Thinking about your music career and what you want to accomplish with your next album – three important things come to mind. First, you must put out a new album, but in doing so, you need to create one that is different from your previous five releases. You need to forge one that is unique, robust, and laced a modern yet nostalgic edge. Second, you need to take your high energy live performance on the road, to share with fans everywhere. Last, you MUST find the cheese that had as kid when you lived in Wisconsin, but we will get to that later.
Alter Bridge frontman, MylesKennedy is on a mission to accomplish all three. With the release of Walk the Sky, in October 2019, and the show scheduled for fans across Wisconsin at the Rave, Myles took a moment to look back on how Walk the Sky came together. “On previous records, Mark [Tremonti/lead guitarist] and I would get together and bring our song ideas [together], which were usually in fragments. I would have a chorus, a progression, or melody and he would have a riff or vice-versa and we would mix it up. It would be this sonic puzzle that we put together essentially. With this recorded, because we were each touring, there wasn’t any time to get together, and be in the same room. On 80 percent of the tracks, the songs were written separately. That was certainly an experiment, and we didn’t know how that was going to work; but in the end we are really happy with the result. We each worked really hard and made sure that before we presented anything to the band that it was as fine-tuned as it could be, and hopefully we will be able to do it again in the future.”
Myles and the Alter Bridge crew released the first single off Walk the Sky in June 2019. “Wouldn’t You Rather” is an intrigue and guitar heavy song, which is personal favorite of Myles. “I think that on this album, “Wouldn’t You Rather”, is that track for me. I felt that it should defiantly be on the record. It’s just got a certain amount of work that went into that song, and sometimes you don’t want that work to go in vain. Once you get a song down, you want it to sit in the sun, and it’s that track for me.”
Throughout all of Walk the Sky, an even flow of modern songs is woven together by the two main song writers. With Mark Tremonti leading the guitar driven songs, and Myles backing him on rhythm guitar and parting the darkened skies with his multi-ranged vocal talents; Alter Bridge ventured into new territory, even for a band which had been around for some time explains Myles. “This is our sixth record, after being a band after many years now [laughter], 15, I think? I can’t remember at this point [laughter]. I think that as far as the overall flavor of the album, it has more of an upbeat vibe. We experimented with certain textures we hadn’t used before to balance out the weight of the heavier guitars. We incorporated certain early 70’s or early 80’s synth-sounds to add a new flavor without turning it into some sort of synth-pop band sound. It’s still heavy. I know we are all really thrilled on how it came out.”
That feeling of accomplishment as a band project is exactly that, a team effort. On songs such as “Clear Horizon”, “In the Deep”, and the band’s second single, “Pay No Mind”, drummer/ keyboardist Scott Phillips drives the foundation, set with keyboards, placed perfectly in the background. Bassist Brian Marshall ties all 14 tracks together and both musicians are a key to how to Walk the Sky is put together, explains Myles. “The thing is, with Mark and I being the guitar player and singer, we get a lot of attention; but what people don’t always realize is how important the rhythm section can be. Our drummer Scott and bass player Brian have a quality that is unique and very hard to come by. They have what we call in the business a ‘pocket’. This where they essentially lay it down and they know exactly how to do that. You are either born with it or you’re not; and they both got it. That’s what contributes to the sound of this band, and in a very special and unique way, I don’t think we could replace it, let’s just put it that way. It’s a very important part of the puzzle.”
The talents of guitarist Mark Tremonti maintain the heavy Alter Bridge guitar laden tracks on “One Life”, “Native Son” and “Forever Falling”. Slower and keyboard aided songs “Tear Us Apart”, and “Indoctrination” complete the brilliant and overflowing Walk the Sky. “We didn’t leave anything on the cutting room floor”, laughs Myles, “I think that initially we should make a 10 to 12 song record. But what happened, as that as many songs as Mark and I write, you get attached to the tracks and you want all of them to be on the record. In the end, you just throw as many tracks on as you can, and helpful the fans will like them.”
However, as much as Alter Bridge took a darker and heaver approach to Walk the Sky, they stayed true to a long-time tradition when naming their newest release. Like previous albums Blackbird (2007), Fortress (2013), and The Last Hero (2016), the album is named after a song which carries a powerful message, “Walking on the Sky”. “I think it’s just a lazy effort”, chuckles Myles, “it’s like, are we going to come up with some super smart intellectual title that we have to think about? Nahhhh, let’s just pick one of the song titles; but often it just makes sense to us.”
As Myles gears up to take his new album out on tour, we discuss his next stop in the band’s up-coming stop in Milwaukee. The talented frontman laughs as he looks back on his early Wisconsin days. “For me personally, I lived outside Milwaukee as kid for [awhile]. I have a sound memory, that might sound cliché [laughter], but there were certain experiences with cheese as a child. I remember taking a field trip to a factory that had this cheese that was SO good; and I was probably 5 years old. To this day, I don’t know what that cheese was, and if I could find it again…I don’t know what it was called. It would bring back the most joyous memories [laughter]. So yeah, it had a pretty profound impact on me as a kid, that cheeses factory.”