Welcome to this very special Mark Tremonti interview as we discuss his upcoming project, Tremonti Sings Sinatra. As cool as the concept of hearing Mark sings these iconic songs from The Chairman of the Board, there is way much more to this project that we want to share with you all. This album is so much more than a record. It is a labor of love between Tremonti and his young daughter, Stella. You see, Stella was born with Down syndrome. Like any good father, Mark Tremonti knew that he wanted to do something to help and support his little girl. So the guitarist turned his self-described obsession with Frank Sinatra into a way to generate attention and money for Down Syndrome.
After three years of studying Sinatra’s method of delivering his iconic songs, Tremonti went into the studio with Sinatra’s bandleader and surviving members of his band to record the record, Tremonti Sings Sinatra. And as the first project under his own Take a Chance for Charity initiative, all funds from the project are going to the National Down Syndrome Society. That’s right, every penny from the album and merchandise sales goes to NDSS. There are so many wonderful aspects of this project that we want to share with you, but we thought it would be better to come from Mark himself. So, without further ado, enjoy our interview with Mark Tremonti of Creed, Alterbridge, Tremonti, and now crooner! We hope you enjoy this Mark Tremonti Interview
You can listen to the interview in full by clicking above.
The Music Room: We’re talking about Take a Chance for Charity, Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra. It’s going to be released on May 27, 2022. Gosh, being a fan of your career for the past 25 years, obviously, with Creed, Alterbridge, and Tremonti, this is completely different than anything that I expect. Walk us through where the inspiration for this album was born.
Mark Tremonti: Yeah, about three years ago, I’ve always been a big fan of Frank Sinatra, but about three years ago, I became obsessed and just wanted to do all I could to study about how he sang. I watched all his movies. and started reading all the books about him. Then, when my wife got pregnant, and we got a diagnosis that our daughter had Down syndrome, I was like, You know what this was for a reason. So I’m gonna…because I didn’t know what I was going to do with this Sinatra thing. I was just practicing having a good time with it. And then once we found that out, I was like, you know, there was a reason for that. Now, I’m gonna sing and do a record to raise money and awareness for Down syndrome. So we partnered up with NDSS, the National Down Syndrome Society to release this record to raise funds for individuals and families, with individuals with Down syndrome.
TMR: That’s awesome. Obviously, a guy like Sinatra…the weight of his songbook. Not only the amount of songs in there, but the quality of songs…the album’s a nice mix of course, the hits or the standards, but there are also some deeper cuts in there. How did you approach finding those 14 songs?
MT: I just dove in, you know, I would I constantly listen to Big Band stuff. And I’ve always got Seriously Sinatra on the radio. I’ve always got my headphones on listening to as much obscure stuff as I could find. And I found some really cool stuff that before I was, you know, a huge, huge fanatical fan of his I had no idea that so it’s, it’s cool to see how many different sides he had. And I just went down every rabbit hole I could find to find my favorite songs to sing and tried to make it a good mixture of the known tracks and the deeper cuts.
TMR: Yeah, it definitely is greatly represented there, that range. I think the really cool thing about this was like it wasn’t just oh, I’m gonna go and cut the Sinatra songs. You’ve been singing for a long time, but you had to kind of go in and learn a whole new style. How do you approach that as a vocalist to do this new thing? Can you kind of talk about that process?
MT: Yeah, I would, you know, I had my youngest son, Pearson…he plays soccer and he got picked up by two different teams. So sometimes he’d have three-hour practices, and I had to drive them 45 minutes to get there and back. So I’d be singing during the drive and the whole time he’s that practice. Parents weren’t allowed to hit the fields because of COVID, so I’d be sitting in my car studying. So the first thing I would do is I would, I would type into my computer, the words to the song, the way he pronounced them. Then I would move those words around the way he phrased them, and then I’d make marks on the exact spot of those words where he throw his vibrato and how fast his vibrato was, how slow it was. I would take notes of where he would take his breaths and just, just every little thing you could think of to analyze how he sang. There’s just so much to when you really dive in. I would take a song a day and just dive into that one song and not play anything else for four hours straight and just sing through every bit of it. And then the drives back and forth were the times where I would kind of review what I had already worked on. So, I was singing through the set of songs on the way to and from and then work on just one individual song as I was sitting there in the car for three hours.
