Happiness does not become Adam Gontier. Not musically, at least.
The Three Days Grace frontman admits that no matter how sunny his personal and professional world may be, things usually turn dark when he grabs his guitar.
"It's just the way that I've always written," the 34-year-old alt-rocker says from his Toronto home. "I don't write about being happy. It's just one of those things. When I first picked up a guitar and started writing music, I was listening to bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam and that whole Seattle scene. It really influenced me and it's something that's stuck with me. Don't get me wrong; there are times when I'll pick up the guitar at the end of a great day and write a song that's upbeat and fun. But mostly, I feel the need to pick up a guitar and write when I'm feeling down."
Clearly, the recovering addict had plenty of inspiration lately. Transit of Venus, the band's fourth full-length and followup to their 2009 Juno-nominated Life Starts Now, continues to plumb the depths of his despair in songs like Chalk Outline, Misery Loves My Company and Broken Glass. But even as it follows in the footsteps of hits like I Hate Everything About You, it also moves 3DG in new directions, as Gontier, guitarist Barry Stock, bassist Brad Walst and drummer Neil Sanderson incorporate more electronics and even revamp Michael Jackson's Give In To Me.
With Transit of Venus out Oct. 2, Gontier talked about changing their tune, his softer side and savouring anonymity.
You've clearly tweaked your sound on this album. What inspired that?
As a band, you always want to evolve. And on this record, we wanted to bring new elements to the table. So yeah, there's a lot of new synth sounds and piano parts and keyboard parts and stuff like that. So we added elements that we normally wouldn't have in the past. But staying true to our form, we've still got the heavy guitars and the heavy choruses.
Is that a tough line to walk?
Yeah, absolutely it is. But the cool thing about this record is that we went into the studio with songs that weren't done yet. We went in with songs that were maybe a quarter done or half done. Maybe a couple were completely finished. Some weren't even written. In the past, what we would have done was polish the songs completely before we got in the studio. Then we would just record the songs in a month and be done. But this time we worked with a different producer, Don Gilmore, who has done a lot of cool stuff. We wanted to see what he would bring to the table to make us step it up a little bit. And I do believe this is our best record so far.
Has it changed the way you'll record in the future?
Yes, we'll probably end up doing the same thing next time. We won't spend so much time rehearsing and finishing songs ahead of time. That's what so many bands do. But to me, it's been done so much. And we've done it so much that we needed a different way to approach this, just to keep it fresh. I think it really helped. There's one song in particular that comes to mind: Give Me a Season. It had no structure and no real formula. I had sort of a melody for the song. So our producer just said get out on the floor and play and see what happens. So we just sat on the floor and did it and that recording ended up on the record. It's really cool to just sit in a room and do it the way it used to be done. That's what rock 'n' roll is all about.
How will you handle the electronic elements live?
Well, we're definitely not going to work with tracks. That's something that bands that don't know how to play do. And there's so many bands out there that are terrible, to be honest. They get a record deal and go into the studio because they've written some song that sounds like a hit, and then they get out live and they have to run tracks because they can't play and they can't sing. That's not what we're about. Because we're so against that, we've actually hired a guy to play all the keyboard and synth parts during the live show. So there's actually five guys on stage now.
You did a solo acoustic tour last year. Where did that come from?
I grew up listening to stuff like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, pretty mellow stuff. That's what my parents were into. I was influenced by that sort of stuff growing up, so I've got an acoustic side to me. That's really where my heart is. So when I get a chance to get out and do solo acoustic shows, I do them. I'm definitely working on solo material. I'm working on an acoustic solo record. There's no real release date or anything like that. It's just a matter of getting it done and getting it out there. It's just a creative outlet for me outside Three Days Grace.
Despite your success, you guys have remained fairly anonymous. Is that deliberate?
Honestly, it's just the way things have worked out for us. We really like it that way. We can walk down the street and not be recognized. I get recognized the odd time here or there, but it's not something we've tried to stay away from, being in the public eye.
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