Alter Bridge: "Diversity is the main thing we've got to strive for"
Alter Bridge's Mark Tremonti on the state of heavy metal in 2017
Headlining London's massive O2 arena last year, and playing Download festival's main stage on numerous occasions, Alter Bridge are no strangers to the bigger stages the planet has to offer. Building their reputation and proving they exist as their own entity (ie not Creed) since 2004, the Floridian hard rock troupe now stand as one of the biggest bands in our world.
But how do they feel about the space in which they occupy? We caught up with guitarist Mark Tremonti to discuss where the next festival headliners are coming from and whether the stereotypical metalhead look is a tired cliche.
Will we ever see metal bands get big enough to headline the world's biggest festivals?
“I think so. Even now you've got Avenged and Disturbed who are huge in America and can headline festivals. We're really hoping that we get the call to join that special circle of bands when the time comes, but I still love seeing acts like Maiden and Metallica still doing it.”
Is it important to keep showmanship alive or does metal not need to worry about it? Do we need to support the bands who ramp up the theatricality element or big stage productions?
“As long as you're natural on stage then that adds to it. I'm a different person when I'm on stage. I look back at some of the poses I pull and can't believe it, but if you're overdoing the theatricality when it's not you then it's not going to work. It's great to have big see bands like Avatar in their costumes headbanging together, but then I saw Rage Against The Machine with just a single light and a red star backdrop and it was one of the best live shows I've ever seen.”
Does metal need the mainstream?
“I would love to see some of the commercial advantages that come with the mainstream, but then those things tend to be a flash in the pan. We've built our audience up gradually through word-of-mouth and that approach helps you have a passionate, loyal fanbase and real longevity.”
Do we need to dump the stereotype of what rock and metal fans should look like?
“I think there's still a lot to be said for that guy who works all week, then wears his metal shirt and leather jacket like a uniform to a gig.
“I think diversity is the main thing we've got to strive for. When we started out it was largely guys in baseball caps, but now we have an audience that covers everyone – from metal dudes in their denim and leather to guys in their work shirts with their kids.”
Where are all the scenes?
“I'm not sure what's happened to the scenes, but there seems to be more bands than ever coming up from all over the place, which is great. I think back to all the bands we toured with who are no longer going, and I take my hat off to all the bands who are out there doing it, plugging away for 10-15 years not knowing if they're going to have to give it all up to find another job. It's tough.”
In Metal Hammer 300, we gathered the biggest and best names in metal to debate the genre we love. Is metal in danger of stagnating? Do we take ourselves too seriously? What is metal anyway? Find out in Metal Hammer issue 300 – in stores and available to buy online now.
You can also read all of the issue 300 on TeamRock+ right this second.