“This record is an expression of a songwriter getting back into loving writing music again,” says Mark Tremonti. When the pandemic hit, the Alter Bridge and Creed guitarist says he was down and out for at least five months, barely able to continue working on the fifth album for his solo project Tremonti.
“I had no deadlines, I had no tours coming up, and I just wasn’t in the mood,” shares Tremonti. “When it came down to getting this record together, I snapped out of it and was thrilled to get back into doing what I love, and I think that comes across on this album. There’s an energy to this record of ‘Let’s get back to business here.’”
The business was Marching in Time (Napalm Records), is a dispatch of stories drawn from the heaviness of the past year during the pandemic, assembled around weightier arrangements.
Piecing together choruses, verses, and bridges he had filed away, Tremonti first started working on Marching in Time, a follow up to the band’s 2018 release Dying Machine in 2018, after Alter Bridge’s Walk the Sky in 2019. Pulling from older tracks like “Bleak,” “Would You Kill,” one of the oldest songs on Marching in Time, “Afraid to Lose,” came from a chorus Tremonti shelved 20 years prior.
“I try to write a song, then get as far as I can with it until the parts that I’m writing don’t match the excitement that I had going on for the original parts,” says Tremonti. “Then I’ll let it hibernate until another part comes along that matches the mood that I had already developed. I have so many bits and pieces that are just floating in space waiting to find a home.”
Once he was back in the groove, working on Marching in Time, Tremonti finished the songs he started. “They all existed in one way or another,” he says. “Maybe something was missing—a riff or a hook—but the essence of the songs were still there.”
Initially pulling together 18 songs for Marching in Time, Tremonti had the difficult task of cutting out six tracks. “We had to whittle it down and get rid of some songs, which is always terrible,” he says. “It’s like losing your children. These are things you’ve worked on and developed an emotional relationship to… Usually, you’ll leave them a little looser so you have some kind of push or pull in the studio, but this time these songs were airtight before we hit the studio.”
Opening with “A World Away,” Marching In Time is structured around denser melodies and reflective epistles prodding around chunkier riffs through “Now and Forever” and “If Not for You,” keeping its more mid-tempo run through the closing swells of “Marching in Time.”
Working with Tremonti, there’s more breadth to where the songs can go, compared to Alter Bridge, which is an entirely different dynamic for the singer. “There’s no real proving ground in this band, and if I really love an idea I can see it through no matter what,” says Tremonti. “With Alter Bridge, me and Myles [Kennedy] are a partnership, so if Myles plays me something that he really enjoys, that doesn’t do the same thing to me, he’ll be able to tell. When I play him something and he gives me a lukewarm response, I’ll just put it on my solo record if I love it.”
Tremonti adds, “Alter Bridge is more of two opinions coming together as one, whereas, in this band, I can follow whatever rabbit hole I want to go down, especially on the heavier side. I can be as metal as I want.”
Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller aren’t typical reference points for a metal band, but for Tremonti, these big band legends are his guides.
“I’ve turned into a big band fanatic,” he says. “I have a lower register and a lot of these guys like Frank Sinatra and Vic Damone had lower voices. It was not that long ago when those bands were the biggest bands in the world, and the frontman was not a singer. They were trombone players, clarinet players.
He jokes, “If there’s karaoke, I’m on stage singing some Sinatra. When I was younger, I might not have cared less about the big band, because it was the kind of stuff that was always on the radio around Christmastime, but now I absolutely love it.”
Now, nearly a decade since the band’s debut All I Was n 2012, Tremonti says he’s evolved as a writer, performer, and singer. “I used to be so shy on stage, especially in the beginning when I was younger and first started touring, “ says Tremonti. “I was just singing backup vocals and was being insecure about it. I still hate being the frontman, but I feel like I’m a much more well-rounded performer.”
He adds, “I wish I could have gone through this a lot earlier in life, but the more experiences you have, the better you become.”