TMR: That’s cool. To be a fly on the wall. Obviously, you’ve been sitting for a long time. I mean, even the stuff with Creed you sang on, and then, really with Tremonti, do you think there’s anything that you picked up on from Frank in preparing for this that you might take with you and change you as a vocalist?
MT: Absolutely. It already started when I was doing the last Tremonti record. I kind of approached the way I was going to look at singing certain songs, the way I did the Sinatra songs. Before I when I would write I would write lyrics, and I would write melodies and I would just go in there and sing them unrehearsed. And now I make sure I’ve got perfect marching orders for how I’m going to attack the song. Because I think the more you know exactly what you want to do in the studio vocally, the more you can experiment with it, the more confident you’ll get with it. So yeah, just overanalyze what I wanted to do with my own vocal approach now and it’s it helps a lot.
TMR: It was cool. We were listening to the record kind of preparing…we’re big Sinatra fans, ourselves, me, my wife, and I was playing record, just like, Wow, he’s really good. What does he sound like all this other stuff? So we played some the early Tremonti stuff she’s like, he’s a good singer because she hears a lot of screaming in some of the stuff I listened to. But you know, it was kind of cool to get somebody’s opinion on the outside to compare the Tremonti stuff to what you did on this record.
MT: Yeah, on some of those early Tremonti records, I was still very nervous to be a singer and didn’t have the confidence I think. I think the last maybe the last two records, I started getting more of a feeling for what I, you know, controlling my voice. But the Sinatra stuff is so different from that stuff, because it’s, it’s in my register, I don’t have to push and I can really take my time with it without straining, it just worked better.
TMR: Talking about the vocal preparation, but like, there’s also got to be some mental preparation, digging into the world of Sinatra like you did. To be there with Mike Smith, the bandleader, you know, of Sinatra, Harry Connick, Tony Bennett. And then these musicians that played with The Chairman and now, how was that mentally for you? Was it did it take a minute?
MT: You know, everybody was me, are you nervous? Are you terrified? Is this going to be tough? And this and that, and, for two reasons, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was just excited to do it. Because at first, I practice nonstop. I mean, I was way over-prepared for this. I knew going in there. I couldn’t take another week to work anything else out. It was gonna happen at that moment, or not because I had done everything I could at that moment. And then at the same time, I wasn’t worried because I’m doing it for charity. What’s what somebody’s gonna say? Well, you did a terrible job raising money for charity, right? It came from a good place. So I didn’t feel…I didn’t feel those nerves. I feel more nervous about getting up and doing, you know, my first show with the guys on May 14. And I’m more, I’m not nervous about being able to sing the songs, I’m more nervous about the presentation. And what I’m going to do while the other guys are playing for 40 seconds when I just have a microphone, and I’m standing there, because I don’t have Frank Sinatra swagger on stage. You know, even being the frontman of a rock band, you can’t get on YouTube and look up how to be a great frontman. You gotta go out there and you got to do it and you earn your stripes as the years go by. You don’t step on stage for the first time knowing what to do. So it’s gonna be a learning curve for me. And, you know, it’s also a very emotional thing for me. First, just being able to sing Frank Sinatra songs with the guys that played him with them is an emotional thing for me. And having people appreciate it. And to know I’m doing it for, you know, with my daughter in mind doing it for charity. It’s going to be tough to get a word out there when I’m not singing. That’s what I’m most nervous about.
TMR: Yeah, I have that on here to talk about. At the Abbey in Orlando, Florida on May 14 playing those songs live. Also, that benefits the charity and that’s already sold out. So, but that’s a great thing for the charity. It’s awesome. You said the first show, do you think there’ll be any more potential one-offs or anything on with this project?
MT: Yeah, I mean it’s such an exciting project, it would be the biggest shame in the world not to be able to keep on doing it. In a perfect world, I’d also love to do an annual event. Take a Chance for Charity event where we brought in other folks who have done the same style of project and have us all come in and perform and raise money for charity every year.
