Art of Dying
October 18, 2016
Don’t let the name fool you. Art of Dying is a band full of life and talent. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, this band’s music is very easy on the ears and – warning – highly addictive. If you enjoy quality rock music, meaningful lyrics, and exceptional singing and harmony, then Art of Dying is the band for you.
Check out the review of one of the last shows on this past tour, the band’s new EP, as well as the chat with Bassist Cale Gontier below!
The Canadians dominated the night. On the evening of Tuesday, October 18, the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Cleveland Indians 5-1 in the fourth game of the Major League Baseball American League Championship Series. * Immediately following the Toronto win, the Canadian Band Art of Dying won the hearts (and ears) of the audience at The Outpost in Kent, Ohio. Art of Dying completely rocked the stage: Jonny Hetherington’s killer vocals, Tavis Stanley’s exceptional guitar playing, Cale Gontier’s energetic bass playing, and Cody Watkins’ mesmerizing drumming. The band captivated the audience from the first note of All or Nothing to final chord of Torn Down. (Check out the full set list below.) The harmonization was mind-blowing in all songs, especially Best I Can and Sorry. This is one solid band with absolute talent. Simply put, Art of Dying knocks it out of the ballpark.
* Although the Blue Jays won Game 4 of the ALCS, the Cleveland Indians went on to win Game 5, securing their spot in the World Series. Go Tribe!
It’s always inspiring to see a band go independent, tour without the support of a label, and self-produce an album. And when the album is phenomenal, like Art of Dying’s new EP Nevermore, it’s even more impressive. This record features quality rock with meaningful lyrics that listeners can understand and relate to. The the only issue with the record, if you want to call it that – you’ll become hooked, so, addictive personalities beware. In all seriousness, downloading Nevermore on iTunes will be the best $6 you’ve spent in recent times. Do it. You will be forever grateful.
My Life to Live
From the stage and in talking with Bassist Cale Gontier (see the chat below), we learn that the “art of dying” is really about living life, seizing and enjoying the day, and being happy. The band definitely appears to live this message because the band members’ passion and enjoyment of performing radiates to the crowd. In case you didn’t know, Canadians are extremely nice people. True to form, the guys in Art of Dying are huge huggers and don’t seem to know a stranger. After the show, the guys clearly enjoyed interacting with the audience, giving hugs and taking pics. If you missed Art of Dying this time around, hang in for the next tour. You won’t regret seeing this band live!
I had the fortunate experience to meet Cale Gontier in May 2016 at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan when I interviewed his cousin, Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace and Saint Asonia fame. After meeting Cale in May and learning that he’s a super cool and funny guy, I was stoked to be able to have a conversation with him prior to the Art of Dying show in Kent. Check it out!
So, the band has been on the road a good six weeks, correct?
That’s right. The tour was 7.5 weeks approximately, and we just about a week left.
Tell me a little bit about touring. I just recently returned from a two-month trip where I drove all over the country. It was an absolutely amazing and crazy experience. Fun, but crazy. How do you feel?
I feel pretty good considering. This time out we’ve toured in a van and rig. We’re in hotels every night, where in the past we’ve always been in a bus or bandwagon, sleeping in bunks. That was nice, it had its perks, but at the end of the day you’re never sleeping on solid ground.
In general, I feel better six weeks into this tour. You just need to make sure to take care of yourself…. Not partying too much, getting enough sleep. This tour has been full on. It’s been like 11 shows in 12 days with a day off or 6 shows in 7 days with a day off.
That’s tough. A lot of work! On average, how many hours do you drive per day?
I think the average is a couple hundred miles per day, so maybe three hours per day.
Have you guys ever camped along the way?
Yeah, the last few tours we did. On the last tour we were in a bandwagon, so we camped a fair bit. We could pull in a camp spot, and we actually had a poker table. We would throw up the poker table, get a fire going, do some barbequing and a little bit of fishing.
Art of Dying has been together since 2004, but how long have you been a member?
Tavis and I joined in 2008, maybe late 2007, so it’s pushing nine years. But, Tavis and I played in a band together before that for five years in a successful Canadian band called Thornley. We met the guys in Art of Dying when they came to Toronto from Vancouver for Canadian Music Week and stayed with me. We really hit it off as friends, started playing music together a little bit, and then the guys flew from Vancouver to Toronto to officially invite us into the band. And, we did. That was right before we got signed to Warner Brothers. We’ve been rolling ever since.
