Mark Tremonti talks about what singing Sinatra did for his confidence in Alter Bridge, supporting the National Down Syndrome Society

By Dom Smith
By July 2, 2022 July 5th, 2022 Artist, Features, Interviews, Spotlight

Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti opens up about recording Mark Tremonti sings Frank Sinatra, supporting the National Down Syndrome Society.

Mark Tremonti

Mark opens the conversation, reflecting so positively on working with Frank Sinatra’s live band for his most recent release, ‘Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra’, supporting the National Down Syndrome Society, and what led up to it: “It was incredible. I packed my suit and went to Chicago. I’d never met any of them, or spoken to them – we went right into the studio. I was warming up while all the musicians were coming in, there was nowhere for me to hide, I was just warming up for everybody to hear. We got right down to it.”

Given the global appeal of Frank Sinatra, and the sheer quality of his classic body of work, people ask Mark regularly if there were any anxieties or nerves about playing with his original band: “I wasn’t nervous at all,” he says. “This is something I practiced more for than anything else I have ever done, and doing something for charity, you shouldn’t feel nervous.”

During Covid, Tremonti took the time to really practice and rehearse for the recording of the Sinatra record: “I had so much time to work on it. My son Pearson was on two soccer teams, so he sometimes would have two or three-hour practices, four or five times a week, and I would sit in the car,  because we couldn’t go on the fields, and so I would be practicing in the car, and my son would come up to me and say: ‘The guys can hear you singing in the car!'”

Mark practiced hundreds of hours, and loved every second: “For those three or four hour sessions, I would focus on one song, and look at one verse of a song for an hour or two, and dissect how Frank would sing them, and where he would take breathe, or where he would place his vibrato, and how he would favour certain words. It was trying to learn his habits as much as I can.”

While the record is thankfully out there right now, Mark says that it was difficult to get it “over the finish line”: “I was just practicing singing Frank Sinatra songs because I loved it,” he says. Mark always wanted to do something with his “Sinatra voice” once he felt confident enough, but it didn’t really “fit” in terms of what he had done before in Creed and Alter Bridge. Once he found out the Down Syndrome diagnosis for his daughter, Tremonti had a lightbulb moment. After reading so many things about how charitable Frank had been in his time (raising over 1 billion dollars for charities), Mark decided to do a record in Sinatra’s name, singing his songs for a charitable cause: “I wanted to help people realise that Sinatra wasn’t just this awesome singer, but he helped a lot of people.”

Through his manager, and some friendly connections, Mark was put in touch with Sinatra’s Band Leader (Mike Smith) who said in turn, that approvals have to come from the Sinatra family. The first time Mark’s manager called the family up, it was a “no”, and it took around four or five conversations around who Mark was, the charitable aspect and playing with Sinatra’s touring band and finally it came together: “They said, ‘all right listen, you do it our way – you give us new versions with new orchestra and new arrangements and you can use Sinatra’s name. They’ve only done that with guys like Tony Bennett and Michael Bublé, so it was a huge honour.”

The project gave Mark a renewed confidence in his abilities, “I went back in to Tremonti and Alter Bridge thinking that if I can do Sinatra, this stuff will be ‘a breeze’. It makes me get back on stage with Tremonti, and have more confidence as a singer. I’ve got more focus on the control of my voice, rather than just belting it out like I used to. I’ve gotten more comfortable with using my lower register. Most rock ‘n’ roll singers don’t wanna sound like they do when they speak. Now, I want to take advantage of that lower register.” 

Success to Mark has never been about money or fame, it’s been about being able to do what he wants to do, on his terms, for as long as he wants to, and that includes taking his Sinatra album out live: “We’ve put out the Sinatra record, and we have had three weeks straight at number one on the jazz charts, which I’m happy with. The next thing is to get people to come and see this live.”

Mark mentions that it’s difficult for promoters to book for a Sinatra tour at the moment, because they don’t know what to expect, but it could lead to great things: “If we don’t sell tickets, we could lose tens of thousands, but if we do then we could end up raising 100 thousand dollars for charity that night! The sky is the limit for where it could go.”

Watch, and listen below to the full chat on his solo success, “realities” of Alter Bridge, and tips for younger people and musicians:

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