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Alter Bridge rocks hard to connect with audience

Alter Bridge is a band with a new-school sound and old-school values.

The hard-rock quartet is comprised of former members of Creed (guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, drummer Scott Phillips) and features the vocal talents of the soaring Myles Kennedy. These guys have seen the ups and downs of being a hard-rock band coming out of the mid 2000’s. But through it all, they have shown that talent is the key to longevity. Their newest record, “The Last Hero,” released last year, received praise from outlets like The Guardian and Rock Sound. With a gold debut record and slots on major rock festivals around the country, Alter Bridge could play arenas if it wanted, but this band knows the power of a crowd in a more intimate venue.

Kennedy took time to chat before the band comes to town for a show Jan. 31 at the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls.

Question: As someone who’s involved in a multitude of musical projects, what does Alter Bridge provide and represent to you that other projects don’t?

Answer: The primary difference is that I play guitar in Alter Bridge. I love playing guitar, and I consider myself a guitar player first. When I’m home I have a guitar in my hand, so that’s the primary difference.

Q: Was there anything going on in your own lives or in the world that made you want to make your newest record at the time that you did?

A: I think gauging the climate and looking at the election and seeing how polarized things have become … it’s a trying time for our country. There were some things brewing with family as well, with illnesses playing a factor. But overall, the thing that affected the record the most was the political climate in the country.

Q: As a band, with everyone having so much experience under their belt, do you think it’s a more natural process for you to write a record than other bands?

A: I don’t know if it’s more natural. I think since we’ve been able to do this for many years, the process goes quicker. I think there’s a certain level of trust that’s been established in the songwriting partnership that we have.

Q: As you’ve transitioned from one record to another, have you noticed any big changes with the hard-rock genre or artists in it? How is the genre perceived differently today?

A: People aren’t afraid to play guitar solos anymore. There was still a bit of carryover from the '90s where Nirvana killed the guitar solo dead, and now I think that’s all in the past. What’s exciting is seeing the level of guitar playing in bands. Hard rock and metal is like the cockroach of the music industry. It’s never going to die, but I don’t know if it will be mainstream again.

Q: Since time has changed, what would you say is the best way to draw in a new listener to your brand of music?

A: I know that when fans come up and share their story of they discovered Alter Bridge, a lot say they heard about us on wrestling of all places. I had no idea that 13 years later people would come up and say they found us through wrestling. Utilizing other avenues than radio is very useful.

Q: Alter Bridge has always preached the values of intimacy in a rock show in smaller venues. Do you feel that you are practicing a lost art for a rock band of your size and caliber?

A: We’re very lucky in that we can play arenas and I love that. The kid in me loves it. But getting the opportunity to play venues where you can really connect with an audience is fun and has a whole different set of perks. When I look at huge pop artists who can’t play small venues any more, I feel they’re missing out.

Q: After the years you’ve spent together as a band, is there anything that’s changed in your dynamic? What do you do now that you didn’t do then?

A: More than anything, we’re more direct with each other. I was the new guy coming into the group, and I don’t like confrontation. So I was wary to bring up ideas at first, but after the years of playing together, I’ve learned to speak my mind more. I put all my cards on the table now.



Who: Alter Bridge with Nonpoint, Weapons of Anew

When: Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m. Jan. 31

Where: Rapids Theatre, 1711 Main St., Niagara Falls

Tickets: $27.50 to $32




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