The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Mark Tremonti Interview - Interview
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click here to read our review of Cauterize

Mark Tremonti may be best known for his work with bands like Creed and currently with Alter Bridge but what some may not know is his love for heavy metal. His solo band known simply as Tremonti have released their second album "Cauterize" and it's the heaviest album that we have seen from the guitarist. We had a chat with Mark to discuss the new album and to also talk about some of his influences and how he got into music in the first place.



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Andrew: So I guess you guys are on tour at the moment?

Mark: Yeah we're in Glasgow right now

Andrew: So is this the first show on the tour?

Mark: No we did about a month in the States and we're doing a month here in Europe and we get back home on the 23rd of this month.

Andrew: How's the tour been going so far?

Mark: Yeah it's been a great time.

Andrew: Some of our guys at The Rockpit caught you at the Earthday Birthday show in Florida, how was that for you?

Mark: That was the very first show we did so that was us getting our sea legs! We've come a long way since then.

Andrew: I had heard that Hellyeah had taken your headline slot.

Mark: Yeah Hellyeah's bus had broken down so they asked us if we would switch spots with them so before we went on stage, people were going 'Hellyeah, Hellyeah!' haha! So the radio people had to get on stage and say we gotta switch up the order here. We're glad to do other bands a favor by helping out.

Andrew: Yeah all part of the touring lifestyle I guess isn't it?

Mark: Absolutely!

Andrew: Did you manage to catch up with Myles Kennedy while you were there?

Mark: Yeah and actually I saw him last night, we played the Download festival yesterday so we met up yesterday. We've done a lot of festivals together this year so we've seen them at Rock On The Range and a bunch of the United States festivals and then a few of them over here in Europe.

Andrew: Now one of the things we need to talk about is the new album "Cauterize". This is a fantastic album and even better than the first one, certaintly heavier as well. You must be happy with how the songs have turned out.

Mark: Yeah absolutely. I think with the first record we were just trying to see what we were capable of and it was just me, Garrett (Whitlock, drums) and Eric (Friedman, guitars) putting this stuff together without any real plans other than just making the best record we could. With this record we toured for a year and a half and Wolfgang Van Halen (bass) joined the band and we got to write this album with all 4 members being present and I think we knew what we were capable of this time around. As a vocalist I got to come in to the studio for the first time as a guy who has been a singer get that experience when you play live, it really changes your voice a lot. So I got to come in to the studio with all that new experience.

Andrew: Yeah I guess touring would have had an impact on the album in a very positive way.

Mark: Yeah absolutely.

click here to read our review of Cauterize

Andrew: One of my favorite songs is "Flying Monkeys" which happens to be one of the singles. It's a slower one but it's more heavier than all the others I guess. How did some of these songs come together?

Mark: Well that song started with a riff, it was a riff I had around for years and years and I used to play it on stage at soundcheck. And our old drum tech would come out doing a dance and say it reminded him of the flying monkeys march from the Wizard Of Oz. So from that point forward anytime I ever logged an idea in my hard drive, I would label it as flying monkeys and once the song was done, it couldn't have any other name but that.

Andrew: Yeah I was going to ask if that song title was a reference to the Wizard Of Oz and I guess you just confirmed it haha!

Mark: Yep haha!

Andrew: Another great song is "Dark Trip" which is quite different as well, how did that one come together?

Mark: Yeah that's another one of the older songs from the record that I had written most of it. I had actually sent that to Myles for an Alter Bridge record and we just never got back together on that song to finish it so I always knew that one was ready to go. I had already written the verses and choruses and all the lyrics and I always loved it so when we got together for this record, we just worked out the bridge and I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

Andrew: Is that something that is maybe somewhat difficult between 2 bands where when you sit and write songs, do you plan out which songs need to go for which band or do they just happen naturally?

Mark: Yeah it happens naturally. Usually the speed metal bass stuff tends to go to Tremonti albums but at the same time Alter Bridge is getting heavier so as long as there's no horse gallops, crazy riffs that call for crazy double bass drums, it can also be Alter Bridge as well. Because Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall, my rythm section for Alter Bridge are just not speed metal based, they are more groove based and pocket based. It's just a different sound and I enjoy that because it keeps the 2 bands sounding different, the rhythm section really make the bands stand apart.

Andrew: Is that the main reason or one of the main reasons you wanted to do this solo project because there was certain aspects of music, the heavier side of music that you wanted to try out?

Mark: Yeah absolutely, that's the stuff that I grew up on and the sound that I developed first and when I brought it to the early days in Creed and Alter Bridge, it just wasn't something that the guys were as interested in so when we started this band, it's what we dove into immediately.

Andrew: Is it a logistical nightmare or the best of both worlds when you try to find time to do both bands?

Mark: It keeps us on our toes, we just have to plan stuff well in advance. But I think in the songwriting side of things it keeps you always in songwriting mode so it always keeps your brain in that mode which I think is healthy for a songwriter.

