Alter Bridge on 'Fortress': 'We're Still Proving Ourselves'

The band guitarist Mark Tremonti also talks balancing three projects at once.

Ultimate Guitar

Alter Bridge's axeman Mark Tremonti revealed that releasing the band's fourth album "Fortress" is like "a new band that's still proving ourselves and still gaining new fans." In a recent chat with Billboard he said, that even this far into its career, Alter Bridge doesn't feel fully established - in a good way.

"When I was growing up and I'd see a band's fourth album, I'd feel like, 'Wow, they're at the end of their career. I'll be lucky to have four albums in my entire career," Tremonti explains. "I guess since I'm older now I just feel like we're always trying to improve ourselves and trying to build upon what we've done in our past and make each record better."

"It's an exciting record, top to bottom," he continues. "It's got a lot of energy. There's only two songs that aren't really big rockers and are more midtempo, and two others that could be considered more epic-y but still have a really big rock sound. We pushed ourselves really hard to try and improve our sound with it and improve our boundaries.

"I know I say that on every record we do, but this time we feel like it was time we pushed even further. Elvis [Baskette], our producer, thinks it's our best-sounding record and could be the best thing we've ever done. When he says something like that ... I mean, you love the songs because you've written them, but it's good to hear that positive outside perspective as well."

One of those spoken songs, "Addicted to Pain," is out as the lead track and was one of the first songs the group worked on for the set. "You can tell from the title, it's pretty much about an abusive relationship where somebody just keeps on going in this relationship," Tremonti says, "getting maybe not just physically beat up but mentally beat up because they've done it for so long they pretty much tell them that they must be addicted to this pain to keep on going through it."

"Fortress" also caught Tremonti at the balancing Alter Bridge with Creed and release of his solo album alongside with starting his own band during the interim. So he now has three concerns when he writes songs rather than two, though Tremonti sees more positives than negatives in that.

"Sometimes I'll just sit down and write and I won't think of any band in particular," Tremonti says. "I'll write and then I will go back days later, weeks later or whatever and I'll go through my ideas and I'll either throw them out if they don't speak to me or I'll label them as a certain part of a song. And then the last thing I do is to put them in which band they should be in. But usually it's pretty obvious to me. If it's an old school thrash kind of vibe, if I have a riff like that it's definitely Tremonti solo stuff. If it's more of a moody, hard rocking song it's gonna be an Alter Bridge song, and if it's more straightforward it'll be a Creed song."

Alter Bridge returns to the road on October 4 at the Disney World House of Blues in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., before starting a six-week European tour with Shinedown and Halestorm on October 16 in Nottingham, England. North American dates are expected for 2014.

