“Hello my friend we meet again
It’s been a while, where should we begin?
It feels like forever!”
You may know these lines simply because My Sacrifice by Creed is probably one of those songs that headlined an era where rock music went global and certain sub-genres of rock sustained longer and wider in popularity than all other forms of music, even running shoulder-to-shoulder with the popularity of pop until eventually being eclipsed by it, in sense of universal reception. Most rock bands that sustained through and since that period either belonged to the time of Creed or evolved to a more acceptable version of themselves (some may describe that as “soul-selling” – just sayin’!). So, the contribution of Creed to the rise and sustenance of global rock cannot be undermined, and as an example, you can just look at the size of their Asian fanbase (In theory, anything that came to us from the West during the 90s was usually after they had exhausted it completely.) MTV may not have been welcomed by the diehard rock fans over there, but for us here, they bridged this information lag in terms of entertainment and we got our first real musical base with varied artists that we discovered through MTV.
If Creed was at the center of the world’s rock scene, then at its center was one guitarist cum songwriter who for me was the physical manifestation of guitar-based badassery – Mark Tremonti. Not undermining the role played by the other members, especially that Scott Stapp voice, but as we grew familiar with the sound of Creed, we realized how Mark’s approach towards his songwriting was his own and why his role in the evolution and sustenance of the whole genre was so crucial.
Mark was soon recognized for his raw, unpolished and in-your-face style behind his mastery on the instrument and his peculiar songwriting, and it made an entire world fall in love with the band.
And then just like that, Creed was over. It was something that shook the world of rock not just because one of the world’s bestselling artists at that time just went poof, but also the way it had happened.
Skipping past that.
Skipping to what I see as one of the most inspiring stories that you’ll ever come across. I mean, what are the odds of you doing it on a global scale with one act, let alone break out of it and then follow it with, arguably, an even bigger one?
Enter Alter Bridge.
While Scott Stapp went tumbling down the hill into the safe hands of irrelevance, the remaining 3/4ths of Creed climbed up and on to the next hill, and created an even bigger monster, with a vocalist who many describe as one of the most significant voices of our time. So, with Myles Kennedy in perspective, this union, especially after Scott’s exit, was like Opera shed their dramatics and mannerisms, and jumped from the stage, into the crowd as the scene behind them changed from a shiny, gold façade to the leather-jacket-wearing rockstardom. In short, with Alter Bridge, we saw how a four-octave-vocal-range-vocalist met the evolved sound of Creed.
Here, Mark Tremonti found his finesse. His sound wasn’t raw anymore. It had found maturity and yet a next level to the badass side, while the melodic aspect gained newfound beauty and through that his Guitar God stance was upped by a notch. With Alter Bridge, who debuted on the world’s rock scene with takeover scenes (First single, Open Your Eyes was an “instant hit” to say the least), Mark Tremonti attained an unquestionable legendary status.
In due time, Mark was found climbing the next hill on his own as his imaginative guitar playing created the need for his own solo project to the side of his existing band(s) (meanwhile Creed reformed and crashed back to obscurity) just so he could find an outlet to all those songs that did not go down an expect path, and quote, “just because I write so much”. The Tremonti project was formed herein and has been active since, and Mark continues to grow and amaze the world with his evolution as a guitarist and songwriter.
So, there. Three distinct acts that impacted the world in their own way, in their own time, and at the center of them all, a guitar player who made the world his own stage through them. It isn’t just the melodic aspect that literally makes his guitar sing just as impactfully as Scott’s or Myles’ voice (and that’s saying A LOT), but his creative perspective towards expressing the simplest emotions through an instrument almost self-sufficiently makes him stand tall among the other Gods of Guitar. His artistry on the instrument has easily expanded the realms of guitar-playing – it’s almost like an extension of the sound of the guitar! His signature tones, playing style and songwriting has its own space now and you can safely say that this side of guitar-based songwriting would not have existed if not for Mark Tremonti. Whether you look at the moving chords, the little legatos and licks which form and deform as chords behind the vocal lines alter creatively, or all the tunings he invented and/or iconized in songs like My Sacrifice, Higher, etc. and later through AB’s Watch Over You, Open Your Eyes, Broken Wings and so many more – one bang and you know that the guitar is being played THE TREMONTI WAY.
So, if you hear a guitar singing equivalently with the vocal lines, or dancing all around them, or phasing away then suddenly soaring to melt your face, or just gently weeping, if it’s not Prince, you know who it is.