artofdying

One year, one major label debut album, countless festival dates, one cutting edge video, and three hit singles that are taking America by storm...  what have YOU done this year?  The aforementioned is just the status quo for Cale Gontier and the boys from Art of Dying.  The Canadian quintet first infiltrated our borders and burst onto the scene in early 2011, and has played the part of Rock n' Roll's Pied Piper leaving a trail of followers all across the States.  Recently, this lemming had the chance to catch up with bassist Cale Gontier to get the forecast for this musical monsoon.  So sit back, relax, and grab a cold one as we touch on everything from AOD-to-ESP-to- another Canadian weather phenomenon that involves Leafs that blow year round.

AWAY-TEAM:  Congratulations on the tremendous success of Vices and Virtues.  It's definitely well-deserved...

CALE GONTIER:  Thank you so much man, appreciate that!

AWAY-TEAM:  Now, it's well documented that the band takes it's name from part of an even longer phrase, 'The art of dying is my life to live...', but where did that phrase actually originate?

CALE GONTIER:  Ya know man, I think that whole phrase just kinda, it's kinda how we roll as a band.  It's just about enjoying your time, and making the best of your time realizing that you're not gonna be around forever, and just having fun.  Day to day having fun, and doing what you wanna be doing, and that's what we do as a band.  I think that's how we all came together, and it's just sort of our motto.

AWAY-TEAM:  The current single, 'Sorry', your third off the album, has probably the coolest, most well done lyric video I've seen in a long time.  Where did the idea come from for such an artistic lyric video?

CALE GONTIER: Yeah, that lyric video has taken off.  It's almost gone viral online, it's getting tons of hits on YouTube and stuff.  Usually all the videos that we've done in the past, the band's been involved in, and the lyric videos have been fairly simple, but with this one we decided to go down a bit of a different road.  We got a couple of actors from L.A., who did a great job, and the people at Warner Brothers had alot of input on it, and it turned out really cool.  It tells the story of the song within that three minute lyric video, and it was just really well done, and I think that alot of people can really relate to that song in one way or another.  Just needing to apologize for something, whatever that may be, it doesn't necessarily have to be the relationship like it is in the video.  But yeah, we actually just recorded an acoustic version of the song in Chicago with Dan Donegan from Disturbed, who produced it.  We're doing this really cool thing on Facebook where, Jonny our singer started this thing after that lyric video, the last scene in the video is where the girl holds up a piece of paper that says "Sorry" on it, she's apologizing to the dude, so we're doing this cool online thing where all of our fans and followers online have been changing their profile pictures to a picture of them saying "Sorry" in one way or another.  Most of the time it's them holding up a piece of paper that says "Sorry", or they've written it on their arm, or gotten creative with it, and that's kinda taken off online as well.  So what we're gonna do is choose the coolest pictures, and they're actually gonna be in the new video for the acoustic version of the song.  We're actually in the process of doing that right now, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that turns out as well.

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah, I noticed that myself.  That was actually gonna be my next question.  But getting back to the lyric video, I wanted to ask, being that music videos are now mostly relegated to the web, do you think videos such as the one you've just put out are the wave of the future?

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah, I kinda think so man.  We were just experimenting a little bit, but I think with alot of the Fuse, MTV, and MuchMusic it seems like videos are getting less and less air time.  For that same reason, people are spending less and less money on them, and I think Facebook and YouTube is where it's at right now.  That's where it's gonna get seen, so if you can do something that is creative, and that is cool, and is different, and spread the word online, kinda like what happened with that lyric video, I think that's the new way to go.  It's not like we spent a ton of money on  it or anything, it's just it was something cool and creative, and people were digging it, and they can be a part of it with these profile pictures and all that, so it does seem to me that that's happening more and more for sure.

