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Mark Tremonti discusses how Jerry Cantrell inspired Alter Bridge's riff-rammed Last Rites

Oslo, Norway. 17th, November 2019. The American hard rock band Alter Bridge performs a live concert at Sentrum Scene in Oslo. Here guitarist Mark Tremonti is seen live on stage.
(Image credit: Gonzales Photo/Terje Dokken/PYMCA-Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Alter Bridge had only just started touring their sixth studio album, late 2019’s Walk the Sky, when – much like everyone else – their plans were grounded to a halt. 

Instead of quietly biding their time, however, the hard-rock quartet decided to give fans around the world a taste of “what could have been” in the form of Walk the Sky 2.0, an EP of energetic live offerings from their early 2020 U.S. tour, plus Last Rites, a brand-new studio track. We recently tracked down Mark Tremonti to find out a bit more. 

How did you go about choosing the takes heard on the new EP?

“Our sound engineer and tour manager had them on file. As a band we didn’t listen to them; that would have been the most tedious thing in the world! [Laughs] We trusted the people around us to find the performances that capture what we do live best. Our team knows exactly what our vibe is, so two versions of each song were chosen.“

Last Rites has quite a thrash-metal vibe in places. 

“Yeah! That one came out of riffs we had sitting around. They were on deck for the last record but never quite happened. We put it all together with Myles [Kennedy] singing from home over lockdown. 

“I feel like there’s a little bit of a Jerry Cantrell vibe on those pre-bends. He’s the best when it comes to that stuff and one of the greatest rock songwriters of our generation, so that might have seeped in subliminally.“ 

Would we be right in guessing we’re mainly hearing your PRS signature gear? 

“Sure, you’re hearing the MT15 – and we actually have an MT100 in development – plus a little from my Cornford RK100 and Rev F Dual Rectifier. I like to go direct so I tend not to put much in my chain. Usually the other guitarist in whatever band I’m in is the more effects-driven player. I’m more straight to the tonal point.“

There’s no solo as such, but it sounds like there’s a pitch-shifted lead track buried in the mix from the first chorus onwards. 

“I think it was the [Electro-Harmonix] POG. Our producer is a bit of a mad genius when it comes to pedals. He loves to use the Micro Synth a lot too – it’s one of our favorites in the studio. It could have been that – or my T-Rex Octavius, which I brought in one day. So yeah, it could have been any of those four pedals!“

  • Alter Bridge's new EP, Walk the Sky 2.0, is out now via Napalm Records.
Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences. He's interviewed everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handling lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).