TMR: That’s awesome. Yeah, I definitely want to talk about that too. Take the Chance for Charity, that is your that’s your charity. You developed this alongside this project to raise money. Do you have anything else planned in the future as far as where you see…I know you’re gonna work with other celebrities. Is anything else in the work with other projects yet?
MT: Yeah, I mean, I’ve talked to a bunch of people. So far, we are planning stuff for Larry The Cable Guy, my good friend. And then Chris Daughtry. I was just on tour with him and he’s all about doing it. The guys from Blackstone Cherry want to do it. The guys from fuel want to do it. The country band Lonestar wants to do it. Steve Stevens from Billy Idol wants to do it. And it just keeps ongoing. People just keep on trickling in. And I think, you know, right now we’re focused on this record coming out. And then once we get that up and rolling, we’ll really start tackling all these other projects. And I think the more people do it here in this first year, the more the word will spread, and the more people will naturally just do it on their own. I want it to get to that point, almost like the Ice Bucket Challenge, where we’re not necessarily having to contact people, they’re doing it on their own. Then they hashtag Take a Chance for Charity, and use our links and whatnot for people to be able to donate.
TMR: That’s awesome. And I mean, for a music fan, it’s a no-brainer, because you know, we’ll definitely direct people to the website. But man, the vinyl offerings alone for this project…they’re beautiful! The marble vinyl and the autographed poster that comes with it. And the T-shirts, all the offering. It’s a no-brainer. You know, it’s just so well done, man.
MT: Thank you very much. But the toughest thing about the vinyl is just like everything else in the world, supplies are so hard to get and you have to wait so long to get vinyl lately. We can only press gosh, I think less than 4000 vinyl. So, it’s gonna come down to CDs for probably, I don’t know how many months before we get a whole nother pressing of the LPs. But yeah, it’s tough. It’s a shame that it takes so long, but it is what it is.
TMR: It is. But like I said, it’s a no-brainer. People better hurry up because that’s gonna be sold out just like the show on May 14th. So before we get moving here, is there anything that you’d want people to know about Take a Chance for Charity or about the National Down Syndrome Society? They obviously have a big part of your heart, anything you want people to know.
MT: Yeah, just that from the very first penny that they write a check for, or use a credit card for, it is going right to NDSS. We wanted to make sure that all the money that was put into the project and everything, there’s no recruitments there, it’s just going right to charity. So every penny that you spend will do that. People can also go to tremontisingssinatra.com to see the story behind it to look more into the Take a Chance for Charity ideas, to grab the records, CDs, shirts and posters, whatever anybody wants to grab. And they’ll always be news up there on that site for all the upcoming projects and upcoming shows if we schedule some more.
TMR: And we’ll definitely put a link there so everybody can get to that really easily. I do have to ask one more question about the record. There are 14 songs on the record. Is that what you recorded or are there some more things in the can for maybe like a possible Volume 2 or something?
MT: No, that’s all that’s all we did. But I would absolutely love to do a Volume 2. You know it’s funny, I’ve been hit up so many times after this first song came out. Everybody was like, now we need a Christmas album. So I would really love to do a Christmas album. That’d be a lot of fun.
TMR: Man, that’d be cool. That’d be very cool. Man, yeah, yep, I think that’s got to be done. I love the story you told about when it was over, the last session and then the last guys are walking out how it made you feel. That was a cool moment to read about.
MT: That was definitely a bittersweet experience. You know, as we got that and last tracks he would let the folks go home that that weren’t tracking anymore. So when we got down to the last two or three where there weren’t trombones and trumpets and whatnot, this is more of a rhythm section and guitar and piano. Especially like on “My Way.” “My Way” was the last song we tracked, and it was just, me and Dan McIntyre on the guitar sitting there going over how he was…he was throwing at me a few different ideas of how he was gonna play the guitar. And we just kind of sat there. That was the only song on the record that happened kind of in the moment. There were no charts for it. It was just us jamming. And then Jeremy jumps on the piano, and Joel jumped on the drums. And it was just a sad, bittersweet moment. You know, I think that was another song “My Way” was…I didn’t want to just do to the hits. And “My Way” I almost didn’t want to do it, because it’s probably his biggest hit. But I love it so much that I wanted to do it. And I just wanted to do it very differently than the original version. So, that’s why we made it more of a nylon string-based approach. And I’m happy with where it turned out.
