We had a chance to talk with Myles Kennedy regarding some of the specifics of his upcoming second U.S. tour, this time around with a full band. He also provided some insight by sharing his thoughts on various aspects of his solo album, Year Of The Tiger, the impact meeting fans has on his live performance and what he has planned for next year.
Earlier this year you played various stripped down acoustic dates across the U.S. for your new solo album. Year Of The Tiger. Now that you’re preparing for another U.S. tour, but this time with a full band, why is it important to present the new music in both of these tour situations?
Why is it important? I guess, just because I love it. [laughter] I think what I learned from the first few tours and having the opportunity to do this was just how much it kind of refilled my tank, metaphorically speaking. I think it was really good for me to do something that was different. More of a stripped down approach. Not really hiding behind a wall of sound and just letting the songs and the vocals kind of do their thing. Though certainly a challenge, I think it was very healthy for me creatively and it was just a different experience all together that I think I certainly appreciate and I felt like the fans appreciate, so I wanted to continue to do that. It crossed my mind to wrap up the tour this summer when I was in Europe because Slash and The Conspirators was getting ready to fire up again but then I knew I was going to have a window later this year and I thought, “Well, I should do one more. Let’s do one more of these tours for Year Of The Tiger,” mostly because of how much fun I was having. I think that would be the appropriate answer.
With the full band, will the arrangements be like they are on the album or do you take extra liberties in the live setting?
Yeah, since we’re a three-piece [Tim Tournier-bass, Zia Uddin-drums], it kind of forces us to reapproach the arrangements because we don’t have the option of all the things I did with the lap steel parts and banjo parts and all that. To fill up the sonic landscape, and the real estate that’s left when you take those instruments out, what I chose to do was rock things out a little bit. I plug in, the arrangements are a little more aggressive live than they were on the record and it seemed to work. We’re kind of a power trio.
Are you going to be playing any different songs that you didn’t play before?
On this run, we might. We’ll see. We have rehearsals the day before, talk about [laughter] putting it off to the last minute, but just because of everybody’s schedules, we’ll rehearse the day before our first show, in Chicago, and do some experimenting there. But a lot of the songs that we did in Europe, we’ll definitely do here in the States, just so we can do essentially for the fans who didn’t go to Europe and see the show, they get to experience the same thing. I might pull out a few other tracks. I was thinking of trying a few things acoustically because there is still a part of the show where I just play all by myself, so I was thinking about pulling out maybe some different tracks for that.
So, assuming you may have had some reservations on releasing the solo album, would you say that your expectations have been met? Did you have a goal in mind or was there a level of success, so to speak, that you were hoping to achieve, and not necessarily monetarily?
It definitely exceeded my expectations. I think because of how different it was, and I felt like I was really asking a lot of the fans who had known me for one thing, to put out a record and expect it to be embraced by all of those people, I just wasn’t, to me, that wasn’t a realistic expectation. It was just something I needed to do for myself. It was more of a, I guess kind of an artistic endeavor, for lack of a better phrase there. I was pretty blown away from the beginning even once Year Of The Tiger, just the song, had been released, prior to the record coming out. And I’m not the guy who, once a song comes out and it’s on YouTube or whatever format, I’m not the guy reading comments because I don’t have thick enough skin for that. But it was put out that day, I remember I was on the road and my manager came and said, “Man, the people really are liking this, just so you know, so try not to worry too much there.” I was pretty blown away. I still am. I just didn’t know what to expect. I knew I needed to do it for me and I’m just grateful that the fans were willing to give it a chance and that meant a lot to me.
You’re also offering a VIP meet and greet with yours shows. Does the connection with the fans have an impact on your performance from night to night?
Yeah, absolutely. You know, what’s interesting with the meet and greet thing, is that you kind of, it kind of breaks the ice for me in a way because people come in, I have a Q&A, we talk a little bit. So I feel like there’s a kind of interaction there that helps me relax once I actually step out on stage for the show. It helps you feel comfortable. I think it definitely benefits the show in that respect.
You recently released a video for The Great Beyond. To me personally, I think it’s a very epic song in its own right and the video, being shot in black and white and you’ve released other videos related to the album in black and white, was that a conscious decision going in? Is there a connection, correlation to black and white versus this album or am I just reaching there? [laughter]
No, you’re spot on actually. [laughter] Very perceptive. That was something that was important. I definitely wanted to have a congruent theme visually as well as sonically, so that was something that was discussed early on, that a lot of this would have that very, I don’t know how to even articulate it. It just had to have a certain vibe and a certain look that I felt like, with the videos and the presentation, is what I hoped to see from this and I feel like it suits the music.
Yeah, to some degree I think with the lack of color you’re almost, maybe subconsciously forced to focus maybe more on the music.
I agree. I also think because it’s such a dark record and the themes are so heavy, there’s a certain amount of gravity there, that a real colorful, beautiful imagery to go along with that just wouldn’t have, it just didn’t feel right. My gut was telling me that wasn’t the right approach.
Once you’re finished with these dates, what’s next for you in general?
Then I’ll have, probably, my last two weeks off for a long, long time [laughter} and then I start up immediately with Slash and The Conspirators and we have some long tours coming up early to mid-next year and in between all that, I’ll also be making a record with Alter Bridge, so yeah, it’s going to be busy.
The final Year Of The Tiger U.S. tour with Myles Kennedy and openers, Walking Papers, starts in the Midwest November 13 at Concord Music Hall in Chicago, Illinois and November 14 at Turner Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Find all tour dates and ticket links here. Book your VIP Meet and Greet Experience here.