In an interview with Guitar International’s Robert Cavuoto, Mark Tremonti talked upcoming plans for Alter Bridge, Creed, his solo album, guitars and more..including his Van Halen connection. An excerpt follows:

Q: You have been in the music news a lot regarding you being one of the few people who heard the new Van Halen CD and now you will be going to do a few dates with them. How did you form a relationship with them?

A: “Yeah, well we first did shows with them back in the Creed days. Eddie actually gave me one of his guitars, and then years went by. It’s funny, at one of those old shows; I think at Madison Square Garden, he ran through a crowd of fans and press just to tell me how to set up the guitar with the springs on the guitar when he had Valerie and Wolfgang with him. And it meant a lot to me that he’d leave his family to come tell the young guitar player what to do. I remember Wolfgang was six or seven years old then, and now, eleven years later, he has become a fan of Alter Bridge. He came out to some shows, and we’ve become friends. We invited him to Alter Bridge sound checks, and we hang out with him every time we go to LA. He’s also played with Alter Bridge at the House of Blues the last time I was out there. He brought his dad to our show that was a crazy night. You had Slash and Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen at the show! The last time we went to LA, Wolfgang came and hung out with me and my buddy and asked if we wanted to go see practice the next day and I said, ‘Of course!’, so he picked me up and got me into the studios at his dad’s house, where they played every song on the new record for me. It was just amazing.”

Q: Wow. From what I read it sounds like old school Van Halen.

A: “Yeah, it does. I haven’t heard a single vocal on it yet, but it definitely had the juice, it was great.”

Q: Was it like Van Halen 1, Van Halen 2, Fair Warning era?

A: “I think it was a mixture of it all. It wasn’t all edgy and dark like Fair Warning; it was a mixture, somewhere in the middle.”

Rob: Do you ever get nervous playing around Eddie? I imagine that would be a problem for some guitarists.

Mark Tremonti: Nah. You know, I was very comfortable. He’s such a nice guy; it was very comfortable for me. One moment I’ll never forget is being at the House of Blues when I was warming up for our show and I was doing some left-handed legato exercises to get my hands ready.

I knew all these guys were gonna be there so I wanted to be on my A game, so I’m sitting there working on my left hand, and I notice somebody standing a few feet behind me. I turn around and look and it was Eddie. He looks at me and he goes, “You don’t pick too much, do ya?” I’m like “Aaaah, I do! But I’m working on my left hand!” [Laughs] So that was one of those crazy moments.

Check ou the full interview here