Neil Sanderson, 2007


Written & Photos by: Jason Perlman


I believe the last time we checked out Three Days Grace live was the Rolling Rock Town Fair a few years back.
In Latrobe. It was really muddy. And there was the rotating stage with all the fury. (The fight between Finch and Disturbed)


What is it like to be in front of that many people and when you break into a chorus, tens of thousands are screaming your lyrics back at you?
Well, I think we get most if not all of our energy from the crowd. If the crowd is pumping energy back at us, then we kind of redistribute it back to them. So to have people freaking out like that and going crazy is what really drives us, so it is kind of important that the fans are like that. And this part of the country is very memorable to us for the type of rock energy the crowd brings compared to other places.


You have been to Columbus several times, and tonight is no exception with the sold-out crowd. When you come to a city several times and see a lot of the same people, does it make it easier to travel with some expectations?
I think you definitely get a crowd who knows what we are about and knows what to expect from us, and that makes it really cool because everybody is on the same level and singing every song, and not just the sings. That is really cool when the whole crowd knows your records from top to bottom.


Three Days Grace has an odd position on Jive Records in that you are one of the few rock bands, most are pop. Much like Nickelback on Roadrunner Records, except their library is mostly metal. How has it been for Three Days Grace to be in that position of minority when it comes to music genre?
It was good for us because it meant there were not a lot of other rock bands people were too busy with in the rock world. But as a band when we signed, we didn't really care who was on our roster, it was more that we wanted a label that realized we had a vision as a band and that we are not really into people stepping on our toes too much. So that was the biggest thing and we sided ourselves with people that let us do our thing and give us space.

With that freedom, I think with the time between records as a factor, there really as been a lot of growth as a band. How important was it to have a label that didn't say, "Go write us another I Hate Everything About You" when writing One-X?
I think we just remained true to ourselves and just let things happen naturally. Especially when it came to song writing, we definitely eliminated that time is a factor so we didn't really succumb to any outside pressures as far as getting this record or song done by a certain time. I think the end result when you just let things kind of happen is a more real product instead of trying to force something. As soon as you force anything, I think it affects your creativity.


You are playing with Buckcherry who years ago really set the path of music back to straightforward rock and roll. Was the band excited to hear it was playing with Buckcherry? Was this a band that influenced Three Days Grace or was the band influenced by different genres of music?
Yea, I think they are really cool guys and I like watching the band because they definitely bring it live. It's cool for us to play with cool people. For us, we just don't want to tour with any assholes. So it's about cool people with cool bands that are down on the same level we are because there are too many bands out there that think they are better than anyone else, and we just don't have time for that type of personality.


How does the writing process go for the band?
It is all collaborative. We all write and bring it to the table. We basically write with acoustic guitars and a hand drum. We have a philosophy that no matter how heavy it is going to be at the end, if you can break it down to just a guitar, a vocal and a drum it should sound great, and whatever we add to it will just make it sound better. We want to be able to strip it down and it still be a good song.


When you do that and then take the stripped-down version into the studio or play it live, are you ever surprised at where it went?
Oh yea, that is the fun of recording. It's that you know the core of the song and when you have that core down, you are in a more relaxed state because you are not looking for the song, just what flavors you want to put on it. And that is exciting in the studio when you do that. We try to be as prepared as we can entering the studio as far as the writing is concerned, and not try to write too much as we go into the studio. Once you are in the studio, that is another time factor and you really just can't chill out and let it happen. We have to get the job done so we try not to write or rewrite too much once we get into the studio.


I talked with Josh Todd of Buckcherry who mentioned they got their CD out in 15 days, and the pressure of getting it done quick may have helped in making heart-felt decisions. Do you find it helpful being under a time restraint?
For us, it is actually not helpful. Our songs are only ready when they are ready and that is our best product. Mind you, I do think you can over think things with that time, but there is a fine balance of not rushing and still being able to put out what you want to so that in the end, you are not, 'Ugg, in the end if I just had a little more time, the song would have been this way.' But we can't get too obsessive with it, either.


What do you do to keep yourselves and music fresh each night? It can be easy to get in a rut playing a lot of the same songs night after night.
We go off on musical tangents a lot and jam a lot. We will go off on solo interludes and do different things like that. We will switch the set list a lot and just city-to-city helps prevent boredom because each crowd is so different. All of that keeps it fresh for us.

What do you do personally to get ready?
I just drink some red wine and I warm up before shows with a pair of sticks and a drum pad. We listen to metal before shows and chilled music after shows. Meshuggah before shows and Bob Marley after. I like to get pumped up before shows so I can go out there ready to rip somebody's head off.


I coach a ladies' field hockey team and they talk about your music. So is it ever strange for you to hear how people use your music in their daily lives?
I think it is really cool and that is probably most important to us, as an artist is to hear from other people about what they think of our music and how it has affected them. Because that is how we write, we write about our own experiences and personal observations about the world and ourselves. And the advantage of being in a band is that you get to hear from other people what they take from your songs and how they use it in their own lives and use it on their own level and that is pretty gratifying as an artist. If you are a painter, you probably want people to look at your painting and hear how it affects them personally. Maybe not, but we definitely do as part us being a band. We have had people come up to us and say a song of ours changed their life and gave them a new perspective that perhaps we didn't intend when writing it, which is what makes it so cool.


You personally as a drummer and the few times I have seen you, you definitely don't play lightly.
No, I lean into it. I like to lean into it because music to me is a form of art but also a form of venting and release. I am already high strung enough, so if I didn't play drums I would be bouncing off the walls or something.


How many sticks do you go through a night?
I go through a lot. But now, I can feel within the stick when it is about to break, so I have bought myself some time, but yea, I go through a lot.


And with that, as a band on stage it seems members release themselves differently and expresses themselves individually without losing the band mentality.
Well, we are all experienced players and we all have the same passion for playing live. So we all take our live shows very seriously and put a lot into it. We put the live show up on a pedestal and we each try to bring it individually and collectively. We just do what we do and with the people put together in this band and that is the end result.


There seems to be a couple of schools about songwriting. Josh Todd says people like to party; people like to fight and people like to fuck. If you write a song about one of those, people will want to listen. But then there are those who thing a positive message is more important. Where does Three Days Grace fit in those two schools of thought?
I think we like to write about hope and from our own experiences, we have gone through different experiences where we felt individually we have hit rock bottom. And steering your way out of that is a tough thing to do, and we have been there and a lot of other people have been there and we definitely write about that. We wrote a lot about that on this record. I think that is what a lot of people can relate to. We have written about personal struggles drawn from our own experiences. And like Josh said, people fight and fuck, but they also go through a lot of shit that a lot of other people do that people don't talk about because there may be a stigma attached to it. And if we can break down the stigma a little but by singing about our personal demons, then I think we did what we set out to do. That is what we are about as a band right now.

I remember speaking with the former drummer from Good Charlotte about this very subject and the fact that a band can become psychologist very quickly. How do you feel about being put in that position?
Well, I think people that can communicate well are so few and far between generally, so hearing someone out who has something personal to say is fine by me. I think as long as you stay true to yourself and as long as you put yourself out there, then you are saying to your fans that you are somewhat taking on that role of being public and approachable. And it's very cool to be in that position.