Myles Kennedy Discusses Balancing Alter Bridge and Slash and Upcoming Tour with Aerosmith
Myles Kennedy is one of the busiest men in rock, balancing two successful projects as he fronts both Alter Bridge and Slash‘s band. ‘Loudwire Nights’ host Full Metal Jackie recently caught Kennedy during some rare downtime and the rocker spoke about Alter Bridge’s fan base, getting a chance to tour this summer on the same bill with Aerosmith and the camaraderie of Slash and his cohorts The Conspirators. Check out Myles Kennedy’s chat with Full Metal Jackie below.
Myles Kennedy with us on the show tonight. Myles, even more so than some other bands, Alter Bridge has its own army of dedicated fans. What’s always on your mind about them when you’re writing or playing Alter Bridge music?
Well, we’re extremely grateful because they are very passionate and loyal. You are not always afforded that luxury as an artist. I think our goal as we’re creating a record, or writing a song is to make ourselves happy. And make sure we’re getting off on the song because we know that we’re going to be out touring it and promoting it. Generally, once it passes that filter then hopefully the fans will gravitate towards it as well. For whatever reason, our tastes are obviously parallel because if we like something the fans tend to gravitate towards it, but you never know. Sometimes we think it’s great and then the fans are like, no. Thumbs down. It’s a learning process. But we are really fortunate.
Myles, you’ll be opening for Aerosmith this summer with Slash. They’re such an iconic band. What’s your defining memory of growing up listening to Aerosmith. How does their influence continue to affect you as a performer and songwriter?
They really are one of those bands that kind of wrote the blueprint for American rock and roll. I think my first memory would be hearing ‘Dream On’ for the first time as a kid. I remember trying to learn it on the guitar, and the piano part. It was like, ah man, they had me stumped for a long time.
Then I went a few years later and saw them on the ‘Permanent Vacation’ tour. It was amazing. Steven Tyler is arguably one of the greatest frontmen ever. He’s such an amazing presence on stage and I think for me, on this run, I’m going to be sitting side stage every night that I can taking notes. [laughs] He’s just got that thing. The whole band, as a rock fan I’m beyond stoked to be doing this tour.
Some of the Guns N’ Roses songs in your live set are timeless. You do such a great job keeping the original spirit while projecting yourself into them. What’s the best compliment you’ve received about the way you sing GN’R tunes?
I dont know if I can pinpoint any one compliment, I don’t know. I try to remove myself out of the whole equation and just do my best to convey the song. They’re such great songs. A lot of times, what happens as I’m singing them, I’ll be like ‘God, this is so good.’ The fact that they were so young when they wrote them, still blows my mind. They were in their early to mid-20’s and these are still 25 years later, they stand up and are timeless. I just do my best not to screw them up. [laughs] That’s whats going through my head every night because they’re just amazing songs.
Myles, you and the Conspirators actually came together as a pickup band so Slash could tour his solo album. Thankfully the band has become more than just a one-off. People talk about the importance of chemistry between band members. What did all of you see or hear in each other that made it so obvious that you needed to be a full time band?
It was pretty immediate. I think it was the first day we all rehearsed together. I could see that Slash was really happy. We stepped outside for a break and he had this big smile on his face, so we were like, cool, this is going well. I think one of the things, outside just playing music together is that we all immediately bonded. They’re are a lot of muzos in that band, total music geeks that sit there and talk about music for hours. Todd, Brent and Frankie. Especially for how young Frankie is, he’s kind of an old soul and he knows a lot. He knows more about music than I do, I love that as a music fan. But as far as playing goes, I think that we just — there’s some sort of chemistry. It’s hard to articulate, you don’t know why it’s that way. Its just kind of the way that it is.
It’s something you cannot make happen.
You’re right. You know it from the downbeat a lot. You can feel it. It’s just the way people feel music. It’s some sort of primal thing that some people have, and some don’t when they get together. It’s a good chemistry.
Creatively, do you separate yourself from Alter Bridge when you’re working with Slash and the Conspirators and visa versa? Or are you always thinking about ideas for everything you’re involved in?
I try and let it happen. I think that when i’m working — if Slash sends me a riff or a chord progression, I feel like I’m getting more comfortable as time goes on and trusting my initial instinct and not over-thinking it. I think that with Alter Bridge, stylistically it’s very different. It’s much more of a metal influence there. If I come up with an idea for that, generally I know it’s going to be for Alter Bridge.
I think that’s the beauty of both projects, it’s that they’re different. If they were similar, it’d be harder. I was thinking the other night, in the last two years I’ve made two records with these bands and I was wondering if I’d be tapped out idea wise. But, because they’re so different you can really stretch in different directions. That really helps. Keep the well full.
Our thanks to Myles Kennedy for the chat. Catch him on tour with Slash and Aerosmith this summer at these locations. And you can pick up Alter Bridge’s ‘Fortress’ album via iTunes and Amazon. You can listen to ‘Loudwire Nights’ with host Full Metal Jackie Monday through Friday at 7PM through Midnight on more than 20 stations across America. To find out where you can hear ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.