AWAY-TEAM:  When you joined the band, you had been playing with Thornley at the time, how did you end up in Art of Dying? And more importantly, I'm gonna make an assumption here, how did a Leafs fan end up in a band with a bunch of Canuck fans? (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) That's a great assumption! (laughs) You know what man, we are all hockey fans by the way, but I don't wanna talk about the Leafs too much, they let me down this year!  But as far as how we all came together, I guess the conduit was our drummer Jeffy Brown, he is from Guelph, Ontario, and he used to play in a band with my older brother in Guelph.  He ended up moving to Vancouver, and he hooked up with Jonny and Greg, and they started playing together.  Me and Tavis were living in Toronto, playing in a bunch of different bands, we were playing with Thornley/Big Wreck for like five years... and even how that came about, my cousin Adam sings in Three Days Grace, and on their first album I was on the road with Three Days as a guitar tech, even though I had no idea what I was doing, I was just helping out and having fun with Adam, and I went to high school with all the other guys too.  So I was out with them, and Thornley opened for Three Days, after a little while I befriended Tavis and Ian (Thornley).  A year later when that tour was done, Ian was looking for a bass player, and Adam suggested that he give me a call.  He did, and I started playing with them, and that's how I got super tight with those guys.  We played for five years, and me and Tavis are best buddies.  Then the original Art of Dying, with Jeffy playing drums, came to Toronto to play Canadian Music Week, which is kind of like Canada's SXSW, and I put the guys up at my place for like 7 or 10 days.  They just crashed on couches and floors at my place, and we just really hit it off as friends.  Everyone was super cool, and we had a good time as friends first, we'd just go out and have some drinks and have a good time, and the idea of Tavis and I going out on a little Canadian tour they had booked came up one night, and we thought maybe it was crazy enough that we could pull this off.  So Tavis and I cancelled a few things, the first time we ever played together was during a sound check at the first show at the University of Calgary, for like eight people! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  But, once we started playing together on that little Canadian run, we were already good friends, and musically we just really connected.  One of our things, Tavis and I sang our asses off in Thornley for a bunch of years, and we just love singing harmonies, so we just jumped in singing three-parts on all of the Art of Dying songs.  Then we started writing new songs, and we just felt that we had something special all of a sudden.  That's so hard to come by, and that's the most important thing, in my opinion, being in a band, you gotta live with these people ten months a year when you're touring.  When you get something special like that, you really better lock it in, so that's what we did.  Everybody dropped everything basically, and we decided to solidify Art of Dying.  That was about five years ago, and it didn't take long after that.  We started to get on some better tours, Disturbed took us out a couple times, and at that time we didn't even realize that Dan and David from Disturbed even had a record label.  We just thought they were buddies, and digging our music, but they were watching from the front of the house every night, at our sound checks every day, and in hindsight the couple of tours that we did with Disturbed were actually showcases for their label, Intoxication.  Then they flew us down to Chicago, and said they wanted to sign us.  We were super stoked, and everything's been moving pretty fast, and going great since then.

AWAY-TEAM:  I gotta tell you man, you're pretty good, this is the second "next question" that you already answered for me! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) I keep doing that, shit! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs) No that's good, you're making my job easier! (laughs)   You mentioned writing new songs, I understand that the writing sessions for this record involved getting together in some weird locations.  Tell me about some of those locations, and what place was the most inspirational, or productive?

CALE GONTIER:  Well, because we live on different sides of the country, when we're not on the road we're not all together as a band.  Jeffy, Jonny, and Greg all live in Vancouver, I live in Toronto, 3,000 miles away, and Tavis just kinda floats around wherever, he's a gypsy when we're not touring. (laughs)  So when we do an intentional writing trip, we  always try to go somewhere cool, somewhere inspirational, like you said.  But we've done a few different ones, like we met up at our buddy's house in the interior British Columbia.  This kinda small ski town, just outside Colona, and we just set up shop there for a few weeks.  Set up our gear in the basement, it was just a good vibe, we were barbecuing for ourselves every night.  Most of our songs come from just sitting around with an acoustic, just bouncing ideas off each other.  When we do get together for a little writing trip like that, we've all been writing on our own, so we just bounce ideas off each other; and they get better and better, once everyone puts their own twist on it.  Jonny's just sick, and comes up with good melodies, and stuff like that.  So that was a good one, when we went to Colona for a few weeks, got alot of good stuff done there.  Another one, we went to Chicago, which Chicago is like our second home now with our connection with Disturbed, and we ended up doing half of Vices and Virtues there.  Dan Donegan produced, and we went to a studio called Groovemaster, Johnny K's studio in Chicago, that's just a super cool old building that Al Capone used to own, and just good things always seem to come when we put ourselves in a situation like that, ya know.

