In the wake of their electric fifth record ‘Human’, Three Days Grace have emerged from what seemed like a death sentence at the loss of previous vocalist Adam Gontier. With new frontman Matt Walst taking to the helm like a natural, the only way is up for the band whose name fast became synonymous with post-grunge rock.
Before they hit the Maverick stage at Download Festival, Already Heard caught up with drummer Neil Sanderson and new vocalist Matt Walst to talk festival advice, setlists and inspirations.
AH: Hey guys, how’s it feel being at the home of rock and roll for the very first time?
Neil Sanderson: We’ve been waiting for this gig our whole lives. There’s a lot of history here, so we’re stoked to be taking part in it for sure! Download and Donington is like THE festival.
AH: You guys have been around such a long time now, this is almost overdue!
Neil: It is yeah, it’s a great time for us to be over here, that’s kind of the power of the internet. We haven’t been here a lot, but we just did a three week tour in Europe and we have people singing every word to every song that we play, which is pretty cool. We’re definitely focusing more on overseas stuff now than we have in the past, and it’s exciting.
AH: It’s hard to gauge how well you’re going down in a country too, right?
Neil: Yeah you just have to come over here! It really started last year when we went to Russia. We’ve never been to Russia and we were selling out a whole tour. We were like “wow!”, so it’s kinda been the same way everywhere we’ve been overseas. To be halfway around the world from where you’re from and have a reaction and an awareness for the band that we didn’t really realise is pretty exciting, so that’s why we’re here and we’ll be back here a lot.
AH: What were the crowds in Russia like?
Neil: Insane! For some reason they knew every hotel we were staying at, they knew every train station we were stopping at. We felt there was maybe a mole on our crew that was giving them information, he’s probably our tour manager standing right over there!
AH: For the time you guys have been around, five albums isn’t a lot, but you’re starving the market and not putting too much out there so people get tired of you, right?
Neil: Yeah, we don’t really take our time or rush, it just always works out. We spend a hell of a lot of time writing, how long did we write ‘Human’ for? 16 months or something? It’s all about the writing for us! We spend all the time with acoustic guitars and writing the album, rewriting it. The studio is kind of easy if you have the songs together.
AH: So given those five albums, there’s always going to be a setlist that doesn’t please everyone. What songs would you put on a setlist if you could?
Matt Walst: Lost In You!
Neil: We might play it… we won’t play it here! We mix up the set, but today we’re playing a heavy set. Not as heavy as most guys here! We’re gonna play some stuff off the new album, we’ll play some hits.
AH: And you guys are known for some seriously catchy hits!
Matt: That’s the thing, in all different countries speaking different languages, they all know the words to the songs, so it’s so cool!
Neil: Some of them know the lyrics better than we do!
AH: It gets to that point when you have to learn from the fans…
Neil: It does, we’ve damaged our short term memories over the years of touring.
Matt: Oh yeah, in Spain, I could’ve just sat there and held the mic out to the crowd, they were singing louder than I was, it was insane!
AH: You guys aren’t new to the chaos of festivals, so what’s your advice for first-time festival goers?
Neil: Just mind the portapotties.
Matt: Yeah, I was gonna say try and hit up the portapotties early in the day!
Neil: I have the weakest stomach of anyone you’ll ever meet, so I can’t even think about portapotties right now…
AH: If you could bring one band on tour with you, either supporting you or headlining over you, who would you pick?
Matt: Either Marilyn Manson or Linkin Park. I haven’t seen Manson since 1998 at Ozzfest, with Black Sabbath as the headliner, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, it was insane, I was just a kid too!
AH: If you could go on any tour with any band that’s already happened, which would you go on?
Neil: I would’ve been on the Motley Crue Girls Girls Girls tour I think. I would’ve liked to be a fly on the wall for that tour. I’d give it a go, they survived!
AH: Who was your most crucial musical influence growing up?
Matt: Definitely Kurt Cobain. Those songs and him made me want to write music myself.
View more of Already Heard’s coverage of Download Festival 2015 here.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)