Alter Bridge’s honey-throated frontman Myles Kennedy tells Hammer about his new solo album and what else he has planned for 2018.
Your solo debut is the 13th studio album that you’ve recorded. Safe to say you’re not superstitious?
“Wow, I didn’t realise that! That’s crazy! Ha ha! Fortunately I’m not too superstitious, but that said, we’ll see how this plays out. It might make me superstitious if things go horribly wrong…”
What made now the right time to release your first solo record?
“I wanted to embark on this project years ago and I ended up recording an entire record. But that whole process took so long because I kept going back and revisiting it that I just felt like the shelf life of the material had essentially expired. So I started again. I began writing in December 2016 for what would become Year Of The Tiger.”
Most people associate you with much heavier music. What inspired you to take a sharp left turn into acoustic territory?
“As long as I can remember, I’ve been intrigued by acoustic-based music and singer-songwriters that I’ve appreciated throughout my evolution as an artist. It felt like it was time to explore that. Also, making a hard rock record would be a little redundant. I play in Alter Bridge and I’ve played with Slash and the Conspirators, so this was a conscious effort to establish something unique.”
Who were some of your earliest acoustic influences?
“Strangely enough, it was Zeppelin. If you listen to Zeppelin III and parts of IV, there’s a massive acoustic element. I wanted to discover what influenced them, and obviously Robert Johnson was a big one, along with a lot of those Delta blues cats. Eric Clapton was another. In the mid-90s, he came out with that Unplugged album, and again, I wondered what he fed off of, and I found these Big Bill Broonzy songs that he covered. So it was listening to contemporary people and going back and discovering what they were raised on.”
The dominant characteristic of truly great acoustic music is that the songs tell a story…
Did you have a sense of that when you approached your own material?
“Yeah, I definitely did. As the guy who’s going to be singing it, it’s got to be something that I believe in and that resonates with me because if it’s not… if they’re just words pieced together that have no meaning, then you’ve got nothing. From an emotional standpoint, it’s got to be compelling. I essentially documented a very tough time in my evolution as a young person, which was when I lost my father, and the album tells that story. There was plenty of emotional inspiration.”
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Does this mean that Alter Bridge is out of commission this year?
“Yeah, Alter Bridge will reconvene in 2019, so while I’m out touring Year Of The Tiger, I’ll be writing in the hotel room for Alter Bridge’s upcoming sixth release, if I’m not mistaken.”
Are you looking forward to touring the album?
“Yes! I start in South Africa and then we’ll be doing the UK. We’re trying to build a tour and add more dates and do some more stuff in the US later. I’ll be touring a lot this year.”
Is this a one-off or do you see more of these solo outings in the future?
“I’d hope to have the opportunity to do this more in the future because it reminded me why I make music. It’s that power when you feel like you’ve stumbled onto something that’s real and everyone in the studio is firing on all cylinders. There’s really nothing quite like it.”
Year Of The Tiger is out March 9 via Napalm and is available to pre-order now.