We recently caught up with Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge to discuss the band’s sixth album, Walk The Sky which was released on October 18.
Myles Kennedy, vocalist and frontman of the almighty Alter Bridge (and quite possibly one of the busiest musicians on the music scene today) took a break from his grueling schedule to talk about all things music: touring, writing, influences, guitars, and even a band favorite junk food that could be found on their tour bus.
LH: Walk The Sky, Alter Bridge’s 6th studio album brings to us over 60 minutes of ass-kicking material in the form of a brand new, 14-track record released October 19, 2019. Myles, how did the creative process for Walk The Sky differ from the prior Alter Bridge albums?
Myles: It was a little experiment as far as how we put the songs together. Mark and I were so busy touring in our various projects so we couldn’t get together and piece the songs together like we have in the past. About 80 percent of the songs were demo’ed almost to completion separately. I think that certainly changed the process and also had a certain effect on the sound. It was an experiment and I think we are both pretty happy with how it turned out.
LH: Awesome. It sounds fantastic. That actually knocks out another one of my questions. I was going to ask – your touring schedules, the way that they are, it’s got to be so hard to find the time to sit down and write new material. I was going to ask if there are moments you find yourself writing on the tour bus, in the hotel rooms, more of an organic thing, or was this you guys were busy… let’s pound it out start to finish?
Myles: At least how I’d try to do it, I would be in the hotel room, demo the song, get the rough sketch of the drums, then the guitar part and riffs and the melody and lyrics. Some of the songs, we call them shells, and what you do is come up with the verse, the chorus, and then the riff, and give it the overall vibe of a song and then you put those three or four sections together, and when you get together as a band, then you complete it and everyone gets to put their spin on things. It really depended on the song and where you were, if you were feeling really creative or if you were feeling really inspired, or you just say okay, here is the song and it is done. I think that there is part of us that is careful when you do that because you just don’t want to turn in a record that is completely finished and then no one feels like they are a part of it. We want people to put their sign and stamp on it.
LH: For sure, I get that. Now as a singer/guitar player, do you find yourself working on chord progressions or a hook on your instrument, then adding lyrics to the recipe…or do you prefer to come to the table with lyrical content and create music to fit the mood?
Myles: No, I never do the lyrics first.
LH: Wow, cool…
Myles: Yeah, it’s always about the music first and the music will inform what the melody is going to be and the melody will let the lyrics in. I might occasionally come up with a line, and try and integrate it after the fact, but generally, the music comes first.
LH: I gotcha, okay… Alter Bridge has always had creative back-stories behind album titles. What can you tell us about how the name Walk The Sky was chosen?
Myles: Walk The Sky was extracted from a song called “Walking On The Sky,” which is about the sky-walkers, tight-rope walkers that would walk between buildings. But it also felt like it had a double meaning, because what a lot of what this record is about is discovering the positive effects of living mindfully and staying very present and I think there is a certain elation that comes with that certain solace that the term “Walk The Sky” is congruent with and sums up those emotions nicely.
LH: Does the band have a fun little writing/creativity ritual that takes place before or during your sessions that you would like to share with the fans?
Myles: Not really, no… generally…we show up, tune up.
LH: And take care of business…
Myles: Yeah, ask what each other did the night before and then we’re off to the races.
LH: Okay, talking to the guitar player Myles now… Are you a guitar collector?
Myles: I am, I do… I have a bit of a problem there.
LH: Ahhh, as it is for many guitar players. Do you have a go-to hitmaker that is your number one?
Myles: A go-to hitmaker…interestingly enough, it’s not like one of my prize collection pieces. But at least for this record, what ended up being my go-to, was like a $600 Fender Telecaster that I bought off eBay.
LH: Very cool…
Myles: ‘Cause I just needed a guitar to tour with that I wasn’t afraid of carrying around on a plane and whatnot, and it ended up being really inspiring, and actually the guitar I used on the U.S. tour. We did “Dying Light” a few times and that was the guitar I used on that. So yeah, that was the go-to for this record.
LH: What would you say inspires you more, an acoustic or an electric, or is this something kind of like the seasons of life?
Myles: It depends on which record I’m working on. It used to be acoustic, hands down. On the solo record I did a few years ago, it was definitely acoustic. It was a Gibson 1944 J45.
LH: Very nice!
Myles: A big inspiration on that record, but it really depends on if I am making a rock record or more of an acoustic-based record what I will write with.
LH: Coming back to the new record, what ended up being your favorite track and why?
