Alter Bridge

author PP date 25/11/08

Alter Bridge is the band that rose from the ashes of Creed, coming out with a sound that was much richer and complex overall. They've been touring around Europe much more than Creed ever did, tonight being their second time in Denmark this year alone, so I figured it's about time to grill someone from the band about how the two bands compare with each other, and to find out what makes Alter Bridge tick, so to say. After a bit of waiting time, I was given the band's drummer Scott Phillips, who was much nicer and friendlier than I would've expected from a dude who's sold tens of millions of albums in his career. There's been some rumours about singer Myles Kennedy being requested to sing for Led Zeppelin on their next tour, and it's too bad I didn't discover this in time for the interview, as it would've been great to hear Scott's thoughts on that.

RF.net: Hi and thanks for doing this interview. Could you just introduce yourself to the readers?
Scott: Scott Phillips, I'm the drummer for Alter Bridge.

RF.net: How's the tour going?

Scott: So far so good. Our singer has been a little under the weather for the last couple of days but hopefully he's getting better.

RF.net: What's wrong with him?

Scott: Cold.. it's inevitable every time we come over here especially, as chilly as it is, and you have thirteen or fourteen guys riding the bus together. It's just bound to happen.

RF.net: So what's new in the band at the moment?

Scott: Not much new, very excited to be here to be doing this particular tour. We've had some of these shows booked since as early as January and February of this year so we've had it marked on our calendar. We knew that this would be a special run for us, this is the most production we've carried as a band, and some of the largest crowds that we've played for...just being our own show, not a festival or anything like that. We are just enjoying the moment, getting ready for the holidays and then next year we'll probably bring writing and recording!

RF.net: If we go a little bit back in time... according to the official story, your band name is derived from a bridge near Tremonti's home on Alter Road in Detroit. It's said to symbolize 'going over into the unknown', can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Scott: Yeah, at least from the stories that Mark has told me, he grew up in an area called Grosse Point, which is right outside of Detroit, which was on Alter Road, and there was a bridge across the canal that sort of went over to a very bad neighborhood, crime ridden... drugs.. gangs, you know, that type of thing. It was very close to this neighborhood that Mark was in. And as a child he was told that he could go out and play in the neighborhood but not across Alter Bridge. And that sort of represented the unknown to him, so it's one of those, you know, 'I can't go over there but I really wanna go over there, I wanna see whats over there'... and I think it sort of symbolized, at least for Mark and Brian, and myself, leaving the safe comfort of what was Creed, at that particular time, and crossing into the unknown, seeing what's on the other side.

RF.net: So does this still apply today in that sense?

Scott: Yeah, kind of. We've now been Alter Bridge for, I guess, about four... four and a half years, almost five years now. So we've seen the other side, and musically and friendshipwise it's been great. Professionally, especially in the states, the music industry is really struggling right now, it's trying to find an identity. And we've sort of been caught up in the middle of that, but we feel like we can see light at the end of the tunnel, that there are positive things on the horizon. We've done well, I mean, it's not like this has been a failure by any means, quite a success as far as we're concerned. But there's still better things to come.

RF.net: "Blackbird", your second album, was released a little over a year ago. How do you feel about it today?
Scott: Just the same as I did the first day that I heard the final mixes on all the songs. Really, I think we're all still extremely proud of this record. There was a lot of heart and soul that went into this, more so than any other album I've ever been involved with as far as the time that it took to write it, a lot of the struggles that we went through professionally and for some of us even personally during that time. So to come out on the other side with what we feel is the best product we could've put forward, the best songs we could've put forward, it's still very relevant to me and something that I'm still extremely proud of.

RF.net: What are some of the central themes and ideas that you explored on the album as a whole? Or was it more like one for each song rather than a central theme?
Scott: Well there's somewhat of an overall theme. I think that's sort of...finding a better place. Some of the songs deal with loss, songs like "Blackbird".. "Buried Alive" deals with addictions...even "Watch Over You" is a song about losing someone who has an addiction problem, or walking away from someone who has an addiction problem. Other songs are sort of... just about breaking free, some apply to the position that we were in with our original label that had Alter Bridge moving away from them, you know, finding a new home and a better place. Just breaking the... this is gonna sound cliché because it's the name of the song, but breaking the tides that abide.

RF.net: Like you mentioned just before, the music industry is struggling in the States, and it has changed quite a bit. It has become harder and harder to sell more and more albums these days. So if we look at your debut album, which sold 750,000 copies or something like that, and the new one sold 160,000 copies...so I just wanted to ask, how do you feel that change as a band considering that in your past you have recorded albums that went multiple platinum, for instance?
Scott: Yeah, it's definitely different. I think we knew what we were able to do with Creed, which I think was sort of an anomaly, most bands right out of the gate don't have that type of success. Some do, but it's very rare. I think we knew, moving into a different band with what we felt like was a different sound, and I think even more so on "Blackbird", that we sort of separated what we used to do in Creed and now, that success numbers-wise wasn't going to be there. I don't think it's impossible, but nearly impossible to re-create that twice. I think that the first album overall, throughout the world, did about 750,000 copies. This one currently in the states has done about 220k, and I'm not sure what it's done internationally, but I have a feeling that it's doing pretty well, I mean from the concert attendance, I'm guessing that we're doing okay. I think that any band at this point in time, bands that used to be multiple platinum acts are now selling 500,000-600,000 copies maybe. It's just a tough time really to be in a band. Your main source of income, even back when album selling was good, it was still probably touring and merchandising... but album sales certainly helped alot, helped to put more people in the seats. And now it seems.. whether it's the labels themselves, the industry in themselves, or even just the economy in general, people just don't have that extra 10 euros or 15 euros or whatever it is to buy a CD, to buy a concert t-shirt, to buy a ticket to a show... that disposable income isn't there.

