It is a bitterly cold minus forty Celsius, snowy day in Edmonton, Alberta, but I am having a warm and friendly chat with Greg Bradley, Guitarist and founding member of Vancouver based rock outfit Art of Dying. Lead Vocalist Jonny Hetherington will be joining me at a later date to give me a deeper insight into the band.
Bradley is quick to point out that it is also snowing in Vancouver. I am quick to bring him back to reality by suggesting it is probably plus six Celsius in Vancouver.
He concedes with a laugh and we get to chatting…
Art of Dying formed in 2004.
Singer, Jonny Hetherington was singing on the streets of Vancouver. Bradley, taking a stroll with friends, heard Hetherington’s (louder than a regular person) voice and followed the sound. What he found was the six foot something Hetherington, singing for his supper. The two (who incidentally both hail from Alberta, Canada) have been together since that first meeting and are also partners in their own Record label Thorny Bleeder Records (the label that the first Art of Dying record, Art of Dying was represented by, also based in Vancouver) along with Brian Thompson, a very well known and highly commended voice in the Canadian music industry.
The current Art of Dying line up (since 2008) consists of Jonny Hetherington: lead locals and shirtless dude, Greg Bradley: guitar and Non-fiery Redhead, Tavis Stanley: guitar and sleeping in, Cale Gontier: bass and all around good looking bloke and Jeff Brown: drums and shotgun!
Art of Dying are very well known in North America for touring with Disturbed, and are signed to the Reprise Intoxication (Warner) recording label of Dan Donegan and David Draiman.
The band name comes from the longer statement “The Art of Dying is my life to live.” This basically means that we are all dying and we should make the most of life on that journey to death. This band is doing just that!
Currently on a break from an almost full year of touring, when asked about the transition from touring on a mobile man cave to the static living of house dwelling, Bradley described the road and home as “completely different entities altogether. The road is a bizarre reality. You sleep in a bunk every night and you are in close quarters with ten or so other guys. At home you have space, you get to sleep in your own bed and focus on totally different demands. I wouldn’t say I prefer either. I love being out on the road and playing shows, but I love coming home and spending time with my family. At home you are not playing shows. There are pros and cons to everything you do.”
The reason for the almost full year of “Bus life” was the release of the CD Vices and Virtues on March 22 2011. Previous to 2011, the band members would use and drive themselves, in an RV whenever they were on the road. While they toured with “The Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival,” a large shiny bus was provided, but Bradley seemed unsure whether they would be treated to another such vehicle once the band hit the road again in 2012. “Busses are not cheap” he quipped. Neither, I thought to myself is Jack Daniels, as I asked him about a recently viewed YouTube video I had seen, where Whiskey is being poured into the hands of the singer and then massaged into his hair!
Bradley laughed, as he explained “that was Cale (he is referring to the band’s bassist, formerly with Canadian outfit Thornley) pouring Jack Daniels into the hands of Jonny. He does it every night, it’s his pre-show ritual.” I did suggest that this was possibly a waste of good alcohol. “That and I don’t think I could stand up smelling JD in my hair every night. It works for him though,” he states with a chuckle. Again referring to Hetherington!
After spending a large period of time in Los Angeles and Chicago writing and recording at the tail end of 2010 and beginning of 2011, the Howard Benson produced record, Vices and Virtues was finally released to the Die Hards (as the Art of Dying fans have become affectionately known) and the work to promote began. This is the second CD for the band, but the first on the Reprise Intoxication/Warner label.
I was curious as to why the songs Completely and I Will Be There had been lyrically changed for production on Vices and Virtues (both songs were also on the self- titled record). “Some changes, though very minor, were needed on Vices and Virtues.” Bradley explained. “We were signed on the strength of these songs, the label really liked them, but at production if we thought changes were needed, we made those changes to improve songs for the record.” Vices and Virtues definitely shows a grittier, heavier Art of Dying as a result of this.
In addition to the CD release, the song Get Thru This (penned by Hetherington at the futon store in Vancouver where he worked, the day he found out his father was sick with cancer) was used by the WWE and also became part of the sound track on the movie Transformers 3, Dark of the Moon.
Bradley explained “That is really good exposure for us. Facebook is kind of crazy for that too.” Art of Dying is currently close to 50,000 followers on the social network! “Our label and publishing company have pitched several more songs from the CD and there is current discussion over that, but I am not sure yet what shows and events they will be used on.”
When I suggested that perhaps a move to the US was imminent I was both surprised and relieved at the answer. “We have talked about it,” answered Bradley, “but we are all Canadian and we love Canada. “Me, Jeff and Jonny all live in Vancouver and we spend so much time in the U.S. on tour it is nice to come home to Canada.” He didn’t rule out a property purchase “somewhere in central U.S.” in the future, but “retaining a home in Canada too.”
When asked why the song Vices and Virtues didn’t make it onto the CD of the same name? “Songs are being wood shedded for the next record, but it is unlikely that we will even start work on that before the end of this year. Vices and Virtues may or may not make it on to the next record, depending on the repertoire of material we have ready at that time. Most of 2012 will be spent supporting Vices and Virtues.”Bradley is the only member of the band (and in fact the only person I have ever met) that doesn’t sign his actual name when Autographing for Die Hards, he explained the reason for this. “When I started doing the autograph thing it just developed. Signing just my name didn’t represent the band, I wanted something more defined. I wanted to tie my name in with the band.” To top his unique autographing style, he is the only red-haired member in the band. I wondered, does this make him more temperamental and fiery? “It’s the old cliche, ‘fiery redhead’, no, not really,” is the answer. “I’m actually the mellow one, the others are out of control,” he replied, with a hearty laugh. “I try to stay in control… I do have my moments!”
Bradley also explained that discussions were not even happening at this point, when I asked him about further collaboration ideas for the next record. Adam Gontier (singer for Three Days Grace and cousin of bass player Cale) was featured as a guest singer on the song Raining from the CD Vices and Virtues.
An announcement regarding the next Art of Dying road trip, at this point penned only for North America, will be made very shortly and judging from the messages left on Twitter and Facebook, it cannot come soon enough. This band has a daily increase in its following and it shows no sign of slowing at present.
It is time for my chitter chatter with Bradley to end, but before I let him go off and pack his case for his next bus adventure with nine other fellas, I wanted to know what his “vices” were. He laughed as he said “I’ve been trying to cut down my vices all my life. Let’s just say my vices start with the bottle, I go too far in the moment and usually end up paying for it!”
Greg Bradley was courteous, friendly and well mannered during this interview, he didn’t go too far, no booze was harmed in the making of this article, but I still won’t be buying him a beer, just a precaution!
Die Trying was voted Tunelab Single of the year 2011
Die Trying was voted #16 for 2011 by Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue/ Sixx AM) on Sixx Sense
Visit http://www.artofdyingmusic.com/ for more info on the band.