Two days before speaking to us about his cinematic debut, Myles Kennedy and his bandmates in Alter Bridge gave 350 fans and close friends at The Beacham in Orlando, FL a special treat. Not only did they perform a set of fan favorites, but hosted a listening party to their new album The Last Hero, due out on October 7. “We’re really excited with how it turned out, and with the response so far,” Kennedy told us following the listening party. “It was a lot of work, as they always are, but we’re happy with the outcome. This morning, SiriusXM’s Octane channel debuted the album’s first single, “Show Me A Leader,” and it can be streamed on the satellite service’s website now.
Kennedy also gave us a deeper look into the lyrical theme behind Alter Bridge’s last album during our conversation. He also provided an update on his long-awaited solo record, and discussed how he approaches recording with Alter Bridge differently than with Slash. Check out what the powerhouse singer had to share below, and catch Alter Bridge on tour with Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin this summer.
The band just signed with Napalm Records in Europe. Is that an indicator of any label changes in the U.S./North America?
We went with Caroline here [in North America, as part of the band’s own imprint Alter Bridge Recordings]. They’ve done a great job, and now we’ve got Napalm doing the rest of the world. It’s still pretty early in the game, but they both have expressed very passionate interest in the band, which we were hoping to see because obviously you’re putting your career in the hands of total strangers. So yeah, right now we’re at the beginning stages of our relationship.
It’s funny, I’m never the guy who goes into a record with expectations. I think the expectation first and foremost with any song or record is to just try and tap into the truth of it all. You’re not going “I want to write a hit!” or “I going to write a song that’s going to do this or do that!” Generally the ones that resonate are the ones where you’re being real with yourself. So that was the goal here.
With this record in particular, there was a lot going on. It’s definitely a snapshot of a short window because the lyrics were put together as we were arranging the record during the first few months of this year. And there was a lot going on, watching the news, paying attention to campaigns and race relations, and just the environment around us. This record was definitely influenced more so than anything by the current state of affairs. So this record kind of tells a story about that. We’re certainly not pushing any sort of agenda or political views by any means, but we’re definitely diving into and taking the pulse of the world around us.
In addition to Alter Bridge, I’m a huge fan of your work with Slash. Which would you say is more challenging: recording and playing with Slash or with Alter Bridge?
Well, they are very different. As far as the writing process with Slash, there’s certain things that are easier because generally he comes in with the music done and I put the melody and lyrics to it, whereas with Alter Bridge it’s more of a collaboration music wise and from a melodic stand point. But from a lyrical standpoint, it’s tricky because I have an easier time tapping into a lot of the subject matter within the Alter Bridge world. Whereas with Slash, the way that music flows, the stories that would go with that style of music can’t be the same themes I’m extracting with Alter Bridge. I have to think differently, and the tricky thing is trying to make it, like we were talking about early, something that I can connect with. So it’s real different in that world, but it’s been really good for me. I think it’s helped me evolve as a lyricist, especially over the past six years.
I know that Alter Bridge is the primary focus this year, but I also heard that you finally completed work on a solo record. Any idea as to when the record might come out?
That’s the million dollar question! It’s being mixed right now, so hopefully sooner than later. My goal there is to start to evolve that branch of what I do, because it’s a different approach. It’s more vocal focused. It’s not about riff-driven tracks. It’s more singer-songwriter based, and about the vocal performances and lyrics. The goal is to strip down the touring approach and maybe even just have it be me and an acoustic guitar on stage.
You said the album is more of a singer-songwriter project, but I did hear that there may be some special guests on the record. Is that still the case?
I mean, it’s top secret, but there’s definitely a few folks who stopped by to play on the record, and I’m honored that they did so. It was just a real labor of love. It’s funny because I’ve started playing some of the tracks for people, and it’s very different in a lot of ways, but there’s definitely that thread of what I do that I try to bring to all the projects that I’ve been a part of. A lot of these songs I just knew wouldn’t fit in either the Alter Bridge world or Slash world, and I enjoyed the songs so I wanted to document them.
[Band photo above: Carlos Amoedo]