With only seven more sleeps til ALTER BRIDGE touch down in the southern hemisphere for a string of Australian and New Zealand shows, Wezzy Cruze was fortunate enough to grab a quick last minute chat with front man MYLES KENNEDY to discuss "The Last Hero", tour updates and sushi!
Good morning Myles Kennedy, you’re speaking with Wezzy Cruze from Rogue Inc. in Australia. How are you today?
I’m good Wezzy, how are you doing?
Great thanks. You have such a dedicated & loyal fan base in Australia, which was highlighted with your highest ever chart position (#6 ARIA Charts) for "The Last Hero". You guys must be pumped with that response.
Yeah, I think everyone was pleasantly surprised. After 13 years of being a band, this album charted higher than anything we’ve done in the past, so it’s been very nice to know that people still care and are still listening to Alter Bridge after all this time.
There is a common recurring theme of needing heroes & leaders in today's fragile world climate on the new album, which could not be more accurate. Was the album always going to send that message, or did it evolve into it after writing a particular track?
I think it evolved after “Show Me A Leader”, it just came so natural and there was just such a deafening volume, at least where we were living, of things that pertained to that subject matter. It became impossible for it not to infiltrate a lot of the songs; it’s just became the overall concept. So instead about making it all about questioning leaders and heroes, or war heroes for that matter, we chose to look at the entire concept of a hero and what it meant, and the need for them, and what we tend to do to them while we have them, how we build them up and tear them down. It just seemed like a good theme to deal with on this record.
"Show Me A Leader"
You’ve stated previously that while The Last Hero was inspired by a political vision, there wasn’t a political agenda within it. Given the past few weeks, or even months now, do you feel this album contains a great feeling of hope to those who may be feeling disillusioned?
Well, I’m not sure if it’s exactly hope, but I think it contains a certain emotion that a lot of people are feeling, coming back to that disillusionment, and a divide. Obviously, we’re very divided at the moment. So maybe there’s a certain solace knowing that other people feel the same way. But yeah, it’s a very interesting time right now.
You’ve been working with Michael “Elvis” Baskette for the better part of a decade now, be it with Alter Bridge or Slash, even Mark (Tremonti) does his solo outings with Elvis producing his albums. What was it that drew you to working with him, and what keeps you going back all these years later?
For me, there’s a long history of working with Elvis. The first time I met Elvis, he was a young man, he was an engineer on the second Mayfield Four record that I recorded back in 2000. I always knew that he was extremely talented, and it’s been amazing for me to see his evolution and getting to be apart of that. I trust him like I’d trust no one else, really. Just to have someone like him at the helm, beside the fact that he’s just great at getting sounds and making records, he’s able to make the music leap out of the speakers with his engineering and mixing. He’s also got an amazing song sense, and really understands arrangements as well as the songwriting process. So, he’s a great guy to have on the team.
When it comes to touring Australia, you’re certainly no stranger. You’ve been here with both Alter Bridge and Slash, performing on the main stage at Soundwave quite regularly. What have been some of your favourite experiences while in Australia?
Oh man, there’s so many! *laughs* One of the things I remember, was just the beauty of some of the cities, and just how chilled and laid-back people are. For me, it was kind of enlightening in a sense, and I have a lot of friends who’ve never been there, and I keep telling them they need to get down there. There seems to be such a way of life that I find very liberating and unique, especially when you juxtapose it with other parts of the world, you guys have it all figured out down there.
The live Alter Bridge experience has been hailed as one of THE best live shows on the planet. The live DVD usually gets a thrashing every other weekend at home. Have you guys got anything special in store for your Australian fans?
Well what we’ve been trying to work on during this album cycle, is making sure that we draw from the last five records we’ve done as equally as we can. We went through a period there where we we’re playing a lot of songs off one or two records, and kind of neglecting others, so I feel we’re really got a balance happening now. Cause the fans and everyone have got their favourite records, so we just wanted to make sure that we kept everybody happy in that respect, so we tend to do three to five tracks from each of the five records, if possible, depending on how long the set is. It’s working out really well, it’s got a really good rhythm to it.
Have you got a favourite song that you perform live with the band?
Yeah, “Blackbird”, I think everyone would probably give the same answer. It’s a song we’re probably most proud of, it was a very important moment in the evolution of the band, and and every time we play it, it still feels special.
What would be a close second?
Um, close second, hm, good question. It would probably depend on what night you ask. Man, I really love “Watch Over You” just because it’s different, because we strip it down and do it acoustically, and it’s fun to hear the crowd sing the song back. So that’s always fun, mostly because it’s a different dynamic more than anything.
You take great care of your voice before and after shows, what sort of vocal exercises do you before you hit the stage? Have you felt this is important as the years have gone on? And do you feel more musicians should definitely look into it?
Well yeah, for me, the vocal technique is what has enabled me to do this for as long as I have. It’s basically an old opera technique called Bel Canto, it’s been around for hundreds of years, and it’s been great because after touring for as long as someone like myself has, you can typically blow your voice out, especially within the rock genre. So, if anything, I’ve feel that’s it’s kept my voice strongest overall, so I would highly recommend it to any young artist who wants to prolong the use of their instrument to look into it. At first, I was afraid it was going to change my voice and make it sound too technical, and that I would loose somewhat of an emotion element, but if anything it really freed me up, so I’m really grateful to have studied it.
Myles, before we wrap this interview up, we’ve got the Rogue Inc Quick Six segment, six rapid fire questions designed to get the most interesting answers to end the interview with. Are you ready?
The Quick Six
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Invisibility. *laughs* Absolutely.
If there was any song ever recorded that you wish you had written?
Oh man, there’s so many, but I’d probably have to say “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”, by Elton John.
As a child, who was your hero growing up?
Favourite thing to eat while on tour?
Do you have any new tattoos that we should be aware of?
Ah, nothing new. The last ones I had received were the two elephants on my chest a few years ago.
What band/album is currently playing in your car stereo?
The new live Gary Clark Jr. record.
Myles Kennedy, thank you for your time today. We look forward to seeing you when you hit Australia.
Awesome! My pleasure, thank you, we’ll see you very soon!
Catch ALTER BRIDGE with special guests LIKE A STORM
at the following venues
FRIDAY 31/03/17 - AUCKLAND – POWERSTATION
MONDAY 3/04/17 - BRISBANE - EATONS HILL
TUESDAY 4/04/17 - SYDNEY - ENMORE THEATRE
THURSDAY 6/04/17 - MELBOURNE - FESTIVAL HALL
SATURDAY 8/04/17 - PERTH – METROPOLIS
TICKETS AT MJRPRESENTS.COM/ALTERBRIDGE