Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy and lead singer on Slash’s new album Apocalyptic Love, talks to Sergio Pereira about the Apocalyptic recording sessions, hanging with Slash and his love for Cee Lo Green…
Myles Kennedy is a humble and soft-spoken chap. He doesn’t sound anything like I would imagine the guy who fronts Alter Bridge, wrote and rehearsed with Led Zeppelin, recorded a killer album (Apocalyptic Love) with the Mad Hatter guitar icon Slash, or recently jammed with the original line-up of Guns N’ Roses at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In fact, ask him if he’d consider joining the real GNR on a tour, and he politely dismisses the notion immediately. “Oh, I don’t know about that, man. That’s a pretty tall order,” he laughs.
From juggling his time in Alter Bridge to recording and touring with Slash – as well as pursuing his own solo project – Myles isn’t exactly shying away from ‘tall orders’, now is he?
Possibly, the biggest test he faces is deciding which songs suit which project best. “That’s a good question,” Myles says. “I think because they’re all such different entities, feel-wise, it’s pretty easy to know where everything is going to fit. And a lot of times with Slash, he’ll send me a musical idea first, which will then trigger me – the melodies, lyrics or another musical part of it – so, it’s already kind of established. It makes the process really easy that way. I actually have more of a problem sometimes deciding whether a part is going for Alter Bridge versus a solo thing, to be honest. Between Slash and Alter Bridge, it’s pretty easy.”
One of the big selling points of Apocalyptic Love is that it’s a full-on collaboration between Slash and Myles. Also, unlike Slash’s self-titled album, this effort will only feature Myles’ vocals on the tracks. Did he and Slash ever talk about bringing in anyone for a guest appearance?
“We never did talk about that. Actually, that would’ve been cool, though.”
From his response, you get the impression that he likes the thought of guest appearances and the unpredictable – so, if he could choose any vocalist to perform his songs from Apocalyptic Love, who would he choose? “Any vocalist?” Myles asks. “I’m not going to lie; I love Cee Lo Green. I think he’s an amazing singer. I’d love to hear his take on the tracks. He’s just got so much soul.”
The Soundtrack to the Apocalyptic Love
Myles has already mentioned that Slash sent him musical ideas during the writing process for Apocalyptic Love – but did they ever sit down and just compose songs in an old school-type jam session? “We did it through sharing files on the internet, because I was touring with Alter Bridge a lot of the time. It worked out really well. I’d send the demos back to Slash, and he’d take it to Todd [Kerns, bass guitar] and Brent [Fitz, drums], and put together arrangements. It was a really cool process, because we utilised the internet more than anything, as opposed to getting in the same room and hashing out all the tracks; there were a few tracks where we did that, but for the most part it was file-sharing.”
Speaking of sharing, Myles opens up about the various topics covered in the new album – not just the drug issues which have been highly publicised by the music media hounds. “There are a bunch of different things. There’s a song called Standing in the Sun, which is written from a point-of-view… speaking for myself, I can be a bit of a pessimist sometimes, looking at the glass as half-empty as opposed to half-full – so, that song addresses that. Then, there’s a song called Far and Away, which is about longing. There are a few different themes explored throughout the record. I will say it was actually a really challenging record to write, lyrically, just because of what I learnt about this specific style or genre of music – from where I come from as a lyricist – is that I had to dig a little deeper and evolve as a writer. It was a good process; difficult but good.”
“There were songs, lyrically, that I must’ve re-written a number of times until I was content,” he adds. “Not For Me is definitely one of those songs; I don’t know how many times I re-wrote that until I felt it was ready to be sung.
Surprisingly, [the title track] Apocalyptic Love was [also] a challenge – even though it’s kind of simple, but I think that’s part of what was challenging about it: the simplicity. For me, you can make things too cerebral, but then it loses its magic; so, that’s what I was trying to avoid with these tracks.”
Hanging with Slash
Slash has always been portrayed as a cool cat – as if he doesn’t have a care in the world. Spending a lot of time with the legendary guitarist on the road, Myles has inevitably seen the stressed side of the man born Saul Hudson. “If he’s got certain things on his mind, he kind of keeps it to himself,” he says. “He’s really good at not showing his emotions. At times, he gets really quiet – but he’s not the guy who shows what’s bothering him.”
Myles also reveals that he’ll be hanging even more with Slash and the band, because Alter Bridge will only be doing a new album in 2013. “We’re discussing next year to do another record, so I’ll be touring with Slash and The Conspirators throughout this entire year and part of next year, and then when I’m not touring I’ll be working with the AB guys.”
In closing, Myles leaves fans with a glimmer of hope that there will be another collaboration with Slash after Apocalyptic Love. “Yeah. Hopefully, we’ll continue to make music in some way. There’s a certain chemistry and comfort with each other – and with Todd and Brent as well. Any time you make music that you enjoy making and you find the people cool to hang out with – and it’s a healthy environment – you hope it will continue.”