TMR: Yeah, I’m glad you did. I’m not trying to be like a, you know, be like a Sinatra poser, but that’s my favorite song on that record, your record there. With the subtle guitar and everything…it’s beautiful. So I’m really glad that did make the record.
MT: Thank you so much.
TMR: In these last couple of minutes, I want to touch on a couple of things real quick. With Alterbridge, you guys are recording your seventh album now? Is that right?
MT: Yeah, we just finished pre-production about four days ago. And drums are already being tracked. And Brian will be tracking his bass starting sometime this week. And then I’ll be up next.
TMR: That’s good news. That’s great news for music fans. So you’re gonna be doing that and then you hit the road to go over to Europe in June with Tremonti. So will the Alterbridge record be done by, or I guess your part, be done by them before you head over to Europe?
MT: Yeah, we’ll be done. And then, you know, nowadays, it takes about four months to finish recording a record and then prep it for release. So we’ll be done. I leave I think I’m on May 27 for the tour. And I don’t know when the record comes out. Maybe September or October.
TMR: That’s cool. And then maybe touring in 2023 on that, then?
MT: We’ll be touring this year, We’ll be touring, I think, October, November, and December of this year.
TMR: We got to see the tour with you and Daughtry here in Cincinnati at the end of last year and it was great. And obviously, terrible things happened and you guys had to take the time off. But you got back to playing and you and Chris and the band did a tribute to Taylor Hawkins…as a fan watching it, it was emotional. How was it playing that song? Considering you know, that loss.
MT: It was definitely an emotional day for us to put that song together. I remember I called Chris the next morning. I was like, man, I couldn’t sleep last night, you know, I think we should, you know, do a moment of silence with all the bands up there. Or in a perfect world, we could do “My Hero” and get all the bands to participate. And he’s like, yeah. You know, he actually I think they had done a version of that years ago. So we just rehearsed it a couple of times at soundcheck, you know, of course, practice it in our dressing rooms and played it that night. And that was definitely an emotional version of the song for us, but it was Chris…Chris and the guys were absolutely top-notch musicians. They just knocked it out of the park. I mean, his vocals are insane. I think it turned out great.
TMR: Yeah, yeah, it was definitely one of those goosebump moments. Man, you and Chris, that was a perfect tour. Alright, finally, we’re gonna wrap up here. I have to ask and I hope you don’t mind. 1997…25 years ago, My Own Prison. You know, groundbreaking record. 2024, I believe is the 30th anniversary of Creed. Are there any plans? Not even if it’s to tour or anything, but maybe like any reissues. Or any plans for anything to do with the Creed world?
MT: You know, there’s stuff always kind of pops up but it’s always, you know, promoters or whoever else will want to do something when we’re in the middle of releasing an Alterbridge record. So I think it’s just a matter of finding the right time. Anniversaries are great, we can always pre-prepare for those dates and whatnot. But it’s been, you know, there are so many things behind the scenes that we have to deal with. Between the red tape of record labels, and band members, and all the different bands, and so many different managers for all the different members. It’s just it’s a lot of work to put together. But it’s not something that’s ever off the table. We’re just kind of waiting for the right moment.
TMR: I mean, it doesn’t matter. Creed, Alterbridge, Tremonti, and now the Sinatra stuff. Mark, I just appreciate your body of work, and it just continues to stay strong. And I appreciate what you’re doing for the charities, man. And I’m just so excited for you and this project. I just wish you the very best on it. And I look forward to telling as many people as possible about this awesome, awesome project.
MT: Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
There you go, that was our Mark Tremonti interview. The album comes out May 27, 2022, and is available on CD and vinyl with an autograph from Mark. But hurry, these vinyl pressings will not last. There are all so other cool t-shirts, stickers, hats, and even a cassette version of the album. And remember, 100% of what you spend goes to the National Down Syndrome Society! It’s a win-win all the way around!