AWAY-TEAM:  You mentioned Dan producing, what's he like in the studio?  Is he more of a demanding hands-on type?  Or is he more of a "Do what you do, and we'll tweak it later" type?

CALE GONTIER:  Danny is really more of a hands-on guy.  He's obviously a super talented musician, and he's got great input.  He's not always diving in, or getting in there too much, he'll sit back... but he's not shy, and usually when he does jump in and say something he's got a great idea, ya know what I mean.  He's great, and a super hard worker, we'll start at 10 a.m. and we'll go 'til midnight, so we're not messing around.  We'll get alot of work done, and he spends 3 hours a day on his hands and knees dialing knobs on the guitar heads to get these sick tones, and he's got a bunch of cool little tricks.  I think he really respects us, and likes our songwriting, and likes our band, which is probably why they signed us in the first place, so.  He doesn't dive in too much, he sits back and lets us do our own thing, but when he does get in there he's got some really sick ideas.

AWAY-TEAM:  You guys have been touring your asses off, as a matter of fact, you just mentioned Chicago, you just played there last night...

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah, it was great! We opened for Shinedown at the House of Blues, and it was off the hook.  It was a good show.

AWAY-TEAM:  When can we expect to see you back in the studio recording the next studio album?

CALE GONTIER:  That's a good question man.  We are ready to go, whenever the time is right.  We're writing on the road, and we're always writing when we're at home, so we feel like we're ready to go whenever the time is right.  But at the same time, we didn't wanna rush into anything.  We're super excited about Vices and Virtues, and we're really proud of that record.  We have been touring it hard, we're on our third single now, but "Sorry" is doing really well at the moment.  It's in the Top 20, and still picking up steam, so we'll see how far we can take that.  Then I'm pretty sure we'll get to another single after that, so I think there's alot of different factors involved.  We've got a bunch of different tours lined up, we finish this little run at Rocklahoma on the 27th, and then we go home for a few weeks, then we're coming back out at the end of June.  We're gonna be going pretty hard again, as of then, so.  Ya know, we wanna be on the road supporting Vices and Virtues as long as we can.  So we'll see what happens.  My best guess is that we'll tour Vices and Virtues until December-ish, and then we'll take a look at it then.  Maybe even get out early next year on Vices and Virtues, and then think about the studio, or maybe once we take a break at the end of this year, maybe that will be the time.  I think we'll just have to see what's going on with the singles, and what kind of tours we've got lined up, and all that.  We are ready to go, and I'm pretty sure the second album is gonna be a step up from the last one.

AWAY-TEAM:  Speaking of touring, and the next single, alot of bands have that, for lack of a better word, that "B-Side" that they'll break out.  A song that might not have been released as a single, but the crowd goes nuts for it.  What's your "B-Side"?  And does crowd response ever factor into the selection of a new single?

