Once the lead singer of one of the biggest hard rock groups on the planet, Adam Gontier provided a huge jolt to the rock scene and the music industry when he announced his resignation from Three Days Grace in 2013, a band he had called home for close to 20 years.
Famous for his distinct gritty vocals that ranged at times from a high tenor to medium-low bass, Adam’s penchant for crafting high-octane, aggressive, and relatable rock radio hits earned him over 10 Number 1 songs on Rock Radio to his credit as the main songwriter of his former band.
But like all good things, they must invariably come to an end and Gontier is ready to begin anew. Now with one chapter behind him, Adam is now hoping to have lightning strike a second time through his brand new band Saint Asonia. Comprised of Adam Gontier, Mike Mushok (Staind), Corey Lowery (Eye Empire), and Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven), the members of this rock supergroup have a joint 25 Top Ten Rock Singles and 17 number one singles between each other, making this collaboration one of the hottest records of this past summer.
In anticipation of their upcoming tour here in the States, Derek recently sat down with Adam Gontier to look back on his career thus far and get the scoop of Saint Asonia. Check it out below, and be sure to pick up their self-titled today!
AltWire [Derek Oswald]: When did the idea first come about to begin Saint Asonia, and how did all of you come together? Were you all close friends beforehand or was it more complicated than that?
Adam Gontier [Saint Asonia]: We had toured together in the past and we were all kind of friends. Three Days Grace had toured together with Staind so Mike and I knew each other. We weren’t super close or anything, but when I left Three Days Grace, Mike called me and asked if I would like to do some writing with him. We both wanted to just sit down together with guitars and hang out, and not necessarily with the intention of making a record or putting a band together or anything like that. It turned out really well, and we ended up writing a couple of songs really fast. We just kept going, as there was really no point in stopping. I wanted to keep writing songs and so did Mike and so we did, and well…here we are!
AW: What made you decide to make your debut at Rock on The Range?
Adam Gontier: Yeah! That was our first show, that was pretty crazy. There wasn’t really any sort of real planning behind it. We simply got the opportunity and we were asked to do it, and we got asked to be their special guest on Saturday opening the stage at about noon. To me, there’s really not a better festival in America, that you can do to launch a band. We wanted to do it, so we took it. We didn’t expect the number of people who were there to be there at that time of day and it was just amazing. The crowd was large and the reaction was awesome, so it was a really cool first show.
AW: What challenges would you say you have faced with Saint Asonia that you perhaps didn’t face with Three Days Grace?
Adam Gontier: I feel that through making the Saint Asonia record and by working with Mike Mushok in general, the bar was raised from the beginning. He’s such an amazing musician and such a great songwriter, and when we got in the studio I think we challenged each other. He definitely challenged me both as a singer and as a songwriter with all the different styles of music he was bringing to the table, so I think we both pushed each other in the studio and in a really good way.
We had the freedom to just do whatever we wanted to do and I think that was one of the biggest differences in making this record, as compared to a Three Days Grace record because all the lyrics and the melodies were all me. It was up to me to make them good. Creatively it was very freeing for sure.
AW: Prior to the formation of Saint Asonia you had mentioned that you were working on a solo record that you planned to release in 2013 or 2014. Did Saint Asonia take the place of that, or are you still quietly working on your own solo record in between performing with Saint Asonia? Did some of the tracks you planned for that make it on this record?
Adam Gontier: Yeah absolutely. There are a few tracks such as “Leaving Minnesota” and “Try To Catch Up With The World” that I was working on a few years ago, but Saint Asonia definitely took the place of me working on a solo record. I wasn’t really working too hard on a solo record, but writing when I wanted to, and when me and Mike got together it turned into something really special. We took it very seriously when we realized it was something real that people were hopefully going to relate to and latch on to. When the opportunity came up that was my main focus and still is my main focus. Saint Asonia is now it for me.
AW: One of your fans on Reddit would like to know about the creative process behind your music. When writing a song, how do you typically approach writing lyrics furthermore, when writing with a band do you traditionally prefer to write lyrics first and then make the instrumental or instrumental first and then the lyrics?
Adam Gontier: Writing with a band is always a bit different. In the past, it’s been both ways really, where maybe I’ve written lyrics first and then tried to come up with some music afterward, but for the most part, it tends to be that the music comes first. Whether you’re working with the band or working on your own stuff, for me, it always seems to come first.
