Myles Kennedy: The hardest working man in hard rock
Myles Kennedy has toured with Slash and The Conspirators and was nearly Led Zeppelin’s new singer. Now he’s back with his day job, Alter Bridge, who return with their heaviest record to date
Alter Bridge (from left) Scott Phillips, Myles Kennedy, Mark Tremonti and Brian Marshall
You must be one of our own with a name like Kennedy?
Actually, I’m an adopted Kennedy believe it or not. My stepfather [his biological father died when he was four] definitely has got some Irish descent. My original last name was Bass and I haven’t figured out where that name came from.
When you were growing up did anybody ever ask you if you were one of the Kennedys?
All the time. I’m originally from Boston where a lot of the Kennedy’s come from. I used to get that question for sure.
Fortress is Alter Bridge’s first album in three years. It is a lot heavier than its predecessor ABIII. Was that deliberate?
It’s just the way they fell together. Mark [Tremonti, guitarist ] and I started writing together again. There was a surplus of heavy ideas and we decided to put those out and make them work. With that said, there was plenty of those values and those moments when we are trying to have that element of dynamics, to have that journey as part of the sound. Overall, it is probably our heaviest and most intense record in that sense.
It is also your most complicated record. You seem to be messing around with the original verse-chorus-verse-chorus format with complicated time signatures and scale patterns.
That was very important to us. A lot of times, the fun part of the song will be after the second chorus and that is where you can decide where the journey can take a left turn. We did that a few times, like on Cry of Achilles and Fortress where we would really take some chances and keep it exciting.
You guys have been away doing other things for the past three years. When you’ve come together again, has that restoked your creativity?
Absolutely. I think we were able to go off and do something completely different. What I did with Slash and the Conspirators was a very different kind of music. Genre-wise, it is a step in a different direction. When I decided to reconvene with Alter Bridge, I felt I had a lot of ideas that were very different from what I had been doing. It was the same thing with Mark as well. The record came together very quickly because of that.
You have Michael “Elvis” Baskette back as a producer for the third album in a row. Some bands like to change producers, but you are sticking with him. Why is that?
I think our motto was ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. We were so happy with what he brought to the last two records prior to Fortress that it was a no-brainer to use him again. He’s such as incredible talent. He has great songs, he has great ideas. We will definitely be working with him again.
The opening single Addicted to Pain has been getting a lot of good reviews. I take it that you are pleased with it yourself?
Yes, that song came together pretty well early on in the process. We felt we had the single so to speak. That song liberated us to experiment a little bit with the other tracks because we weren’t chasing down a single at all times. We were really able to have fun with the rest of the record.
The opening song Cry of Achilles has a beautiful acoustic piece at the start of the record – a lot like Anastasia on the album you did with Slash.
That was a piece that I had for a little while and played it for Mark. He was really excited about it. He built the song from there. It is fun to play, but it is definitely going to be a challenge to execute that every night. It is funny. I was wondering if Anastasia was an influence on a subliminal level. There was a lot of the bands that I love that have integrated those acoustic intros such as Metallica who have done that quite a lot.