September 8, 2015 Interview – Adam Gontier of Saint Asonia
Change is a part of life that some resist, but in the end, it cannot be avoided. Whether one has grown away from something due to circumstantial changes, or they just need to spread their wings, it is a part of life. For high accomplished Rock vocalist Adam Gontier, that road was crossed back in early 2013 when he bid farewell to top-selling Hard Rock outfit Three Days Graces. Spending nearly two decades of his creative life helping build the band to be one of the most respected in the genre, fans were shocked with the news and wondered what was next for Gontier. Vowing to return with a new band, Gontier kept to his word, and in 2014, he formed Saint Asonia with Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, former Eye Empire bassist Corey Lowery (bass), and former Finger Eleven drummer Rich Beddoe. Creating a buzz that is picking up a mass of momentum following the release of their debut self-titled album in 2015, Gontier is enjoying every minute of this new beginning. Recently we sat down with the vocalist/lyricist to talk Saint Asonia, his decision to leave Three Days Grace, looking forward the future, and undying love for Rock-n-Roll.
CrypticRock.com – You have attained quite an amazing career in Rock over the past two plus decades from your time helping lead Three Days Grace to the top of the Hard Rock world, to a variety of collaborations with others through the years. The road obviously has been filled with ups and downs. Tell us briefly, what has this Rock-n-Roll dream been like?
Adam Gontier – It has been a lot of fun and I have learned a lot. I could not ask for anything else. It has been blessed to be able to play music for a living. I am grateful everyday and every minute for it, so I could not ask for a better spot to be in.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, absolutely, and you have really done a phenomenal job with your career in Rock and music. As stated, everyone is well aware of your accomplishments as a part of Three Days Grace for almost twenty years. Obviously, from the outside, fans were quite surprised to see you depart from the band that you helped build to the top. Was this a difficult decision for you to make to move on and move forward?
Adam Gontier – Firstly, thanks a lot, I really appreciate that. It absolutely was a difficult decision, but it was something that I had been thinking about for a while. Just in the end, it seemed like it was the right time, when I left. It was not easy at all, it was not an easy decision to make, but it was something that I had to do. It was a decision I had to make to look after myself. People were shocked, but I figured after a while with the new band up and running for a while, people would be into it. I always appreciate the music part, its been amazing.
CrypticRock.com – Well, after leaving the band two years ago, you did make it clear upon your departure that you would be back with a new project, and here we are today. You are back, as you promised, with this new project, Saint Asonia, is really quite of a line up. You have got yourself, Mike Mushok from Staind, Corey Lowery of Eye Empire, and Rich Beddoe formerly of Finger Eleven. How did the project come together?
Adam Gontier – When I first left Three Days Grace, Rich, from Finger Eleven, had always been a part of anything I was doing whether it be acoustic or heavier stuff. He was always in the mix. When Mike reached out to me to do some writing, it just went really well. We were planning on getting together and doing some writing for fun. There was no real intention of necessarily making a record, or even a band for that matter. We got together, wrote three songs and demoed them. They turned out really well so we just stuck with it and we made a record. When the record was done we reached out to Corey to see what he was up to at the time, and he wanted to do it. So here we are, a bunch of really great guys and a lot of talent, and it is something that we are not just going to put out one record and disappear. We are in this for the long haul, for sure.
CrypticRock.com – With such a vast amount of talent joining together; you are all names and everyone knows you in the Rock world, even before hearing the music, people were compelled by this band. With that said, the band did release their full-length debut album at the end of July. What was the writing and recording process like for this new material?
Adam Gontier – It was great. It was definitely different that what I have done in the past. What we did not do is over think things, spend three weeks or something on pre-production, and getting in the studio filtering everything we were feeling. Basically, we got in the studio, we went into pre-production, we went in and recorded the music, I sang what came naturally with that music, and it is straight from the heart; very raw and real. I think that is the biggest difference really, that we did not have any filter of a bunch of people with labels, or anything like that, telling us what direction to go. It was, “Here it is.” We went in the studio, made it, and it is what it is.
