“I know Myles said he felt strong with going with his first instinct”
Four albums into a now ten-year career, Slash ft Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators (SMKC) are finally starting to sound like a cohesive unit.
Not that their previous albums have sounded disjointed – far from it – but with a certain guitarist by the name of Slash out the front, the band has always seemed like another personal vehicle for his stellar career.
From their debut album Apocalyptic Love, it was clear to the world that this more than a one-man show, with frontman Myles Kennedy in particular stamping his vocal authority on the band from the outset.
There were times that it seemed Kennedy was taking a back seat in the direction and output of the band, but steadily over the course of two more albums his – and the rest of the band’s – confidence grew more and more, to the point where now SMKC actually feels and sounds like a complete rock band.
Not a great guitarist with a competent backing band.
With the aptly titled latest album 4, SMKC have released a collection of songs that is as impressive as it is cohesive. Of course, the guitar wizardry and solos still dominate proceedings – but, let’s face it, we would all be disappointed if that were not the case.
What is noticeable is the assuredness and contributions from the other members – Kennedy, drummer Brent Fitz and bass player Todd Kearns – making 4 perhaps the first SMKC album that sounds like it was recorded by a BAND rather than an ensemble.
Fitz joined HEAVY for a chat recently to talk about the album and how the band succeeded in recording what many people are already labelling the best album of their short, but exciting, career.
“The irony is the new album is called 4, so long title for the band, short title for the album this time,” he laughed after listening to me labour over the pronunciation of the band’s name. “You’ve gotta be… the way the band was first put together with Slash and his whole purpose of having a new band after Velvet Revolver was… I don’t think he really knew what the overall outcome was gonna be after he recorded that first solo record with all the guest singers. So it was Slash putting a new band together, and then when he was so blown away when him and Myles connected on a couple of songs on that record, our band went from Slash to Slash featuring Myles Kennedy, and by the time that entire year on the road together as a band – and that being Todd Kearns and I and our first guitar player in the band Bobby – that kind of turned into Slash saying ‘well, we should give the band a name’ so instead of just The Conspirators I think the expectation from people having Slash’s name tied to it – like he did with Slash’s Snakepit years ago – that’s it. That’s why you get the super long name (laughs). We just call it SMKC for short. How’s that?”
The press release for the new album says, “this is SMKC like you’ve never heard them before”, a bold statement but one which Fitz agrees is correct.
“After recording so many songs together and spending so much time together on the stage and off the stage, I think it goes without saying that ten years of being a band together can’t do anything except make us a better, tighter, smarter, well-rounded machine. The way we put our songs together is natural, and it feels so comforting because… Slash doesn’t tell me what to play, and I don’t tell him what to play. We all sort of compliment each other, and it really has a comfortable feeling when we get back together. The thing is, we all have these other bands. Everyone’s in another band as well as SMKC, so there has to be purpose to get back and write songs and get back on the road together. With all of these other – I call them happy distractions – the band I have with Slash is SMKC so the other things that I do on my time and the other things that he does on his time are separate entities, but, man, when we get together it’s pretty amazing that we’ve put four records together, and it seems like a really strong music machine.”
In the full interview, Brent talks more about the songs on 4, the diversity in the band’s music while still maintaining that rock feel, recording the album live in the studio and what that meant for the overall sound, how SMKC have grown musically over their ten-year existence, playing in a band with Slash, and more.