Without a doubt, one of the most prominent rock bands to come out of Canada since the start of the 2000s is Three Days Grace. The band really requires no introduction after making a huge name for themselves in 2003 with the release of their self-titled debut and then its follow up One-X in 2006. The group is back with its third studio record called Life Starts Now released at the end of September. Yet again, the band has scored a huge radio hit with the album’s first single “Break.” Currently, the guys are gearing up to embark on a very lengthy; twenty date Canadian tour beginning November 16th in Victoria, British Columbia. One day prior to the release of Life Starts Now, we were lucky enough to score an interview with Three Days Grace’s bassist Brad Walst where we discussed this new album, the origins behind it and some plans for 2010.
Your brand new third studio album Life Starts Now comes out tomorrow. How are you feeling about the record now that it’s just about to drop?
Brad: It feels great man; we actually got an actual copy the other day which is always nice to actually hold it in your hand you know. But yeah, I think it’s a great record man, it’s a little bit different musically than the other ones and ah, I don’t know, I just have a good feeling about it, good vibe about it overall.
You guys have toured so much over the last few years. What was the writing and recording process like for Life Starts Now? At what point did you begin the writing process?
Brad: When we were on the road, when we were touring for One-X we actually did a lot of the music, it kind of came up through that on tour, we kind of just set up a little jam room and came up with ideas. But you know as far as lyrics and melody, we usually wait until we get home in Toronto to do that stuff. Most of the music, we usually write a lot of the record on the road and then we probably started writing, I don’t know, December of last year and then went in the studio in April.
For Life Starts Now you again worked with the very well respected Howard Benson. Why did you decide to go with Howard again and could you see yourself working with him again?
Brad: Yeah Howard’s great man. We just had a really good experience with One-X with him and I mean he’s got a great team of people around him too like Mike Plotnikoff the engineer I think is one of the best in the world man. So yeah it was really cool and this time we actually, instead of going to his studio in LA, we went to The Warehouse in Vancouver which was kind of cool and it was the first time he’d actually taken his team anywhere else, we actually flew his whole team and him up to Vancouver and it was kind of a new experience for him and a new experience for us. Howard is just great, we had a vision of how we wanted it to sound, we had our idea or vibe for the record and he was cool man, he just kind of let us do our thing and yeah, it was an awesome experience.
Right there you mentioned the recording of the album, you did it in Vancouver, I also read that you did some of it in LA, is that true?
Brad: No. We just did it all there man.
Ok. Why did you pick Vancouver? How did that come about?
Brad: Well the last two records we did in the States and being from Canada we thought it’d be nice to stay in our home country for this record. And Vancouver has, The Warehouse I think is one of the best studios in North America, it’s got a great live room and it really just fit what we were trying to do. It also has a really great drum room you know for live stuff. We just wanted to make a record that wasn’t so processed and slick sounding so it just made sense man and it was a really cool experience. And Vancouver itself is a different city, it’s got its own vibe, it’s kind of like Seattle, it just rains a lot and I think that kind of atmosphere really added to the record as well.
What would you say is the primary difference in sound or approach between Life Starts Now and the first two albums?
Brad: I think sonically we really kind of paid more attention and tried not to layer as many guitars and stuff like that. Also, just the musicality of everything, I think we all kind of stepped up a bit and made it a bit more musical and I think those two things together make it a pretty heavy sounding album. And uh… yeah man, I think that’s the main difference, other than that we basically did the same kind of process of writing and recording it, I don’t know, we were trying to get more of a live feel, we did a lot more live off the floor stuff instead of just sitting in the studio and punching guitars and layers and shit like that.
What is the writing and recording process like within the band? Is there a primary songwriter or do you all get together and develop songs?
Brad: We’ve always kind of wrote the same man, just kind of sit around and throw ideas out there, Adam does a lot of the melodies and lyrics and stuff like that but you know, we all kind of pitch in everywhere so it’s kind of cool… We usually just start with acoustics most of the time and then evolve it to electric so, yeah we keep doing the same thing and it seems to work.
What is your favourite song off of Life Starts Now?
Brad: I think for me the song “No More” is a favourite just because it’s a little bit of a departure for us, you know it has some really cool beats in it and… I don’t know it’s just kind of a different song for us. I think that one’s my favourite for sure.
The video for the first single “Break” just recently came out and it features a very cool, colourful concept. Who came up with the idea for the video and where did you shoot it?
Brad: We were working with P.R. Brown who’s a really cool director, he does a lot of computer graphics and stuff like that so for this one we kind of wanted to get away from the whole rock video concept and the extras and all that shit so we just kind of sat with him and he brought up this really cool idea of doing just individual performances in these different rooms. We actually shot it all in front of a green screen which we’ve never done so that was a pretty cool experience. With something like that when you’re doing green screen, you really have to put your trust in the director because you’re there wondering what it’s going to look like but he did a great job, I think it’s probably our best video.
A lot of bands hate doing videos. How do you feel about it personally?
Brad: Yeah it’s always a long day man, it’s like a good twenty-four hours straight but it’s cool, I think it’s cool that bands are still doing videos in this day and age because a lot of these music channels don’t even play videos anymore but yeah man, I don’t mind it.
Now you guys of course are from Norwood, not too far from Peterborough. Do you ever get the chance to get back home anymore?
Brad: Well I actually just moved back to Norwood about two years ago so I’m there all the time man. But uh yeah, we all just kind of live in the same area like Neil and Adam live in the Greater Toronto Area, Barry lives up in Alton so we’re all pretty close to Toronto. I just bought a twenty acre apple farm out in Norwood so it’s pretty cool man.
It’s cool that you guys live where you came from because you know; you’ve become such a big band that I’m sure there’s that Hollywood temptation.
Brad: We’re pretty proud of where we came from so I don’t think that’ll ever come out you know, we’ll never move to the States, we’ve seen it, we’ve been down here a lot and we definitely have it good where we are.
With a new album ready to drop, I’m sure you have some very extensive touring plans. Where can we expect to see you guys in the near future?
Brad: We’re actually going to start our first tour in Canada on November 16th in Victoria, we’re basically coming east doing, I think it’s about twenty-two cities so yeah, it should be cool man. I think it’s us, The Used and Default so yeah, that’ll be the first big tour. Right now we’re just doing a little promo run in the States you know we’re playing like six songs in a local bar for contest winners and stuff, but uh, the first big tour will be in November, December in Canada.
What does Three Days Grace have planned for early 2010 and beyond?
Brad: I’m hoping that with this record we can get out of North America a bit more. We’ve been over to Europe a couple of times and you know Australia once but uh, it’d be nice to revisit some of those places we’ve been before you know like Germany and Australia, even Japan. I know for sure we’ll probably do a couple of tours in the States but hopefully by spring, summer; it’d be nice to get back over to Europe and do some shows.
So I guess you guys will be out on the road pretty consistently for the next two years?
Brad: Probably man, the last two records, both cycles were two years to the day so yeah, kind of expecting that and we’ll see what happens.