Band of the Month – The Mayfield Four

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In the build-up to the release of Alter Bridge‘s new record, I thought I would pay tribute to Myles Kennedy‘s earlier band The Mayfield Four. I read  a few comments from Alter Bridge fans about how much they love The Mayfield Four, but I never really paid any attention until I saw Myles Kennedy live with the Kings of Chaos. I wanted to know more about this amazing frontman. So I started listening to a few of their songs on Youtube and I discovered the official video for “Sick and Wrong”. After watching the video I knew I had to hear more. I added their albums to my wish list for my birthday. My sister who lives in America managed to get both of the albums for me, at a steep cost I might add. It got shipped to South Africa and I’m actually listening to Second Skin while I’m writing this.

Their music really surprised me. Fallout arrived here first and it has a completely different sound compared to all the other rock bands I listen to. The blues-rock combination is something I like, it adds some soul to the music and the lyrics. The first few songs are quite dark and it sounds like it has been inspired by the grunge rock sound, just with more intelligent lyrics. One of my favourite songs is Suckerpunch, because of the attitude with which the song is delivered and the great name of the song ;). I love Inner city Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler) originally sung by Marvin Gaye which the Mayfield Four decided to give a rock makeover. Myles brings his own brand of soul to the song.

The album received critical acclaim with the Seattle paper The Rocket calling it “a modern rock album done with intelligence and grace.” The band took their inspiration from Motown and bands like Police, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. Fallout was recorded in late 1997 in Seattle and San Francisco, it was produced by Jerry Harrison and recorded by Karl Derfler. Brendan O’Brien, who has worked with Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine & Soundgarden, mixed Fallout at his own studio in Atlanta. Drummer Zia Uddin stated that the basic approach they took was to be as honest as possible. Myles Kennedy agreed with Zia saying that there is no BS, they laid it all out on the table which was risky and scary , but that was ultimately what they wanted to record. Myles Kennedy was the lyricist and primary songwriter, and he exposed his demons, scars and fears on this album. The songs on the album dig through the emotional rubble of broken relationships, self-doubt, anguish, surrender and redemption. Myles Kennedy was  quoted as saying that he saved a lot in counselling bills writing this album. He learned to sing by listening to Stevie Wonder, Motown and other St. ax artists.

The members of The Mayfield four are all long time musicians and friends from their early school years. They formed as a band in 1996. From their first rehearsal the band knew they had something special, drummer Zia says its more like a brotherhood than anything else. All four members graduated from the same high school and went on to study music at various colleges in the region. It was the band’s demo called Thirty Two Point Five Hours recorded in 30 hours that got the attention of Epic Records.

The Mayfield Four’s debut album was supported by a 15-month long tour with bands like Creed, Big Wreck and Stabbing Westward. The album was praised by critics, but failed to chart and it became the only album to feature Craig Johnson as the rhythm guitarist, who was fired from the band for undisclosed reasons.

Second Skin was released in June of 2001 and the album has a distinctly different sound to that of Fallout. It’s a slightly heavier guitar-driven rock record. The tour went great, but there was a lot behind-the-scenes changes going on both personally and professionally. This was when Craig Johnson left and business partnerships changed. After the tour Myles decided to set up a studio in his basement and Zia and Marty moved in. They spent months in the studio writing and playing music, whilst venting all their frustrations through their music. Second Skin was produced by Peter Collins and mixed by Tom Lord-Alge.

“Sonically, the album combines the feral (“Sick and Wrong,” “Loose Cannon”) with
the grandiose (“Summer Girl,” “Believe”) while exploring themes of lost love
(“Eden”) and liberation (“Lyla”) and the emotional carnage in-between. “I try to
use the songs as a form of catharsis without coming across like a whiner,”
laughs Kennedy. “That’s the great thing about music-it helps you to hash through
some issues.” –  excerpt from The Mayfield Four’s Official Website:

The performances on the album are astounding, Zia impressed everyone working on the album, because every drum part on the record is from his first or second take. Myles never ceases to amaze with the ability to encompass resonant bottom notes and  powerful sky-high top notes. On tender songs like “Summer Girl” and “Believe” Myles’ upper register glides with ethereal ease lending purity to the melodies of the songs.

My favourite song from Second Skin is Sick and Wrong, because of the brash unapologetic nature of the song.

In 2002 the band went on hiatus and ultimately disbanded.

In an interview with Myles was asked about the likelihood of a Mayfield Four reunion. His answer was that he has been given so many wonderful opportunities lately that he really can’t see where he would get the time to fit it in. He said that Second Skin was a very special album to him and he was grateful that he got to make those two records. The records weren’t widely released and Epic Records only printed a few thousand of them. The records are actually more popular now than they were when The Mayfield Four were still together. Myles was quoted as saying that he could never sell his house because Second Skin was recorded there. His favourite Mayfield Four song is White Flag and Sick and Wrong.

