Interview with Eric Friedman and Garrett Whitlock

Tremonti L to R: Wolfgang Van Halen, Mark Tremonti, Garrett Whitlock and Eric Friedman

When Alter Bridge and Creed axeman Mark Tremonti took his solo project’s astounding debut album, All I Was, on the road in the UK we snapped up the opportunity for an interview. Here’s what happened when we met Eric Friedman (Guitar) and Garrett Whitlock (Drums) at the Ritz in Manchester on 17th February.

DnL: Hi guys. It’s great to meet you both, are you well?

Eric & Garrett: Hey, thanks. Yeah, we’re fine.

DnL: First of all. I’d like to ask what got you both in to music?

Eric: For me it was always going on family vacations. We had this camper (van) and we used to drive all over the US playing country and stuff like that. And my brother listened to a lot of rock, so I listened to a lot of his records; like Soundgarden and STP.

Garrett: My parents. It was a very musical household; we had a speaker system throughout our house as kids. Our parents always used to put music on, so we had something to fall asleep to. So yeah, I’d have to say my parents.

DnL: Cool, strong family ties then. Who or what are your main influences when playing or writing music?

Eric: It’s always something new for me. I’m always listening to something different, sometimes it’s from a blues song or an eclectic Massive Attack song or something metal. I don’t know, I just seem to be fiddling around on my guitar and some things will come up and I’ll record them on my iPhone, stockpile them and put a little name on it. Then one day when we’re trying to write a song I’ll just pull out my list of song ideas.

Garrett: I just get inspired by the drums, I just love playing them. I know it seems simple but I just get a great gratification out of just hitting a drum and a loud sound comes out. (laughs)

DnL: You like to hit stuff.

Garrett: (laughing) Yeah, it’s the physicality of it, you know. I don’t have to go the gym and hit a punching bag; I just sit down and play my drums.

DnL: Out of all the gigs that you’ve played with all your different projects, which stands out as your favourite?

Eric: Erm, I got a couple of different ones. When Garrett and I were in a band together called Submerged, when we opened up for Creed. It was Creed, Three Doors Down and Submerged, and that was in Philadelphia. That stands out because it was our first arena show and it was completely sold out, you know, just packed! We were like 17 or 18 years old, it was just massive. There was that show and recently there was a show in South America that was crazy.

Garrett: Submerged played a show somewhere in Texas… San Antonio! It was called The San Antonio Oyster Bake, basically the entire town shuts down and they go out to this big field; Alter Bridge played that year, there were like 20,000 people there. I’d never played in front of a crowd that big and so that show will always stand out in the back of my mind. A lot of these shows on this European run have been incredible. It’s like you’re standing there and you’re done with the set and you look out at the crowd and it really puts me in awe. It seems like there’s a lot more passion over here for the music.

DnL: As if they’re getting in to it more?

Garrett: Yeah yeah. You know I’m not trying to play down the American fans but the fans seem more fanatic over here. That’s why any time we get to come over here it’s a really big treat.

DnL: Do you think that’s because you’re used to the American style of fan so the way we react can seem amplified?

Eric: Well I think that’s what makes coming over here such a treat. The fans are so enthusiastic and it’s not what we’re used to. Maybe it’s because they don’t get to see us that often, I dunno.

DnL: You’ve already mentioned that you love the large arena shows but do you still enjoy the smaller intimate gigs?

Eric: Yeah, there’s just something about smaller venues, you’re all crammed up on top of each other, it’s like you’re one. A part of this really cool thing. You know, in the arenas it’s great and everything but the audience is so far away and it’s kinda hard to connect like that.

DnL: What do you get up to when not touring?

Eric: For me, I love to ride motorcycles and Garrett and I play this game called Frisbee Golf or Disc Golf…

Garrett: Basically it’s like golf with discs instead of balls and there’s a pin you hit. But he always beats me though, he’s like Michael Jordan; he throws it and hits and I throw it and it lands somewhere to the side.

Eric: Yeah, we like Disc Golf a lot and I’m about to be a dad. Our due date is March 22nd

Garrett: (pointing at himself and Eric) Not our due date. (laughs)

Eric: We finish this tour March 6th I think, and that is Los Angeles, California right near my house, so I get to stay there and I’ll be a dad; so I’ll be a happy man.

Garrett: I just hit my drums and play video games. (laughs)

DnL: Congratulations Eric! Just one last question for you. You both die. What three albums do you take to heaven?

Eric: I’m the worst at these.

Garrett: Pantera - Cowboys From Hell, a Led Zeppelin record and probably a Meshuggah record.

Eric: This is hard, I like all different types of music. Definitely a blues cd, a rock cd and… nah there are too many. I can’t choose. (laughs)

DnL: Well thank you for your time and good luck with the show!

Eric & Garrett: Thanks a lot guys.