As his solo band gets ambitious with a new concept album, Mark Tremonti talks the songs that have shaped his life...
The first song I remember noticing… Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple
“That was probably one of the first songs I loved. That and Iron Man, Go Go Godzilla [Brian Setzer]. I always liked the cool, dark riffy tunes. And from then, any time a song broke down to just a guitar and nothing else, I was sucked in.”
A song I’ve just covered… Welcome Home (Sanitarium) - Metallica
“I just did this press run up in New York where we had to do a cover song for satellite radio and I covered this.
“We did it on acoustic guitars and the reason I really love that song is that it’s the one that turned me into a music fanatic. My brother Dan and my brother Mike lived upstairs from me. Mike listened to Van Halen and Ted Nugent, more commercial popular rock, and Dan listened to the heaviest, nastiest stuff he could find. So I’d hear Venom, Slayer and Metallica up there.
“One song that always stuck out was a song about a sanitarium I heard him playing and one night I couldn’t get to sleep so I asked him if I could borrow that record with the song on. He gave me Master Of Puppets and that night was probably the first time I can remember getting the chills in every moment of a record. From then on it was, give me every single Metallica record! After I’d dove as hard as I could into the Metallica stuff it was Slayer and Celtic Frost. But Metallica was the stepping stone for me.”
The riff I wish I’d written… Dazed And Confused - Led Zeppelin
“I just heard that the other day and it’s just such a moody, menacing sound. I wish I had written it. It’s amazing. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just instantly soaks you into that mood.”
The most challenging song of mine to play live… I Know It Hurts - Alter Bridge
“That’s a tough, tough song to play for me. The verse has a picking thing that’s like playing twister on your fingers. When I hear a guitar line sometimes I don’t care if it’s unconventional to play. Sometimes, I’ve just got to hear the notes in my head. But my wrist is the only thing that hurts when I play too much guitar and if my wrist is hurting and I play that song, it’s a tough one.”
The song I like to play when I’m trying out new gear… My Last Mistake - Tremonti
“I like playing that riff for the heavy stuff to make sure an amp is tight on the low-end and percussive. Then if I’m trying out the clean tones on an amp I’ll play Blackbird.”
A guitar solo I admire… Midnight In Harlem - Tedeschi Trucks Band
“It’s one of my favourite modern solos, and it’s definitely one of the most emotional. I learned that solo and I played it a few times without a slide and it’s cool to learn Derek’s stuff and learn how to phrase horizontally across the neck. I think that’s how he’s so emotional, because a lot of times when you’re playing up and down a scale sometimes it’s hard to phrase as naturally as when you’re just moving left and right. Left is lower and right is higher and you can phrase more naturally.”
A song from my back catalogue I miss playing live… Time - Creed
“Back in the Creed days, I think that Say I was a real fun song to play. And Time had one of my favourite guitar parts in all the Creed stuff . That could be my favourite Creed song.”
A song that reminds me of a place and time… Shed My Skin - Alter Bridge
“When I first moved to Florida, that whole song was written from the perspective of me sitting there feeling kind of depressed out of my mind because I didn’t have any friends for the first time in my life, and I didn’t have brothers because they had stayed in Michigan when I moved. That was probably one of the most depressing times ever for me and that song is about that era. It reminds me of sitting in my bedroom in Orlando, when I hated living there at the time.”
A song I’m currently enjoying… Where The Wolves Come To Die - Sylosis
“Today, I was listening to Spreading The Disease by Anthrax, but the last band I heard that I hadn’t heard before but really dig is Sylosis. That’s a really cool band and I still want to learn more about them. This is the track that hooked me - it’s a great tune. I’m going to keep an eye out for them.”
Tremonti’s A Dying Machine is out now on Napalm Records.