Myles performing White Flag at Bofest:

As we are all waiting with bated breath for the new Alter Bridge album Fortress, here is a taste of their first single “Addicted To Pain”:

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Man of the Moment/Frontman of the week – Myles Kennedy

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Myles Kennedy

Myles Kennedy
Credits go to Katie McPansy and McPansy Photography

Today I feature my most recent obsession, Mr Myles Kennedy himself! I can’t wait to tell you more about this talented vocalist and guitar player.

Myles’s story started on the 27th of November 1969 when he was born Myles Richard Bass in Boston, Massachusetts and as a child he moved to a farm in Spokane, Washington. His father Richard Bass died when he was at the tender age of 4. Myles’s mother later remarried to a minister and they took the surname Kennedy. Myles was inspired by musicians Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder and he started playing trumpet at the age of 10 and guitar at the age of 15. He attended Mead High School while he played guitar in the school’s jazz band and trumpet in the school’s marching band. His extracurricular activities included playing in a local heavy metal band called Bittersweet with some of his fellow classmates. Myles found his singing voice by listening to his parents’ Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder records, Myles also states that Robert Plant was a huge influence on him. After graduating in 1988, Myles enrolled in Spokane Falls Community College where he decided to study music.

Upon graduating Myles enrolled in a Commercial Music/Jazz Studies Program at the Community College. Using the skills he learned from this program in 1990 he joined jazz band  Cosmic Dust (Fusion Band) as a guitar player. Myles’s work with Cosmic Dust was very advanced, using his knowledge of jazz theory combined with his advanced technical abilities and interweaving cord changes it wasn’t long before he became a well-respected guitarist among local musicians. Cosmic Dust’s first album, Journey, was released in 1991. The album was well-received by critics.

After the release of Cosmic Dust’s first album, Myles left the band in order to start working on a new band that would become known as Citizen Swing. Myles provided the lead vocals as well as the lead guitar for the band. The band’s sound was a combination of funk, R&B, blues and alternative all rolled into one. They released their first album in 1993 which was called Cure Me With The Groove, Myles helped produce the album. The band consisted of Myles, Craig Johnson on rhythm guitar, bassist Dave Turner, drummer/percussionist Mike Tschirgi and trumpeter Geoff Miller. Citizen Swing’s second album Deep Down was released in 1995. The band disbanded in the same year as their second release. All the music and lyrics on Deep Down was written by Myles Kennedy. Journey, Cure Me With The Groove and Deep Down is obviously highly sought after by fans, but these albums are extremely rare. I wouldn’t mind hearing it either, it should be interesting to hear a young Myles sing a different genre of music.

In 1995, Myles started teaching guitar lessons at a store called Rock City Music (if we only knew then what we know now!). By August 1996 Myles was in a band called The Mayfield Four where he took the role as lead vocalist and lead guitarist of the band. His childhood friends Craig Johnson, Marty Meisner and Zia Uddin completed the lineup for The Mayfield Four. They signed a contract with Epic Records thanks to a critically acclaimed demo the band recorded in 1996 followed by a live extended play called Motion in 1997. The band’s debut album Fallout was supported with a 15-month tour with bands like Creed, Big Wreck and Stabbing Westward. This is where Myles’s voice was introduced to future bandmates Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Philips. Fallout was praised by critics but failed to chart, Craig Johnson was subsequently fired from the band for unknown reasons.

Following the Fallout tour Myles made an appearance in the 2001 drama film Rockstar starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston. Myles was contacted by his manager and told that the filmmakers needed someone that could sing high and that his name was mentioned. Myles met Zakk Wylde and Jason Bonham on set. Myles was the only actor in the movie whose real voice was used.

The Mayfield Four’s second and last album Second Skin was released in June 2001. Myles stated in an interview conducted on the 26th of October 2010 with Entertainment-Focus that Second Skin was one of his most personal albums lyrically up until the release of AB III. Although The Mayfield Four was popular they never garnered enough attention to break into the mainstream. In 2002 the future of the band began to look uncertain and Myles began recording new music. The band went on hiatus that year and ultimately disbanded. It was during this time that Myles damaged his ears by listening to music on his headphones that was played at volumes that were too high. This resulted in tinnitus which is defined as the perception of sound within the human ear in the absence of corresponding external sound. Myles fell into a depression in 2002, because of this condition and claimed that he had grown disillusioned with music and the music business. He consequently went on a musical hiatus. Former Guns ‘n Roses guitarist (the one and only) Slash contacted Myles and asked if he was interested to be a vocalist for a new band he was forming now known as Velvet Revolver. Myles declined the offer. Myles continued to work on his music, but took a more acoustic approach.

Myles Kennedy is best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist for hard rock band Alter Bridge. In late 2003 Myles was contacted by then-former Creed bandmember Mark Tremonti who wanted Myles do do some vocals on a few tracks he had recently written. Mark, Brian and Scott left Creed in 2000 and wanted to start a new band. Alter Bridge took its name from an actual bridge located near Mark Tremonti’s home in Detroit. Alter Bridge was officially formed in January 2004, their debut album, One Day Remains was released in 2004 by Wind-up Records and it was certified Gold by the RIAA. One Day Remains is the only album released by a band which Myles is officially part of that does not feature Myles playing guitar.