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah, absolutely man.  I guess for us, right now, a song that is on Vices and Virtues and hasn't been released as a single, but people really seem to be stoked about, and always ask for is "Best I Can".  Which is kinda one of the mellower tracks on the record, but it's a really special song for us.  To be honest, it's one of my favorites on the record, and alot of people seem to be into that song.  It's tough when we're out on all these opening festivals, you only usually get like 30-35 minute sets, 40 if we're lucky, so we gotta be really selective.  Often we'll only get to play six songs, so we can't sneak in a song like that.  People are hitting us up on Facebook the next day, saying "Great set, but I really wanted to hear 'Best I Can'"  It is, I guess a bit of a ballad, for lack of a better word.  But people really seem to dig that song.  I don't know if it's because they can relate to it, it seems to be a special song for alot of people.  We've actually had some really cool moments with it live.  Like, we were playing on the Uproar Festival last summer, and one of our more special moments was when there was a huge mosh pit in the middle from the song before, and we kicked into "Best I Can", and at the back of this mosh pit all of these shirtless dudes fucking picked up this dude in a wheelchair and passed him 80 feet through the crowd, up and over the barricade where the security grabbed him.  That was while we were playing "Best I Can", that's the first time I've ever seen anything like that, I was blown away!  That was a pretty special moment.

AWAY-TEAM:  Man, I've got goosebumps! That's awesome!

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah exactly! That was crazy.

AWAY-TEAM:  Now, you mentioned this earlier, but you actually have two major label recording artists in your family, which is a bit of a rare feat, especially when it's not a sibling, or someone in the same band.  Who inspired yourself and Adam to become musicians?  Do you come from a musical family?

CALE GONTIER:  Yup.  Absolutely man.  I think our biggest influence would be my older brother, Josh, he's 3 1/2 years older than me.  He taught me and Adam, both to play guitar when we were twelve or thirteen.  Josh is a monster guitar player, and he's a great singer.  Everybody in our family is quite musical, ya know.  Josh plays music for a living, he's not signed to a major, but he plays five nights a week in clubs around our hometown of Peterborough, which is just outside of Toronto.  My mom sings and plays guitar.  Adam's mom is like a lounge piano player/jazz player, she plays for a living.  Their brother, my Uncle Tom is a monster musician, as well.  So we definitely come from a  musical family.  But Josh taught us to play and it just kinda snowballed from there.  Once we were old enough, we moved from Peterborough, up to Toronto.  I was crashing on Adam's couch, and we were hosting open stages and stuff like that, playing acoustic, and singing harmonies for $40 and free drinks, and just having fun with it.  That kinda spawned the Three Days Grace thing, and I touched on that story a little bit before.  Adam and I are super tight, we're pretty much brothers, our moms are sisters, and our dads are brothers, and we're two months apart in age.  Ya know, we've just grown up together, and he's my best friend, we talk every day.  It is pretty special, it's pretty cool to look at now, I just wish we could tour together more. (laughs) To be honest.  We did that Uproar Festival last summer, like I said, and Three Days was direct support for Avenged Sevenfold, we were on the second stage in the afternoon, but it was cool to be on a big two month run like that.  Every morning I'd walk up to the main stage area and have coffees with Adam on his bus, and every afternoon he'd come out on our stage during our set and sing "Raining" with us...

AWAY-TEAM:  God damn!  Three times! (laughs) That's the third one Cale! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  That's the third time? (laughs) I'm sorry man, I'm stealing your thunder! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs) No man, like I said, you're making my job easier! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) No but, that was super special for me.  To be able to do that every day, and have Adam up with us every night.  Yeah it's awesome man, really cool.

AWAY-TEAM:  That is cool.  We recently lost MCA of the Beastie Boys who, alot of people look at him as an MC but he was actually under-appreciated as a bass player.  Name the top three bass players that you appreciate for having an impact on the way you play.

