BY: MICHELLE PEREZ-VEGA
“Insecure” is definitely not a word one would use to describe Myles Kennedy, but the vocalist/guitarist stated that he has admitted that the end – of his music career, that is – has crossed his mind.
“I was talking to a fellow musician and producer the other day,” Kennedy said, “and I commented that, in this business, you’re always waiting for all this to end, waiting for people to stop showing up to your shows, for the phone to stop ringing, just because it’s such a hard business and kind of fickle.”
Between fronting Alter Bridge and Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Kennedy has built a loyal and solid fanbase throughout the world, one that he is not taking for granted. It’s safe to say that the man has a career that is guaranteed to keep him in the spotlight for another decade at the very least.
“I’m not getting complacent by any means,” Kennedy laughed, “but I’m starting to accept the fact that in five years I’ll still be able to be doing this. And, that I can finally take a deep breath and enjoy it!”
Kennedy was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in Idaho and Spokane, Washington. After attending Spokane Falls Community College, he began his professional career with Cosmic Dust in 1990, which then was followed by Citizen Swing. The Mayfield Four was then formed with fellow Citizen Swing member Craig Johnson in in 1996 before breaking up in 2002. (Avid fans also know that Kennedy had a cameo appearance as Mike/Thor in the 2001 movie Rock Star.)
It has been well-publicized that Kennedy considered giving up music after The Mayfield Four ended. Kennedy reminisced that it was his first experience of being part of creating something that “suddenly didn’t really have the chance to being displayed on a national level.”
“I kind of hung up my cleats, so to speak,” Kennedy said. “As wonderful as The Mayfield Four was initially, it turned out to be a very difficult time by the end. I learned the hard way that the music business could be very difficult for a young artist. A lot of times,” he continued, “record companies tend to throw your product up against the wall, give it two weeks, and see if it will stick. The reality is, art shouldn’t be looked at that way. It takes time to be cultivated.”
Kennedy said when he got out of The Mayfield Four deal, it became apparent that it was time for him to figure out where he was going.
“It was a difficult time, but it was also a great time, because I met my wife, Selena,” Kennedy stated. “That was a saving grace that kept me above water and kept me pushing forward. I knew then that I wasn’t going to give up, that I had people looking to me to provide and be a strong figure for the family, so to speak.”
Kennedy had, for the most part, stayed in the minds of many: He was asked to audition as the lead vocalist for Velvet Revolver, which he eventually turned down, before being asked to join this new band called Alter Bridge by former Creed guitarist, Mark Tremonti, in late 2003.
CROSSING OVER THE BRIDGE
Alter Bridge has released five studio albums in the band’s near-13-year history: One Day Remains in 2004; Blackbird in 2007; AB III in 2010, Fortress in 2013, and The Last Hero in 2016.
The pairing of Tremonti and Kennedy brought out the best in both musicians.
“Working with Mark as a songwriting partner has been beneficial to me,” Kennedy revealed, “especially seeing the level of his devotion to his craft. I feel our partnership is very special and we tend to pull the very best out of each other. I like having that.”
Kennedy said Alter Bridge, as a whole, is a “great team” and also spoke well of bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips.
“Brian, he’s been through his ups and downs as a person. He came out on the other side, stronger than he was before, and that’s been very inspirational to me,” Kennedy said. “He puts a very unique and special element into the music. With Scott, he’s one of my very favorite people on the planet. He’s just a good soul and a lot of fun. He’s a kindred spirit in a lot of ways. There’s a definite brotherhood between the four of us that I savor.”
STUPID QUESTION OF THE DAY: So, what do you hate, Myles? MYLES: I’m not a fan of going to the doctor, I don’t know, something about doctors give me immediate anxiety. Well, the dentist isn’t too bad, I don’t mind the dentist too much. I also don’t like doing those elliptical machines, but I do it. Oh, you meant music-wise?
The magic that is Alter Bridge has continued with the band’s latest, The Last Hero, which has shown a darker side of the foursome to many.
