Bob Zerull of Zoiks! Online recently conducted an interview with ALTER BRIDGE/CREED guitarist and TREMONTI mainman Mark Tremonti and TREMONTI drummer Garrett Whitlock. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Zoiks! Online: How did Wolfgang Van Halen end up playing with [the TREMONTI band] on this tour?

Mark Tremonti: Brian [Marshall] had something personal come up the night before our Rhode Island show on September 10th, the night of September 10th. He [Wolfgang] was in town with the SEVENDUST guys. I called him up and said, “Dude, we got a show tomorrow night. What do you think?” and he said, “I’ll be there in an hour.”

Zoiks! Online: How did your relationship with Wolfie start?

Mark Tremonti: First time I met him, we were both playing in the same city, I think it was Baltimore. He had invited us to come to his soundcheck. So we went to see their soundcheck and after their show, he said he was going to catch a runner over to your show, to catch the end of our show. In our encore, he comes and watches the rest of the show and we hung out for a little bit. The next time we came to L.A., he had become friends with Eric [Friedman], our other guitar player, because Eric lives out in L.A. too. The next time we went out there, we were all just kind of hanging out and he asked if I wanted to come see VAN HALEN practice, or he said, “Do you want to come see practice tomorrow?” [pause] No. [laughs] So he came and picked me and Eric up and drove us to his dad’s house, because that’s where they practice. 5150 Studios is actually up in the parking lot of his dad’s house. We went in there in a room no bigger than this and listened to the VAN HALEN record. We listened to it live.

Zoiks! Online: You’ve got kind of the best of all worlds. CREED is this massive band that can play anywhere, ALTER BRIDGE is an established band that’s still growing and now with TREMONTI, you get to start all over again. As an artist what is the most rewarding for you?

Mark Tremonti: I like to see things build up. I think we’re all proud of the way this is starting. At this level, everybody that shows up to the show are people you just love. These are the supporters, the seed that’s going to grow into something bigger. We’re having a blast, I don’t think we’d be having a better time in arenas; this is great in the clubs.

Zoiks! Online: You’re fronting the band this time around. Was that the plan the whole time?

Mark Tremonti: Yeah, for this it was. I’ve been a songwriter for so long. I just have ideas stockpiling and this was the perfect time to get some of the ideas that I’ve actually tried with the other bands that might have been too heavy or just didn’t fit. That was kind of the first thing I brought up. As we kept going, I’d show these guys other ideas. It was always the heavy ideas that got them excited, but I was always planning on being the singer. Until I had actually sang at concert level with the guys, I didn’t really realize I’d be able to do it.

Read the entire interview at Zoiks! Online. The chat is also available in audio format.