Mark Tremonti: Hot for Teaching
Originally published in Guitar World, June 2009
His singer played with Led Zeppelin, and his signature Paul Reed Smith ax just got a freshening up. But what really has Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti psyched is the release of his first-ever instructional DVD. Class is in session!
Mark Tremonti is calling from his Florida home, but you can almost feel his enthusiasm surging through the phone. “I’m pumped!” he loudly exclaims.
What’s got the Alter Bridge guitarist so excited? The fact that his singer, Myles Kennedy, recently got to audition with Led Zeppelin for the group’s lead vocal spot? The new edition of his signature PRS guitar? Or the thought of starting work on Alter Bridge’s third CD?
None of the above. While Tremonti is plenty happy to talk about all these things, what has him so fired up is the recent release of his first guitar instructional DVD, Mark Tremonti—The Sound and the Story (fret12.com). For him, the DVD is a career highlight. “It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time, and it just feels great to have accomplished this,” Tremonti says. “I’m really just a big guitar geek, and I have always been a huge fan of instructional DVDs and videos and dreamed of doing one of my own.”
What one finds especially refreshing about Tremonti is that—despite having sold more than 30 million CDs as a guiding force behind Creed and Alter Bridge, and being among the first artists to receive a PRS signature guitar—he still has a charmingly humble opinion of his own talents. “I turned down an earlier offer to do a DVD because I didn’t feel ready,” he says. “I still had my doubts about that, actually, but it was time to grab the opportunity. I realized that I am never going to feel like I have arrived as a guitarist. Hopefully, I have something to offer and I think we worked really hard to make the DVD different and really useful. None of us are ever done learning.”
GUITAR WORLD You’re so excited about the DVD. What do you think makes it different?
MARK TREMONTI I always found it frustrating how DVDs are filled with exercises and cool licks but not actual solos. I have hardly ever seen someone teach their entire solo from a record, so we put all eight solos from Blackbird [Alter Bridge’s second album, released in 2007] on there and broke them down to show what I was doing and how it was all linked together. We wanted to do more, actually, but licensing was a problem.
That was something I always wanted but rarely got. I would learn all these over-the-top riffs, but two days later they were gone because I didn’t learn them in the context of a solo or song. Somewhere along the way, I realized that those flashy licks weren’t really going to help me get onstage with someone and improv a solo.
GW Shredders Rusty Cooley, Troy Stetina and Michael Angelo Batio all appear as special guests. Were you nervous about playing with them in that setting?
TREMONTI Nope. Those guys are my friends; they’re my little guitar circle. Whenever I’m in their area they come hang out and we play guitar for eight hours. I just wanted to show people that you should try to surround yourself with talented players and not be shy about your own shortcomings. If you do that, it will rub off on you a little bit. They’ve helped me out a lot, and hopefully this will help bring some more attention to them.
GW Have they ever been resentful of your success?
TREMONTI Not at all. I think it’s a totally different scene. Those guys obviously know they can play circles around me, but I am in a more commercial band, which is more easily acceptable to the general public. Shredders like them are in a niche market, and I think they’re perfectly content with where they are. Hell, Rusty and Michael Angelo were in Guitar World as two of the fastest guys in the world.