Did you use any material that you always wanted to do with Creed or Alter Bridge, but could never get the other parties to agree on?
Yeah, probably about half of the stuff on it is material that I played at many writing sessions with the other guys. Songs I probably threw at them 10 times but never made it to an album. That was the green light for me to use the songs because I don’t want to take a song that the guys would really love to have and put it on my solo record without giving them the chance to hear the parts first.
Where does your loyalty lie? Like, if you came up with a song that you knew was killer, who would get first dibs?
It depends on whatever cycle I’m on at the time, because whatever I’m working on at the time, I give 110 percent. If I had just come out with an Alter Bridge record then it would go to Creed. If I had just come out with a Creed record then it would go to Alter Bridge. But along those lines, I do try to make the Creed and Alter Bridge material sound different. When I write, I go back and log my ideas and by that point, I’ve pretty much classified it as Creed or Alter Bridge material.
Is there a sense of competition between the three projects?
No, they’re all just different vibes. One of our biggest challenges was to make Alter Bridge sound different than Creed and I think, by our second record, we really came up with a different sound.
How would you describe what the difference is between these projects?
Between Creed and Alter Bridge? You’ve got a baritone in one band and a tenor in the other. Creed is much more straightforward and commercial sounding. Alter Bridge is a little bit more experimental and has a lot of the duo guitar soloing stuff whereas Creed always had the single guitar going on. My solo stuff is a lot different than both bands—it has a little more of a metal influence to it. A lot of my roots are in old speed metal and thrash.
Creed touring guitarist Eric Friedman is also onboard for your solo project. Does having him on your solo project make it hard to mentally keep the projects separate?
No, because he’s never really been in the band or been involved in the writing of the music. He just comes on the road with us and plays and sings backups. He’s a great player. I think all of those years with Alter Bridge really spoiled us—having two guitarists with completely different styles allowed us to have a really full sound. When we went back to Creed we had to pull Eric in.
The rumor was that Wolfgang Van Halen was going to be on the road with you. Is that going to happen?
We would have loved it. He actually sat with Eric and Garrett and learned a bunch of the songs and played them perfectly. He’s heard the record and digs it but he’s out with Van Halen. What can you do?
Let’s talk gear now. I’m assuming that your signature PRS guitar is your main guitar.
Yeah, my signature model is my main guitar. PRS also just made me a baritone guitar that’s just beautiful. I actually have two USA-made PRS baritone guitars, which are very, very hard to come by because they don’t have it doweled into their machinery. They have to make them all by hand.
A few months back, Brent Mason told us that he uses the PRS SE Mike Mushok baritone [“Brent Mason: A Chameleon in Tune Town,” February 2012].
Yeah, I have one of those as well and they’re great. But the American handmade ones are just that much more special—you can’t beat it. PRS also made me a three single-coil pickup guitar.
How did that come about?
I was talking to Winn [Krozack] at PRS and I said, “You know, the only time I’d ever need something other than a PRS is if I wanted to play something like a Stevie Ray Vaughan or an Albert Collins song. I’d need something like a Tele or a Strat.” It’s a beautiful guitar and they’ve put it into production.
Is it a new signature model?
No, it’s not a signature model.
But they originally made it because of your request, right?
Yeah, I guess originally they made it because of me. They made two different versions of it and they gave one to Carlos Santana and he just gushed over it.
Are you big on effects?
I love delays, so I went and found all of my favorites. My best delay is a Toneczar Echoczar, which is very hard to find. It’s a one-guy shop and another waiting list that you have to do. My favorite new delay—that’s much easier to get a hold of—is the G-Lab delay. In my live rig, I use the T-Rex Replica and I have an SIB Echo Drive at home. I also use an Ibanez Hand Wired Tube Screamer live.
Is there a perceptible difference in sound between the handwired version and the stock version?
Absolutely. The handwired version is warm, rich, and classy. I lined up all of my overdrive pedals—including the Klon Centaur, the holy grail of overdrives—and did a shootout, and I dug the Hand Wired Tube Screamer the best.
What about amps?
I’ve got a Cornford RK100 that I absolutely love—it could be my all-around favorite amp of all time. I recorded the rhythm and lead tones on my solo record with it. I also have a Two-Rock Overdrive Signature that they juiced up the gain for me, and some Rectifiers [Mesa/Boogie Triple Rectifier], which have always been the core of my rhythm tone. There’s also another amp that I discovered this year called the V-Rock by Voodoo Amps. We were on the “Carnival of Madness” tour with Alter Bridge and they brought out one of the amps to our soundcheck. I didn’t expect anything; it was just a random person bringing out an amp. But when I plugged it in, everybody looked over and said, “Damn, that thing sounds great.” So it took over as one of my rhythm amps, alongside the Rectifier, and I get this big wall of sound.
I understand that you checked out some Bludotones at the American Amp Show this past January, and you bought them all.
Oh yeah. I was on a waiting list for about a year before I played those at the amp show. I have the Bludotone Universal Tone. It’s the actual amp that Brandon [Montgomery] had at the amp show. I also have a Bludotone Bludo-Drive, which is out on the road with me now. I actually just put it in my rig yesterday.
Is the Bludo-Drive high gain enough for you?
It’s got all the gain you need. I’m an amp addict. I must have 20 of them. I get on all of the discussion boards and study everything that has to do with amplifiers.
Is it safe to assume that you post anonymously on the boards?
I don’t post, I just read.
PRS Mark Tremonti Signature, Taylor K–12, Taylor 614ce, Taylor 12-string
Cornford RK100, Two-Rock Overdrive Signature, Mesa/Boogie Triple Rectifier, Voodoo Amps V-Rock, Bludotone Universal Tone, Bludotone Bludo-Drive, Dumble
Toneczar Echoczar, G-Lab SD–1 delay, T-Rex Replica, SIB Echo Drive, T-Rex Tremonti Phaser, Dunlop Uni-Vibe, Morley wah, Ibanez TS808HW Hand Wired Tube Screamer
You don’t seem like a typical Bludotone or Two-Rock type of guy.
I’m also a huge Dumble fan—I own a Dumble. I’m very different at home than I am out live. I have a secret desire to be a bluesman and I’m really bad at it, compared to my heavier, shreddy stuff. I’ve been trying to shift gears for years. I love Robben Ford and Larry Carlton.
That style of music is at the opposite end of the spectrum from what you’re known for.
It’s not the kind of stuff I write but when I’m sitting at home in my studio, that’s the kind of stuff I love to play.
Will you ever release a blues/fusion album?
If I ever get good at it. Myles [Kennedy, singer for Alter Bridge] and Eric [Friedman, guitarist] are both great blues and jazzy kind of players. They’ve got that nailed down. I think I still have a little ways to go.