Their second album Blackbird was released in 2007 on Universal Republic to mostly positive reviews. Blackbird featured Myles on guitar as well as some of his songwriting. Mark Tremonti recalls passing Myle’s bedroom one night on his way up to his own room. He heard jazz music coming from Myles’s bedroom, at first he thought it was a CD, but when he entered the room he saw Myles jamming on his guitar. Mark says that Myles hid his guitar skills, because he didn’t want to step on Mark’s toes. Myles knew his current bandmates contacted him for his voice and not his guitar skills. Myles’s guitar skills turned out to be quite an asset to the band and it brought a new dimension to their music. Alter Bridge toured in support of Blackbird from 2007 through to 2008. They released a concert film Live in Amsterdam an it was sold through in 2009 and in stores in 2011 after several delays.

Alter Bridge took a break in 2009, while the bandmembers were busy with various projects, but they continued to write music throughout the year. In early 2009 Myles confirmed that he was working on a solo project and described it as being “dreamy” the opposite of Alter Bridge’s more aggressive sound. Myles described the material as being more singer/songwirter based. A firm release date has not been announced and in 2010 the album was put on hold. Myles has previously confirmed that Slash will appear on the record. In late 2009 it was reported that Myles will be working with Slash on his solo debut album. Myles has co-written Starlight and Back from Cali and provided the vocals on the tracks. On February 3rd, 2010 Slash announced that Myles would provide the vocals on his tour supporting his self-titled solo album. The self-titled solo album from Slash was released in April 2010. Alter Bridge regrouped later that year (2009) and began working on AB III and it was released in 2010 through Roadrunner Records worldwide, except in North America where the album was self-released on Alter Bridge Recordings via EMI.

Myles wrote about his personal experience concerning faith, belief and spirituality. According to Mark Tremonti Myles is an atheist, but Myles has stated in an interview with Kerrang! Magazine that he is somewhere between being an atheist and being a Christian. Myles has said that despite being raised in a Christian household he does not believe in any organised religion. Myles considers himself to be part of a growing segment of the community who questions authority and scrutinize concepts that no longer seem as logical as they once did. I can sympathise with his views on this subject. Myles has said that this is his most personal album since Second Skin from The Mayfield Four. A second concert film Live at Wembley was released on the 26th March 2012. I need to get my hands on these dvds ASAP!

Slash’s second album Apocalyptic Love features Myles Kennedy as the sole vocalist and along with Bobby Schneck, Todd Kerns, Brent Fitz and Slash they complete the lineup for the album. Apocalyptic Love was released on May 22nd, 2012. Myles reportedly mentioned that some of the lyrics on the album dealt with his earlier experiences with drugs. You can read my review for Apocalyptic Love here:

“April 14, 2012, Kennedy performed three Guns N’ Roses songs with five former members of Guns N’ Roses during their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in Axl Rose‘s absence.” – Source – Jordan Zakarin (April 16, 2012). “Guns N’ Roses Perform at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction with Myles Kennedy in Axl Rose’s Absence”. Hollywood Reporter.

Myles has collaborated with numerous musicians over the years including a collaboration in 2005 with Chris Jericho from Fozzy where Myles sang the chorus of “Nameless Faceless” from their album All That Remains.

Myles is influenced by a wide range of artists from different genres ranging from jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, soul to name a few.

Myles has stated at various times that Jeff Buckley is a major influence on him as a singer. Myles says that Jeff Buckley’s emotional intensity was one of the most inspirational things for him as a singer and made him come to terms with the fact that he is a tenor. A tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register( a vocal register most frequently used in speech and singing in most languages).

In February of 2012 I decided on impulse to purchase AB III from a local online store, I wanted to see what all the hype surrounding Myles and Alter Bridge was about since I’ve heard quite a lot about them on Twitter. I follow the Creed bandmembers and I became aware of Myles and Alter Bridge in that manner. I became irritated with the fact that I was in the dark and that I had no knowledge of this band. I had to grow accustomed to Myles’s voice on my first few listens, since it isn’t common to hear a tenor singing rock music. After a few days I was hooked and my love for Alter Bridge consumes me everytime I listen to their albums. I now have all three albums and I listen to them on a daily basis.

Personally I love the soft, mysterious tone of Myles’s voice on Slip To The Void and his amazing vocal acrobatics on All Hope Is Gone. I love his emotional delivery of the song In Loving Memory and his aggressive tone in Ties That Bind. I love his uplifting high notes on Rise Today. His performance on Apocalyptic Love showcases the variety in his voice and his lighter side. He starts off softly on Not For Me and then the song escalates up to where he makes his stand against drugs and the lifestyle that goes with it. I’m so glad that I bought that album and I look forward to many more years of listening to his beautiful voice.

Listen to Myles Kennedy’s rendition of Hallelujah:

Myles is suffering from Bronchitis and I hope he makes a speedy recovery.

Myles is currently on tour with Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.

See tour dates here:

Myles Kennedy

Copyright: Claude Piscitelli

You can follow Myles Kennedy on Twitter here:

Myles Kennedy

Myles Kennedy
Copyright: Wolfgang Schultes

Rock Regards,

Lauren K