Interview With Myles Kennedy

Jason Bullinger For Alternative Revolt

Vocalist Myles Kennedy embarks on his first venture as a solo artist by embracing musical elements and influences he hasn’t explored until this point in his career. Kennedy himself plays banjo, lap steel, bass, and mandolin in addition to guitar throughout his first solo album Year Of The Tiger released March 9. The emotional journey and personal story of Myles is captured in a bluesy-americana album with a twist of country and rock, swirling and flowing around this incredible soulful voice the world has come to know. We were fortunate to get some time with him and ask him about the song concepts and his plans for the rest of 2018.

Alt Revolt: So you have your solo album coming out in March is that correct?

Myles: Yes. March 9th “Year Of The Tiger” drops.

Alt Revolt: Congratulations! Excellent piece of work!

Myles: Thank you. Thanks very much appreciate that!

Alt Revolt: I understand that you scrapped the first set of original songs for the album?

Myles: Yeah. I did a full record and then decided to step away from it and got a perspective that it wasn’t really what I wanted to have to put out as the first solo record. I think there are elements on that record that are similar to this but for a number of reasons it just didn’t resonate with me anymore. And I knew that it was very important first step in establishing what I wanted to be as a solo artist and it was a bitter pill to swallow because a lot of work when into it but I knew what I had to do and started over and wrote up an entirely new record.

Alt Revolt: Was it hard to get to that kind of darker place for this particular group of songs?

Myles: You know it’s interesting because I don’t know if I knew how dark this was going to end up being. So there’s a certain amount of hope throughout the record which as a writer I always try to balance the two. What’s interesting is that the title track kind of help dictate what this record was going to be about. The year the tiger was an idea that I had kind of sitting in my head for years. I stumbled upon one day working around my house and I sang the hook in my head and the first few lyrics came. But I didn’t know what it meant. I wrote it down and recorded it real quick. And then when I was starting to put together songs for this record I thought hey what about that old idea that I had and how that would fit the context I’m shooting for.  So I researched and found out the meaning of the Year Of The Tiger. It turned out it was the year that my father passed away. The Chinese history I read said the Year Of The Tiger was 1974. It was really strange it was almost like the universe was kind of telling me OK it’s time to write a record about this and tackle this subject matter.

Alt Revolt: One of my favorite songs on the album is “The Great Beyond”. I liked it because it has a disjointed style and I could hear it being composed for a movie.

Myles: You’re spot on. Yes. I hear the same sort of thing. And that was kind of the intent with that track because it is basically about the night my dad died. There really was no way to to make that pretty. That had to be very epic in nature.

Alt Revolt: Another I liked was “Haunted by Design”. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Myles: Yeah. So that that’s probably one of my favorites as well. And that’s kind of a fast forward to me as an adult. I think losing my father at a young age has been hard on me and I always kind of struggled with a certain amount of anxiety. So this song is kind of a testament to that and it is actually a really fun song to play on the guitar. I remember one morning I woke up and I had way too much coffee and I was just playing the guitar and that fingerstyle part popped out and I really liked it and it turned into the genesis of the track. Although initially I was a little sheepish about sending it to my drummer because I thought it almost had a country vibe to it. I wasn’t sure people were gonna get it but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how people gravitate towards that song.

Alt Revolt: How has the general reaction been so far?

Myles: So far so good. You know I don’t really read what’s written about things that I do whether it’s records or performances. But I take from what I gather. Just talking with people who heard the songs or text me and really like them and it’s positive at this point but you know it was one of those things where when I made this record I knew it was different enough where it was not going to be for everybody. This is just something that I needed to do for me and this is the kind of me music and kind of arrangements made here on this record is very much part of my musical DNA and it was something that I had really never had the opportunity to express to this extent on previous endeavors musically. So it’s nice to know that you know when you do something you do it from your heart that people are ready to react in a positive way with people you know I can do. Just be honest. Hopefully there’s people who listen to the record can take a certain amount of solace and that’s all that I can hope for is that people get something out of it and use it in their own lives.

Alt Revolt: Can you tell me about the musicians who played on the album?

Myles: The drummer is Zia Uddin. The bass player is Tim Turner. We have known each other since we were kids. In fact some of them were in my first band in high school. We played together for years and then we got back together in the 90s and we put a band together called The Mayfield Four. We ended up getting a record deal with Epic toured and made two records.

Alt Revolt: Can you talk about the concept of the black and white photo on the album cover?

Myles: We had a photographer come down and take some pictures and that picture just kind of popped out. And it just seemed like the appropriate cover shot. We were talking about having someone create artwork for the cover but there was something about that shot which kind of spoke volumes about what this record was musically and sonically. So that’s why we went with that.

Alt Revolt: I noticed you will be on tour in Europe soon.

Myles: Yes. We will start in South Africa and then head up to the UK and then we’ll take it from there. We’re still trying to build the rest of the tour including adding more dates.

Alt Revolt: Will you be out promoting “Year Of The Tiger” the rest of 2018?

Myles: That is the plan. Just to take it out there and have fun!