“We haven’t had a party yet, but we will for sure.” — Interview with Three Days Grace.
The release of their sixth studio album, Outsider, recently pushed Three Days Grace into historic territory. The success of their singles, The Mountain and Infra-Red pushed them above Van Halen to hold the record for the most no.1 Billboard rock songs- ever. That’s more than Metallica, Aerosmith and Linkin Park. With the multi-platinum certified band also consistently reaching near 4 million spotify streams a month, Zach Barnes joins bassist Brad Walst to discuss the secret behind their success, the importance of discussing emotions and how Outsider came to fruition.
It’s been 2 and a half years since you last toured the UK, what’ve been the biggest changes for the band?
We took about a year and a half and we did our new record Outsider, we then did a little bit of touring this year but this is kind of the start of our cycle. We started in the UK and after this we’re travelling East all the way to Russia, then we’ll be home for a few days off in Canada for Christmas, and then we’ll be going back to the States. So it’ll be busy from here on out. We’ve been pretty busy with promoting the new record and it’s nice to be at home, but now it’s just time to be on the road.
How long did it take to write the entirety of Outsider?
We kind of decided to take our time with it, we probably started…a good year and a half ago. We had the same rehearsal space in downtown Toronto for about 15 years and we did all our previous records there, but we decided to get out of that situation just because it’s so busy now. Toronto is about 3 million people so we just converted my garage and my loft into a rehearsal area and a studio and we just went there. Niel, the drummer, has about 90 acres not too far from where I am, so between those two places we just took our time and wrote. It was good but the best thing about being outside the city is there’s no distractions and we can really focus on the craft.
So it produced a more relaxed kind of atmosphere?
Yeah, sometimes when we get stuck on a song we just normally get on our snowmobiles and dirt bikes or we have a bonfire and have a few beers so yeah it was pretty relaxed. it was a better overall environment for our record.
Outsider has been out for 8 months now, what have you found the overall feedback and reaction to have been?
It’s been really good yeah! it’s nice to play some new songs man, I mean, after 15 years you end up playing a lot of the same songs [laughs] so it’s been good to play a few new songs like The Mountain and Infra-Red, which makes a big difference.
Well you just named some of your singles there and there’s a stat going around which i’m sure you’re not tired of hearing- you just passed your 14th no.1 single, overtaking Van Halen. That’s more than luck surely? What’s your secret?
I don’t know if there is a secret man, you know, we just always look forward. Stats and stuff don’t affect us. When we tied them with The Mountain we didn’t even realise that we did so to beat them is pretty awesome. We still haven’t had a party yet but we will for sure.
The subject matter discussed throughout Outsider, like The Mountain, are very personal. Is it a biographical album?
Absolutely, music has always been a therapy for us. Everyday someone brings a new idea or feeling and we end up spending a lot of time talking about our life and things around us. So The Mountain has definitely got a message and I think it’s one that resonated with a lot of fans, just how to keep climbing everyday and keep fighting to get out of bed in the morning and to keep going forward.
Is that important for you as artists, to discuss in lyrical form?
Yeah absolutely. It’s definitely important for us to write because if we didn’t write we’d probably be needing some kind of therapy. [laughs]
There were numerous influences listed behind Outsider- from Genesis to Slipknot. How did you manage to hone them down and still keep the Three Days Grace sound?
We were writing this one for so long but early on we found we had this kind of ‘vibe’. We kind of related to The Lost Boys a little bit, but it was definitely Genesis. We’ve always experimented with new sounds and this time around it was us using a little bit more synth stuff. The cool thing about the synths is that we took it from our studio and when we went and recorded with it we found a guy who made analog synths; so we basically converted all our digital stuff to analog and it just opened up this new life. But we always step away a little bit so that we can see that vibe. We love making records as a whole and having a good flow through the record, but it was important to us to make that a feeling.
Is there a song on the record that is the most meaningful to you personally?
One of my favourites is The Abyss. It’s about getting stuck inside your head sometimes and trying to overcome that.
Before we wrap up- you’re not new to touring Europe but your support act, Bad Wolves, are. How easy do you find adjusting to life on the road in different continents?
It’s not too bad, you know, the hardest part for me, being from North America, is the time zone changes. I think I just got over jet lag [laughs] but I think as we go past Moscow it’s going to get tougher and tougher but it’s definitely cool to go to different countries, meet new fans and experience new things.