By Andrew Bansal
Mark Tremonti, primarily known as the guitarist of Creed and Alter Bridge, has taken that one creative step he’s been wanting to take for a long time, and released his debut solo album “All I Was”, a metal album. Tremonti’s eclectic debut effort presents elements of his musicianship that have never been heard before in his work with Creed and Alter Bridge, and it certainly leaves even his diehard fans pleasantly surprised, while winning over new fans at the same time. An extremely apt representation of Mark Tremonti as a solo artist, “All I Was” is recommended to fans to hard rock and heavy metal fans across the board. Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with the man himself, to discuss the process behind this album. Read the conversation below, watch an extended trailer using the YouTube player embedded near the bottom of this page, and visit his facebook page for more info on the dates for his September-October touring run.
Firstly, how long have you been thinking about this solo album and how did it eventually come about?
Well, I’ve always been a songwriter since I was a kid, and I’ve got tons of ideas that have been piling up. I had a three-month window when Myles Kennedy was out touring with Slash earlier in the year, so I decided that it would be a good time to go ahead and get all the ideas that I really love, that couldn’t make it onto any other albums, take those ideas and put them together for a solo project.
So, would you say that these songs were written over a number of years rather than the usual thing where the writer sits down to write for a year or something?
Yeah, I’m constantly writing. Even if I don’t have an album coming up, songwriting is what I do for fun. So these ideas existed already, and when the time came to put this record together, I didn’t have to write a whole bunch of new material for it. I did write a few licks and parts that complete the album, but most of it was pre-existing. I’ve got tons of ideas for the next Creed and Alter Bridge records as well, but it’s good to have another outlet to put those pre-existing ideas into use.
So, which are some of the newer songs on this album?
It’s a mixture, like certain parts are old but mixed with a newer part. Even in the first single “You Waste Your Time”, the chorus was a newer part. So like I said, it’s kind of like a mix-and-match of old and new.
I hope so! I’ve always been a metalhead. I grew up a metalhead, and I had the desire to be in a metal band, but at the same time I love vocal melodies and I wanted to combine those two elements on this record.
Talking of the vocal melodies, this is your first album as full-on lead vocalist. What was that like? Was it a big challenge or did it come naturally?
It was a good time, you know. As a songwriter, I’ve always been a singer. So it wasn’t really out of my reach to go out there and sing on the album. It was just a fun process all around!
You’ve been playing in bands like Creed and Alter Bridge, radio friendly hard rock music, I dare say. Did that pigeonhole you at all into a guitarist who plays only that kind of music?
Well, when I write, I just write in general. I don’t write for a specific band. I usually write a part and kind of categorize it after the fact. When I went to pick up parts for this album, all the ideas that didn’t make it into any of the Creed and Alter Bridge albums, all of them were my ‘heavier’ ideas that I’ve always loved. Like I said, I’ve had a desire to be in a metal band, and this album kind of gets some of that out of me.
Do you have plans to play any of this material live, as a solo artist?
Yeah, I played a couple of shows in mid-July. They went great and I had a good time, and I’m going back out in September and October and then again in February.
That’s great to hear. Is this album a one-off thing or do you hope to do the solo thing on a regular basis, in your off time from the other bands?
Yeah I’ll definitely keep putting out solo discs. It’s a real fun thing to do for me.
Throughout your career, you’ve collaborated with musicians of so many different styles. Do you think that has helped you expand on your own musicianship?
Well, I kind of live in my own bubble. As a writer, I just don’t know where my influences really come from other than personal experience. So I try to keep my whole thing to myself and then combine it with the other guys when it comes down to putting our album together.
You’ve already worked with a lot of people, but do you have anybody at the top of your mind whom you’d like to work with at some point in the future?
If it was anybody in the world, I would pick Metallica!
Good choice! Coming back to the album, some of the songs are so different from anything you’ve done before. Did you have to make any adjustments in terms of your setup, like amps or guitar tone or anything like that?
Not really, it was the same stuff. The only different amp I used on this record was the Cornford RK 100 that I really dug. I used it for both the rhythms and leads, mixed with a rectifier.
You mentioned that you just write music and then categorize it later. Does that make it easier for you to handle being in three bands, as opposed to writing specifically for a band?
I think the easiest part is coming up with new music, and that’s what I love doing. The hardest part is to find time to make it all fit, you know, and be able to promote each album to the proper amount and with a proper tour.
You also did some instructional stuff in the past. I think you did a DVD four years back. Would you like to take some time out to do any more of those, specially to bring out some of your metal guitar techniques to the people?
Yeah, if I had a break in my schedule, it would be good to take this album and show all the solos and techniques on it. That’s what I kind of did on the last instructional DVD. I taught every solo from the “Blackbird” record, and just a bunch of picking techniques, legato techniques, alternate tuning styles, and what not. But if I did another one, I’d probably focus it on this album.