Myles Kennedy has become one of the most respected vocalists on planet rock due to his instantly identifiable pipes which cement the sounds of Alter Bridge and Slash’s solo project.
With the release of Slash ft Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators third studio release ‘Living The Dream‘, on September 21st, Overdrive caught up with the frontman to discuss the new album, the latest from the Alter Bridge camp and much, much more!
OD – Congratulations on the new album and its warm embrace from the worlds media. I believe it’s been loitering around the top end of multiple charts around the globe at the moment. When you put out an album like this in amongst the other projects that you’re involved in do you notice a difference to how the public react to it?
MYLES – Yeah, totally. He’s probably one of the most famous guitarists known the world over and it’s cool. It’s a testament to his skills as a guitarist but also for his personality as he’s a living legend. An icon in the world of rock as well as a very respected musician.
OD – I know the ideas for this album came about in 2014/2015 when you were out on tour for the last album ‘World on Fire’. With a gap in the creative process due to everyone else schedules, do you find that to be a good thing or does it fracture the momentum or creative flow?
MYLES – Well, I think that there is a downside of ‘powering down’ on the project but the good thing about that is getting to walk away from the music and come back to things with a different perspective that would not have been there had it been a concentrated period of writing and just barrelling through the recording process while in the ‘moment’.
It also gives us the opportunity to listen to things with fresh ears to see if things are working or not. There were a few things melodically that I was putting on top of the music back when we were fleshing out the initial ideas for the songs and when I came back to those tracks a few years later, I realised that some things were not working as well as I thought and had the opportunity to change things around.
OD – I know that Slash doesn’t really do the ‘mailing in ideas’ approach, so really when you look at it, there was a small amount of time over the four years that ‘Living The Dream’ came together. During that time was there a substantial amount of material there that didn’t make the album, which we might see as B-Sides or bonus material a little down the line?
MYLES – To be honest, I think we really recorded pretty much everything that we had, so there’s no other stuff hanging around the fringe. We just went in there with the material and ideas and captured it all.
OD – Of course during all, if this, you were working with Alterbridge and your solo album, with all of these different projects happening, did you find it difficult to compartmentalise the approach to each project?
MYLES – Yeah, the three entities are in a way all different beasts and I’ve learnt the art of compartmentalising which I really believe has helped me creatively and also encouraged me to evolve as an artist. To be honest, I feel so lucky that I’m in the position that I’m in right now. In a way, I kind of feel greedy (laughing)!
To have the freedom to do my own thing and then collaborate with these amazing writers is just a dream for me. Stylistically speaking also, the different approaches to writing for Slash and Alter Bridge as well as myself means I don’t get bored as I get to stretch out into different areas, which most artists don’t really get to do.
OD – With regards to Michael “Elvis” Baskette using some equipment to soften up the digital sound on the album, was this something that you were accustomed to with Alter Bridge and if not, could you see the benefits of this method, as the analogue approach can be very costly?
MYLES – Elvis has had a few things in his trick bag that he may have used even when recording some of the AB stuff, so I think that there are certain things now available, where you can mimic that original analogue sound. It’s not 100% accurate but it’s getting close in sound. I think it’s all gonna go to zero’s and one’s anyway so why spend all of that money. This all depends on who you’re asking of course. If you’re asking a purest they are always gonna say: “Yeah, but you get that certain sound that can’t be replicated.”
At the end of the day, it’s what makes that song sound as best it can and in this case, we went with the digital approach for the album and I think that it came out awesome in the end.
OD – When you look back on The Mayfield Four days and the rise of Alter Bridge and of course, your work with Slash not forgetting your solo album release this year, do you feel that you’ve covered all your possible creative avenues, or do you have any other desires that you would like to see become a reality?
MYLES – I think there’s always a small need to keep pushing to try something new with any artist. I’ve been so lucky to be able to play with the artist that I am associated with. It’s like I said before, I kind of feel greedy (laughing) that I get to do all of this. I enjoy the creative process so much and love playing live but I really just love playing the guitar. Don’t get me wrong, I love singing but there’s something about playing the guitar that I just get lost in and I love that.
So, maybe in the future, I would like to do something that taps into that a little more. Some kind of guitar geekdom (laughing). We’ll see how that plays out but for now, I don’t wanna be too greedy. I’m just very grateful for everything right now and the opportunities that I’ve had.