RF.net: But it seems to me that you guys are playing bigger and bigger shows all the time nonetheless, so you're definitely growing as a band? How far do you think you can go with Alter Bridge, then?

Scott: As far as we can take it. We learned very early on that exploring outside of the US would be very beneficial. So within...I don't even know if we've done much touring in the states. Right after the first record came out, we did some small shows in London, and maybe a couple of other places, and saw the reaction of the crowd, and we were like 'we really need to come, we need to get outside of the 48 states that we are used to touring and find some other homes', and I wanna say that this is probably, not to Denmark itself, but our tenth or eleventh trip, maybe twelth trip as a band over to Europe. And we've seen the results. We've gone from a place that held 200 people to 500 people to, tonight, I'm assuming that it's probably around a thousand or 1500 people. Shows in the UK were 3,000-4,000 people. We've got a show in Amsterdam, where the capacity of the building is about 5,000 people. So we're seeing the results, especially here and it just makes us wanna come back as much as possible.

RF.net: I read that you guys recorded a live DVD a little over a week ago in London. How do you think it turned out?
Scott: I think it turned out great. We initially just planned on shooting just that one show, and then speaking with the director and the guy who is producing the DVD, we ended up filming all of that London show but didn't use as many cameras, we scaled back a little bit. And now we're going to film another two or three songs, one of them being Milan, Italy, which I think we'll probably bring out a couple of cameras for that, film some documentary stuff along the way, and then our final show, which will be the major production, will be the Amsterdam show. We're bringing out cranes and twenty camera guys from different angles. We felt like that Brixton show was really a good show, and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to put it to tape.

RF.net: I actually skipped one question by accident, so I'm gonna go back a bit here. From what I was reading about you guys in numerous articles and interviews before this one, I noticed that there was still some debate among people on whether or not you guys are a Christian band like Creed was?
Scott: Oh really? Not at all a Christian band. And Creed wasn't a Christian band either, although many people just really assumed that. A lot of that came from our old singer's lyrics, a lot of them were very spiritual in nature, but not... I guess you could take them however you wanted to take them. If they were Christian to you, then that's fine. But there wasn't an intention of being a Christian band. Alter Bridge is not a Christian band, we speak of life's lessons, personal struggles, daily struggles, daily joys. Whatever it is, it's introspective, it's about.. whoever wrote the lyrics. Myles mostly wrote them, probably 90% of this album lyrically. Being observational or like I said introspective, it's not about anything other than that.

RF.net: Good to have that cleared up at least. You mentioned your previous singer Scott Stapp when you were in Creed. What is the relationship between you guys like these days?
Scott: At the moment there isn't one. It's been a very long time since we've spoken. [long pause] That's about it.

RF.net: Again, when I was reading different things about you guys, I also read that he has, apparently, indicated willingness to one day re-unite Creed. What do you think about that?

Scott: At this point in time we are extremely happy with Alter Bridge, and I think that Alter Bridge will always continue to exist. I think we've found a good chemistry with each other, be it musically or just personally as friends. As far as what the future holds, I can't say.

RF.net: You mentioned that once you've finished this "Blackbird" tour sometime early next year, you guys are going to record a new album, or write a new album?
Scott: Writing it, yeah.

RF.net: So you don't have any songs ready yet?

Scott: Well, we've got a lot of ideas that are sort of floating around, and actually, this tour is the first time we've really sat down at soundcheck and just try and piece some ideas together to see if choruses work with verses and bridges. We're in the infant stages of working on the next record, but I know from stuff that I've heard Mark and Myles play that there are a lot of great ideas floating around, and now it's sort of up to us to piece them together into cohesive songs.

RF.net: I guess it's a bit early to ask this then, but have you got any kind of idea of how it's going to sound in comparison to "Blackbird".. I mean you've changed a lot from the first album to the second album?

Scott: I think we'll still progress. I think with "Blackbird", the album itself, we finally feel like we've really found our sound, what our style is. On "One Day Remains", Mark had done the bulk of the writing musically before Myles had even joined the band. Once he came in, there was a lot of piecing together that we did, a lot of songs were created after Myles was a part of the band, but I think that the general idea was kind of there before he was put in place. With "Blackbird", with Myles playing guitar and writing as much as Mark was, and lyrically kind of taking control of the songs.. I think you saw the progression, that the four of us had a voice in the band. And I think this one will be a continuation to that. We're not gonna sit back and do the exact same album again, we wanna progress and try to push the boundaries, be it heavier, or lighter, or you know, shorter songs, longer songs, different topics. A lot of that's still to be determined, but I think it'll be a progression from "Blackbird", but not lose its roots.

RF.net: Alright, well, that was my last question. Thanks for the interview, and have you got any words to your fans and the readers?
Scott: Thank you guys so much for the support. We look forward to seeing you guys as soon as possible, and thank you again!

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