THE YEAR OF MYLES

WITH SLASH OC­CU­PIED WITH THE GUNS ‘N ROSES RE­UNION AND MARK TREMONTI CUR­RENTLY IN SOLO MODE, AL­TER BRIDGE VO­CAL­IST MYLES KENNEDY TOOK AD­VAN­TAGE OF THE DOWN­TIME TO RECORD HIS FIRST SOLO AL­BUM: THE ACOUSTIC-BASED YEAR OF THE TIGER. BY PETER HODG­SON

Australian Guitar - - Feature -

You may know Myles Kennedy as the vo­cal­ist in Al­ter Bridge, or Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & The Con­spir­a­tors. You might even know him from his ap­pear­ance in the movie

Rock­S­tar. What­ever you know him from, you know that he’s ca­pa­ble of ex­press­ing him­self au­then­ti­cally in many dif­fer­ent styles.

When he’s han­dling Guns N’ Roses ma­te­rial with Slash, he sounds per­fectly com­fort­able. When Al­ter Bridge gets heavy – and some­times they even verge on thrash – it sounds like it was meant to be. What­ever mu­si­cal sit­u­a­tion he finds him­self in, Kennedy be­longs. So when the op­por­tu­nity arose to record his de­but solo al­bum, it could have gone any­where. Where it went is YearOfThe

Tiger, an acoustic-based al­bum that re­calls the unplugged mo­ments of Led Zep­pelin, or Alice In Chains’ JarofFlies mi­nus the chem­i­cal dread.

“I lis­ten to a lot of dif­fer­ent mu­sic and it all makes its way into my DNA,” Kennedy says. “That all fil­tered into this record. I think the di­rec­tion on this record has some­thing to do with my fas­ci­na­tion with mu­sic that is more blues- and acoustic-based, which started when I heard the Unplugged al­bum Eric Clap­ton did in the ‘90s, as well as Zep­pelin’s III and IV. I tried to dive in and un­der­stand some of the altered tun­ings and the ap­proach from a fin­ger­style stand­point, which was so dif­fer­ent to what I was do­ing when I first started play­ing the gui­tar. It’s such a dif­fer­ent lan­guage. So I would al­ways chip away at it as a player to try and learn things here and there. I was al­ways in­ter­ested in it, but I never had an out­let to ex­plore it be­fore, so that’s what I re­ally wanted to do with this record.”

The in­flu­ence of the early ‘90s acoustic re­vival is all over YearOfTheTiger. The Clap­ton Unplugged al­bum cre­ated thou­sands of new gui­tarists in its time, some of them stay­ing in strummy, singer-song­writer ter­ri­tory, and oth­ers go­ing on to ex­plore more intricate styles. Land­mark acoustic al­bums by Nir­vana and Alice In Chains, Stone Tem­ple Pilots, Mid­night Oil… heck, even Zep­pelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant re­united for a pri­mar­ily-unplugged MTV spe­cial.

“There are so many in­cred­i­ble acoustic fin­ger­style play­ers, and it’s some­thing I never lost my fire for,” Kennedy says. “On the Clap­ton record... For me, I didn’t even know how to ar­tic­u­late it! I loved those Unplugged ses­sions in gen­eral. I even liked the LL Cool J one. It was just such a cool way to to the job! A mas­sive record for me was Chris Whit­ley’s DirtFloor, which he put out in 1998 – it’s just Chris and a res­onator, recorded all in a week­end. I also love pretty much any­thing by Mis­sis­sippi John Hurt, and Robert Plant’s most re­cent solo record, Car­ryFire, is also a cur­rent favourite.

I love the new Robert Plant record, too. When you look at him as an artist and what he’s done over the last 15, 20 years, he’s bril­liant. He’s found that fire and he’s a true artist.”

Kennedy’s ‘gui­tarse­nal’ for the record re­volved around a pawn­shop gui­tar that a friend spot­ted: an old Gib­son J-45. “I went down there and played a few chords with it, and it was im­me­di­ately the Holy Grail,” Kennedy says. “That was the gui­tar that about 50 per­cent of the record was writ­ten on, that 1944 Gib­son. I also did a lot of writ­ing on a Na­tional Res­onator. In the stu­dio, I also used a 1945 Martin 000-21 and a PRS Man­dolin that I bor­rowed from Mark Tremonti. I think he used that back in the Creed days! And I used a Gretsch Duane Eddy. All of the so­los I play are from that Gretsch. The Na­tional pic­tured on the cover is a newer one that I’m go­ing to take out on the road be­cause I’m too afraid to take the old one out! They’re a fun in­stru­ment. Once you get one, you can’t put it down. I love mine.”

Kennedy will be tak­ing the new ma­te­rial on the road, ini­tially in South Africa and Europe. “The plan is to play four, five, six tracks from this record and then other things I’ve been in­volved in over the last 20 or so years – sort of a ca­reer ret­ro­spec­tive – and it will all be acoustic gui­tars. Then, hope­fully in the Sum­mer when more peo­ple have heard the record, I’ll put a band to­gether and tour this record with a full band.” £

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