Looming just over the horizon is ‘Pawns and Kings.’ The upcoming new album from Alter Bridge is set to drop on October 14th. Vocalist and guitarist Myles Kennedy sat down with Carl Rourke to have a conversation about the album. Talking in depth about the concepts that inform these songs, as well as shifts in writing dynamics, life off the road, and much more.
While discussing whether it took some time to establish harmony between being a person experiencing the things he writes about and stepping into the role of a lyricist translating them into songs, Myles shared,
“It’s interesting because I’ve never thought about that. You know, there’s the storytelling element and then there’s the personal element. I think for me to convey something vocally, I have to have some sort of understanding of what I’m saying. And so there’s always an element of truth in a lyric even if it’s from a different perspective. There’s always some way of putting this in there. And ‘Pawns and Kings’, the title track, that’s an interesting song because it’s kind of a David and Goliath concept in a way. Where no matter how big whatever you’re up against seems, the magnitude of it, it’s that decision to go against it and overcome.”
“I think that we’ve all been in those situations where the landscape in front of us seems so incredibly overwhelming and scary that the gravity of it seems like there’s no way I can take this on. But I think we’ve all been in situations where we’ve surprised ourselves, hopefully. I hope that. I know I have. And I’m still working on it. I’m still trying to find things that I personally can overcome. As many years as I’ve been on the planet, there’s still plenty I’m trying to master within this in particular. That for me is still the final frontier, harnessing this. This brain, and anxiety, and fears, and insecurities, and that’s my Goliath. That’s what I’m still up against.”
On how the writing dynamic has evolved on ‘Pawns and Kings’, Myles went on to say,
“I think for me, what’s hard is that I feel like I’m the most effective one there’s an idea, the genesis of an idea, I’m learning as time goes on that it’s better if I just chase as much of it down as I can and then get away from it. We’re still utilizing that aspect which we’ve always tried to integrate, both Mark and I will have some hand in every song to some degree. So it’s not like, I’m not walking with a song and it’s completely done and there’s no room for his input or anybody else’s input. Because I feel like that’s really important. I try to be respectful of that and I think he does the same thing.”
“But yeah, the process has changed. It used to be we were way more like, sitting down and going through stuff like ‘do you have a verse? Do you have a chorus?’ where now it’s more like, I’ll come in with a shell. Here’s an intro riff, verse, and chorus, do you have a middle eight that would work well with this? Or do you have a whatever? And it seems to be working well at this point. And it’s the same thing with him where he’ll come in with the body of a really great musical composition and I’ll come up with the melody and the lyric for it. Or sometimes he’ll have a melodic idea and he’ll be like ‘try this’ and so, it varies on the song. But I think that’s what keeps it kind of exciting. It’s not like somebody’s just walking like ‘here’s your song! I’ve programmed all your parts!’ Nobody wants that. They wanna be able to put their input in.”
With multiple projects on his roster, between Alter Bridge, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy, and The Conspirators as well as his solo material, Myles talked about discovering the importance of taking a step back and reevaluating what that means for him.
“Wow, I mean, it’s really interesting that you’re asking me this question right now. Because that’s really what I’ve been chasing down for weeks since I’ve been home. That’s been my assignment. Really, this is the universe doing its thing. It’s fascinating. And to hear Dave [Grohl] had that moment, that’s really inspiring and wonderful to hear.”
“I don’t say this proudly. I’m a workaholic. That’s my drug of choice, right? Some people drink, some people do actual substances, and I work. And it’s all I’ve known for a very long time. And I realized that’s wonderful, and it’s very fulfilling. It’s been very fulfilling. But I also realized, and I brought this up earlier, that I feel like there’s a final frontier that I still have not conquered, and that is my mind. That is the ability to be. Be a realized being. Not to get too hippy-dippy, but that’s a lot harder than it sounds.”
“I’m gonna continue chasing that down until I, hopefully, one day get it figured out. But I can tell you that it’s quite a journeyman. [Laughs] It really is. I feel like it’s helping me evolve a lot as a human being. I started that quest, you started to hear nuggets of it with ‘Walk The Sky’, this awareness and this epiphany that I was starting to have. And I kind of put that aside for a while. Especially when the world got really crazy and then I was diverted and sucked down the rabbit hole with everything that was happening on the planet and in the world. Then I realized, wait a minute, this is taking me away from the journey I need to be on right now which is myself.”
Myles concluded by shared,
“So yeah, I’m still on that quest. I’ve been spending a lot of time just being. Not allowing myself to pick up the guitar. It used to be that the guitar was in my hand at all times. Always creating, always writing. But I feel like to benefit the next time I do go down that road and write another record, I feel like I need to chase down this other element that I need to figure out internally. And it’s just fascinating that you came across that. That the universe was like ‘Hey! Ask him this question!’ I find that that’s really cool! [Laughs]”