With the June 9 release of his new CD, Cauterize, guitarist Mark Tremonti brings to us his infectious swinging, spinning guitar loops along with perfectly placed harmonies mixed with hardcore solos. In support of this new project, Mark sat down with Legendary Rock Interviews at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan, to discuss the project as well as the addition of Wolfgang Van Halen to the band.
Legendary Rock Interviews: When developing Cauterize and Dust, did you envision 2 albums?
Mark Tremonti: No, I just wanted to … We had Elvis (Producer) for just a limited amount of time so I wrote nonstop before going into pre-production I had about 25 songs ready. Then we narrowed it down to 20, and I didn’t want to put out a 13 song record and have people think 7 of them were B-sides, because we worked so hard on all of them. So we split them up evenly and made the two the most well-rounded I could make them. It’s not like one record is going to be the A-tracks and one the B-tracks or the heavy set or the soft one. It’s really two well-rounded albums.
LRI: What track on Cauterize speaks the most to you?
Mark: It depends on, in what way? “Dark Trip” is one of the most emotional songs for me that has most of me kind of I guess lashing out from personal experience. But “Flying Monkeys” is one of my favorite songs on the record. Providence was one of the most challenging, and one of the songs I am most proud of. They are all special in one way or another.
LRI: What initially drew you to include Wolfgang Van Halen in your project?
Mark: He was a fan of Alter Bridge first and then we became friends after that. When Brian had some personal issues come up where he couldn’t tour, we didn’t really have a bass player that was a part of the band. The guys were like, “Wolfgang is up in New York to rehearse.” He was with our friends from Sevendust playing in the studio. So I called him up and said, “Hey, you want to go on tour? We leave tomorrow.” A half an hour later, he was driving down the street where we rehearsed and had a show the next day.
LRI: How do you feel his contributions have enhanced your project in the studio?
Mark: He adds to the rhythm section with a tight low end, he and Garrett are very in sync with each other. He’s just a great player. an advanced musician.
LRI: Does he play a 4 or 5 string bass?
Mark: He plays a 4 string.
LRI: With all of your projects, when you write a riff, how do you know which band it belongs to?
Mark: I don’t. I just write. I log all of my ideas whether it’s a bridge, chorus or verse, or however fast it is or what tuning it’s in or what time signature. Then I name it and store it away. When it is time to do a record, I’ll sit with my headphones at night and go through my files and if I really like a file, I put a special symbol next to it. If someone saw my files, they would have no idea what was going on, but I have them organized so I can find my favorite ideas and kind of pair them up with other ones. So if I have a great chorus that I love, I search for a verse that fits and has the same tuning and tempo and whatnot.
LRI: Did you develop Fret12 specifically for yourself?
Mark: My brother Dan started it. He wanted me to do an instructional DVD and I had bought so many over the years and he knew I was such a big fan. So he said, “Why don’t you do one?” I said no for years, and finally I gave in and said, “Let’s do it.” He said, “Let’s just do it bigger and better than everyone else is doing it.” So we’ve made these super classy, instructional DVDs. More and more are being done, more and more artists are coming to the table. Now Fret12 is the record label for Tremonti.
LRI: Are you researching or signing other artists currently?
Mark: No, right now it’s focusing on this. I don’t know if Fret12 will ever have another artist unless it is a very established artist. We’ve seen so many times where a record company will come in and hire a band, and then the band takes off. And they take off thinking they have this special touch and takes on 8 bands. Before you know that company is out of business. If people would just focus on something.
LRI: In just the past 20 years, women have become more accepted as contenders in hard rock/heavy metal. What are your thoughts on the current women in metal?
Mark: I think Lzzy Hale is one of the best rock singers of all time. I would put her up against anybody. I mean, her voice is like a weapon when she wants to use it. Everyone talks about her being one of the top singers out there but I think she is still underrated. The Pretty Reckless with Taylor Momsen, who was on That Metal Show with me … I heard their song and I really dig it. When people look at it from the outside, they probably think it’s an actress starring in a band and might not give it the credit it is due. But when you listen to it, it’s deeper than that. I respect them, and her.
LRI: Who’s your favorite female rocker of all time?
Mark: I don’t really have a favorite. Both the ladies in Fleetwood Mac, Christine and Stevie. I was never a Janis Joplin fan. Everybody always holds her up to be the best, but I always thought she was a little redundant.
LRI: What is your favorite Detroit story or memory?
Mark: My entire childhood was amazing, I loved it. It was the best time of my life. I grew up near 3 Mile Park and we would cut the fence to go right into the park. So, we had this big park as a back yard. Sledding in the wintertime, ice skating, swimming in the pool, or doing whatever we wanted as kids. Smoking cigarettes in the woods (laughs). My dad taking out the boat horn to call us in for dinner because we’d be in the park. I love Detroit. I still get real sad when I go back and visit my home where I grew up because I just loved it so much. I almost want to buy the house I grew up in so I can have a little time capsule.
Thanks to Mark for taking the time to speak with us!
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