Alter Bridge recently made their return to UK arenas for a handful of live dates, I managed to grab a quick chat with bassist Brian Marshall in Glasgow. Subjects on the agenda included; the steady growth of the band, building a loyal fan-base, real estate, and the prospect of supporting Iron Maiden…but when Brian noticed the Walking Dead notepad in my lap, well, that proved to be the conversation starter.
Ah a Walking Dead fan huh!?
Maybe not so much now as it seems to have lost its way, but those early seasons were amazing!
I watched it until Glen died and that was it!
Well, you’ve not missed much after that to be honest..
I couldn’t take that killing! That was fucking too much for me!
Yes but that was what was so good about it! They lulled the viewer into a false sense of security then blam!
It was brutal!
Yeah but it was good brutal!
Flip (Scott Phillips – Alter Bridge drummer) is a big Walking Dead fan…
Drummers like to hit things so that makes sense! Onto Alter Bridge now, thanks for taking the time to talk to me, I know you’ll have lots to do…
Actually I don’t have lots to do so I’m happy to chat!
Well there you go then! Now, the current tour is beginning to wind down now, this is the biggest Alter Bridge production which we will have seen in the UK, I can remember going to see you fifteen years ago in The Garage in front of a few hundred fans..
Yes, with Logan supporting, exactly, good memory! Is it a pinch me moment when you come back to cities, where you began in the clubs and now it’s arenas? But not only that, but coming back maybe every two years and the fans are still coming out in their droves?
Yes it is a pinch me moment, we’ve just played Manchester and Nottingham, and they were two amazing shows. We had just come from Barcelona a few days before that, and there was only 800 people there so there’s a “pinch me” moment for you!
Only 800? In Barca?
Yeah, I think the troubles that they recently had perhaps put a lot of people off..I think that had a lot to do with it.
Of course yes..
You know, it’s been a steady growth, we’ve spent a lot of time over here and it’s great to see it grow and keep growing, it’s been an awesome experience over here. They keep on opening up more sections of seating every time we play this venue so maybe next time it will be full! We have our name on a little dogtag outside on the wall so that’s cool!
Talking of steady growth, will 2021 mean Alter Bridge as mainstage headliners at Download Festival?
I don’t know? That will be during our off cycle, I think that we will mostly tour in 2020 and then I think that Mark is hoping for another Tremonti record, and Myles is talking about another solo record. I’m not too sure what’s going on with Guns N’ Roses, so we will be touring all of next year and 2021 probably start the writing process again and aim to get back into the studio. Sooner is much better for me, if I had my way then I’d say..”all these side projects need to go away!”.
Not going to happen is it!
Well, last off cycle was good as I had a baby and I also do real estate on the side, so I had a lot of things going on in my life so that was a good time for me to take a step back. We’ve been out for six weeks now so we’re all getting a little road-burned, so it’s nice to go out with a bang like this.
You mentioned real estate, if I remember correctly, Neal Smith the drummer of the original Alice Cooper Band is also a realtor? He’s known as the “Rock & Roll Realtor”!
Well I’m the “stage right group” then!
It must be important for you then to have something like this to fall back on, it seems that it’s hard for musicians to adjust to another profession when it all comes to an end?
Well sure, I never take all this for granted, I could get injured, I mean look what happened with Sevendust who had to cancel this tour because of an emergency. These things can happen so to have something else, I mean, my wife and I work as a team….
The music business is so fickle..
It is, and this is something that I can do on the road, I don’t always have to physically be there, I’ve got four pending right now so I’m staying busy out here on the road, which is neat because I can still do it via satellite.
Yourself and Flip have been together for a few decades now, do you play together purely on instinct now?
Yeah, you know, there is a lot to be said for that, because we have played together for so long I know pretty much know exactly what’s going to happen. There’s moments of chaos where we have to make eye contact but we’re on a click now, all on-ears, Mark’s on-ears now and it sounds so amazing in our ears onstage. But it is second nature that kicks in, I like to compare it to when an athlete gets in the zone, everybody just gels. If anyone is having an off night you can pick them up by just giving them a glance, and that kind of changes things. Each night when you walk onstage you just have to take a few deep breaths, and then everything else just dissipates. The crowd gives back to you, what you give to them.
On the subject of the crowd, Alter Bridge have created an incredibly loyal fanbase over in the UK, and you just need to look at the live DVD from the Royal Albert Hall as an example. That must have been something special to watch a playback and you see so many people in tears?
It’s something that you can never take for granted, to be in a band that can create music that means so much to so many people is incredible. And each song is different, you can take away something entirely different from what it’s actually about. It might be something that you are going through in your life, so yeah you do see a lot of emotions. At a meet and greet, they’ll make a turn around the corner and you can tell on their faces, they’ll tell us their stories about so many songs that mean so much to them, and that’s important. To have a catalogue of music that resonates with so many on that kind of level is touching.
That gig must have been an incredible experience for the band!
(Starts to beam) It was so cool! We were all nerve-racked! We all had our families out as well. It took a lot of work, our management put a lot of work into that, there’s a lot of hoops which you have got to jump through if you want to work with an orchestra. And you have to remember that the Royal Albert Hall is THE Royal Albert Hall!
It has the word “Royal” in it for a reason!
Yes! You have to mind your P’s & Q’s! But yes, that was an amazing experience.
Talking of amazing experiences, Myles got to play Jeff Buckley’s guitar in Paris during an emotional version of ‘Hallelujah’, what would your Jeff Buckley moment be?
Well I have one coming up…
Yeah? What would that be?
I’m a big Steve Harris fan, so playing with Maiden next year will be a pretty cool moment. Times like that, or if some of your peers recognise your playing, or even come to a show, that would be one of those moments. There’s no particular bass that would have that effect on me…
You were a drummer originally yes?
I was a drummer yeah, in junior high, early high school yeah…
Why did you switch to bass?
I was playing drums, then I went to a few saxophone lessons and the teacher was a bass player, well he played multiple instruments. I looked up to him, so I asked him what his favourite instrument was and he said bass guitar and the light bulb went off in my head. I admired him and his talent so that was that, I then took a few lessons from him and he gave me some words of affirmation, so I just took that and ran with it. There are moments in life where words that you get from people you admire, or anybody really – make an impact.
As we end 2019 and head into a new decade, what are your hopes and fears for the next decade? You mentioned that you had a baby not that long ago, that’s always a major game-changer.
My hopes are that the world goes into a more positive direction, I think that if it goes in a better direction and I’m bringing my kids up in a safe environment, then that is the most important thing to me. Fears? Fears that it stays in the same direction that it is now…
Well America will soon be going through what we’ve just went through with the recent election, and like ours, yours will no doubt be nasty. Personally, I tend to just stay in the middle where it’s safer!
Yep, that’s me! Right in the centre!
Alter Bridge commence their American tour on January 31st 2020, before joining up with Iron Maiden in the summer, check out all forthcoming live dates – here.
Interview – Dave
Live pics – Rob Wilkins