Time has always been a precious commodity for Myles Kennedy. After his band Alter Bridge played the Knitting Factory at the end of February in 2020, the vocalist-guitarist wondered if he had enough of a gap in his frenetic schedule to write his next solo album.
“We (Alter Bridge) were in the middle of a tour and were supposed to play Asia and South America, and I said to my manager in February of last year that I have no idea if I’ll have enough time to get this record done,” Kennedy said from his South Hill home.
Life turned into “The Twilight Zone” for Kennedy. His last live performance was his hometown gig downtown two weeks before the pandemic shut down the world. Kennedy, 51, no longer had to wonder how he would focus on his solo album, which would be followed by his next project with Slash and their band, the Conspirators.
“My life was moving at breakneck speed,” Kennedy said. “In 2019, I was away from home 300 days out of that year either in the studio or on the road. I love being here, but I never have the time since my cycle runs from Alter Bridge to a solo project to working with Slash.”
All of a sudden, Kennedy could focus on his material. While in lockdown, Kennedy wrote most of the tracks for his second solo album, “The Ides of March,” which drops Friday.
The follow-up to 2018’s “Year of the Tiger” is full of deep, visceral hard rock. The title track is the centerpiece of the project. The epic, dramatic tune is a showcase for Kennedy’s clarion call of a voice, which soars, and his underrated guitar skills.
“The genesis of that song came from a dream from January (of 2020),” Kennedy said. “Sometimes, I wake up and I hear melodies (in my head). I spent a lot of time on ‘Ides of March.’ After I laid down the foundation of the song, it took me six months to complete it. Sometimes, it takes me two hours to write a song, but more work was required with ‘Ides of March.’ ”
The hopeful, timely, hook-laden tune may become Kennedy’s signature song.
Myles Kennedy / YouTube
Emotion is the common denominator connecting the 11 songs on the new solo album. The moving and infectious “A Thousand Words” was inspired by a photograph. “A friend of ours’ father passed away, and she posted a photograph of her mother hunched over her husband’s grave,” Kennedy said. “It was such a heavy photo. It ripped my heart out. The photo speaks of our impermanence.”
The gripping and earnest leadoff track “Get Along,” which couldn’t be more relevant, takes Kennedy back a generation ago to the Los Angeles riots. “I clearly recall the impact all of that had on me as a young person,” Kennedy said. “It broke my heart. When I wrote the song, I painted with a broader stroke by calling for a need for unity and tolerance. A few months later, it matched what was happening when the heat was turned up during the summer of 2020.”
The soulful “Wanderlust Begins” isn’t about Kennedy leaving Spokane but getting antsy during the lockdown. “My wanderlust isn’t about leaving town,” Kennedy said. “My roots are deep here. The song was inspired about being home and dreaming about lying on a beach somewhere. But I have to say that my wife and I made the best of being home.”
Kennedy discovered domestic life and ultimately embraced it as he made the best of Spokane during the pandemic. “Last year was really good for me,” Kennedy said. “My routines changed. I woke up much earlier than I’m used to. My wife and I watched movies every night. We even adopted the neighborhood cat, Azreal, who is awesome.”
It wasn’t as if Kennedy was completely sequestered in 2020 even though he spent considerable time writing, recording and relaxing. Even though there weren’t many Kennedy sightings, he and his wife left home often. “We would often take four-mile walks on the south side or walk in Manito Park,” Kennedy said. “When things opened up a bit, we would go to Aloha (Island) Grill. I love their chicken teriyaki.”
Kennedy cut a couple of videos for “The Ides of March” tracks in December at Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. “That was wonderful,” Kennedy said. “It was great to have the use of that amazing venue. I can’t say much about the videos except that we’re going to release them every few weeks. I had a blast at the Fox.”
While talking venues, the subject jumped to the new stadium, which triggered memories of Joe Albi Stadium from a generation ago. “Joe Albi definitely had its day, and I guess the new stadium will be constructed downtown, which is good,” Kennedy said.
“Stadiums have a huge impact on a city. I love looking back at Joe Albi. I remember performing with the high school marching band there, and I remember seeing the Monsters of Rock show there (in 1988 with Van Halen and Metallica). It’ll be interesting to see what the next step will be for the stadium.”
It’ll also be interesting to see what’s next for Kennedy. Will Kennedy tour behind “The Ides of March?”
“We’re in a holding pattern,” Kennedy said. “We’ll see how things go. When the time is right, we’ll safely come back and tour, and obviously there will be a date here.”
There’s been some rumors that Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones are interested in reuniting. It’s not surprising since both are moving toward octogenarian status. How would Kennedy, who jammed with the Led Zeppelin rock legends in 2008 in London, respond to another potential invitation?
“That’s a really good question,” Kennedy said as his voice jumped an octave. “It would be great to see those guys again. When I played with them, it was pretty surreal. I’ll never forget playing (Led Zeppelin’s) ‘The Rain Song.’ I got emotional when the gravity of the situation hit me.
“I loved playing with them, but, regarding my involvement now, I don’t know. I have so much going on juggling schedules. I’m fortunate that I am so busy, and I’m very fortunate that I spent almost all of the last year in Spokane. With the exception of driving to Florida to record this album, I was here, and it was good since Spokane is home.”
Myles Kennedy is scheduled to participate in a Northwest Passages virtual event at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. For more information, visit spokesman.com/northwest-passages/.
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