Sunday evening is normally supposed to be the lords day, but instead I joined hundreds of others worshipers at the Singer/Songwriting skills of Creed/Alterbridge Guitarist Mark Tremonti. I entered the HMV Ritz with a fair bit of apprehension as I was going to meet an idol. I had loved Creed since the mid 90’s and here was me going to meet my idol. I will be honest I was nervous. Although first, it was to interview Heavens Basement. A hard rock band, who are signed to Red Bull Records, and whose album ‘Filthy Empire’ has rocketed into No. 9 in the British Rock Charts in the first week of release.
I was interviewing the Vocalist and Drummer from the band: Aaron and Chris. Firstly we discussed the tour prior to Tremonti which they did with Buckcherry. The lads went onto explain that it went really well but it wasn’t the first time over the pond for the lads as they went over with the Darkness to Club Nokia in Los Angeles which they played to be best as they only know and it went down really well. Then came the Tremonti tour, which is pretty good in my book. The lads thought it was awesome and have admitted to enoying watching Tremonti live sets. They explain that Tremonti band were extremely tight musically and touring with bands like that only strives them forward to do bigger and better shows.
This year the lads are to play Download festival again, in my eyes, the biggest gig ever. The lads modestly explained that they played Download for the first time in 2010 with an acoustic set and then they returned in 2011 to play on the Pepsi Max stage. The band were unable to announce which stage they are to be on this year, but they all agree the main thing is that they are there again. I asked them whether they had any special plans for the gig at Download. Sorry to disappoint, but the band aren’t going to have any huge monsters on stage, just them and they will let the music doing the talking. It will be the biggest show that they will play this year. Since the announcement of Download, the bands have been surprised by the amount of new fans that are coming to them and saying that they are really looking forward to seeing them at Download. Which shows the band's hard work is starting to pay off. At one point no one knew who the band was, yet last time they played Download they played to 5,000 to 6,000 fans.
Heavens Basement released their album ‘Filthy Empire’ last week and are really stoked and humbled by the response from the fans and from the musical press. A few days ago the band found out that they were at number 9 in the UK rock charts which surprised them as, they went on to explain, they didn’t expect anything like this. They expected a few thousand listeners and then to build up the audience on the live touring circuit, they say they never expected it to chart. They also agree that, through radio airplay and TV, expecially through Kerrang and Scuzz, they are reaching a whole different audience. The band are currently signed through to Red Bull Records, who have a mutual understanding that there was no pressure in recording the album. The record label said that the future was bright and gave them the time to make sure the record was right. They went onto explain that it was a lot of hard work, but was well worth it, with what they had released.
I remember a quote I was given last year by an Australian Journalist ‘Rock is not Dead, its just gone Amateur.’ I asked the guys whether they thought that this was true. The guys don’t want to disappoint any bands out there but they feel that the only reason that is true is because of the lack of truly great bands out there. They went on to explain that in the '70’s and '80s there was an abundance in great rock bands: Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, but currently this has changed. Currently they both agree that Muse and Biffy Clyro are currently flying the flag in the UK rock markets but no one else can live up to their high live expectations. Many albums are run of the mill and this is not what the band wanted to do as their songs are based around personal experiences and their hope is to try and inspire new bands and fans alike.
Next came, Mark Tremonti. Now all I remember from the conversation was that I froze. All the questions I had planned had gone after meeting him and shaking his hand. All I wanted to do was to do a Waynes World ‘I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy’ as he stood before me. I would love to write this interview and tell you what a truly memorable conversation for the right reasons, but with a very short tight interview slot and the fact that I got star struck from an icon sat in front of me this is not quite how it went.
First of all Mark Tremonti (MT) and I went on to discuss how Creed were a huge band in the States but never seemed to make it over here. With numerous false starts and many cancelled tours the band at the time decided to concentrate on arena tours rather than the smaller venues over here. This worked well for MT as he went onto explain to me that when Alter Bridge released their first album they had a fresh slate; a new beginning. This new beginning left Alter Bridge to hit the stars as they didn’t have the infamous ‘Big Creed Shadow’ over them.
