INTERVIEW – BRIAN MARSHALL, ALTER BRIDGE

 

By Shane Pinnegar, February 2 2012

 

 

 

 

Brian Marshall, bass player with both Alter Bridge and his reunited former band Creed, is sitting in his truck at half eight in the evening while the rain pours down in his hometown of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and sounds like he has a bit of a cold.

 

Yeah it's winter here...

 

A quick discussion about the recent Perth heat wave and the promise of warm weather for Alter Bridge’s visit with the Soundwave tour leads us into a conversation about rock tour-related climate change management…


Is that a bit of a headrush, going from hot to cold as you tour the world?


Yeah – it is. Going from one climate to the next, like going from Italy up north to Scandinavia, you gotta really keep up with it and keep your body in shape. All you need is a little bug or virus and everyone comes down with it and we have to keep Myles (Kennedy, Alter Bridge singer and also singer with Slash’s solo band) in quarantine!


I guess that’s a bit harder to do if you’re all partying hard…?


Well we try not to do too much of that – we’re all late thirties now… I kinda let go every now and then but when you’re going on stage, if you’re not giving a hundred percent it’s not good, you know…


Absolutely… have you visited Australia before?


Yeah we toured with Creed a couple of times, and with Alter Bridge we came out and supported Disturbed about two years ago. [We only had an] opening slot – only half an hour or so – so after having coming out with Creed playing arenas that was a little hard, but you know man, one foot after another and you have to look at it like you’re building something, getting better at being on stage, better at your instrument. You know, we’ve been through a lot together over the last seven or eight years – record labels, management and all sorts… we’re just drawn to sitting around and creating and we’re starting to build up and reach bigger audiences. And for that to start to happen AGAIN – it’s rare enough for it to happen with ONE band, for it to happen with Creed and again with Alter Bridge is incredible…

 

 

Well I was going to bring up the same subject – congratulations are in order, because it really IS very, very rare indeed to have that sort of success with one, let alone TWO acts… you should be very proud of what you’ve achieved.


Well yeah – Fortunately I have a great bunch of guys I’m in a band with – Mark (Tremonti) is a great guitar player and songwriter, and he can write so well for Myles, or for Scott Stapp (Creed lead singer), and he can pretty much decide which way to go with it – sometimes you know instantly that [a song] would be good for Creed but not so suitable for Alter Bridge, or you know where Scott’s power range will be, or where Myles’ will be, so we just sort of decide which way to go with it and… I forgot the question, I’m sorry [laughs]


[Laughs] No problems, so - going back in time to when you left Creed in 2000 – was it hard to walk away from such a big band at that time?


I didn’t walk away – I was unceremoniously dismissed [laughs]. No, trust me – I didn’t wanna go, but it was an unhealthy work environment, Scott & I did NOT see eye to eye, and there was a lot of other things happening and the other guys kind of had to make a decision… Scott and I just weren’t on the same page really – and what happened is what happened. You know though, you’re about 25, thrust into the spotlight, and your bank accounts get bigger, and your egos get bigger and just… something had to happen before it basically imploded! But I would like to say I was definitely unceremoniously dismissed!

 

Creed 1999 - Scott Stapp front left

 

Wow – well it sounds like it was best for everyone, and it certainly seems to have worked out for the best at least….


Yeah, and when we got back with Scott we had a whole lot of things we had to work out, but he’s in a great place right now, and it’s a cool thing to see it starting to happen again. I mean – I know this is an Alter Bridge interview, but this is part of the history so… and I’m just so happy to have got the call from Mark when they were putting together Alter Bridge – it says a lot about my personality and his personality and how it could’ve gone a lot differently. So when I got that phone call to go down there and hang out, and form Alter Bridge, it was such a really cool feeling – I was probably the happiest guy in rock n’ roll at that time!


And at that time, I guess it must have been very frustrating to have a lot of critics write you off as not much more than “Creed Part 2”?


Well “Before the Remains” that was our first record to get back out there [as Alter Bridge], and I think a lot of the songs were on the Creed backburner for a while – there were new songs written but some of them date back to that Creed era. And we took some time to develop the Alter Bridge sound – and a lot of it was Myles didn’t play guitar AT ALL on that first record. He played a lot of guitar on “Blackbird” and “ABIII” so with that collaboration and the way it evolved into two guitars – it’s just evolution, and it took a while for the band to get the credibility we deserve as artists, and I think they’re two different bands with two different sounds…


And since then, of course, you’ve reunited with Scott Stapp as Creed and recorded and toured successfully, as well as keeping Alter Bridge alive and well – is it difficult to juggle the two?


