2012 has been one of my favorite years in rock music. There have been so many great rock albums released, one of which is the side project from Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti, simply called Tremonti. The name of the album is “All I Was” and Mark really took the heavy up a notch. It’s a great album and once I saw them live I ended up liking the album that much more. Currently Tremonti has Wolfgang Van Halen covering bass duties which just adds a little bit more to the whole project. Recently I got the chance to chat with Mark and drummer Garrett Whitlock about the album, Wolfgang Van Halen, his experience listening to the new Van Halen album live in a tiny room at Eddie Van Halen’s house and by live I mean Van Halen played it live for him. We also chat about the new album and his experience with “That Metal Show.” If you want to listen to the extended interview you can do so here:
Zoiks!: How did Wolfgang Van Halen end up playing with you guys on this tour?
Mark Tremonti: Brian (Marshall) had something personal come up the night before our Rhode Island show on September 10th, the night of September 10th. He (Wolfgang Van Halen) was in town with the Sevendust guys. I called him up and said, ‘dude we got a show tomorrow night, what do you think?’ and he said, ‘I’ll be there in an hour.’
Z!: What was the back up plan?
MT: There was none (laughs).
Garrett Whitlock: If Wolfie wasn’t there I don’t know what we would have done.
MT: Actually the guitar player in Man the Mighty would have had to learn the songs, because he’s like a shredding guitar player, but he looked pretty taken a back.
GW: I’ve got to learn twelve songs in three hours…deer in the headlights for sure (laughs).
Z!: Wolfie had to do the same thing didn’t he? Did he know the songs ahead of time?
MT: He knew the record like the back of his hand by just listening to it. He learned some of the songs, but one take through each one and he memorized them. He’s kid wonder.
GW: Tell him something once and it’s there, it’s crazy.
Z!: I don’t know much about him other than he’s Eddie Van Halen’s kid, but I heard an interview with Eddie and he said, ‘if you think I’m impressive wait until you see my kid.’
MT: He’s pretty impressive.
Z!: Is he really that?
GW: He’s the real deal.
Z!: You (Mark), before the Van Halen record came out, because you got to hear it ahead of time were asked over and over again about it. How did your relationship with Wolfie start?
MT: First time I met him we were both playing in the same city, I think it was Baltimore. He had invited us to come to his sound check. So we went to see their sound check and after their show he said he was going to catch a runner over to your show, to catch the end of our show. In our encore he comes and watches the rest of the show and we hung out for a little bit. The next time we came to LA, he had become friends with Eric (Friedman) our other guitar player, because Eric lives out in LA too. The next time we went out there we were all just kind of hanging out and he asked if I wanted to come see Van Halen practice, or he said, ‘do you want to come see practice tomorrow?’ (pause) No (laughs), So he came and picked me and Eric up and drove us to his dad’s house, because that’s where they practice. 5150 Studios is actually up in the parking lot of his dad’s house. We went in there in a room no bigger than this and listened to the Van Halen record. We listened to it live.
Z!: Wow, you were recently on one of my favorite shows, “That Metal Show” and I’m glad they’re starting to get guys like you and Myles (Kennedy) and even Godsmack, what was that experience like?
MT: It was cool, I was really nervous leading up to it. It’s easy when you’re doing an interview with all your band mates, but when it’s just you without your guitar. The good thing was before I did the show I got to meet Eddie (Trunk) in person. He was very cool, he was friendly with Myles, so when he asked me to do the show I was nervous, but I was already comfortable with him. Then after that I did three of his radio show interviews before “That Metal Show.” I didn’t know the other two guys but it was very cool.
Z!: You’ve got kind of the best of all worlds. Creed is this massive band that can play anywhere, Alter Bridge is an established band that’s still growing and now with Tremonti you get to start all over again. As an artist what is the most rewarding for you?
MT: I like to see things build up. I think we’re all proud of the way this is starting. At this level everybody that shows up to the show are people you just love. These are the supporters, the seed that’s going to grow into something bigger. We’re having a blast, I don’t think we’d be having a better time in arenas; this is great in the clubs.
Z!: You’re fronting the band this time around, was that the plan the whole time?
MT: Yeah, for this it was. I’ve been a songwriter for so long. I just have ideas stockpiling and this was the perfect time to get some of the ideas that I’ve actually tried with the other bands that might have been too heavy or just didn’t fit. That was kind of the first thing I brought up. As we kept going I’d show these guys other ideas. It was always the heavy ideas that got them excited, but I was always planning on being the singer. Until I had actually sang at concert level with the guys I didn’t really realize I’d be able to do it.
Z!: What was the first time doing it live like?
MT: I was nervous as Hell for months and months leading up to that show, but I was eerily calm that day. I had all my friends around; it was a small local club. Once I got up there and started singing all my nerves were gone. It just takes that one-second. After that, book whatever, book Leno, book this book that (laughs), I’m not afraid anymore…I’m afraid of losing my voice tonight.
Z!: One of my favorite things about the album is that it’s super heavy but at the same time it has these really cool melodies its not just screaming like a lot of metal is.
MT: Melody is the most important part. That’s what excites me the most, vocal melodies, even more than the gnarliest riffs; actual melodies are my favorite parts.
Z!: I recently talked with John Connolly of Sevendust about his side project Projected which features Eric from your band and Scott Phillips (Alter Bridge, Creed), and Vinnie Hornsby (Sevendust) and we had kind of joked about an Alter Bridge, Sevendust, Tremonti, Call Me No One and Projected tour.
MT: That’d be rad.
Z!: Could something like that even work?
MT: I would do it in a heartbeat. I think it would definitely.
Z!: Protecting your voice would have to be the hardest part.
MT: You couldn’t sing twice, but I’d love it though.
Z!: Carnival of Madness 2013?
GW: There you go.
BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.