50 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Three Alter Bridge articles in 3 days.. Not bad UG
    Right? It's nice to see them getting some attention
    Don't get me wrong, I like A7X, but the amount of attention they were getting by UG was ridiculous. Its nice to see a fairly underrated band like Alter Bridge get some attention.
    Alter Bridge is unreal, I don't understand why they are still not a HUGE band
    The sell out concert after concert, including Wembley. They do it while remaining humble, and without the help of most of the mainstream media. Which I find amazing, and
    These guys can do no wrong. As long as you have Mr. Tremonti in your group, you will be just fine...
    Unless you have Scott Stapp in your group, and then you will be the opposite of fine.
    The fact that the guy was a douche should not take away from the fact that they made some great freaking music. Go back to 2004 where you belong
    Yeah you're right, I do love My Own Prison, and even Human Clay had some good songs. Although I do dislike "Higher" because radio ruined it for me.
    Definitely can't wait for this one. after seeing the video of them in the studio working on the track " The Uninvited", I'm even more excited.
    As far as I'm concerned they've got nothing left to prove. They're an amazing band with so much technical talent and the ability to actually write damn good songs. True, they still seem rather underrated as bands go. Especially considering some of their work is quite accessible (is that the right word?), as in it's no heavier than Nickelback's stuff, yet Nickelback are a world famous, household name and Alter Bridge aren't. Which just doesn't seem fair to me. I feel like AB should have "broken through" a long time ago, I'd love to see them get the credit they deserve.
    While I agree with you... they are MUCH, MUCH heavier than Nickelback.
    Myles's vocals are much less radio friendly on the heavier AB songs than Chad Kroeger's are on stuff like "Side Of A Bullet"
    Nickelback does have some heavier tunes, it's in the back catalog. And it's the shit you'll never hear on the radio. But I definitely think Alter Bridge should cross over.
    B-but Protest the Hero's Fortress will be the only Fortress for me...
    Protest the Hero is overrated. Technicality for technicality's sake is so ****ing boring.
    I like bands that are technical, but most of them have no melody at all. It is just a bunch of random stuff squeezed into a song.
    I'm a bit ambivalent towards AB. Sure, they're massively talented, and they make decent songs, but I can't get past their same-y kind of song structures. They've got so much potential and sometimes I feel like it's being wasted on radio-friendly garbage. ABIII was about as close to a great record as they've gotten so I'll await Fortress and see if it's worth a listen.
    Radio Friendly? They write good songs, of course they will be played on the radio. Radio isn;t a bad thing. You're supposed to write great songs. You don't go into the studio and say, "lets not write songs for the radio." The band is on Roadrunner Records and they are promoted very well. Of course their songs are gonna be played on the radio. That doesn't mean it's radio friendly. Other than Rise Today their songs are nothing like what's played on radio..
    I get the same feeling. I could never get too into them. It sounds pretty generic and I don't quite see the hype between Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti. This isn't an attack on those guys, I just don't hear anything special coming from them.
    The hype is from these guys playing technical music and even at times very progressive, and being a modern band. Only way to hear that is to listen to their albums and not the songs that are just more straight forward hard rock songs...
    Maybe next album will be more for you. They seem to have pushed their boundaries a bit when it comes to song structures.
    Great vocals, lyrics, awesome guitar solos/riffs . . . what do you consider special then?
    What's happened with Creed? They were meant to be getting together in 2012 to do a 5th album and it's still not out, whilst Alter Bridge managed to get an album completed. Is Scott Stapp acting up again?
    Sounds like nothing was ever announced beyond "Yeah, we're meeting in the studio." That was last June. Then Tremonti got distracted by his solo work and now AB.
    Tremonti had better things to do, like i don't know . . . an awesome solo album and a new AB record
    They posted some photos and videos from the studio in summer 2012. They also said that they had 5 songs written at the time, but it seems that the other guys went back to Alter Bridge after Creed's tour. Scott Stapp is working on his solo album at the moment though and it's supposed to be coming out this year. I do hope Creed do another album at some point, but I'm looking forward to hearing some new songs by Scott and the new Alter Bridge album.
    The last I heard, Scott Stapp completed a solo album in 2010 which has been shelved indefinitely and still doesn't have an official release date, which sucks. It probably hurts for him to see Mark Tremonti have success with his solo band and album whilst his album's just laying there being unheard. I too am looking forward to Alter Bridge's new album. I personally prefer them over Creed but that's just me xD
    It isn't just you. AB is far greater than Creed. Myles Kennedy vs Scott Stapp? Shouldn't even merit a debate. Myles wins every time. In both vocal quality, talent, and lyrical content. Not to mention Myles can play the shit out of a guitar.
    Myles doesn't beat Stapp in terms of lyrical quality. Not even close.
    Mustaine, their lyrical content is a bit different. Scott wears his on his sleeve and writes more uplifting songs. Myles is a deeper lyricist and broadens the topics. Both are great at what they do. I don't mind either of them...
    Myles/AB/The Mayfield Four > Creed/Stapp's solo project in terms of lyrical quality.
    I think Scott Stapp and Myles Kennedy are both amazing vocalists, but I think I'll always prefer Scott. He just brings out so much emotion when singing.