Alter Bridge approached its fourth album — “Fortress,” due out Oct. 8 in the U.S. and Sept. 30 in other territories — like “a new band that’s still proving ourselves and still gaining new fans” according to Mark Tremonti. The guitarist tells Billboard that even this far into its career, Alter Bridge doesn’t feel fully established — in a good way.
“When I was growing up and I’d see a band’s fourth album, I’d feel like, ‘Wow, they’re at the end of their career. I’ll be lucky to have four albums in my entire career,” Tremonti explains. “I guess since I’m older now I just feel like we’re always trying to improve ourselves and trying to build upon what we’ve done in our past and make each record better.” And not surprisingly he feels that’s what Alter Bridge has achieved with “Fortress.”
“It’s an exciting record, top to bottom,” says Tremonti. “It’s got a lot of energy. There’s only two songs that aren’t really big rockers and are more midtempo, and two others that could be considered more epic-y but still have a really big rock sound. We pushed ourselves really hard to try and improve our sound with it and improve our boundaries. I know I say that on every record we do, but this time we feel like it was time we pushed even further. Elvis (Baskette), our producer, things it’s our best-sounding record and could be the best thing we’ve ever done. When he says something like that…I mean, you love the songs because you’ve written them, but it’s good to hear that positive outside perspective as well.”
One of those songs, “Addicted To Pain,” is out as the lead track and was one of the first songs the group worked on for the set. “You can tell from the title, it’s pretty much about an abusive relationship where somebody just keeps on going in this relationship,” Tremonti says, “getting maybe not just physically beat up but mentally beat up because they’ve done it for so long they pretty much tell them that they must be addicted to this pain to keep on going through it.”
“Fortress” also caught Tremonti at an interesting juncture of his own career. In addition to balancing Alter Bridge with Creed, he also released a solo album and started his own band during the interim. So he now has three concerns when he writes songs rather than two, though Tremonti sees more positives than negatives in that.
“Sometimes I’ll just sit down and write and I won’t think of any band in particular,” Tremonti says. “I’ll write and then I will go back days later, weeks later or whatever and I’ll go through my ideas and I’ll either throw them out if they don’t speak to me or I’ll label them as a certain part of a song. And then the last thing I do is to put them in which band they should be in. But usually it’s pretty obvious to me. If it’s an old school thrash kind of vibe, if I have a riff like that it’s definitely Tremonti solo stuff. If it’s more of a moody, hard rocking song it’s gonna be an Alter Bridge song, and if it’s more straightforward it’ll be a Creed song.”
Alter Bridge returns to the road on October 4 at the Disney World House of Blues in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., before starting a six-week European tour on October 16 in Nottingham, England. North American dates are expected for 2014. You can pre-order “Fortress” on the band’s website.