CALE GONTIER:  I think probably my biggest influence is Mr. (Robert) DeLeo from Stone Temple Pilots.  I think he's a monster bass player, and he's also a great guitar player, and he writes alot of their songs acoustically, which I try to do.  I play alot of guitar, and I'm always writing on the acoustic as well.  But I think his bass lines are the tastiest, they're not too much, they're just perfect.  I don't know what it is, but he seems to have a knack for putting the perfect bass line in there, ya know.  So he'd definitely be my number one.  John Paul Jones, of course, he blows my mind.  If I could ever get to a level like that, I'd be surprised. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  He's a monster.  Besides that man, I think just a couple of my friends.  I think Brad Walsh from Three Days, he plays Ernie Ball Manta just like me, he plays it down just like me, nothing too flashy, but tasty little pieces here and there.  Just a good solid player.  One of my other best friends, Tommy Gardner, he plays in a band called Before The Curtain, from my hometown of Peterborough, and actually Adam just signed them to his record label called Sludge Factory Records.  But those two dudes are a couple of my oldest and best friends, and they're super solid bass players, so I definitely put them on that list.

AWAY-TEAM:  At Coachella this year they brought back another deceased artist, in Tupac, as a hologram.  There's been rumblings of perhaps bringing back Freddie Mercury to play with Queen; which Roger Taylor, the drummer, said he'd have no part of.  What are your thoughts on that concept?  Is it good or bad for the industry?

CALE GONTIER:  Wow, umm, it's a pretty crazy idea.  A hologram of somebody that's passed away? I don't know.  I don't know if I really feel it man.  I think that it's definitely gonna be like actually seeing them perform live, it'll be a different experience.  I haven't thought about it too much, but I think my initial reaction is that I'd rather see them just leave it be, and not mess with a great thing, ya know?

AWAY-TEAM:  Right.  My thought is that it might water down the concert experience.  They might come around and say, Art of Dying is playing in San Francisco, but if you wanna see them in Chicago here's your hologram, ya know.  I don't know...

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) Yeah.  It's a strange idea.  But yeah, my initial reaction, I don't really like it.  I like the idea of an old school rock show.  When the band comes to your town, get your ticket, if you wanna get up to the front get in line early and work your way to the front.   I think there's something special about that whole concept.

AWAY-TEAM:  Absolutely!  Okay, last but not least, we touched on this a bit, but being from Peterborough you're probably just as big a hockey fan as I am, so who's winning the Cup?

CALE GONTIER:  Ooh, tough one!  It's been a crazy year in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, that's for sure.  I think right now, I'm putting my money on L.A.  I'm not specifically a Kings fan or whatever, but I think once they knocked off the Canucks... Jonathan Quick is a guy that could stand on his head and get them there, it just seems to me they're playing real well, and with alot of confidence.  I think they're gonna be tough to beat now.

AWAY-TEAM:  That's where I'm at.  I'm a Pens fan myself, and was a little disappointed, but I have a good buddy who's a huge Rangers fan, and he already beat me with his damn Giants in the Super Bowl, so I don't wanna see that happen twice.

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  Plus Jonathan Quick went to UMass, and I'm from that area, so.

CALE GONTIER:  Yeah, it was pretty crazy to see L.A. knock off the Canucks in the first round like that.  It was a bit of a disappointment for all the Vancouver fans on the bus here. (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  Yeah, that must have been a quiet ride! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) Win the President's Trophy, and get knocked out in the first round, that's kind of a tough pill to swallow.  But maybe since L.A. knocked them out, maybe that's why I keep pulling for them.  (laughs)  It feels a little better! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  Well at least there wasn't any riots this year! (laughs)

CALE GONTIER:  (laughs) Yeah exactly, right?  Thank God.  That was pretty silly that whole thing.

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah it was.  Well, hey man, thank you so much for your time.  Best of luck in everything you do, and I look forward to catching up with you when you get back here to Florida.

CALE GONTIER:  I hope so man.  My pleasure.  Thank you so much for doing this.

AWAY-TEAM:  The pleasure is all mine.  Appreciate it.

CALE GONTIER:  Alright Jay, take care man.

AWAY-TEAM:  You too. Bye.

 

 

For more Art of Dying, including tour dates and to purchase merchandise visit the band's official website here.

Special thanks go out to Cale Gontier for so graciously giving me his time, and to Andrew Steinthal and TJ Tauriello at Warner Bros. Records for making it all happen.