S.T.: In terms of personal songs, and this is more delving into Alter Bridge territory, songs like In Loving Memory and Wonderful Life are very personal tracks - what's it's like opening that side of yourself up, being you've 'tapped into' those kinds of subject matters before? Would you ever revisit those mindsets for future songs?
M.T.: I mean I love to write it all personal, but some times you just haven't gone through anything to inspire that. You can't sing about the same thing over and over again.
We don't sing love songs, y'know? A lot of pop artists write all their ballads about love songs and we don't do that - it's more about loss or something that's gone on in your life that's hurt you in the past, a lot of it's getting stuff off your chest. It's more therapeutic.
S.T.: After the All I Was sessions you ended up releasing Gone and All That I Got as B-sides due to overwhelming fan demand. Are there any tracks left over from the Cauterize/Dust sessions that we might see in the future?
M.T.: You never know! I mean there are four or five songs that we started piecing together that never made the cut for this, so we'll probablyrevisit those little parts. I just have to go back through my files and remember, see what's salvageable to rejig it.
S.T.: Do you still approach songwriting the same way as you always have, or has anything changed what with being more on the road, or splitting your role with being a frontman, instead of just lead guitar?
M.T.: My approach has always been the same, I just try to learn new things, to acquire what I've always done. I don't wanna repeat myself, so if I write something once I have to try and stray away from that type of approach in the future, so I have to try and reinvent myself as many times as I can, without repeating myself.
S.T.: I think that's really evident in your guitar playing, especially the guitar solos. When I and the fans compare our favourite guitar solos, there's a certain style of phrasing on say, Blackbird, that's more like traditional rock, as opposed to the more complex arrangements you'll put together now. Considering how much you've advanced as a guitarist, what's it like putting solos together after all you've learned?
M.T.: It's like the songwriting, I try to learn as many new styles and tricks as I can before I put together the solos for every album. I don't wanna repeat myself so a lot of the time I'll try and sing in my head what I want to hear melodically in the solo, and I try to make each solo a song within itself, and not just something with repetitive licks - a solo that tells a story.
I take a long, long time putting them together, and I do the best I can to make them stand on their own.
S.T.: Were there any particular favourites from Dust that were particularly hard, or that you were proud you finally got down in the end?
M.T.: The solo for Dust is one of my favourites on there, the solo for The Cage is on more of the technical level. A lot of the tricks I'd picked up, I got to fit into that solo so I really enjoy that one. I think there's more guitar soloing going on in this record than the first record.
S.T.: In The Cage's solo, was that you doing some finger tapping for the start of the faster section? And was it sweep picking that's in the Betray Me solo?
M.T.: In The Cage solo it's more of a chicken-picking kinda thing going on instead of tapping, y'know like the double stops, where I'm using the flat pick and the two fingers? Which kinda sounds a little more upbeat.
Then Betray Me, I think there's a little sweep section that goes into a descending legato kinda thing - it's a little quick, three-string thing. I'm not a huge sweeper, but sometimes I love to bypass that rule, and start opening with a sweep.
S.T.: A really cool thing that I've picked up on is how much you'll synch up your low E string with Garrett Whitlock's kick drum, giving like this really cool, crunchy sound. Was that something that you guys stumbled upon, or how did that idea come together?
M.T. I think a lot of that has to do with how Garrett applies the kick drum patterns to what I've written on the guitar, 'cause usually I'll just bring my riffs and parts, the parts that I've written for the songs, and Garrett will sync up his kick patterns with my picking patterns, which makes it all sound tight and syncopated.
S.T.: I think Garrett's playing is absolutely phenomenal. Is that a product of telling him to go faster or ever hold back? Once Dead is such a furious and relentless track, but how does something like that come together?
M.T.: I've always told him to completely go for it, just go for broke on everything. A lot of bands he's been in in the past told him to hold back, but I've always told him to go balls out on everything. Just do your best at every point, don't think you have to simplify anything, just go for broke, so that's what you hear happening.
S.T.: Is that a similar ethos you've carried over yourself?
M.T.: Always, I think with every record you wanna push yourself as hard as you can, to be better than the last record. Then on that last record you were pushing yourself pretty hard, so you gotta do it that much harder.
-- It was at this point that I realised I'd overran on time, but thankfully I was allowed one last question. Let me know in the comments what you would've asked! --
S.T.: Looking to Alter Bridge's next record, when can we expect to hear the first song, teaser or sample?
M.T.: We're tracking right now, and we'll probably have the record out sometime this Fall. We'll probably have a single out eight weeks before that.
S.T.: Thank you very much, this has been great.
M.T.: Thank you!
There you have it, let me know what you think of Dust and Cauterize, and what you're looking forward to on the next Alter Bridge album!