It takes a lot of planning – ‘cos Myles is out with Slash too, and Mark is doing a solo record. It takes a LOT of planning – we just have to get together and talk it all through and lay down the touring schedule and album schedules, get the timeline right, and we just constantly keep working. We haven’t had any clashes yet!

 

 

You do seem really busy – as you said, Myles is off with Slash, you three guys have got Alter Bridge and you’ve got Creed, Mark’s doing his solo album, you run a Bed & Breakfast in Costa Rica – do you ever get any time off?


Yeah I have a lot of spare time! I’m kind’ve going crazy right now – when you’re out on the road you wanna be home, then when you’re home you wanna be out on the road! That’s just the nature of the business – but yeah, I’ve got free time, of course I do. I mean, I’m here in Fort Walton right now, taking care of some business – this is where I grew up… and just, I have plenty of time you know. I’m seeing the guys on the 19th, we’re leaving and will go straight to Brisbane, and we haven’t played together for a month and a half so we’ve got a full day’s rehearsal there, then we get straight into the festival shows. I’ve gotta start practicising – I usually just practice by myself, play along to the music just to get my head around the songs again, then get into it with the band.


You mentioned that sometimes the songs present themselves as being more suitable for Scott or Myles - with the three of you active in both bands, and Myles recording with Slash as well as Alter Bridge, is there the risk that someone will get upset that a certain riff or song is presented for use on one project and not another?


Hmmmmm [long pause, then tentative answer…] I’ve sensed some of that, but nothing that we can’t talk it out. I have sensed a little bit of that, but not much. Either Myles will keep it to himself and not even show it to us [laughs], or Mark will do the same, but usually with all the ideas we’ll know if they’re for Myles solo, or for whatever… it always finds its home


I believe Creed will soon be recording?


Creed will get together after Australia and record at least a few songs to tie in with heading out on tour in… April

 

And you’re going to be going into the studio with Alter Bridge later in the year – does that tie you up for the rest of 2012?


Pretty much! Yeah I think we’re with Creed through April and May, then I think we’re negotiating doing something internationally, but I’m not sure where.


Can we expect an Alter Bridge or Creed headlining tour of Australia any time soon, or is a festival like Soundwave the best way to tour Down Under?


Well we’re just concentrating on the Soundwave tour for now, and we have 2 sideshows with Steel Panther that have both sold out – so it’s great for promoters to see that… and Soundwave is great – it gets us out there and in front of an audience which maybe aren’t completely familiar with us, you know?

 

 

So, when you were growing up, did you ever imagine that you’d end up in this place – you’ve got TWO successful bands, you tour the world, you own a B & B in an exotic country [Marshall owns Mango Moon B&B in Costa Rica], you’re a professional muso… it’s a bit of a “living the dream” situation…


Yeah, you’re putting it into perspective for me, thanks! [laughs] When I was growing up I always was attracted to music, but I never started playing music until I was about 13 and I played drums, ‘cos my Dad had a drumkit. Then once I heard Rush, Led Zeppelin, and those classic rock bands really inspired me to play the percussion part in a band. I was always just drawn to drummers, before bass players or anything. Then when I picked up a bass, you know it took me to a place – and it still does – that inspires me like nothing else could. It makes me feel something differently – when I first set foot on stage and I felt the stage under my feet and people going crazy, and that feeling – I’m still doing it, because of that feeling I get on stage, that feeling music gives me – I love it, you love it - a lot of people feel it too. It makes me FEEL, you know?


If you could have been involved in the creation of one song or album throughout history – what would it be?


[short pause] I’d say, umm… Pink Floyd “The Wall”…


Magic! We just saw Roger Waters performing that entire album last week and it was… I don’t think we’ll ever see another show as… magnificent!


Oh yeah! The man is a genius.


Finally mate, what, for you, is the Meaning Of Life?


The meaning of life is… living, laughing and loving


Lovely - thanks again for your time…


… and fucking [laughs heartily]!!!


[Laughing] All the best on the tour and with your upcoming albums!


Thanks for the interview man, all the best


You can catch Alter Bridge on the 2012 Soundwave tour:-


February 25 – Soundwave, RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane
February 26 – Soundwave, Olympic Park, Sydney
February 28 – with Steel Panther, Enmore Theatre, Sydney
February 29 – with Steel Panther, The Palace, Melbourne
March 2 – Soundwave, The Showgrounds, Melbourne
March 3 – Soundwave, Bonython Park, Adelaide
March 5 – Soundwave, Claremont Showgrounds, Perth

 


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