CrypticRock.com – Sometimes that rejuvenation, that ability to have that freedom, one can imagine feels good for yourself as a musician?
Adam Gontier – Yes, absolutely. I think, for any artist, musician, or whatever, being able to freely express yourself without any limits is pretty awesome. That is why you do it. With this project, creatively, it is very freeing and fun. I am involved in everything creatively, which is great. Like I said, you cannot ask for anything more.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly, now, with this record, it is certainly is a lot heavier than the previous work you did with Three Days Grace in more recent years. Did you welcome the return to working on the heavier end of the Hard Rock spectrum again?
Adam Gontier – Yes, for sure. It is some of the heaviest stuff I have ever sung on, and at the same time, it is some of the lightest stuff I have ever sung on. It is a good range. At the beginning, sitting there writing songs with Mike and listening to stuff that he had, I knew it was definitely going to be more of a Hard Rock record than anything else. That is what I love to do; I grew up listening to Rock music and I have always loved it. As well as playing acoustic in there, the heavy stuff was a lot of fun. I always knew this record was going to go down that road, and I welcomed it with open arms.
CrypticRock.com – There is diversity as you stated, there are some more soft beautiful tracks as well.
Adam Gontier – Yes definitely. There is a couple on the record that definitely stand out to me as being probably the best pieces of music I have ever sang on. One being “Waste My Time” and the other being “Leaving Minnesota.” They are two of the best songs I have ever had the pleasure of playing. It is all over the board, and hopefully people will appreciate it and enjoy it.
CrypticRock.com –It is a very well-done record. As always, your lyrics of the songs come across very heartfelt, sincere, and dripping with emotion. You have always worn your heart on your sleeve, lyrically. What was your head-space going in to writing the lyrics to these songs?
Adam Gontier – It was definitely from the heart. I have had a lot to write about over the last few years, a lot of stuff has happened to me, and in my life, and all for the better. I feel like I have evolved as a person, as a musician, and as a singer. I am in a much better place than I was years ago. I am pretty proud, happy, and thankful for that.
CrypticRock.com – That is excellent. As stated, everything comes from the heart for you as far as the lyrics; one can tell just by listening. Do you find these lyrics that you write, whether it be from Three Days Grace to now, do you find it a form of release or therapy for you?
Adam Gontier – Absolutely, and it always has been. Like I said, being able to pick up the guitar, write a song and release that way is amazing. To have people enjoy it, listen to it, and relate to it on their own level is a whole other thing. Yes, the whole process has been different and it is really great. We have definitely been able to be free just with writing lyrics, as well as melody.
CrypticRock.com – Now you toured in support of the record in August and again in October with Seether. What has it been like playing live with this new group of guys?
Adam Gontier – It has been amazing. It has been a while since I actually got on stage and played in front of people with this amount of talent. Yes, it has been incredible. Everybody in the band brings their own vibe and feel. We are all our own character on stage stage. It has been a lot of fun, and getting on the road and playing these shows, I am really looking forward more of it. It is really going to be something special.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely and as stated earlier, you are really established yourself over the years. Now you are sort of starting something new. Yes people know what this is, people are catching on slowly but surely, people are listening and checking things out. Do you feel like you are starting new from the bottom and working your way back up? Do you enjoy that?
Adam Gontier – Yes, absolutely. Like I said earlier, I definitely do not take anything for granted. We are certainly not leaning on any of our previous projects or past success in this. It feels great to be able to start something new, and build it from the ground up is really nice. Of course, I had success in the past and people recognize me in the band, and obviously it is a great thing, but at the same time, this is a new band for us. We have realized that, and we are looking forward to playing these small intimate shows and getting the whole thing off the ground.
CrypticRock.com – That has to be exciting, going back to the roots where you began as a musician. That is what Rock-n-Roll is all about.
Adam Gontier – Exactly, that is for sure. There were points, definitely, in my career where I feel like it was not all about that. I had to realize that again for myself. This to me is a reflection of that; what I have been through, what I have had to deal with, and where I am now. I am very proud of it.
