Art of Dying (left to right)—Greg Bradley, Jeff Brown, Jonny Hetherington, Travis Stanley, and Cale Gontier
Living It Up, In the Studio and On Tour
ART OF Dying is living it up. Speaking from the road, guitarist Tavis Stanley is feeling no pain, aided by a few beers and a triumphant performance. Of course, this is par for the course for the Canadian hard rock quintet, formed in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2004. Indeed, it’s hinted at right in the band’s name.
“The phrase ‘art of dying’ comes from a longer sentence, ‘The art of dying is my life to live,’ which is saying you don’t know when you’ll pass away, so it’s all about making the most of your time here while you’re on this planet,” explains Stanley. “And we do that with our music, we do that in our show, we do that in our lives; we just basically have a good time and create the best possible scenario for ourselves and to inspire others to do the same.”
With their approach that says the glass is half-full, but still needs a refill, Art of Dying has captured their positivity-enriched, melody-borne riffage on 2011’s sophomore album, Vices and Virtues, recorded in Los Angeles with in-demand producer Howard Benson (Three Days Grace, P.O.D., Three Doors Down). Additionally, some finishing production was done in Chicago with Intoxication Records’ label head Dan Donega (of Disturbed). Building on an appreciation for the dynamics of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Metallica, and Alice in Chains, the band–Stanley, guitarist Greg Bradley, bassist Cale Gontier, drummer Jeff Brown and vocalist Jonny Hetherington– constructed multi-part vocal harmonies atop drop-B tuning and quickened rhythms, though they weren’t afraid to throw in some ballads.
“On this record, Cale, Jonny, and I just pushed ourselves over the limit, went into the vocal room with a bottle of champagne and some beers and sang higher and harder than we’ve ever sang before,” laughs Stanley. “We also opened ourselves up to more experimentation with Howard Benson’s team. We put like an 89 [gauge], a big, fat bass string, on Jonny’s late-’70s [Gibson] Firebird, and recorded that for the heavies. And we’d do some strange stuff , like going next door to the studio to a gym and recording skipping ropes spinning through the air for a swirling, windy reverb, and then drumming rhythms on dumbbells. You can hear that in the bridge on ‘Completely,’ and there’s probably some bottles smashing in the background if you listen hard!”
Armed with an arsenal of Yamaha drums; Ampeg, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, and Bogner amps; Ernie Ball bass; plus Les Paul, Yamaha SG, Schecter, and B.C. Rich guitars; Art of Dying blended tonal concepts and vibey arrangements originally demoed to Logic or Garage Band running on a MacBook Pro. Art of Dying also recorded a duet with fellow Canadian Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace, which may see itself fully performed as the two bands tour together for the UPROAR Festival. The final result assures the stage will be alive with rousing anthems of determination.