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Carolina Rebellion 2017: Exclusive Alter Bridge Interview + Photos

Alter Bridge are touring in support of their latest album The Last Hero, which debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart when it was released last October. They have some U.S. shows and festivals this month before heading to Europe. Among their stops was a set at Carolina Rebellion over the weekend, and Loudwire was there to catch the show and talk with a couple of the band members.

Their nine song set included at least one song from all five of their albums, wrapping up the gig with “Show Me a Leader” and the crowd favorite “Rise Today.” Clouds cooled the fans’ temperature, but not their energy. You can see photos from their set above, and check out our interview with drummer Scott Phillips and bassist Brian Marshall below:

It’s been about seven months since the release of The Last Hero. Are you satisfied with the response it has gotten?

Scott Phillips: Yeah. We’re all super proud of this album in general, the songs, the message. It came it at a very timely moment in our career and in the history of the world, honestly. A lot of the hero syndrome, the lack of heroes, the need for heroes, the building up of heroes just to tear them down. Sort of going through a crazy moment right now politically. We felt like it was the right time for a record like this.

How do you judge an album’s success? The music industry has turned upside down since you guys started out with Creed 20 plus years ago.

Brian Marshall: Well, it’s certainly not record sales. I think we’re pretty proud of our fan base and them coming out to support us. We’ve actually toured a lot for this record, a lot more than we have in the past. It’s been pretty awesome to see the amount of new fans, of old fans that have still come out to see the show. So I think that that kind of gives us a good gauge on how it’s received out there.

How did you come to sign with Napalm Records for this album?

SP: It was an option that was presented to us by our management at the time. We had been with Roadrunner for the previous two albums, with AB III and with Fortress, which we were really happy with the relationship. It was a two album deal and at the time that it came to re-sign, they gave us an offer that was good. We wanted to sort of shop around and see what else was out there. A lot of the staff that we had worked with at Roadrunner had left. So a lot of our core group that we had really grown accustomed to being around, we felt like we had a winning formula that was no longer there.

So there were probably ten different options that we mulled through and looked at. Being as successful as we’ve been in Europe, and Napalm being a major European metal label over there, it seemed like a pretty good fit. I think there were some growing pains on both sides, just learning how we do things and how they do things, and once we all kind of got together, we’ve really been happy with them.

You have seen the rise of the popularity of U.S. festivals where 15 years ago there were very few of them. What do you attribute that to?

BM: I think the success of the European model. It’s just kind of rubbed off on American audience a little bit. There’s always been festivals around, but it hasn’t been to this degree. They’re just popping up all over the place, and it seems like that’s really catching on. People like to see bands and get introduced to bands that they may or may not have heard before. So, it’s just an all around great experience, I think, from the audience standpoint that you get wide variety and multiple days, that sort of thing. It’s a lot of fun.

SP: I think that the key is variety, too. It’s something that we noticed early on. As much touring as we did in Europe and the festivals over there, it’s not all just metal. There’s such a variety of acts over there and the fans embrace all of it. It’s not like, “Oh, you don’t sound like them, so you suck.” I think that’s what these festivals have done as well. It’s a destination that you have to come to. It’s two or three days and they’re going to give you a wide gamut. Rock to maybe even some pop acts, metal acts, all that kind of stuff. There’s little something for everybody. There really is.

Now, at the level you are at, do you see a bump when you do festivals like this?

SP: I think so, yeah. We’ve been around. This is our 13th year of doing this. You’re gaining new fans every day, and this is one of the greatest opportunities to do something like that because you’re playing in front of 20, 30, 40,000 people as opposed to our own headline shows which are anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 depending on the market.

Are you starting to see the second generation of fans?

SP: Yes. We’ve met a few, “I was pregnant with her during your first record, and now she’s here.”

With this many bands here, it’s a good chance for the musicians to catch up with people you may not have seen in a while, or even meet some new people.

SP: Yeah, there’s a lot of bands and even some bands that we’re just had been fans of for the last few years, but just getting a chance to meet now. So it’s always like a big summer camp. At the end of the show, everybody’s sort of sitting around the buses having a cocktail and catching up on things. It’s a lot of fun.

What’s your process of putting together a set list now six albums in and a lot of singles that people want to hear but you can’t play them all?

BM: Depends on the festival. Depends on the other bands on the bill. If it’s a heavier show, we’ll tend to lean towards our heavier songs. If it’s not so heavy, we’ll back it down a little bit. Fortunately, we’re a band that’s able to do that. We can still play a song like “Blackbird” or “Ghost of Days Gone By” or “Rise Today,” and then at the same time, we can throw up tempo songs out and melt some faces.

So how is life on the road today different than it was back in the 90s? Imagine you guys are a little calmer today, right?

SP: Yeah, we’re certainly a lot wiser.

BM: I’m able to enjoy it more now. Enjoy it and remember it.

SP: Everybody’s married. Three of the four of us have kids. Brian’s son’s out here today. We always wanted to try to keep it like a family atmosphere.

What’s on tap for the rest of 2017?

SP: We’ve got a jam packed rest of 2017 and hopefully look forward to seeing everybody out there on the highways and byways of the earth.

Our thanks to Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall for taking the time to speak with us. Pick up Alter Bridge’s latest album, ‘The Last Hero,’ here, and see their upcoming tour dates here.

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