CrypticRock.com – Right, and you had said that this is not going to be a one record and done deal. You do have plans as a band to move forward and continue after this album and touring cycle.
Adam Gontier – Yes, absolutely. Saint Asonia is here to stay. In regards of other projects, I know we are all just focused on this one. As long as people want to hear us, we are going to keep making records for sure.
CrypticRock.com – Good, that is great to hear. What are some of your personal musical influences?
Adam Gontier – It is kind of all over the board. I grew up listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, all that sort of stuff. I listen to a lot of Classic Rock as well. I think that I started writing my own music when I was around thirteen or fourteen. It was all about the Seattle scene so I was influenced by bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, stuff like that. One of my favorite artists of all time is Jeff Buckley, he was a big influence as well. It is all over the place. I have always loved all types of music. A good song is a good song.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is true, a good song is a good song. It is great that you do not corner yourself into one section of music. A lot of musicians are like that and it is important to listen to a variety of music.
Adam Gontier – Yes, for sure. I have always been influenced by different genres. I will listen to Country, Rock, Metal, or whatever.
CrypticRock.com – That is really cool. As I mentioned earlier, you have done other ventures including donating your voice to other projects. You have sang for Apocalyptica. Will there going to be any other possible projects you are going to be sharing your time with and maybe collaborating with?
Adam Gontier – Hopefully there will be. Obviously, right now I am focused on my new band. I have been lucky enough to be asked to be on different records and part of people’s projects. As long as those opportunities are there, I will be open to checking them out.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent, that is great as well. My last question for you is regarding films. CrypticRock.com is a Rock/Metal and Horror news site, so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of Horror films, and if so, what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Adam Gontier – Lately, I have been watching a lot of Horror movies for fun. My wife Jeanie is a big Horror movie fan, so we tend to go on runs of sitting on the couch for a few hours and watching a bunch. It is a tough one. I have always been a fan of Stephen King movies for sure. From being pretty young, I remember Children of the Corn (1984). I saw that when I was a pretty young kid. Misery (1990), all that stuff. I am kind of all over the place, but I am a Stephen King fan for sure.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent, do you have a favorite movie that was adapted from a Stephen King novel? Obviously, for a lot of people, there is The Shining (1980), and Pet Sematary (1989) is an excellent one too.
Adam Gontier – Yes, and another great one is Christine (1983). I forgot how good that was. That one stands out, but, again, I remember watching Children of the Corn, and I will never forget that movie. It is pretty vivid and there are parts you never forget. That one definitely stands out for sure. Maybe its not as scary as it was when I was younger, but it is still a pretty good film.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, Children of the Corn is a freaky movie. Many are sure to feel the same way about that one. You have these Horror movie nights with your wife, that is pretty cool. Do you dig into new films, or mostly go back to the older classics? There is so many Horror films from the ’70s and ’80s that many probably have not even seen.
Adam Gontier – We will watch anything from new to old. We actually went to a store close by our place and grabbed a massive collection of old ’50s Horror films, which are pretty funny to watch now days. Probably the newest one we have watched was It Follows (2015). That was pretty intense. It was pretty hairy, but that was pretty good.
CrypticRock.com – There has been good things said about that one. It certainly is a fun genre. A lot of people cannot get into Horror because of the disbelief, but that is what is fun about it. You are not supposed to believe it, sometimes you are supposed to just enjoy it.
Adam Gontier – Yes, and one movie recently that really affected me was The Babadook (2014). That one was scary for sure. One of the scariest ones we have seen for a while.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is one of those films that kind of went under the radar. It should be getting a lot more press than it is. It is really good.
Adam Gontier – It is funny because I actually saw it at a party, so maybe it is getting some recognition hopefully.
CrypticRock.com – That happens sometimes. You look at Horror films like Halloween (1978). When Halloween first came out, it really did not do that well. Then, all of a sudden, it becomes a cult classic and one of the greatest Horror movies of all time.
Adam Gontier – Yes, there is a few of them. I imagine The Babadook might be one of the ones that makes it to one of the greatest of all times.