STEVE SCHNEE: First off, TREMONTI SINGS SINATRA is an immensely enjoyable and joyful release filled with love and reverence to Frank and his music. Admittedly, I never knew this side of you, and it makes me rethink everything that I’ve ever known about Mark Tremonti. Is this an album that will surprise your most hardcore fans?
MARK TREMONTI: I think this album will definitely surprise my fanbase if they haven’t heard of it already. That was the whole point of Take A Chance For Charity. I wanted to start Take A Chance For Charity to challenge people to do something that their fanbases would never see coming to raise money for charity.
STEVE: All proceeds from the sales of this album are going to be donated to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). Can you tell us a little about that?
MARK: NDSS is the largest organization to help those with Down syndrome and families with family members with Down syndrome. It helps them see their full potentials through programs which helps them live independently and helps them get job placement. It also helps them with placement into speech therapies, occupational therapies, physical therapies and many more things.
STEVE: Obviously, the first thing the listener hears is your love of the source material. However, as the album progresses, you begin hearing your voice and it becomes a more thrilling listening experience. Was it exciting to set aside the guitar – the instrument that you are best known for – and focus all your attention on being a vocalist?
MARK: It was definitely nice to be able to set the guitar down and focus just on vocals. It allowed me to be sure all the vocals were done correctly without any kind of distractions.
STEVE: What inspired you to record a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra? And was it easy to pick the songs that you were going to record?
MARK: I decided to do it in Frank Sinatra’s name because I was such a huge fan of his and his music. Also, a lot of people are unaware of the fact that he helped raise over a billion dollars for charity. He recorded over 1400 songs, so it was tough to figure out just the right songs to choose. I spent a lot of time filtering through those songs to figure out the right ones for me to record.
STEVE: You collaborated with surviving members of Frank’s band. How easy was it to get them involved in the project?
MARK: It was difficult at first to organize the group of folks that were going to record on this record because this isn’t a world I’ve ever lived in. These weren’t connections that I’ve had previously. I was lucky enough to have a manager who was taught guitar at a young age by Frank Sinatra’s touring guitar player, Dan McIntyre. He was able to make the introduction to Frank’s bandleader Mike Smith who then organized the group of people you hear on the record.
STEVE: The album packs an emotional punch – you clearly love the music you are performing. How did you discover Sinatra’s music in the first place?
MARK: I discovered it like most other people. It was playing around the house, watching movies, hearing it in commercials. During Christmas time, you couldn’t get away from it where I grew up in Detroit, MI. Frank Sinatra was all over the place.
STEVE: How did you record the project? Did you perform live with the band at all?
MARK: We recorded the record live up in Chicago. What you hear on the recordings are one take from the band from start to finish. The only exception was for the layering we had to do with the saxophones, because we couldn’t fit everybody in the room at the same time. The vocals I would then record after the band was through. We’d do a few takes so I could be in the same room and have that sound that Frank Sinatra got back in the ‘60s recordings.
STEVE: Out of all the songs on the album, is there one that you are particularly close to? And which song was the most difficult to perform as a vocalist?
MARK: I think “The Song Is You” is probably the most important song to me on this record because that’s the song that made me want to do Frank Sinatra. It is also the song I sing to my daughter Stella every day to put a smile on her face, but I have many favorites on the album. The most difficult song to perform would have to have been “Wave.” It has an extremely low note – I think it’s an E flat – when I say “together.” That note only comes out at certain times of the day for me. It is usually early in the morning I can hit that note, but not later at night.
STEVE: While not assuming you are going to record more Sinatra songs for a future project, does this give you more confidence to explore more unexpected musical avenues?
MARK: This made me comfortable with using my lower register. I’ll definitely dive deeper into using that in the future.
STEVE: Are you hoping to introduce a new generation of listeners to this classic music?
MARK: I would love to introduce a lot of people to specifically Frank Sinatra’s huge catalog because it’s not all “My Ways” and “New York, New Yorks.” There’s a lot of great songs in there that a lot of people aren’t aware of that I absolutely love.
STEVE: Can you tell us a little about the album cover? Apart from the title, it doesn’t reveal what you are about to hear, but it certainly reflects what you are about to feel.
MARK: The album cover was inspired by my good friend Kevin Chiaramonte. He also happens to be my publicist. He said to me Frank Sinatra’s an artist and you are an artist; it would be great if you could try and do the artwork for this record. My wife had bought me an art book
on Frank Sinatra and his works, and I just loved it. A lot of his stuff is kind
of abstract and modern art, so I took that route on the cover art. I had a
great time doing it.
STEVE: What’s next for Mark Tremonti?
MARK: Next for me is finishing recording the new Alter Bridge record which comes out October 14th. It will be called PAWNS & KINGS. I’m headed to Europe on May 27th – the same day the TREMONTI SINGS SINATRA record comes out – to do a five-week tour of Europe. Then back to Europe later this winter when the Alter Bridge record comes out. Hopefully, we can pepper in some Sinatra shows along the way.
Special thanks to Mark Tremonti
Additional thanks to Mike Donohue, Kevin Chiaramonte, and Dave Rayburn
TREMONTI SINGS SINATRA