Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti: The 10 songs that changed my life

Alter Bridge guitar hero Mark Tremonti reflects on some of the most important songs of his life (spoiler: he really, really likes Metallica).

Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti: The 10 songs that changed my life
Emily Carter

He’s inspired thousands to pick up the guitar and shred their hearts out, but what music shaped Mark Tremonti? The Alter Bridge man looks back…

The first song that I remember hearingKISS – Strutter (1974)

“Oh gosh… that I ever remember hearing?! Strutter is one that registers, because one of my older brothers listened to KISS and he played those records all the time. I’ve got two older brothers, and one would listen to more commercial rock like KISS and Van Halen back in the day, and my other brother listened to more extreme metal like Venom and Metallica and Slayer and all that stuff, back when it was dangerous! And as I grew up I fell more in with my extreme metal brother – especially with Metallica. They were the band for me.”

The song that reminds me of being a teenagerBeastie Boys – (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!) (1987)

“Before I became a metalhead, I loved Beastie Boys’ Licensed To Ill record – me and my friends listened to it all the time, and it was the biggest record going at the time. But then Metallica came and took me away!”

The song that reminds me of the first gig I went toIron Maiden – Can I Play With Madness (1988)

Iron Maiden was my concert on the Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son album, and Can I Play With Madness was the big single at the time. I remember Frehley’s Comet opened up the show and I got one of his picks – but I don’t have it anymore! But it was really cool.”

The first song I ever learned to playDeep Purple – Smoke On The Water (1972)

“When I first started playing guitar I would play with my thumb, you know? I didn’t get lessons in the beginning, and I was not good (laughs). So I probably didn’t play this correctly!”

The song that inspired me to be in a bandMetallica – Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (1986)

“Welcome Home (Sanitarium) was the song that made me want to listen to that record [1986’s Master Of Puppets]. I was looking up to both [James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett] – I never focussed solely on guitar solos or anything, and it was just the song as a whole.”

The first song of mine I ever heard on the radioCreed – My Own Prison (1997)

“It was great – there was a local show in Tallahassee, Florida, so we got every presenter our song; we gave them our tape, I think, and they had this two-hour-long show, and they promised us they’d play it. We had a party at my apartment, so me and all my friends partied, hanging out and drinking beers and whatnot, and then it was like, ‘Shut up, shut up – it’s the next song!’ And then it finally came on, and it was super-exciting.”

The song I’m most proud of writingAlter Bridge – Blackbird (2007)

“I think the subject matter hits home with a lot of people, and it tells a story. And it really transformed us as a band, to know what our new approach to songwriting was going to be. It’s not a song that’s chopped down into a three-and-a-half-minute format. I had the finger-picked pattern to the verse, which I loved – that had been sitting on my brain for a couple of years, and I really wanted to make it happen. So I got with Myles [Kennedy] and we had different parts for the song, and we’d go into different rooms and be like, ‘Alright, write the next part…’ and we’d go and then come back and be like, ‘I wrote it!’ If you listen to the bridge, that was the perfect example of me and Myles writing, and then coming together and realising that if we just layered our parts, they sounded great together. Once we finished that song it was like, ‘The record’s done: this is what we needed to finish it, and this is the title-track.’ And from that point on we could write those longer songs, which is a fun artistic journey. We’re really proud of it.”

The song I wish I’d writtenLeonard Cohen – Hallelujah (1984)

“I was actually saying yesterday that if there was a world’s best song, then it’s Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. It’s just one of the greats. It’s so emotional, and the lyrics are genius.”

The song that always makes me cryFrank Sinatra – The Song Is You (1959)

“I’ve recently been really into big band stuff, and The Song Is You is one that I sing to my little girl.”

The song I want played at my funeralCommodores – Nightshift (1985)

“It’s a song that the Commodores sing about their friends who have passed away, and it’s a song that I sing at karaoke with my friends (laughs). It’s just a feel-good, great song!”

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