You can’t look at modern metal and go past Alter Bridge. Born out of the ashes of 90’s hard rock group Creed, Alter Bridge made it known immediately they are a force to be reckoned with. With a new album, ‘Fortress’ due out later this month and an Australian tour set for February (as part of the 2014 Soundwave Festival), bassist Brian Marshall took some time out to talk with Killyourstereo.com about how things are in the lead-up for the band.
Hey Brian, how are you doing this morning?
I’m good Robert, thank you. It’s evening over here in Florida.
You guys in Alter Bridge are once again coming down to our shores in February for the Soundwave festival. What’s the feeling like to be included on that line-up?
We’re real excited. The news only came in pretty recently and I was looking at the line-up and I’m just really excited to see some of our peers, and some of our favourite bands. Last time we were over there we had a great time and we connected with a lot of the other bands as well, so we’re excited to get back, it’s been too long.
This isn’t the first Soundwave that you guys have played. You also played the 2012 dates of the festival. Do you have any stand-out experiences from that?
Yeah, we hung out with a lot of guys on that tour as well. Like, Mastodon. Just getting to know some of the guys that we’ve grown accustomed to listening to over the course of time. Mastodon’s one of them. We played with Slash at one of those shows (Sydney), that was a pretty memorable moment. Another band we liked there was Slipknot. They were on that bill, I think, and Corey Taylor and some guys were doing some video footage, so he interviewed us, and we got to hang out with him, so we got to hang out with some of those guys. It was just a pretty cool experience all around. Every day there was something new.
What was it like teaming up with the guys in Steel Panther for two sideshows?
Playing with Steel Panther? (laughs) Well, it’s quite a drastic difference in our fan bases I think. We love those guys, and we love to see them play at every chance we get. They’re just a hoot, and a riot, and their songwriting is really good and they’re all great players. It really is a fun show to check out. I don’t know if it was a little difficult for some Alter Bridge fans to experience, but I’m glad they got to see it, and vice versa for their fan base.
Do you feel like, despite the tension between the fan bases, it still went well?
Of course, definitely. We’re under the same management as those guys and everything, and we know them so well, and we would definitely do it again. They’re doing really well, and we’d love to be a part of anything that they do, and vice versa I’m sure.
Are there any bands on the line-up this time around that you’re particularly excited to share the stage with?
Yeah, I was checking out the line-up, and there was some band that I was keen to see. White-something. White-church or something like that?
Whitechapel! That’s the one. I’d really like to see Whitechapel. Then of course there’s Korn, I’d really like to see Korn, especially Brian ‘Head’ Welch back with them. I’ve always kind of followed his career and what he’s done and the different paths in life that he chose over the past 6-7 years, and for him to be back, I think it says a lot about his character. I’m just excited to see them all together again.
What can Australian fans expect from you guys this time around?
Well, we’re going to play a good bit of our new record ‘Fortress.’ It’s so fresh to us, and it’s a lot of fun to play, and it’s challenging for us, and I think that we’re gonna play a lot from that record. I don’t know how long our time slot is, but of course we’ll play the songs that are very important to us and to our fans as well. We’re going to debut some songs, and we’re going to keep it up-tempo. We’re going to melt some faces.
As you just mentioned, you guys are releasing your new album ‘Fortress’ in just under a month now. How are you guys feeling about that at the moment?
We feel great, hey. We’ve just finished a video for the single ‘Addicted To Pain,’ and that’s out as of today (Friday), so everyone can go and check that out. We’re all just really excited about it. I’m stoked to review and rehearse it by myself before we get together on September 26, because we start tour on October 16, and our first show back in over a year is gonna be October 4 here in Orlando, so there’s a lot of expectations, and a lot of excitement to be able to play together again, particularly here in our hometown. There’s a bit of a buzz right now, and it feels good, and we’re excited to just keep this thing going.
What is it that you think sets this album apart from your other albums?
