Alright, I know I said I wasn’t going to do this. I know I said this is a writing blog and that I would try to keep my fandoms/obsessions out of it. I know. But here’s the thing, in the past week, it’s become very clear to me that while creating my own art, I cannot deny the artists who inspire me.
This past Friday (9/8), my favorite band Alter Bridge released their new live + rarities album, Alter Bridge: Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities. And like the dedicated fangirl I am, I preordered both the deluxe box set and the earbook. As a book nerd, and as someone who happens to find both the lead singer, Myles Kennedy, and the lead guitarist, Mark Tremonti, very attractive, I was most excited for the earbook.
Usually, live albums aren’t my thing. I own a few, but generally, I don’t enjoy them as much as I enjoy studio albums. And while the live album is amazing – they’re one of the few bands I regularly brave the concert crowds for – the rarities disc is the one I was most excited for. So as soon as I watched the documentary DVD (did I mention I like looking at them almost as much as I like listening to them?), I put the rarities disc in and listened to it.
Now, thanks to YouTube and my steadily growing AB collection, I’d heard many of their B-sides already. But there were a couple of songs I hadn’t heard. And the one that grabbed me firmly by the heart was ‘Solace’, a B-side from their debut album, One Day Remains. I read the lyrics from the earbook while I listened to it (because I’m a nerd like that) and I cried. The guitar, the lyrics, Myles’ vocals, Mark’s harmonizing vocals, it all absolutely shook me to my core. I don’t even think I reacted that strongly to Slip to the Void, my favorite song by them.
And, at least from what I understand, do you know who wrote the lyrics to that song? My beloved Mark Tremonti.
If you know me, it’s no secret that I absolutely adore him. The first time I ever saw Alter Bridge, it was his face and his guitar style that I remembered from listening to Creed as a teenager. I have a very vivid memory of seeing the One Last Breath music video on TV – I couldn’t have been more than 13 at the time – and thinking, man, this is the kind of music I need to be listening to. That was the first time I can remember hearing something that really grabbed my attention like that. I remember riding the bus home from school and the bus driver playing the popular music radio station and hearing Higher and thinking, dang, this makes me feel all light and happy. I didn’t even understand the lyrics at the time. All I knew was that I loved that sound. But it wasn’t until I got into Alter Bridge that I realized what part of Creed’s sound lodged itself in my mind and heart so firmly – Mark Tremonti’s guitar playing.
One thing I am proud to have inherited from my late father is a love for good guitar music. I can remember riding in his truck with him and a Led Zeppelin or Guns ‘n Roses song would come on the radio and he would BLAST it. I can remember my mom buying Lenny Kravitz’s Greatest Hits CD and he cranked the whole thing that night. Unfortunately, I’m not sure he ever got to hear Creed or Alter Bridge before he passed away in 2012. But with my mom’s opinion to back me up, I know he would’ve loved some of Mark’s guitar solos and riffs.
All that said, he’s not only an amazing guitarist, but he also writes some beautiful lyrics. It’s truly amazing to me that the monstrous guitar riffs and soaring solos are written by the same man who can also reduce me to tears with his words. And that’s exactly what ‘Solace’ did.
I don’t know him. I don’t pretend to know exactly why Creed broke up or what happened between him and Scott Stapp. I don’t pretend to know what he’s been through in life in general. I’m not one of those fans who thinks they know him because I enjoy his music. But his lyrics about struggling and surviving always make me feel something. Though our circumstances are undoubtedly very different, I just have a feeling that we’ve both seen a lot of shit in our lives. And writing is our way of processing through it all. Do you have any idea how beautiful that is to me?
Unfortunately, there’s only a teaser video on YouTube for ‘Solace’, linked above. If you’re really interested, you should just buy the CD set. Trust me, you won’t regret it.