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Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy: “The greatest band of all time? Led Zeppelin”

Myles Kennedy 2020 press shot
(Image credit: Press)

There’s no rest for the wicked, nor for rock’s hardest-working multi-project mastermind Myles Kennedy, who’s been busy churning out his second solo album while the touring industry has come to a grinding halt. In the spirit of giving him one more thing to add to his already hectic to-do list, we asked you to conjure up all the best questions you’ve always wanted to ask the voice behind Slash and Alter Bridge… and the results are in.

Metal Hammer line break

With your amazing voice, ever think about singing gospel, soul, opera, extreme metal or barbershop?
Stasch Rebenowitz (Facebook)

“Strangely enough, I didn’t learn to sing by singing rock; I learned by listening to soul music and trying to emulate soul singers, so I’ve done plenty of singing in that particular genre. I was influenced for a few years by Mahalia Jackson, who is arguably the greatest gospel singer of all time; a lot of the inflections I use come from her and a lot of people don’t know that. I remember going to a record store, buying her greatest hits and going back to my little apartment and listening to it constantly and trying to sing along with it. Gospel and soul are probably the foundations of my vocal approach. As far as opera goes, years later I studied with a guy named Ron Anderson who taught the bel canto technique, which is an old opera technique, so it’s a blend of them all – a bit of opera, soul, gospel and then some rock and roll. I tend to go through deep phases when I hear something new and I’ll get obsessed, so it’s easy to track down those changes.”

Are the rumours true that Alter Bridge were going to play Edge out at this year’s WrestleMania before the pandemic changed everything?
@PurpleMidneight (Twitter)

“I heard discussions that something like that was possible. I don’t know if that was ever finalised but I know there was definitely rumoured to be a possibility and then COVID came and shut the entire universe down. Interestingly enough, that’s how that works for me – I’m the guy that says, ‘We’re doing what tomorrow? You want me to be where? OK, just give me my guitar, set up a microphone and I’ll be there!’ I try to be involved with planning the future to a point but when you’re a creative nerd like I am, your head’s always got music that you wanna chase down, so that’s usually where my brain is. I don’t want to say I can’t be bothered with it because it is important to keep your eye on the ball in all facets of your business, but what gets me off is creating the music part so that’s always the part I’m focused on.”

Do you miss doing a lot of GN’R covers in the live sets with Slash? They’ve understandably lost their place over the years as more Conspirators material has gotten released.
Ben Willmott (Facebook)

“I don’t know if I miss it, but I certainly enjoy singing those tracks because they are some of my favourite songs ever. As a singer, you always want to perform things that are composed well, so without a doubt those are amazing songs. As a composer, I love getting to perform our own songs, and considering we’ve been doing it for a decade at this point, we’ve built up enough of a catalogue to have plenty to choose from so that’s pretty awesome. Because of the legacy Guns N’ Roses have, if you were to pull out a good GN’R track early on, the place would erupt. It still happens because they’re iconic songs, but what’s been fascinating is that we started to realise on the last album cycle, especially with our songs that have been in the musical psyche now for years, that they were starting to garner similar reactions. So the big singles from previous records that people have heard plenty, like Anastasia and You’re A Lie, the hallmark songs, we noticed were starting to hold their own. I think that’s a very important realisation for all of us how what we’ve built over the years has been worthwhile. It’s been a great ride!”

Alter Bridge in 2019

(Image credit: Gonzales Photo/Terje Dokken/PYMCA-Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

How is progress on the new solo album going? Should we expect to hear it next year?
@yort25_ (Twitter)

“Other than the mixes, it’s done. I was done tracking it about a month ago and just waiting on Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette to complete the mix process and then we’ll master it, get some artwork done and we’ll be off to the races. Hopefully it’ll come out sooner than later!”

What would be your dream band line-up, not including any current or former bandmates?
@robblake13 (Twitter)

“It tends to change all the time. It also depends on what kind of band it would be because I love so many different styles of music. If we’re talking strictly hard rock or rock’n’roll in general, to me the perfect band would be Jimmy Page on guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, John Bonham on drums and Robert Plant on vocals… oh wait, it’d be Led Zeppelin, that’s the best band ever!”