I’ll grab a guitar, come up with a part on the guitar and then start singing along with it, and come up with the melody and lyrics after that. The process is always different and it’s not always the same, and that was kind of the cool thing about making this record. There wasn’t any formula that we wanted or that we tried to stick to. We didn’t want to overthink things and we didn’t want to try too hard to polish things either. It was really an organic process making this record.
AW: What was it like working with Johnny K on the record? How did he impact the recording process?
Adam Gontier: It was really cool. Mike had worked with him before in the past, and obviously, Johnny had made some great records. For me, it was really cool and the recording process was definitely different from anything I had done before in the past. With most producers when you’re recording vocals you tend to do a lot of takes and they wind up piecing them together for the most part. For this time around with Johnny, I basically sang two takes of every song all the way through and that was it. Whatever I sang in two takes was what we had and that was it. It was a really good experience.
“We want Saint Asonia to be a household name. We want to continue touring as much as we can and keep making music.” – Adam Gontier
AW: With such an explosion of creativity between you and your bandmates (given all the multiple different bands you guys were once involved in), are there any extra tracks that didn’t make the album that might be released as b-sides/bonus tracks in the future?
Adam Gontier: For sure! I think we recorded another four songs that didn’t make the record, and that was a really hard decision figuring out what songs were going to go on the album because even with the four that didn’t make the record, we all really like them a lot. There are a few bonus tracks that we’re definitely going to hold on to and hopefully release on something down the road whether it’s a soundtrack or anything like that.
AW: Saint Asonia has often been deemed as a rock super-group because 25 Top Ten Rock Singles and 17 number one singles have been shared between each member. This has led to some wondering if this is just a one-off special project, or if we can expect Saint Asonia to become a full-time band with records every few years like Audioslave and Velvet Revolver. Can we expect a constant musical output from you guys?
Adam Gontier: Absolutely, and I’ve definitely tried to make that clear in the past for sure that Saint Asonia for me and the other guys is a new band. We’re starting basically from the ground up and we’re not going away anytime soon. We’re going to continue to make records, and for me, this is my main focus. This is what I’m going to focus on for years, and we’re here for the long haul. As long as people want to listen to our music we’re going to make records, and as long as people want to see us live we’re going to continue to keep touring. So we’re definitely not a one-off project, we’re here to stay for sure.
AW: What are some of your favorite songs you’ve written, as well as some of your favorite songs written by others?
Adam Gontier: That’s definitely a tough one to narrow down. I can give you a few on the Saint Asonia record real quick. “Waste My Time” is one of my favorites and “Trying To Catch Up With The World” is another one. When it comes to other artists I’ve got so many great artists I listen to. I’m a big fan of Geoff Buckley so a lot of his stuff is at the top of my list, same with The Deftones and Pearl Jam. They’re definitely three of my favorite songs and to pick my favorite songs by them is pretty tough.
AW: With the ‘rock supergroup’ label you’ve been given, do you feel any extra pressure to deliver based on this label?
Adam Gontier: The term supergroup doesn’t phase me at all. It just happens to work out that we were all into doing this and the timing was great for all of us. So no, we’re really not trying to put any pressure on ourselves. You always want to make people somewhat happy and obviously, we want to be successful, and continue to play shows every night, and we want people to enjoy the record and buy the record. But we haven’t put pressure on ourselves and we’re not going to. We’re just going to do what we want to do and hopefully, people enjoy it!
AW: Apart from Saint Asonia (naturally), what are some of your favorite collaborations you’ve done over your career?
Adam Gontier: I did a couple of songs with my cousin Cale’s band Art of Dying and I think that was definitely one of my favorites, only because in this business it’s pretty rare that you get to work with family and go through that whole creative process with your family. The opportunity to work with Art of Dying and do those songs with them was a lot of fun and was probably my favorite so far I think.
AW: Another Reddit question for you, any plans for a vinyl release of Saint Asonia?
Adam Gontier: Yep! We actually were just having that talk last week, we’re working on that now. We’re working on getting a vinyl release together very shortly I think.
AW: What are your plans for 2016 with touring and more? This has been a huge summer for you, and I’m curious about what you intend to do next!
Adam Gontier: Well we’re pretty much a totally new band, and a lot of people don’t know who Saint Asonia is yet for the most part. Our plan is to continue touring and really just work our asses off. We want Saint Asonia to be a household name. We want to play shows and continue touring as much as we can and keep making music. When we’re on the road we’re always writing and our plans are to write music while we’re on tour and keep doing what we do, and we’re all very thankful and grateful that we’re able to do that and we don’t take it for granted.