Myles: I keep bringing up “In The Deep” just because there’s something about that song that just makes me feel good. I feel like there’s a vibe I get from that song that just kinda calms me down. It just makes me feel good.
LH: Now on the opposite side, what song was the most challenging to participate in?
Myles: There’s a song called “Dying Light,” it closed out the record. That was one of two that we chose to create more like we had on previous records where Mark and I were sitting in the room with the other guys and kinda building it in real-time. So that one was challenging for a little bit, but then we felt like we got her done.
LH: Now just to add to that, since you brought that one up… I recently watched the video for that, and wow, that is like some psychedelic stuff. How did that video come about? Did you guys have creative input when it comes down to the video filming part of it?
Myles: Yeah, you know, we definitely have our input and give our treatment and everyone will give their 2 cents. Our manager Tim Tournier is really hands-on with that stuff, he’s always got lots of great ideas and he will turn it over to a director. So it really depends on the video, but we all take part in it to some degree and make sure that it is something we are proud of when it’s done.
LH: Right on. Going back to guitar playing, let’s talk about open tunings real quick. What would you say is your favorite tuning and why do you go-to that one?
Myles: Well, I think open G has always been, you know, a go-to. I’ve been using it for so long, and I try not to use it just because it’s got a sound to it. Kinda after you end up using it a lot, you have your go-to’s, I feel like I tapped into that one. There’s also, if you tune/take the major third and tune it down a half-step, it’s a G minor tuning and that’s one I have experimented a lot with lately. That’s what I did with “Dying Light.” It’s different than the tuning Mark uses. So we like to do that, each being in a different tuning, it creates a really cool, um…interesting drones.
LH: Do you like ceramic, glass, or some other type of slide…just curious to ask?
Myles: I like glass. I like the ceramics too. There are a lot of guys that works really well for but I’ve just been a glass player most of my life so that’s what I go with.
LH: With the European leg of the tour coming up, are then any Alter Bridge tour mantras that you would like to share with the fans?
Myles: Well, I think our mantra is “try not to suck…”
LH: Wow, you nailed that buddy…you guys are doing great!
Myles: You know, some nights are better than others. It’s all about just trying to be on your game and be on point. Mark and I are always playing, are trying to stay warmed up, and Brian is doing the same. Phillips is amazing, our drummer, because he can kinda like just show up to the gig and deliver… the rest of us have to work at it.
LH: I get it. Okay, we are going to end the session out with some Loud Hailer rapid fire. I’m just going to shoot you a simple question, and you give me a one or two-word answer. It will be fun…ya ready?
Myles: Okay cool….
LH: Loudest Alter Bridge show that you can recall?
Myles: The loudest Alter Bridge show that I can recall…I would say all of them. If you stand over to stage left, near Mark’s guitar, it’s like putting your head in an airliner.
LH: It goes to 11…
Myles: Yeah right.
LH: How about your first guitar?
Myles: My first guitar was an Ibanez DT 250 which was a pretty rad looking. It looked like the Dimebag Darrell guitar.
LH: What is the band’s favorite U.S. city to perform in?
Myles: Ooh, that’s going to get us into trouble…I’m gonna say Spokane, my hometown.
LH: Right on… plugged or unplugged?
Myles: I like unplugged… as a singer, I don’t have to scream over the top of everything.
LH: Band’s favorite junk food?
Myles: We always have at least two or three bags of Cool Ranch Doritos on the bus.
LH: Nice, nice… all-time favorite Alter Bridge song?
LH: Your favorite dead musician?
Myles: Jeff Buckley.
LH: Is there a famous movie line that the band likes to quote?
Myles: Well… “If you build it they will come!” from The Field Of Dreams..yeah definitely.
LH: The biggest influence in your life?
Myles: My wife!
LH: Nice…okay, last question Myles if you could describe the Alter Bridge of today in one word what would that one word be?
LH: Very nice, Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge, you guys are leaving in December for the U.K. arena tour with Shinedown, Sevendust and The Raven Age…anything else in the works that you would like to share with the fans?
Myles: We’re actually leaving in a couple of days, and we start in Germany. We’ll be touring in Europe, come find us!
LH: Nice, will do…details and concert dates can be found at the band’s official website www.alterbridge.com. Myles Kennedy lead singer, I would like to thank you for taking this time with Loud Hailer Magazine today. Have a great one and be safe on tour!
Myles: Thanks brother, it was great talking to you!
Photo By: Kirstine Walton