I think it’s definitely a little bit more cerebral. I think every record we try to kind of better ourselves, and I think this record definitely shows that we’ve progressed, and the arrangements of the songs, we didn’t think about too much, rather just letting them evolve. In the end, I think it shows all of that as well. We would just try things out all the time, and eventually, some of the songs would get pretty lengthy and well, we didn’t care.
We’ve got a couple of 6-7 minute songs on the record, and our fans like that, and we like it too. We like those journeys that we can take with a piece of music when we can really hit it hard and that’s just something Alter Bridge has become accustomed with and it’s just kind of where we’ve gone. Consistently we’ve just kind of been pushing ourselves.
The songs on the record are a bit more up-tempo as well. I think this is our epic. It’s our hardest rock record to date.
Are there are any tracks on the album that stand out to you, and for what reasons?
There’s a song, the first song on the record. I was just rehearsing it and I try to rehearse it every day because it’s a bitch (laughs). Cry of Achilles is the name of the song. Cry of Achilles. It’s just a blast to play. I think I really pushed myself as a bass player in writing the parts, and I channeled a lot of my influences into it, and I’m proud of the way that it came out, both from myself and as a rhythm section. I’m just really proud of the way it turned out. It’s a hard rocking song, and in the middle there’s this nice bluesy section on the bass. I could go on and on, it’s just a lot of fun (laughs).
Was there any particular sound you were going for when writing and recording ‘Fortress?’
There was no real pretense of how we wanted it to sound. We just got in there on several different occasions while Myles was out with Slash. He would fly into Orlando when he could, and we would have set up at Mark’s house, and we had three different writing sessions, all of which were about a week a piece, and we just went with it and sort of pieced it together. There was no pretense, we just went with a lot of our different ideas for different parts. We just got in together and kinda went through the process.
It was more or less the same as we always do it. The songs are just an evolution of where we are and that’s just how it is, really.
Who, in your opinion, are the biggest influences on the new album?
That’s kind of a tough question. I think like, Mark did a solo project, and he put forward some more up-tempo stuff, because I think when he was writing his own record he had a lot of material that he was writing for that in particular that was put aside and either not shown or not recorded, and I think there was some very heavy stuff. I think that kind of filtered it’s way into Alter Bridge. Some of it was a bit over the top, but it was like, he would just bounce some of those ideas off of us, and then we would kind of try them together. We just tried to walk away from each writing process with a sense of satisfaction in the songs, even if it’s just a work in progress. So it was really just a lot of ideas that hadn’t seen the light of day yet.
All of us have a lot of different influences. Like Myles has got his whole Jazz and blues influences. The combination of all of our influences kind of comes together and that’s how we get the Alter Bridge sound.
It’s a well known fact that you and most of Alter Bridge also play with Scott Stapp in Creed. Do you think that there’s any tension between the two projects?
No. I don’t feel like there’s any tension. Maybe our fans do (laughs). I’d like to set aside some time in the future to do some stuff with Creed, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen anytime soon, since we’re so busy concentrating on stuff in Alter Bridge now.
A lesser known fact about you, is that you actually own a bed and breakfast hotel in Costa Rica. Do you want to tell me a bit about that and how that came about despite ongoing commitments in Alter Bridge?
Well, basically I just went down there with a friend of mine who’s a drum tech for Shannon Larkin in Godsmack, and me and my ex-wife now (laughs) went down and we were looking for something to do outside ofthe music world, and it just kind of excited us to get down there and try something new and different. So we looked around and found a place that was already built, and it had guests coming in and out, so we went out on a limb, and put everything towards it and moved down there.
It’s done well, although right now it’s pretty slow. You have your busy moments in December-April, and then you have your slow season where it’s up and down. It’s been an adventure, and it has been a good place to be after being on the road for so long. Now I’m back in Florida though, and that’s about it (laughs)
Any final words for your Australian fans before we wrap up?
We’re heaps excited for Soundwave, and heaps excited to come down and play for you guys. We’re heaps excited for you to hear Fortress, please go check out the new video. Thank you Australia and thank you for the interview.