Guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, and drummer Scott Phillips have experienced tumultuous ups and downs as three-quarters of Creed. When the trio formed a new band with singer Myles Kennedy in 2004, Alter Bridge’s creative chemistry was instantaneous. Over the past 18 years, Kennedy has established himself as one of the most respected hard rock singers of his generation, and Tremonti’s gift for instantly memorable riffs has continued to yield rock radio staples like “Isolation” and “Rise Today.”
On Oct. 14, Napalm Records is releasing Alter Bridge’s seventh studio album Pawns & Kings. The album’s lead single “Silver Tongue” recently became the band’s 16th hit on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart, pulling ahead of Creed’s 14 hits on the chart.
Here’s a look back at the moments when Alter Bridge came into their own, creatively and commercially.
Alter Bridge rises from the ashes of Creed
MTV News broke two big stories in an interview with Mark Tremonti in June 2004. First, Creed, the Florida band he’d founded and made three multi-platinum albums with, had broken up. Second, he and Creed bandmates Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall had united with a talented young singer, Myles Kennedy of the Mayfield Four, to launch a new band. Alter Bridge’s debut single, “Open Your Eyes,” reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and two months later the band’s album One Day Remains debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200. Although Creed did briefly reunite for one more album, 2009’s Full Circle, Alter Bridge proved to be a more creatively fruitful project, remaining together for several subsequent albums.
“Metalingus” becomes the band’s most popular deep cut thanks to the WWE
Alter Bridge’s debut album One Day Remains spun off three singles, all of which were rock radio hits. But the most popular track of the band’s entire career was its heaviest, “Metalingus,” which currently has nearly 100 million streams on Spotify alone. Adam Joseph Copeland, better known as WWE superstar Edge, has used “Metalingus” as his entrance theme since 2004, shortly after the song’s release. In fact, the only time Edge briefly changed his entrance music earlier this year, was to another Alter Bridge song, “The Other Side” from 2016’s The Last Hero. Alter Bridge was scheduled to perform “Metalingus” at WrestleMania 36 – but their appearance was canceled at the March 2020 pay-per-view event after the COVID-19 outbreak, and the special was ultimately taped with no audience or special guests.
Alter Bridge find their Elvis
Alter Bridge enlisted Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Falling in Reverse, Slash ) to produce their second album. And their chemistry with the producer was instant, so much so that Baskette has worked on every Alter Bridge album since (along with their solo projects). Blackbird helped Alter Bridge find a heavier, harder sound than the band had established on its debut, in part by utilizing an instrument from Baskette’s collection. While overdubbing guitars for the album, Tremonti and Kennedy used a Kramer bass owned by the producer to lay down a second part over Brian Marshall’s basslines, thickening up the mix for fan favorites like Blackbird’s epic eight-minute title track.
Headlining Wembley Arena
On Nov. 29, 2011, while touring Europe in support of AB III, Alter Bridge reached a touring milestone: their show at London’s storied Wembley Arena, a 12,500-capacity venue, became the band’s biggest headlining gig to date. Myles Kennedy dedicated the concert to Freddie Mercury in honor of Queen’s legendary Live Aid performance at Wembley in 1985. And the band paid tribute to another British influence in their setlist, incorporating a cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” into a medley with the Alter Bridge song also named “Blackbird.” The night was immortalized with the 2012 live album and DVD, Alter Bridge: Live at Wembley.
“Isolation” is their first No. 1 song
Alter Bridge had become fixtures of the active rock format with their first two albums, getting as high as No. 2 and No. 3 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. But it took their heaviest lead single, “Isolation” from 2010’s AB III, to drive the band all the way to the top of the chart for the first and, so far, only time. The band promoted the single with a performance on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Mark Tremonti gets personal on “In Loving Memory”
One of the most enduring Alter Bridge songs that wasn’t released as a single is “In Loving Memory.” “I never knew what it was to be alone, ‘cause you were always there for me,” Kennedy sings in the cathartic song penned by Tremonti after the 2002 death of his mother. The strings on the track were arranged by veteran composer David Campbell (Rush, Garth Brooks, Beck). However, it took a few years for Alter Bridge to develop a live arrangement of the song and make it a steady part of the band’s concert repertoire.
“Watch Over You” becomes a duet
The album version of the ballad “Watch Over You” was released as the second single from Blackbird, reaching No. 19 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart, and was repeatedly featured in the score of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. However, arguably the best version of the track is a promotional single that features Kennedy harmonizing beautifully with Lacuna Coil singer Cristina Scabbia. When Alter Bridge toured Europe with Halestorm in 2013, frontwoman Lizzy Hale joined the band to sing the duet version of “Watch Over You.”
A young Wolfgang Van Halen sits in with the band
A 19-year-old Wolfgang Van Halen had already spent a handful of years playing bass in his family’s namesake band when he was invited onstage at an Alter Bridge concert in 2011. But Van Halen showed off one of his other talents by joining the band on drums for “One Day Remains.” And he’s still a friend of the band over a decade later: Alter Bridge and Mammoth WVH will hit the road together for a North American in 2023.
The band performs with an orchestra for the first time
For the first time in their career, Alter Bridge were joined by an orchestra at a 2017 show at London’s Royal Albert Hall. For the occasion, the band performed a number of deep cuts, including “Lover” and “Words Darker Than Their Wings.” “Out of all the years of doing this, this experience is the top two or three highlights without a doubt,” Myles Kennedy said in a promotional trailer for 2018’s Live at Royal Albert Hall album.
Walk the Sky tops Billboard’s Rock Album chart
Alter Bridge has consistently charted in the top 20 of the Billboard 200 with every studio album. But with 2019’s Walk the Sky, released on the Austrian-based label Napalm Records, Alter Bridge topped several charts for the first time, including Top Rock Albums, Independent Albums, and the Top Album Sales (which only measures purchases, not streams). Bolstered by lead single “Wouldn’t You Rather,” the album knocked the Japanese band Babymetal’s Metal Galaxy out of the No. 1 spot on Top Rock Albums. A year later, a deluxe edition, Walk the Sky 2.0, was released with six live tracks and one new studio song.