How are you doing/feeling in general? Are you doing anything fun to keep spirits up since lockdown started and touring stopped
@QueenOfTurtles (Twitter)

“We’re good, I’ve got zero complaints on that front; if anything, it’s been really nice to wake up every day and be able to see my family and get into a routine that I haven’t been privy to for a long time, to have the opportunity to write and play guitar and really just power down. I think in some ways it’s been good for me because I was going at such a breakneck speed for so many years, I think a little bump in the road hasn’t been the worst thing for me. As a matter of fact, I’ve started getting into photography. I purchased a camera so I could have better content, I’ve been making videos of performances and whatnot since I knew I was gonna be locked down and wasn’t gonna have access to our cast of characters that would normally document that kind of stuff for me. I figured I better get a decent camera that has the ability not just to take stills but also with good video quality, so I discovered, in trying to learn how to use it and how lighting works, the aperture and the shutter speed. I discovered I kind of enjoy it! I’m a little bit of a tech head so that sort of thing is in my wheelhouse where if there’s a piece of technology that I can use somehow, I get off on understanding how it works and trying to apply it.”

In your London show in 2019, Alter Bridge played White Knuckles, which I popped hard for. Are there any other deep cuts you would love to perform live soon?
Jack Hawkins (Facebook)

“There was a song off AB III – I don’t know if it was a deep cut necessarily but it wasn’t a single – it was called Make It Right, which has always been one of my favourite tracks off that album. We played it on a few occasions a couple of years ago and I remember really enjoying that. I’m sure as the years go on that we’ll always try to pepper the set occasionally with a deep cut for those diehard fans, which we fortunately have quite a few of at this point. It always gets them excited and as you so eloquently put it, makes them ‘pop hard!’ I’ve never heard that one before.”

What’s your favourite Mayfield Four track? Do you still know the guys from that band?
@7RockLists (Twitter) 

“Yes, I still talk to the guys. I just spent weeks with Zia Uddin because he’s my drummer with the solo project, so we were in close quarters in the studio back in August, which was wonderful. So many of those songs are near and dear to me, but I’d say White Flag – it’s kind of a deep cut on the Second Skin record, but it almost didn’t make the record. I remember one night we were hanging out at a bar when we finished all the demos and were getting ready to make the album, Zia mentioned, ‘You know what song I really love? White Flag!’ So we put it on the record and once we were sitting at the console after it had been mixed, it turned out to be a really fun track.”

What is the most effective breathing exercise for a singer who wants the same powerful lungs?
@Coneill2009 (Twitter)

“A big one for any singer is to be very aware of your diaphragm and how you’re using your breaths. A lot of people assume, especially for the high and long notes, that I’m screaming my lungs out but I’m actually not. It’s all about control and the economy of the breath because I’m not using a ton of air when I’m singing. It’s more than just the breath, it’s about where your breath is going and where you’re directing it; you don’t just shoot your breath out and your voice comes out, it’s not that simple and there’s a lot more to it than that. I could talk about this for hours, maybe someday I’ll have an instructional YouTube clip or maybe a book… How To Breathe Properly And Make Friends.”

What is Myles Kennedy’s guilty pleasure?
@1andOnlyMrEpic (Twitter)

“Especially with the pandemic going on, I’ll find myself watching mindless television. That’s become one I’m happy to address with myself and question why I’m sitting on the couch watching something my wife was watching and I found myself getting sucked into. It was Real Housewives Of Orange County or something and I thought to myself, ‘Oh jeez, this has gotta stop!’ I was thinking earlier about why we get sucked into these things, what’s the allure of it? The only thing I can figure is that it’s some sort of escape watching other people, especially if there’s drama involved; you’re able to shut off your own scenarios and just watch them, observe and giggle!” 

Published in Metal Hammer #343