MARK TREMONTI Talks New Solo Album “Marching In Time:” ‘With Every Record We Continue To Add More To Our Arsenal Of Sound’

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Mark Tremonti will be releasing his fifth solo album, “Marching In Time”, on September 24th via Napalm Records. This new record displays a diverse, attitude-drenched collection of 12 songs. It’s everything the band’s faithful followers have come to expect from Mark Tremonti‘s solo records while continuously pushing his signature sound forward. Songs like “Now and Forever” explode with the crunchy, rousing guitar and fiery vocals, and the record doesn’t let up through songs like “Thrown Further,” “Bleak” until the epic closing ruthless riff of “Marching in Time.”

“Marching In Time” is possessed with a sense of urgency and vigor that can only be the work of Mark‘s unfaltering right hand and the technical intricacies of his left. Combined with his prolific songwriter and being a tremendous singer, there shouldn’t be any doubts why he is one of the greatest musicians of our generation. The album features Mark on vocals/guitars, Eric Friedman on guitars, Tanner Keegan on bass, and Ryan Bennett on drums. It is produced by long-time friend and collaborator Michael “Elvis” Baskette. Preorders for Marching In Time are available now here.

Correspondent Robert Cavuoto spoke to Mark about the creation of “Marching In Time”, what goes into singing these powerful songs, what he loves to hear his fans say about his music, and the status of the new Alter Bridge record. Check out their conversation transcript below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and  subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.

[INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT]

The guitar tones cuts like a buzz saw to the head, and the bass and drums are thunderous. This feels more sonically powerfully than anything you have done before. Last October, you told me you wanted to get to 20 songs before deciding which ones will make the cut because you wanted the ones with the best dynamic range. Was that what you were referring to?

We didn’t get to the 20 songs; there were about three or four tracks that didn’t make the cut on this record. You always want the record to be dynamic and tell a story. If you had eight brutal speed metal songs, they wouldn’t sound as heavy because they are all heavy. I want there to be a flow from slow, heavy grooves to atmospheric stuff to uplifting.

We have spoken for all of your solo records, and this one by far is my favorite, I think, because the lyrical hooks and melodies are so big on every song? Was that something that helped you in the whittling-down process?

As a writer, the melody is my favorite thing and the most important part of any song and the thing that makes me the most excited about being a writer. I used to get frustrated in my earlier days as a professional writer; people would just consider me a guitar player. I would tell them I’m a songwriter as that was my number one thing. When I pick up the guitar, it is not top shred; it’s writing songs and singing over everything I have written.

Who is your go-to person who gives you an unbiased opinion of the best songs to include on the album?

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

First, it’s Eric Friedman, who is the other guitarist in the band. I play him all the ideas I have been going through as well as my favorites. I’ll get a feed off of him what he thinks are the strongest. It’s hard to be a writer in a bubble. When you think something is great and you see them light up when you play it for them, then you know you are on to something. Eric is the first filter, and then when we are done with the demo, we take it to our producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette, and he will put his two cents in. In most instances, he will pick two or three songs that are equally as good as one another, but they share the same vibe. He would typically cut one out so that the record tells a story as opposed to having too much of a similar attack with the same tempo, feel, and vibe.

Do you get insulted when someone doesn’t like one of your ideas?

I don’t get insulted; I get depressed! [laughing]. If something means a lot to me and someone doesn’t like it, I’ll get depressed. From there, I play it for someone else, and if they tell me it’s great, I’ll feel relieved as perhaps the first person just wasn’t in the right frame of mind or in a bad mood that day. I don’t just give up on something after just one comment. If it means that much to me, I’ll fight and keep trying to make it happen. A lot of the first record I did with Tremonti was full of those ideas or songs that never got across the finish line in Alter Bridge

Was there event an idea that you presented to Creed to Alter Bridge that wasn’t well-received but turned out to be a successful song?

The whole first Tremonti record was full of songs I had to fight for. The riff for the song “All I Was” I brought to those guys a million times. The chorus for the song “Dust,” which is a fan favorite, I played it at so many writing sessions with Alter Bridge, and it never flew. To this day, it is one of my favorite choruses that I recorded. You get to a point where you play it to them a tenth time, and they say, “We heard that one!” When I hear that I think, it’s time to add it to a solo record! [Laughing].

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

You have a fantastic solo career, and it’s terrific for fans to hear Alter Bridge songs that may not have been. With this being your fifth solo record, I feel you have established a signature solo sound that is different from Creed and Alter Bridge. It seems to have evolved very nicely.

We try to figure out what the band is capable of and continue to add more to our arsenal of sound. We want to keep it sounding fresh and not stale. When someone listens to our music, I want them to say, “I’m surprised by that!” I don’t want to hear, “It sounds like another one of their records.” I don’t ever want to hear that!

