, Mark Tremonti in recent years has stepped into the solo spotlight with his own self-titled band.
With Tremonti the band having released their third album, ‘Dust‘, last month, and bound for the UK’s shores again, for a return to the Download stage and a brace of solo shows, PlanetMosh caught up with the man to chat about said opus, his writing processes, hooking up with Wolfgang Van Halen, reaching out to former band mate Scott Stapp and progress on the new Alter Bridge album.
Tremonti recorded last year’s ‘Cauterize’ and ‘Dust’ simultaneously. Was it always the intention to do the two albums that way, or was it a case of creative overload and finding that there were enough songs to put out a second one quite quickly?
We didn’t plan anything ahead. We wanted to do as many songs as possible and, when it came to the mixing phase, we decided to split it up into two equal albums.
‘Dust’ certainly sounds like an entity in its own right, and in many ways one which is also a distinct progression from ‘Cauterize’: was there any post-recording tweaking done to make the two albums stand apart or had that worked as a happy coincidence?
After mastering the only thing that changed was the sequencing of the second album, ‘Dust’. Everything else remained the same.
Wolfgang Van Halen plays on both albums: how did this union come about?
Wolfgang came out to an Alter Bridge show a few years back, he is an Alter Bridge fan. Then he invited us out to a Van Halen soundcheck and we just remained friends after that. Then, when I was in Los Angeles the next time around, he invited me to see Van Halen rehearse. I got to hear the album before the rest of the world did, so it was a great opportunity and one thing led to another from there and we decided to ask Wolfgang if he wanted to tour after we recorded ‘All I Was’, and then he recorded on the follow up albums.
You talk in interviews about how you’re constantly writing? Do you write separately for Alter Bridge and Tremonti, or do the songs just come out and you see where they fit?
I just write the best thing I can that inspires me the most at that moment, and then when it comes down to a record, that’s where I divvy up the material to the most fitting project.
Taking a step backwards for a moment: you’ve spent the majority of your career in two bands dominated by, two albeit extremely different but nevertheless strong personalities: how difficult was it for you initially to step out of those shadows and into the solo spotlight?
It was much easier than I anticipated. I thought it would be tough being in the centre of the stage and be the singer. But I threw myself at it and did my best – and it was much easier than I thought.
Creed ended acrimoniously, with yourself, Bryan and Scott Philips going on to form Alter Bridge and leave Scott Stapp more or less to his own devices. Looking back, and in your own opinion, was the latter a natural progression from the former, or was there a deliberate intention to create something entirely new?
At first we played it a little safe. Then we took on the stance that we wanted to make it as different as possible.
I know you weren’t involved in the recent Creed retrospective, ‘With Arms Wide Open’: did you feel insulted that this was put together without any involvement from yourself and the other band members?
Yes. To be honest, I was a little upset that they wouldn’t contact us to get our input.
Towards the end of last year, Scott Stapp went through some highly publicized personal issues: did you at any point feel the desire to reach out to him during that period? And do you ever see a time when it would be a case of “Doors Wide Open” between the two of you?
I reached out to Scott when he was at his very worst, when he was on social media making posts that were very troubling. I reached out to see if he was okay, contacted his family, spoke with them quite a bit. Next thing you know he was in a three month programme and I ran into him after he completed the programme: we spoke for a good while, and we are on good terms.
To return to the present and more positive things: you’re about to return to the UK to play the Download festival – the second successive year you’ve played there – and then headline shows in Glasgow and here in Belfast. How differently do you approach two different types of show – festival and club – such as these?
[With] festival shows, we definitely keep much more high energy and to the point. At our own shows, we can dive into the deeper album tracks to try to mix it up a bit.
You’ve never performed in Belfast before, but the venue has been upgraded from a 350 capacity to one nearly three times the size: that must be hugely satisfying for you, to know that there is such a demand to see you in a territory you’ve never visited?
I feel great about it. We have been asked to come to Ireland for so many years now with all the bands I have been in, and now it’s great to finally be able to get there, and I am glad to be able to play there.
Looking to the future, I understand that you’re working on a new Alter Bridge album: how is that coming along?
[The] album is going great. We just finalized recording 14 tracks and we are getting ready to mix and everybody feels great about it.
- Tremonti play the Maverick Stage at Download on Sunday 12 June, followed by headline shows at the O2 ABC Glasgow on Monday 13 June and Limelight 1 in Belfast on Tuesday 14 June.
- ‘Dust’ is out now on Fret12 Records.
- Live photographs by R O C K Photography.
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