Pawns & Kings

Pawns & Kings

For their seventh album, rock troupe Alter Bridge decided to take a different approach from that of their 2019 full-length, Walk the Sky. “Before we embarked on the songwriting process for Pawns & Kings, we agreed that it was time to pull back a bit on the production relative to our recent recordings,” vocalist/guitarist Myles Kennedy tells Apple Music. “With that said, it was paramount that the riffs and melodies were strong enough to carry the weight without a lot of layers. This approach ended up making the record a little more direct and, to some degree, more aggressive.” You can hear what he means on bombastic opener “This Is War” and the towering, staccato riffs of “Silver Tongue,” among others. “There are still moments where we take advantage of the sonic density multitracking can bring to the equation,” Kennedy points out. “Aspects of ‘Fable of the Silent Son,’ among others, utilize this approach. But we were always cognizant of making sure we brought the arrangement style back around to the parameters established at the beginning of the process.” Below, Kennedy and guitarist/vocalist Mark Tremonti comment on the songs. “This Is War” Myles Kennedy: “This came from a dream. It was like the universe dropped it on me. It really pertains to struggles from the inside, like self-doubt, anxiety, or tension. You’re waging war within yourself.” Mark Tremonti: “The riffs, the melodies, and the lyrics are just striking. Since it’s heavier, everybody assumes it was one of mine, but that started with Myles.” “Dead Among the Living” Mark Tremonti: “This was one of the songs I brought to the table. I wanted to go back to a ‘Come to Life’-style song. When I think of Alter Bridge, I think of a bunch of different flavors. One of them is a riff-driven, empowering track. It’s important for us. If you’re having a bad day, maybe it gets you motivated or helps you feel better.” Myles Kennedy: “As soon as Mark sent it, I thought it was really groovy. Lyrically, it’s about somebody who gave up on life. This person fails to see his true potential, so you ultimately challenge him to live again. Our fans like this theme, and we’ve had a few of these ‘rock ’n’ roll Tony Robbins’ moments over the years.” “Silver Tongue” Myles Kennedy: “This is a theme I’ve touched on a few times in the past because it fascinates me. It’s about a charismatic figure who’s capable of seducing people with what he says. This figure knows he won’t be held accountable because he talks others into doing things and taking the fall.” “Sin After Sin” Mark Tremonti: “This is one of my favorites. It’s a captivating story that sets a powerful mood. It started with the drum loop, and I wanted to write a moody and gloomy riff over it. That’s how it came together.” Myles Kennedy: “It’s a journey. It basically calls out someone for hiding their dark character flaws behind a virtuous facade. I’ve had enough situations in my many years on this planet to come across this sort of thing and the hypocrisy of it. The lyrical concept matched the depth of the music.” “Stay” Mark Tremonti: “I heard this chord progression in my head. I wrote it down and started singing over it. Myles added the bridge. It has a ‘seize the day’ message between two people.” “Holiday” Mark Tremonti: “This was one of the tracks that Myles brought to the table, and I think it’s one of the coolest vocal performances. It has a lot of personality. It’s a fun, upbeat rock tune. It was necessary to lighten the mood here and there.” Myles Kennedy: “When we messed around with it, it became appropriate for this record. From a lyrical standpoint, watching The Great Resignation might have inspired it. After 2020, it seemed as if folks weren’t as interested in going back to the way things were. They were chilling out. A lot of people were asking themselves if there’s more to life than a living. Being a complete workaholic, I can’t say I’d totally abide by the song.” “Fable of the Silent Son” Myles Kennedy: “You can hear somebody being honest about past mistakes and saying, ‘Don’t make those mistakes.’ It’s imparting those lessons learned through struggle to someone else, so they don’t have to endure the same pain. It’s just heavy.” “Season of Promise” Myles Kennedy: “This has a ’90s vibe to it. It’s the idea of passing on wisdom again. It’s knowledge learned from previous generations being fostered and passed on throughout human history. It’s important. In Western culture, I feel like younger people should listen to the older, wiser folks who have been on the planet a little longer and maybe heed their advice. I’m saying this as an old guy.” “Last Man Standing” Myles Kennedy: “From a guitar perspective, this one is really fun. Mark and I got into new territory, and there’s an odd time signature happening. [Lyrically], it’s basically about the ambitions of someone who’s willing to sell his soul for material gain. You see it all the time, unfortunately. Once they’ve reached the summit and the pinnacle of life as the last man standing, was it worth it? That’s the theme.” “Pawns & Kings” Myles Kennedy: “This is a battle cry for the underdog. You’re not only going to face what could be considered the ultimate challenge, but you’re also going to overcome it. It’s a David versus Goliath story.” Mark Tremonti: “We were blown away when Myles showed it to us. It takes so many twists and turns. We put an Alter Bridge spin on it, but the genius of it came from Myles. It could be the best song on the record, and it’s perfect that [as the lead single] it will be the first thing everybody hears.”

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