MT went on to express that this freedom with Alter Bridge gave them an opportunity to continuously push themselves to make themselves better musicians. The problem with commercial success as a rock band (MT) is that you get sick and tired very quickly of people trying to tell you to edit your songs and with Alter Bridge they refused to compromise, which was to their advantage.
MT and I went on to discuss what’s it like being the front man and the difficulties of learning a new trick, which he admits has not been easy as MT says he is not a big ‘social butterfly’. To all of us concerned, he has learnt the new trade very well. The only complication MT finds with this is when it is a very quiet crowd. This Manchester gig was MT’s penultimate gig on the tour and admits the UK tour has been amazing, the UK is his favourite place to tour. We went on to further discuss song writing and getting the right sound for the songs. We went on to guitar tunings and how different songs required different tunings. Mostly MT uses dropped D to C♯ tunings, then the pitch is then dictated to fit in with the vocals.
After the MT tour, MT is going back to write some new material with Alter Bridge, then hit the studio to record the new record and around September/October time Alter Bridge will go on tour. In between MT will do mini Tremonti tours. MT admits that he loves this and doesn’t want to give it up or stop.
First on stage came Scottish hard rockers ‘Logan’, whose live shows have been compared with post-grunge bands of Mark Tremonti’s ilk. The band have gone a bit of a renaissance with a new drummer and guitarist joining the ranks and started their set as they meant to go on. Hard, fast paced, with catchy lyrics that the crowd sang along with; a great way to start the night. Next to come on stage, were ‘Heavens Basement’. A hard rock band, whose career so far has meant sharing the stage with numerous bands: recently Buckcherry, Thunder, Black Stone Cherry, and Halestorm. Also, having graced the stages of Download, Bloodstock and Hard Rock Hell, this year they are to be playing Download again, which will be their first UK appearance after this Mark Tremonti tour has ended. Now Heavens basement have a reputation to uphold after the critically acclaimed release of their debut album, which gained 4 k’s by Kerrang magazine and reaching #9 in the UK Rock charts. The band took to the stage, with a swagger and ease like they belonged there. The wanting crowd got there just deserts; a high energy set playing songs from ‘Filthy Empire’ and lead singer Aaron Buchanan did well to keep the crowd entertained during the up-tempo set. The hype behind the band is not just hear-say, without listening to the album prior to their set I could see why they are the talk of the town, slowly gaining a greater fan base one venue at a time. A defo to watch at Download for anyone going.
After two good support bands, came the main event for the evening. The legend that is ‘Mark Tremonti’. His touring band has Wolfgang Van Halen, yes! I did say Van Halen, Wolfgang is Eddie’s son and is one mean bass player and complements the touring band aiding Mark in his moment to shine. His post-grunge, hard rock angst is unmistakeable. His songwriting has never wavered, neither has his guitar sound and guitar ability. The only thing that Mark said in the interview that was different was that the crowd hangs on his every word whereas with Creed and Alter Bridge he could take a seat back during each song. The grammy award winning guitarist brought out all his guns and had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, as he played the songs from his debut album ‘All I Was’. Mark Tremonti even played the two unreleased tracks written for the album that never made it to press. The crowd were a rowdy bunch never letting Tremonti down when he wanted audience participation they sang along and made it a gig to remember. My only problem with being Press at these gigs is that I cannot stand and admire the fruits of Trmeonti songs as I am in the press pit trying to get the pix for you guys and by the time I get to a good vantage point the gig is half over.
All in all a great night for rock and metal. I would give this gig an 8 out of 10.
Now who can’t wait till Mark Tremonti returns on either another solo project or with Alter Bridge? I know I can’t
Mark Tremonti Set List:
1. Leave it Alone
2. Giving Up
3. All I Was
5. So You're Afraid
6. Doesn't Matter
7. The Things I've Seen
9. Wish You Well
10. You Waste Your Time
11. New Way Out
13. All That I Got