Three Days Grace

When the self titled debut from Three Days Grace arrived at Designer Magazine, it was an album that stood out from the plethora of emo and post-hardcore bands we received of late. Straddling the lyrical content of emo, while at the same time having the sort of rock tunes that could fill theatres TDG are a band which appeal to the heart and still leave you wanting to wreak havoc in pit. Growing up in a small nameless town 2 hours drive outside Toronto they witnessed murders, suicide and drugs taking over the community and promptly escaped the confines and stranglehold this small town life had on them. Alex McCann caught up with TDG's vocalist and lyricist on their UK tour with Hoobastank.

Q: What's it like coming out at this level for the UK tour playing to 2000 people a night?
A: It's great. We've been touring America and Canada (we're from Toronto, Canada - we're not from America) and we're doing pretty well over there. Over here in the UK not a lot of people know who we are so we're sorta re-introducing ourselves to the UK and Europe. Everything for us, getting signed and putting out a record, has just happened over the past couple of years. We're having a great time.

Q: And the band are based in Toronto, but you're all originally from sub districts a few miles out,  right?
A: We grew up 2 hours outside Toronto in a small town of 1500 people. Basically we were buddies before we formed the band and we used to hang around at high school. One day I just told Brad, our bass player, to try playing the bass, he'd never played an instrument before, and we formed a band from that moment.

We started playing covers of other people's music and started playing bars and then we started writing our own songs and moved to Toronto in about 1997 so we could take the idea of music seriously. It's took so long because nobody knew us in Toronto so we just had to keep playing and playing and eventually we hooked up with the right people. All over Toronto there are these rehearsal factories and a lot of bands that we soon got to know. When we first started we were rehearsing in the same building as Billy Talent and everything that happened for us kinda happened for them as the same time.

And then of course in Canada there's a lot of the bigger bands like Sum 41 and Simple Plan. A lot of labels are now looking up to Canada for music, which is cool.

Q: The thing you get from listening to the album is that it is a cohesive body of work. It all gels together with that similar sound throughout the whole record. Is that what you wanted - a classic sounding album from beginning to end?
A: We're all about writing good songs and not necessary about trying to stick to one sound or whatever. All the guys in the band are influenced by lots of different things. Like I grew up listening to the Beatles and Joni Mitchell whereas the other guys in the band were into Led Zeppelin and Sabbath. We have a whole heap of different influences that come out when we write. I guess on the record those influences all come together and make this solid record of good songs.

Most of the songs are written over the course of 10 years from us growing up in a small town to us living in Toronto. We basically got the chance with getting a record deal to make a really good sounding record. We had a lot of songs we wanted to finish and the record turned out exactly how we wanted it to.

Q: Lyrically the one thing you get across the whole record is someone's broken this poor guys heart
A: When I write song i've always used music as a release or an outlet. For me it's like talking to a shrink. Some people go to a shrink and pay 'em a load of money to solve their problems, instead I tend pick up a guitar and try and write it down in a song. That's where most of it has derived from and a lot of it comes from growing up in a small town and the stuff that you have to deal with. In our small town there were murders, suicide and drugs. Everything that happens in a big city, except we had to deal with it up close, it wasn't like reading about it in a newspaper and getting on with your day. There were 1500 people in our town so if something happened it basically happened to somebody that you knew. Most of the record is written about the pressures and having your privacy invaded in a small town.

Q: That must have been one major headf**k to have a murder happen in such a small community. What was it like for you as a teenager growing up and experiencing it all.
A: It's pretty weird because when that happened you knew the person from school. They weren't necessarily your best friend, but you still knew them right. When stuff like that happens to anybody you know or somebody you're aquatinted with it's quite strange. It's like a horror movie in a small town for a day or two.

Part of the reasons we got out of the small town is that a lot of our friends are still stuck in that town doing what their parents wanted them to do. One day we just decided that we needed to move to Toronto if we wanted to be in a band. If we hadn't have come to that conclusion at one point we'd probably still be there.

Q: There must be an almost duality with the fact that you're living the time of your live on the road with bands like Hoobastank, while at the same time singing these songs about a dark time in your life
A: We've been playing these songs for quite a while, but at the same time we're writing new stuff. The songs were written a while ago but they still do have meaning about them. They're very personal to me. They're never going to change, I'm always going to write personal songs. When you're writing new stuff it is a little bit different because we have had a different path out of the small town, so the new record is going to be a little bit different. We're still going to write about negative things and I think no matter what the situation you're in - I guess you could be rich or famous and touring the world - you always have something to piss you off. You always feel angry about something at some point and that's kinda how I write.

Q: On the next record are you going to be looking back and drawing on those early small town influences or are the current situations that you need to write about?
A: I think we're just naturally going to write songs. When we write songs it's not like we're consciously thinking about how a song has to be. Songwriting for me, i've been writing songs since I was 12, is pretty natural and whatever comes out is what we're going to record.

Q: You said before that writing songs for you is like therapy. When you listen to the album, even though a lot of lyrics are negative, there's a positivity that comes out of them because you can relate to the lyrics
A: That's the cool thing about music. It is a therapy for a lot of people. They just relate to music and part of it is knowing that if you're in a bad state or feeling down it's pretty important to know that you're not alone or the only one that feels that way. There's a lot of kids that relate to the music and i've heard a lot of good things about people that have listened to our record and how much it has helped them through  a dark time in their life.

Q: Who spoke out to you lyrically?
A: It was mainly the Seattle music scene. When I was about 14 I was into Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, that sort of thing. When I first started writing music it was more into the poetic side of things because of Kurt Cobain. I just started writing weird lyrics that were out in the middle of nowhere and didn't really make much sense. It dawned on me that good songs are something you can relate to. It's weird because musically there's a lot of different influences, but lyrically it's hard to have different influences because you just write.

Q: Nirvana had those influences of really obscure bands, while at the same time having those pop sensibilities, which is where Three Days Grace come from. I guess also there's some crossover lyrically with the emo scene. How do you feel about that?
A: When The Used first came out I was really into them and I think they're a great band. Classifying certain bands into emo is really strange now because emo used to be like U2. Emo is basically emotional rock, so almost every band out there has some emotion in their lyrics. Emo has now turned into screamo, which is basically these bands that are pop punk with screaming over. They're some great bands and when you listen to them or play with them you get somewhat influenced by them.

Q: Any final words for our readers who might not of heard of you yet?
A: It's tough for us to classify ourselves. It's just rock with heavy riffs that is melodic. We focus on trying to write good songs. If you write a good song, it doesn't matter what style you write it in.

The album "Three Days Grace" is out now on BMG

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