Mark Tremonti sounds half asleep when he answers the phone, but it is not any wild rock antics that have led the Alter Bridge guitarist to this state.
It is all because he has not long arrived in the UK, on a whirlwind trip to promote his new band's CD and their upcoming O2 Academy gig this Saturday.
But one thing that did wake Mark up was recording the American rockers' new album AB III especially when he realised how dark vocalist Myles Kennedy's lyrics were.
Yet Mark, who is also the founder of Creed, believes that darkness has led to their best record yet.
When I heard the lyrics, I thought maybe Myles needed a hug! he says, laughing.
I think the common theme of the record is someone who has lost faith in anything to believe in, so it is definitely a darker record than anything we have done before.There is nothing left to hold on to, faith wise, for Myles, and he is really putting out on this album that he has trouble believing in anything any more.
Gloomy though it sounds, it has led to a compelling record, perfectly mixed with Mark's music, which takes on a harder stance than anything in the band's past.
Alter Bridge were formed when Creed broke up in 2004. It kept Mark and his Creed bandmates Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall together, and added singer Kennedy to the mix.
But while their first two albums spawned a selection of radio-friendly tunes, this time around Mark feels the band purely focused on making the sort of album that they wanted to release.
I was not concerned with radio, or commercial sounding songs, I wanted this record to be 100% artistic.Every record is usually artistic but you always have, at the back of your mind, that comfort of having a song written for radio.But I got to the point where I thought, We've got to write these records for ourselves', and it comes off better that way I believe.We are not trying to be negative for the sake of being negative, and there are some songs on it that are more positive. But I guess each album is a snapshot of where you are at the moment and that's the head-state Myles was in, and musically, that's the same space I was in.
He was not, however, in the same space as his singer when it came to the lyrics that Myles was writing. Many of the songs on AB III suggest a man who has lost all faith in anything, particularly religion, to the extent he now believes in nothing.
This is a view Mark disagrees with, and his arguments with the quartet's frontman ended up shaping the final track on AB III, a discussion that touches heavily upon various religious views.
The last song on the record, called Words Darker Than Their Wings, is a song based on a conversation between Myles and me.He was still saying he didn't believe in anything, and I was saying, You gotta believe in something'.I don't believe in organised religion because I think it is laughable that millions of people who worship one religion think the billions who don't are going to burn in hell because of that. If there was a God, I think a just God would not do that.But I do have my own beliefs. Life in the universe is way too complex for it not to have a reason, or some sort of purpose. I'm not sure what I believe in, but I do think there is something out there.Myles is still pretty stubborn about there being nothing though!
Religion has affected Mark in other ways, with Creed being hailed as the poster boys for the Christian rock movement for several years.
They were hugely successful, particularly in their homeland, even if they were often hailed with less complimentary terms by critics."
After a bitter split in 2004, the band re-united with singer Scott Stapp last year, and are now continuing to record and tour with both bands. As Mark writes all the music for both bands, how does he separate what would suit Creed and what is suitable for Alter Bridge?
Alter Bridge gives us the ability to go outside the box, which Creed doesn't. The songs are lengthier and more in-depth. Creed is a more commercial sound. When I write a song, I know which band it suits better.One of the things we have been fighting to achieve with Alter Bridge is that they won't sound like Creed and that has always been tough.It is something that has helped me as an artist though, because it is an exercise in artistic control.
Something else the Orlando-based guitarist tries to control is his commitments to his family. With two young sons, he tries to juggle seeing them with the demands of touring the world with Alter Bridge.
When I'm on tour inAmerica I often have my kids out with me, but when I'm over here it can be tough. We are in Europe for three weeks before I fly home for my son's second birthday.Then I fly back for the rest of the tour and won't see him for another three weeks, but I hope we will have a few months off, so I will spend a lot of time with him.I am lucky in that I have a wonderful family, and want to spend as much time as I can with them so I have got to keep the touring in check.
Thanks for the report to EveningTimes.