Right away, when I listened to your EP Nevermore, I absolutely loved it. Every song.
Thank you so much. We are excited to put out some new music. We wrote those songs awhile back and have been kind of sitting on them. We finished our deal with Eleven Seven Music, so we’re going on our own these days. We’re independent, which is good. So, we put out an EP. We’re calling the shots now and we don’t need to run that by anybody. We did a photo shoot, knocked out some artwork, and put it out there! It’s nice to be able to do that kind of thing now. We don’t need to jump through all the hoops with a major label.
Cliché question, but people have asked me. What is the meaning behind Art of Dying?
People ask about that because it sounds heavy, but it’s the opposite. It’s about how you live your life. It comes from a longer sentence: The Art of Dying is My Life to Live. It’s about realizing that life is precious, our time here is precious, so making the most of it. Which is how we roll as people… we make the most of every day and try to have fun.
Love it. That’s the exact message with Adventure Music Life. So, you’re wrapping up the tour, what will happen next?
We’re just finishing this seven week tour of 42 shows, and we’ll be home Sunday night. We’ll take a little bit of time off. But, with the new EP out, we just want to keep going. We have Shiprocked in January, and then we are hoping to do a Canadian tour after that.
How do you write songs as a band?
We do a little bit of everything because we all live in different places. Cody and I are outside of Toronto, Tavis is in Vegas now, and Jonny is in Vancouver. Everybody writes all the time when we’re home. So we do a fair bit of emailing ideas around. We’ll collaborate and add our own ideas. And, we try to make the best of our time when we’re on the road. We’ve been together for seven weeks, so we try to cash in on that time and do a bit of writing while we’re together. Once in a while we’ll book a writing trip. We’ve gone to the mountains in BC [British Columbia] for two weeks, and just locked down in a cottage and knocked out a bunch of ideas that way. Sometimes we have Skype writing sessions. So, it’s a bit of everything.
We just try to stay writing all the time. The more you write, the more likely you are to write something awesome. It takes a lot of work; we put a lot of time and effort into it. But, it’s a lot easier to sit down with two or three guys versus sitting down by yourself because you’re always bouncing ideas off of each other.
Good advice! Writing a song is still on my “to do” list. Anyway, so far on this tour or any tour in the past, do you have a favorite city or venue?
All spots are different and I like going to new places. But, I do get the most excited about some of the same old spots, like going to Vegas. We love to play poker, so we always try to have a day or two off in Vegas to go to the casinos. Also, cool cities like New York or Chicago. But really we enjoy going everywhere… seeing beautiful scenery and cool little towns.
Your brother is a musician, as well? I ask because I remember that Adam said he got into music because of your brother.
Yes, my older brother, Josh. He plays solo four nights a week in Peterborough, Ontario. He used to be in a funk band called Slow Nerve Action, which did pretty well in Canada for a bunch of years. He’s about 3.5 years older than Adam and I, and he taught us both to play when we were old enough to get into it. Josh is a monster guitar player, so he started teaching us how to play, and we ran with it from there.
What was your first concert and who were you with?
[Laughter] I think I went to a couple with my folks when I was younger, but I don’t really remember. But, the first one I really remember was when Adam’s mum bought me and Adam tickets to see the Backstreet Boys in Toronto when we were early teenagers. [Lots of laughter]
Hilarious! What do you like to do outside of music?
When I’m home, I like doing stuff around the house, like doing some carpentry, and I just finished tiling my bathroom floor in the shower. I love playing poker, and I love sports.
Before we end, is there anything that you would want people to know?
I’d say, check out everything Art of Dying at artofdyingmusic.com, and don’t be shy to hit us up on Facebook if you have questions. We’re really on top of that stuff. And, come see us live. We’ll be touring a lot. That’s our favorite thing to do. We put on a good live show. Lots of three-part harmonies and high energy, and we come out and hang out after.
The Setlist (with links to iTunes)
- All or Nothing
- Die Trying
- You Don’t Know Me
- Tear Down the Wall
- Raining (featuring Adam Gontier of Saint Asonia)
- Best I Can
- Get Thru This
- Rise Up (featuring Dan Donegan of Disturbed)
- Torn Down
- A Chat with Adam Gontier of Saint Asonia and formerly Three Days Grace
- Cross Country Adventures
- Destination Vancouver (Coming Soon!)