OD – It’s clear that the creative chemistry between you, Slash, Brent Fitz (drums), Todd Kerns (bass, vocals) and Frank Sidoris is a winning formula, when working with so many musicians across all the different projects do you find that it has really opened up a new level of creativity for you as a songwriter/vocalist?
MYLES – Absolutely! Yes, one of the best things about collaborating with other musicians is that you get to learn a lot of things along the way. I was actually very nervous about the prospect of collaborating with other musicians back in The Mayfield Four days, and even earlier with Citizen Swing. I was the main writer and the suggestion of co-writing with some other artists would come up every now and again and I was always kind of like: “Eh, I’m not really into that idea right now.”
There was just so many ideas that I wanted to do which was fine but the thing that I was missing was in fact, the different influences and flavours from working with other musicians. The idea of different minds coming together in the search for a common goal is something that I just didn’t consider at the time. To be honest, I kind of wished that I had taken up some of the offers to work with different musicians back then. Who knows what kind of music we could have created.
OD – With the new album out now, are there plans for a pretty intense touring schedule or is that not really on the cards as of yet?
MYLES – The powers that be are trying to put the pieces in place and it’s challenging because of everybody’s schedules. The plan is to hit it hard when we do go out there. In the past, we did a few weeks of shows and then taken a rest. This time around, I believe that we are gonna be on the road for very long periods of time starting early in 2019 and just go as long as we can until the other projects become a priority. It’s gonna be intense for sure! (laughing)
It’s not set in stone yet but from what I’ve been hearing, we are gonna be out on the road for longer periods of time than some of us have ever experienced before, so it should be interesting, to say the least. (laughing)
OD – Can you give me an update on what’s happening with the follow up to “The Last Hero” (2016) with regards to the writing as I know he has mentioned that it will be in 2019?
MYLES – Yeah, Mark (Tremonti, Alter Bridge guitarist) are in the process of stockpiling ideas for when we get together which is gonna be April of 2019. That’s when we flesh things out and develop the songs.
Mark and I like to be very prepared by the time we hook up as we are not one of those bands that just turn up with no ideas and work from scratch. By the time we get together with the rest of the guys, we’ve already got dozens and dozens of ideas to work with.
OD – As a child of the late 60’s and the glorious 70’s, you’ve been lucky enough to see the conception and formation of some of the world’s most iconic rock bands. When you compare the music that was released back then to the mainstream now, it’s hard to believe how the evolution of music has almost wiped out guitar-based live music. Do you think we’ll ever see a time again where the likes of guitar wizards such as Eddie Van Halen reign supreme in the charts?
MYLES – The way I look at it is when Hendrix came out and Eddie, Clapton and Slash who all moved the needle a little. Pushing the evolution of music forward and bringing new things to the forefront of the genre. Yes, it would be great if a young player was discovered who brought something new to the game.
Something fresh and ground-breaking. With no disrespect to any of the former musicians, the world doesn’t need another musician that just regurgitates the styles of these excellent musicians. We need something new that’s gonna capture the imagination and passion of the younger generation and that can only come with something that’s evolved from the past, but is fresh and exciting.
OD – Of all the projects, releases, shows etc, is there anything that stands out as a significant achievement above the rest for you personally?
MYLES – I think the first thing that comes to mind would be the two Alter Bridge nights we did in the Royal Albert Hall in London with the Parallax Orchestra. Everything just came together as planned and it really worked out well for us. The venue is just so beautiful and it was a total honour to be able to play not one, but two night there.
OD – What album would you consider to be one of the most important influences for you?
MYLES – I owe so much and am so grateful for discovering Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace‘ (1994). That album was released during a very strange, genre-shifting time in the mid-90’s and it had a really profound influence on me. I was just thinking about that album last night and I’m pretty sure that next year will be the 25th Anniversary of that album. It’s an incredible LP and anyone that hasn’t hear it should go check it out.
OD – Finally, if there was anything that you would like to see change within this industry, what would it be?
MYLES – Well, I know they’re working on it but I still have my concerns on the whole streaming thing with how much artists are getting as opposed to the labels taking the lions’ share. I know things have evolved somewhat, but I really think they are not really there with the best situation that there can be. It just doesn’t seem to be fair or balanced right now for the musicians/artists which is insane because without us there wouldn’t be a music business.
Things have become better to some degree, I say that with reference to how things were 17 years ago when you had Napster and people were just trading files all over the place. At least now there are places online where you can go to discover new music and hear stuff that you already are familiar with, but it still needs some modification. We’re getting there slowly, but at least there’s some progress being made.