With a pair of tour dates in the Houston area upcoming, frontman Jonny Hetherington of the Canadian hard rock band Art of Dying recently took a few minutes to talk to The One Magazine.
TOM: You guys seem to spend more time on the road that just about anyone. Do you write on the road?
JH: Our schedule on this tour has been too crazy to even think about writing. I do most of my writing at home on time off, in the studio when we’re recoding or with the guys when we schedule some writing time together.
TOM: What are some of the things you like to do on days off while touring?
JH: Poker. We just finished 2 days off in Vegas where I played in my first WPT event. I also like to find a great local restaurant and eat some good food. One of the cool things about touring is getting to try different food that is unique to the region your in.
TOM: Your first album spawned a successful single, but it was your second that got some singles on the charts. What was the difference, for you, between writing and producing the first and the second album?
JH: The self titled album was something we did over a few months in Vancouver with a producer and engineer that were friends. We lived and breathed that recording, working most nights until the sun came up. One of those magical records where you’re burning the midnight oil at the console talking creativity and inspiration, surrounded by empty bottles, crushed cans and full ashtrays. It was a very musical record and Darryl (Producer Darryl Romph) pushed us to get unique performances. One of the highlights for me was sitting down and recording ‘Dog Is My Copilot’ in one take on my acoustic guitar.
We made Vices and Virtues in LA with Producer Howard Benson and finished it with Disturbed guitarist Dan Donegan producing in Chicago. The Chicago sessions were a lot like the Vancouver ones, but the focus was on work ethic. We knocked that out in 2 weeks. The LA sessions were the opposite in many ways. We would roll into the studio at 1pm with a couple of bottles of cheap champagne tear off our shirts and have fun. It was still hard work, but it really had this loose LA shine to it.
TOM: How and where did you record “Rise Up”?
JH: We did our latest record in New Jersey with producer David Bendeth. This was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. He pushed us beyond our limits and back again. He forced us to have personal realizations that lead to better performances and better songs. We really had to strip everything away to make this record and you will be able to hear that. We’re extremely proud of each of the 13 songs which will be out later this year. The 5 song EP we just released on iTunes and Spotify is a great sample of the vibe of the album.
TOM: Everyone sees band members come and go, but you guys have held things fairly stable for a number of years, even with all the time on the road. How has that relative stability affected things like songwriting and working new material out together on stage?
JH: It’s been amazingly important. We are an ‘actual’ band, which I think has become more rare these days. Sometimes it’s tough being stuck on a tour bus together for a few months but I think we do really well at balancing ourselves out here. We’re a family and family looks after each other, plain and simple. You hear that strength in the music and in our live performances.
TOM: Art of Dying has played some of the biggest stages, played on the biggest festivals, and the band is still touring and playing smaller, more intimate venues. Do you have a preference between the large or small venues and why?
JH: I like them both for different reasons. The energy at a large show comes from a roaring crowd as far as the eye can see, it’s very powerful. At smaller venues it’s about sharing a special moment together, being able to look directly into people’s eyes and reach out and touch them. I sang part of ‘Get Thru This’ into a special fan’s ear the other night in the front row while holding her. There’s nothing that can replace that.
TOM: What are your plans for the rest of 2015?
JH: We will be touring for the next few years in support of ‘Rise Up’. The reaction to the EP has been amazing, so we’re really looking forward to releasing the album this year. Our Die Hard fans are very special to us and we can’t wait to see you all on the road!
Tickets for the Houston show are still available at: Art of Dying at BFE Rock Club