Andrew: I guess the songwriting is what keeps you going? Or is touring more fun? What's the best part of the whole thing?

Mark: Songwriting is definitely it for me. Since I was a kid, since I was 11 years old I've been writing songs and recording them and I just love it! I love creating something out of nothing, it's addictive. You always try to chase down that perfect song and until I get tired of it, I'll keep doing it but I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.

Andrew: Now there's a lot of us including myself that know you for your more melodic side but who do you consider to be your biggest influence as far as the heavier music goes?

Mark: Well Metallica was the first band that turned me into a music fanatic, the "Master Of Puppets" record was really the linchpin to really set me on a track to find the heaviest, meanest stuff I could find and from there I got into Slayer. And I have a lot of influence from the old "Reign In Blood" record, it's one of my favorite records of all time. And I also got some punk influences along the way with Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains and I got into the gloomier black metal stuff like Celtic Frost. But for the most part my favorite stuff was the San Francisco speed metal scene, bands like Metallica, Testament and Exodus and that whole scene.

Andrew: So obviously more into thrash metal than anything.

Mark: Yeah love thrash.

Andrew: Yeah I can hear that on the new album as well, there's a lot of elements of the old school thrash metal so you obviously try to incorporate some of that stuff into your music.

Mark: Yeah it's what I grew up on so it's kinda my roots of my playing and a lot of my go to stuff. It was something I couldn't do for years and years with the Creed and Alter Bridge stuff because those guys weren't as interested in that sound as I was.

Andrew: So what got you into music in the first place? Was it the heavy metal stuff or was it other kinds of rock?

Mark: I was drawn to the guitar before I picked up on the heavy metal stuff. Just being in the back of Mom and Dad's car listening to the radio, I was always just drawn to when a band would break down to the electric guitar. Boston did that a lot, I remember J. Geils there was a song called "Love Stinks" that just broke down to a big guitar, a simple guitar line but I was just so into that sound I bought the record. That was the first record I ever got was the J. Geils "Love Stinks" record. And then I grew up a little bit and got into the Beastie Boys, they were the biggest thing in the world where I lived at that moment and that's right before I came into following "Master Of Puppets" from my brother and that's when I took a 180 and got into metal and became a fanatic from that point on.

Andrew: Yeah for a lot of people that record from Metallica is a very influential record I guess. Now correct me if I'm wrong but I had heard that you tried to start this band a number of years ago with Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed?

Mark: No that's a rumor flying around that me and Jamey and Joey (Jordisson) from Slipknot were going to start a metal band but I don't know where that started. But I know me and Jamey had talked years ago about maybe doing a guest spot on each others record, we're very friendly with each other. I just did his podcast a few months ago but that's just a rumor that started, I don't know what the source of it was, maybe it was on wikipedia or something.

Andrew: Ah ok. Well the reason I asked is because especially in that song we were talking about before "Flying Monkeys" I kinda get an almost hardcore vibe from it. Were you influenced by any of the hardcore bands as well like Hatebreed and Biohazard and Pro-pain, a lot of the New York kind of bands as well?

Mark: I think Hatebreed is awesome but I got into the speed metal, thrash and death metal much more when I was younger. I didn't buy any of the hardcore stuff when I was young, I didn't have the Cro-mags or any of their records, it was either punk, metal, speed metal, black metal, death metal haha! metal metal metal!

Andrew: Pretty much anything that's fast then really.

Mark: Yeah but not necessarily [just] fast, I like some slow, doom...I like doom metal too, Celtic Frost is my other favorite band too, Metallica and Celtic Frost are probably my 2 biggest influences and Celtic Frost I love them for how dark they could get, how doomy some of their stuff got.

Andrew: Do you ever think about extreme metal has gotten these days? Especially from when it first started when Venom and Metallica got started to where it is now where you have so many different genres. Do you find that music could not possibly get any more extreme than it has now?

Mark: You never know, there's always going to be something new that comes out. You have bands like Meshuggah come out and make everybody scratch their heads and go 'Where the hell did this come from?' You had bands like Tool before them that were throwing out these great polyrhythmic, great rhythms and whatnot but bands like Meshuggah took it further and I think a ton of bands are influenced by them and gone on that route. But there's going to be another band that comes out with something else that everybody chases down but I think metal and rock is definitely coming back because of all the experimentation that's going on.

Andrew: Yeah it will be interesting to see where it goes. From all the years that you've been playing music, what have you learned so far that you think is the most valuable advice that you can give starting musician out there?

Mark: I would say put songwriting first because there's a hell of a lot of musicians that can play better than...all the best guitar players and drummers in the world are guys that you don't see in magazines or hear on the radio, they are guys sitting in their bedrooms because the guys out there that are doing it are the songwriters and that's the most important thing. I think being able to rely on yourself is a powerful thing and if you are a songwriter, you can always do that.

Andrew: As I said before the new album sounds fantastic and I hope all the fans out there are loving it. Thanks for your time today, it's been a pleasure!

Mark: Awesome, thank you so much.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on June 15th 2015