“Now and Forever” is my favorite song on Marching In Time. Can you share any insights into its creation?

That is my favorite chorus on the record. The other part of its genesis is the main riff. I knew it would translate live and was fun to play. The hardest part of that song was coming up with the verse. I still think the verse to that song could have been better, but I still think the chorus outshines it. I love the bridge riff, which is the heavy part of the whole record!

For obvious reasons, everyone seems to be focused on your guitar playing; tell me how you approach preparing vocally when recording these songs?

On this record, I made a point to sing them in my range and not kill myself. Producers, bandmates, and everyone else thinks it sounds great when you’re struggling to hit those notes because it sounds more aggressive or emotional. It may be true in some instances, but I like to feel in control of what of what I’m singing because I put where my voice sits for the most part. Thirty percent of this record is a bear to sing. I don’t like screaming for notes.

What is your practice routine when rehearsing vocally for recording?

I go to my studio with my guitar to sing and play to the mix. I try to figure out where my voice fits best. I have to focus on the vowel sounds and how I’m going to pronounce each word. When I write melodies, I write in my falsetto so I can hit any note with ease, but I don’t record in falsetto because it sounds like a chipmunk. When it comes time to recording, I write down the lyrics and plot out my phrasing and where I’m going to hit the vibrato. I do that to be more prepared rather than “winging” it. We do about six or seven takes of the song. I don’t think anyone does a song from start to finish anymore; that’s old school. Elvis, our producer, would say, let’s hit the first verse, and I would do it six times, and so on. I tend to record the songs or parts that are easiest on your vocal range first, then work my way to the hard stuff. If the producer feels like he doesn’t have a word or sentence, we will hit that a few more times.

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

Do you order the songs in your setlist with the easier ones upfront or at the end?

I love playing live. There are certain songs that you can do in the studio, but when you have to play them live every night, for example, “Bleak” from the new record, would shred my voice to pieces if I played it early in the set. If I were to do that song, I would do it as the last song of the night. Even then, I may not be able to do it. I may have painted myself into a corner with it, as I would really have to work at that song before playing it live. I’m also not afraid to admit that I will tune a song down half of step to play it live so I can survive for the tour.

Are you the type of person who rests your voice all day and doesn’t talk to preserve it?

Sometimes, when out on tour where I’m singing, I really take care of myself. I drink lots of water and get lots of sleep. I try not to talk over a bunch of people while at dinner as it will wear you down more than you know. A lot of people will ask me what is wrong with Myles when we are on tour; I have to tell them nothing is wrong, he is a singer, and sometimes he won’t talk all day. Being a singer in a band can be a lonely existence for some people; you can’t talk, you can’t go out drinking, you can’t hang out with the rest of the guys, and you can’t stay out late; not if you want to be at your best for the show the next night.

What are you going to do to keep the band, crew, and yourself safe when on tour as so many bands are canceling shows?

Everybody in the band and crew had to sign a document that explains all the preventative things we are doing while on tour. We have strict guidelines like being in the NBA bubble. We all have to be vaccinated, which we are; you have to have a negative COVID test 72 hours within the first show. During the whole tour, you can’t have anybody backstage except blood family who has been vaccinated and tested. You can’t just have your buds come backstage even if they have been vaccinated. You can’t go to restaurants to eat as you can only order food out. There are some open-ended things like how do we exercise? It sucks ass to be like this, but bands are falling off tours due to crew or band or both throwing the whole thing off. You can’t go out and party with everybody. What I worry about is we are very friendly with all of our fans as we don’t shy away from having a conversation with them or take a photo with them. We love to do that we this tour; we can’t do it. Even with our meet and greets, we have to be behind plex-glass due to all the rules and regulations. Insurance companies are making sure you are protected, so you have to follow. Also, promoters like AEG and Live Nation have to protect their interest. You have to be on your game, and you can’t have people running around who aren’t following the guidelines. If you want to, participate you have to follow the guidelines.

Photo by Robert Cavuoto. Digital manipulation by Rick Mapes

Have you heard Wolfgang’s record, and what did you think of it?

I think the record and I saw a couple of his live performances, and I think he is doing great. I knew the record was going to be great. One thing that I never saw him do was to get up there and be the front-man. That’s something you can’t learn; you have to experience and work as you go through it. I think he is so comfortable being on stage that he took to being the front-man. I just sent him a text letting him know how happy I am for him.

Can you give us an update on the next Alter Bridge record?

I’m actively writing the new Alter Bridge record. Now that my solo record is done and we are going to tour on it, I can focus on the songs for Alter Bridge. I’m just getting started and on my first page of ideas. I think in January, Myles and I will get together to put our heads together to discuss what we have written at that point whit the hope of going into the studio in 2022. After that, I’ll go back on tour with Tremonti, and he will go out with one of his bands and prepare for a winter 2022 tour with Alter Bridge.

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