Myles Kennedy: The Inspiration Behind “Year of the Tiger”
The Alter Bridge and Slash frontman — on his first solo record
This morning, Myles Kennedy announced the release of his long-awaiting solo record, Year of the Tiger. Known for being the dynamic frontman of Alter Bridge and Slash and the Conspirators, this is the first solo record for Kennedy. It will be released on March 9, 2018 via Napalm Records.
Stated in Kennedy’s official press release; on Year Of The Tiger, 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. What emerges is a 12-song concept record inspired by the loss of his father when he was a child. Kennedy himself plays banjo, lap steel, bass, and mandolin in addition to guitar throughout the album. From the opening guitar riff of album opener “Year Of The Tiger” to uplifting album closer “One Fine Day,” it is clear that these songs tell a story that has been brewing in Kennedy since the first mention of a solo album in 2009. 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.
Myles Kennedy on ‘Year of the Tiger’:
I had been working on a record for about seven years. It was actually finished two years ago, but when I listened to it with a fresh perspective, when all was said and done, I thought it wasn’t the right first step to take in this journey — its shelf life had expired.
It became incredibly obvious what the source of inspiration needed to be lyrically. I realized it was time to jump head-first into something I’ve been putting off for my whole life as a writer.
My family was very involved in the Christian Science church. So when he became ill, he chose not to seek medical attention, and passed away a few months later. By all accounts, my father was a good, honest man, but I still struggle with the choices he made which ultimately led to his death.
This was something I had wanted to dive into throughout my career. It just took decades to muster up the courage. Beneath the surface, the wounds were pretty raw, but it just had to be done.
The Music and Recording:
I’ve always wanted to make a record where I could have the opportunity to explore and document a different element of my musical DNA. I was trying to tap into something a little more subtle, as opposed to a big, bombastic, high gain sonic attack. The recordings I love aren’t perfect. Going straight to tape, going for the song and the performance, making sure that the lyric is honest and resonates with you — the way to capture that is not to suck the life out of it. They call it wabi-sabi in Japanese culture, the idea of embracing beauty in imperfection.
I was trying to keep things in a lower register, not relying on the vocal histrionics that I fall back on in a rock context. On this sonic canvas, I didn’t want to distract the listener from the depth of the song, what was paramount was how the lyric was conveyed emotionally.
The Record Title:
I remember stumbling onto the melody and title of the song years ago. It stuck with me but I couldn’t seem to complete the concept until it dawned on me that 1974 was the Year Of The Tiger according to the Chinese Zodiac. Once I realized that was the same year we lost my father, I knew where I needed to take the record lyrically. The song is really the preface for the entire story from my mother’s perspective. It’s a battle cry of resolution, to persevere under the circumstances we were enduring after dad passed away.
Track # 2, “The Great Beyond”:
That one is probably the least congruent sonically, but it’s so epic in nature that it felt appropriate because of it’s subject matter. It describes my father’s passing with surreal imagery from a lyrical standpoint. It was perhaps the most challenging lyric to write, and perform, but it is a very necessary part of the story.
Track #5, “Ghost of Shangri-La”:
The song starts with the line ‘There are thieves outside of our window,’ which was inspired by something that happened to us. A few weeks after dad passed away, our house was broken into. Ultimately, it served as the catalyst for my mom to uproot us from Boston and move out west and start over again.
The Emotional Process:
Songs like ‘Blind Faith’ or ‘Nothing But a Name’ are almost like open letters to my father, expressing an ache that’s never subsided. This record is my attempt to convey things that I’ve needed to express for a long time. What I found hiding in the deep, dark corners of my psyche was difficult to face, but in the end, what came out of the creative process was very cathartic.
1. Year Of The Tiger
2. The Great Beyond
3. Blind Faith
4. Devil On The Wall
5. Ghost of Shangri La
6. Turning Stones
7. Haunted By Design
9. Nothing But A Name
10. Love Can Only Heal
12. One Fine Day
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