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Mark Tremonti says busy with bands, solo work
One thing Mark Tremonti doesn't have to worry about is having a lot of spare time.
The Detroit-born guitarist is currently on the road with Tremonti, the group he formed last year to support his first-ever solo album, "All I Was." That comes in addition to his continuing duties with multi-platinum hard rock outfit Creed, which he co-founded in 1995, and Alter Bridge, which Tremonti launched when Creed split up temporarily in 2004.
"Yeah, it's a lot of stuff," acknowledges Tremonti, 38, who now resides in the Orlando, Fla., area. "But I like being busy. I've always just felt like I've got a lot of material, and a lot of it will jsut go to waste if I don't take advantage of it and get it out there. I just want to have it all see the light of day.
"I somehow balance it all with being able to have two kids and a wife, and I get to see them more than I would expect from having three bands. They come on tour with me a lot and I get to see them at home and still do what I love so, yeah, I'm happy and content."
And he's making a lot of noise.
"All I Was," which came out last July and debuted at No. 5 on Billboard's top Hard Rock Albums chart, is the result of that glut of songs Tremonti mentioned, a 12-song set that also marks the first time he's sung lead on an entire album. It's something he says he's "wanted to do for a long time" but had to wait for the right time to achieve.
That came last year, while Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy was touring with Slash and Creed frontman Scott Stapp was working on solo material. "I didn't want to just sit around for three months, so it was a perfect opportunity for me to take these Ideas I like so much and have just been sitting around and put 'em on a CD," says Tremonti, who was raised on Detroit's east side (he named Alter Bridge after the diving line between Detroit and the Grosse Pointes) and in Chicago before moving to Orlando, Fla., when he was 15.
Tremonti recorded "All I Was" with Creed touring member Eric Friedman on guitar and bass and Garrett Whitlock on drums. Creed's Brian Marshall was part of the live Tremonti lineup for a time, but Tremonti had originally asked current bassist Wolfgang Van Halen to be on the album and in the band (see sidebar XX) but he couldn't due to obligations to the band Van Halen.
The songs on "All I Was" do indeed hail from throughout Tremonti's life; he notes that the album's current single, "Wish You Well," "might be the oldest song I ever put on a record," dating back to when he was in middle school and got his first multi-track recorder. The song was considered for Alter Bridge's 2004 album "One Day Remains," and it reared its head again when he put "All I Was" in motion.
"Garrett had played drums on the demo for the song, and when we were putting this album together he reminded me of that song," Tremonti says. "And I was kind of taken aback; 'Really? That tune? You guys think it's good enough to put on this album?'
"Once we played it together we were all full of smiles. We gave it a facelift, for sure, but the essence of the song is real similar to how it started. And now it's probably my favorite song to play live, so I'm glad (Whitlock) reminded me of it."
With three musical entities in motion, Tremonti is learning to engage in both time and creative management -- as in what material should go to which of his groups. The loose formula: "I think there becomes this metal threshhold; once it hits this, 'Well, this sounds like a speed metal idea,' then it goes to the Tremonti stuff. If its more of a dynamic thing, either a finger-picked thing or a more melodic or gloomier or atmospheric thing, it's more for Alter Bridge. It's hard to explain; I just have this intuition that I follow. I have to be completely selfless when it comes to writing new material."
That material is flowing at the moment, Tremonti says. Alter Bridge has "about five songs outlined" after writing sessions in January and plans to be in the studio during late April, recording through the summer for a fall release and touring "somewhere around September." Creed, meanwhile, is on hold after a busy 2012, and when time allows, Tremonti will "keep doing the solo thing," with a second album already in its early stages.
"I think we're going to just keep pushing the limits of what we can do," he explains. "We'll try to be as heavy and progressive as we can without losing the vocal melodies and the reasons why most people listen to music. I don't want to be just self-indulgent, but we want to have a lot of fun with it, too.
"I feel like it's really gotten some traction now. The crowds are growing. People are becoming more familiar with the songs. You start seeing which direction the band's going to go in next. It's just exciting to see things spreading."
Tremonti and My Black Heart perform Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 day of show. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.
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