Interview: Three Days Grace
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 09:28:12
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"It's pretty exciting for 'Painkiller' to have the response it did," smiles Three Days Grace bassist Brad Walst. "It's a blessing for sure."
It's also a testament to Three Days Grace's immense songwriting prowess and effusive energy. Now fronted by Walst’s brother Matt [My Darkest Days], the Ontario quartet stand out as more pummeling, powerful, and potent than ever. "Painkiller" flips only the first page though, and this book is about to get bigger than ever when the band unleashes their forthcoming fifth full-length album soon.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Brad Walst of Three Days Grace talks "Painkiller", the band's next album, covering Limp Bizkit, and so much more.
What's the story behind "Painkiller"? It feels like a pivotal moment for the band.
It definitely is. Well, we were looking back, and it's unbelievable to think we have twelve number ones. A-year-and-a-half ago, if you would've told me we were about to go number one on a song with a new singer, I would've said you were crazy [Laughs]. It's unbelievable. It shows that we have great support all around from radio to the fans and everybody. It's pretty heartwarming, and it's surreal. No words can describe it.
How did the song come together? Did it start with a riff? Was it an idea you had been kicking around for a while?
It's one of the first songs we wrote with Matt. He actually had an idea. He had a chorus line. I think he had "Painkiller" and part of the riff. We said, "Oh, that’s wicked! We can work with that". We built off of that. We’re working with our old producer from our first record, Gavin Brown. He’s a Toronto-based producer. We’ve been writing and producing with him. He has the vision of the whole Three Days Grace sound, and it’s been working and meshing really well. "Painkiller" is one of those songs that clicked right away. We were like, "This is fantastic. Let's keep going". We kept writing from there, and it’s been great.
What’s it about for you?
When you look around at society today, everybody seems to be on something, whether it’s medication to get well or to feel good. We take the perspective of the drug, looking at people. It’s the vice or whatever haunts you. It’s that taunting feeling from the drug. It’s a different perspective and vision altogether. People are addicted to many different things whether for better or worse. Anybody can relate to it, for sure.
How does this open the doorway into the new album?
The direction of the new music is great. It’s actually pretty heavy. I want to say it’s as heavy as the first record and One-X as well. It’s got that same kind of vibe. That has to do with going for that old school sound. We’re going back to our roots and remembering what it was like back then. Having a new guy brings a whole new energy. It’s been great and seamless. Having Gavin Brown around is great thing too. He’s got a vision of Three Days Grace, and it’s really shown. We’re about ten songs deep into the record. We’re really close to finishing it, and it’s got a great feeling. It’s heavy. It’s dark. It’s the classic Three Days Grace sound. We’re excited to release it.
What does Matt bring to the fold?
He’s got a totally different energy. Our whole thing is we sit with acoustics. On the last album, we did a little bit of that, but we got into the synth world. It was a little more electronic at some parts. On this record, we went back to that. I’m sitting in our rehearsal space right now, and there are literally five folding chairs, a table, some acoustic guitars, and that’s it. Matt’s no stranger to that. He’s my brother, and we grew up playing acoustic guitars around the bonfire. He fit in perfectly. He’s a very emotional guy. He’s got a lot of emotional lyrics. He has lots to say. It’s worked really well. It’s amazing how well it’s worked.
Had you always envisioned being in a band with Matt?
You know, we’ve always talked about. He had been doing the My Darkest Days thing for years and years. I didn’t really get a chance to see him a lot when he was doing that. We always joked about it like, “Oh maybe when you’re done doing your thing and I’m done with my thing, maybe we’ll start a band!” For it to happen the way it did, it was one of those fluke things. He was on a break, and it just happened. To look back now, it’s pretty funny that now we’re in the same band. It’s cool to be on stage with him. It’s a great energy. He’s a few years younger than us. He’s got a lot of piss and vinegar. He’s excited to be here, and it shows. At the first rehearsal, he got up on our set piece and did a 580 spin. We were like, “What the fuck is this? This guy means it!” [Laughs] That kind of attitude and energy rubs off on you. It makes you step up a little bit for sure.
How did you start covering Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff”?
It was another fluke. Our assistant tour manager is a huge Limp Bizkit fan. He used to be in a rap metal band back in Texas. We just started jamming that riff. He came in and began rhyming off the song. We were like, “We should do this!” It was one of those things that catches people off guard. We were talking about doing another one and switching up the Limp Bizkit song to “Nookie” or something. It’s a fan favorite. He comes out, rocks it, and it’s a cool moment in the set.
What have you been listening to?
Well, I drive a lot. I live about two hours from Toronto where we rehearse and record. I’ve always got the radio on. My iPod is on random. I try to listen to the new music on the radio and keep my ear to the ground. I try to find new bands. There are some cool new groups coming up. I still listen to all of the classics like Soundgarden and those bands. I listen to music just to chill. I’m around smashing drums a lot so Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Massive Attack are my speed.
Did embracing the heavier side of the band bring back a lot of memories from the first album?
Sure, there are definitely some old memories. He had an old film developed—I guess that sounds really old, fuck [Laughs]. Gavin found a disposable camera, and he developed the film. There were all of these pictures of the first studio we were in with him. It was in Northern Massachusetts in this barn. Of course, that brings back memories, but it’s a whole new vibe and energy. There’s a little nostalgia and something new with Matt being around.
What’s next for you now?
We’re in and out of the studio in Toronto. We’ve got some shows. There are festivals that we’re doing fly-ins to. We hope to get this record out by the fall or early next year. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.
What’s your favorite Three Days Grace song?