“I don’t know about ‘darker,’” Kennedy countered. “It’s dealing with subject matter that is more world-influenced than personal influenced. It’s become more obvious to me when I listen to the record that it’s more about political matters, how divided our country seems…all that seeped into a lot of the lyrics. That’s definitely a departure for this band,” he continued. “It was so volume of everything going around us. In that respect, it made it almost impossible not to make it into the record. It was the easiest times I had writing lyrics, such inspired times!”
The tour for The Last Hero has already been going on for a year, playing world-wide to enthusiastic crowds.
“We feel like a well-oiled machine at this point,” Kennedy said. “We played the O2 in London, which has become the new Madison Square Garden of the World, really…it’s a great arena. It carries a certain amount of weight, but it also comes with a certain amount of pressure. But it was definitely a highlight for us. It was just a reminder after years of slugging it out that we’re seeing things coming to fruition.”
For Kennedy himself, his comfort level is definitely when he’s holding a guitar in his hands.
“My mom said to me, ‘When you get on that stage, you kind of come to life,’” Kennedy laughed. “I never really thought about it that way. I think she’s right, I do feel like I’m in my element!”
While Kennedy loves performing and meeting fans, he admitted that the hardest part about touring is the constant travel and being away from family.
“When I’m home, I never leave the house,” he stated. “I’m not a person that really likes to go out. I’m pretty reclusive in that matter. Some people really love to travel; I’m just not hard-wired that way. It’s the most challenging part of the equation.”
When Kennedy is not occupied with Alter Bridge or being a guest on a fellow musician’s record, the vocalist is also involved with the solo project of mega-guitarist Slash.
In an interview with the guitarist in 2015, Slash said he became aware of Kennedy when the singer was asked to audition for the now-defunct Velvet Revolver. As earlier noted, while Kennedy initially declined the offer to audition for Velvet Revolver, the singer consented to contribute his talents to Slash’s debut album. Slash eventually found himself asking Kennedy to join him on tour to promote the album. The tour was so successful that Kennedy became a permanent fixture, handling all the vocal chores on Slash’s second release, Apocalyptic Love.
“He knew the whole catalog,” Slash remembered, “which I found totally amazing. One rehearsal with him and I knew I made the right decision. We just kind of meshed together. The chemistry just happened and we went from there.”
Kennedy, for his part, said working with Slash and The Conspirators is a great experience that he hopes will continue in the future.
“I love all those guys as well,” Kennedy stated. “And getting to hear Slash play every night was extremely inspiring. There’s some nights he does things with that guitar that just blows my mind! He’s a genius talent. His ability to come up with new ideas is pretty amazing. I savor that.”
Kennedy said he did not have a timetable as to when he would work with Slash again. And Kennedy said he was okay with that, because in his downtime, he continues to work on his solo material.
O ‘SOLO’ MIO!
Kennedy has teased fans and press alike about releasing solo albums for so long that one has to wonder if they really exist.
“Yeah, they really do!” Kennedy laughed. “One is complete and just sitting there, honest! And I’ve had new stuff that I’ve been working on. I’m just trying to find the appropriate way to release the material!”
“Really!” Kennedy insisted. “Songs have a shelf-life with me. My first solo work was recorded years ago, and I feel like I’m in a different place creatively. I’m going to keep writing and see what I come up with. Maybe I’ll release what I did years ago, but I really want to stay focused on the present and see what happens there. Keep that challenge going, you know?”
Kennedy reiterated that patience is a virtue.
“My superpower is patience!” he stated. “I try to be patient and roll with the punches the best I can. I’ve always tried to assimilate my step-father and my mother for that example. My parents are just the most incredible people and I’ve never taken them for granted. They are amazing folks and they really inspire me. I don’t always do the patience routine so perfectly, but I think that’s kind of helped me navigate my way through the crazy landscape that is the music business and not get too frustrated!”
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