Named as one of the best guitar players of his generation, the ex-Creed and guitarist for Alter Bridge, Mark Tremonti was in Europe last June with his solo project Tremonti promoting the recently released full length albums, Cauterize and Dust. The successful European tour is a direct reflection of Tremonti’s growing popularity as a solo project, attracting many new fans as well as the old-school crowd that’s been following since the early 2000 days of Creed.
I had the pleasure to attend a show in Heerlen, The Netherlands on June 16th, and this amazing opportunity to interview Mark Tremonti and talk a bit about himself, his work and some of his plans for the future.
While Cauterize and Dust reflect his path in music, I wanted to know more about the man beyond the music.
ME: So as I see it , Cauterize and Dust tell a bit about your history in music business. Am I wrong?
Tremonti: Yeah! No you are right.
ME: Did you feel the need to write about it or it just came along?
Tremonti: It just comes out.
ME: Cauterize and Dust were meant to be heard together as one, then you had to choose the songs to each one of them, you have explained that before. Did you make some changes after you chose them for each album?
Tremonti: No. Just the order of Dust record, everything else it’s just done.
ME: What are the major differences, if any, between your line of work when you are doing your solo stuff and with Alter Bridge, besides the obvious?
Tremonti: Ah, you know obviously singing and being able to be more emotive because I am singing. And then the heavy metal element that goes into Tremonti stuff that is necessarily more than with Alter Bridge.
ME: Many people ask you to come to their countries/hometowns to play; we know that it is not exclusively up to you but to local promoters. Can you tell your fans how they can help in order to make things happen, I mean to help the promoters realize you need to play there?
Tremonti: Call the local venues, ask and request for the band to play. If you know the local promoter, call them. Just spread the word about the band around town, call the local radio stations and record shops, and guitar stores and local venues. You know, just spread the word.
ME: How do you feel about knowing your lyrics say something to so many different people in the world, at any given moment of their lives? Do you realize that a song has this power?
Tremonti: That is just a blessing, you know. I write this lyrics for myself, I try to make them as personal as possible and making them meaningful for myself as possible. So I think when you do that, it connects with other people because many people are very similar.
ME: Does this happens to you with other band’s songs that you like? Would you want to share one with us?
Tremonti: “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby one of my favorite songs ever, such ah … those lyrics are beautiful.
ME: Everyone knows about your straight relationship with your fans. Does that somehow influence your music? Do you get inspiration from meeting so many different people around the world?
Tremonti: Hmm. I write to make myself…. I write very selfishly, I write what I like the most but when I see the fans reactions to that it just gives me the confidence to keep going, you know? It encourages me, tells me I’m on the right path.
ME: Have you ever consider to let your fans took part of the album creation?
Tremonti: No. Laughs
ME: As a fan, one of the greatest pleasures is watching you play live because in that moment, we can feel you. That is one thing only some master: the empathy with the audience. Besides it being technically your job, does the stage also work as a therapy for you? I mean, do you feel the need to go there to purge some of your emotions?
Tremonti: Yeah, I mean performing is one of the best things about being a musician. Writing songs and performing that songs are two equally, equally the best parts of being a musician so yeah… I mean that is… All the rest of being on tour is not as fun – just playing that is why we do this, the rest of being away from your family and staying at strange hotels and on a dirty bus is terrible. Playing is fun. Smiles
ME: Yeah I understand. You are a guitar hero to a new generation of guitar players and musicians. I can think of Michael, from the Raven Age for instance. How does that feel? Do you feel the weight of that responsibility? Or does it just makes you proud of where you are?
Tremonti: No, I mean, I just try as hard as I can to keep going. You know, to not be complacent, to work as hard as I can, to be as good as I can, you know. And like I said, I do it for myself, you know I just… I love it and I always will.
ME: What keeps your feet on the ground?
Tremonti: Ahhhhh- Geez, my family and just – there is no reason for me to not have my feet on the ground.
ME: Some of your songs must have different meanings for you, different emotions given a particular moment when you wrote them. Does being on stage performing them bring that emotion to the surface again? Have you ever felt like “I can’t do this without breaking down”?
Tremonti: “In Loving Memory” is the toughest song.
ME: Yeah, I thought about that one.
Tremonti: It’s so hard we haven’t performed that in a long time. Ever since we did live in Amsterdam, I think we’ve only perform that once or twice, so that’s just so… yeah, that’s the toughest one.
ME: Do you feel the need to listen to your own music sometimes, besides the specific ones when you are finishing an album? Do you listen to it and keep searching for things you could do better, or you just enjoy it… something like, damn this is good.
Tremonti: No, I mean, I move forward. You know, if a record is new, I listen to it while it’s being mixed and when it first comes out. I listen to it while I’m relearning stuff and practicing, but then we play it every night on stage and it’s so much more fun to perform it than it is listening to it.
ME: Which is the song you listen when you are sad, that one that has the power to bring you up?
Tremonti: I think any kind of Bob Marley album, Bob Marley legend…
ME: A Portuguese poet once said, “Dreams lead life.” Is it right to say that you’ve accomplished some of yours? Do you dream big?
Tremonti: Yeah, I dream as big as I can. One thing I have learned is, beyond any doubt you can do anything you put your mind into.
ME: Can you share some of your dreams with us?
Tremonti: I am living my dream right now. I dream maybe someday of publishing a book or-
ME: I have heard about that…
Tremonti: Or learn really how to paint. I wanna publish a book some day and I want to learn how to paint real well.
ME: You are the calmest person I have met in the music business. What gets you mad?
Tremonti: Lots of things. Lots of things make me mad. Yeah, when people that work for me do not do their job… I work very hard so when people that are working for us do not do their job I get very upset.
ME: What is that one thing that can really turn your mood, besides that?
Tremonti: When, just people around you… like just life in general, when people do you wrong, it’s not… It’s not nice yeah. It has been done a few times.
ME: Is there’s any question you would love to answer in an interview and no one yet asked you before
Tremonti: I can’t think of one, I think I’ve answered them all. Laughs
To wrap up our interview, we proposed some pop questions and asked Mark to give us the first thing that popped in his head without overthinking.
He agreed to play along so here is the result.
Color – Green
Book – The prophet
Song – Nightshift
Rain – Sad
Music – Life
Love – Family
Interview conducted by Mary of Mark Tremonti Portugal
Be sure to catch Mark Tremonti on tour with Alter Bridge. Dates below.