Fresh off the road from a 40-city tour, Vancouver’s Art of Dying is prepping for its fourth full-length studio album by launching a crowdfunding Pledge Campaign to allow fans a chance to be part of the creation process. The fan response to the campaign was immediate and overwhelming, blowing well past the band’s targeted goal. Fan support has always been a big part of the band’s success since vocalist Jonny Hetherington and former guitarist Greg Bradley first conceived of Art of Dying in 2004. More than a decade later, Hetherington along with guitarist Tavis Stanley, bassist Cale Gontier, and new drummer Cody Watkins continue to put the focus on creating music for their devoted following.
This week, Metalholic caught up with frontman Jonny Hetherington to chat about Art of Dying’s history, the Pledge Campaign for the new record, the band’s new video, and to take a look back at their first album, as well as the hit song that almost did not make their breakthrough Vice & Virtues album in 2011.
You guys have been amazingly busy. You released Rise Up last year, Nevermore this year, you’re doing Shiprocked in January, and you have now kicked off a highly successful Pledge Campaign for a new album in 2017. You are en fuego, right now.
“It’s pretty busy, but we like it that way. It’s also pretty liberating to be independent and be at the helm of your own career; To be able to put out as much music as you can, make as much music as you can, and tour as much as you can.”
Art of Dying also just released a live performance video for “Torn Down”. Was that sort of a thank you to the fans?
“Absolutely. We kind of think of everything as a ‘Thank You’ to the fans in one way or another. It’s our way to get more stuff out and keep people up-to-date with what we’re doing, and what we’re sounding like. We were able to have our buddy Dave-O, who has just become an awesome video director, come out and join us on the road during the Nevermore Tour. So he was able to capture a bunch of shows, and a bunch of backstage shenanigans, and put it all together in a video for ‘Torn Down.’
You used a Kickstarter Campaign last year when you launched your own line of hot sauces, and now Art of Dying is doing something similar with this Pledge Campaign for the next record.
“It’s brand new to us and we’ve had a lot of fun putting it together. I’m coming in with a little Kickstarter experience, but crowdfunding is new to Art of Dying. It’s cool because we have never in the history of the band auctioned off or even given away instruments that we’ve used on stage or in the studio. We had fun picking out things that we’ve worn on stage, and guitars we’ve played on stage or written with, that make a really interesting campaign. The rewards are kind of fun when you are getting my scarf or the hat I wore on stage or whatever, but I think people are more interested in being involved in the new recording. There are even a couple of really cool packages like a private acoustic performance being up for grabs. We also created kind of a fantasy record label where you could be the Label President or A&R Director or the junior person on staff and not only contribute to the financial side of making the record, but actually be in the studio with us and make some decisions which is kind of a first I think. It’s pretty exciting.”
What can you tell us about the new album so far?
“We want to do a full-length album. The Nevermore record would probably have been a full-length, but we were under the gun to get out on the road and we decided to make it available for the tour. So the new album in 2017 we want to make a full-length. It was awesome making Rise Up as a full-length, and that was really the first time we curated a brand new group of songs. Some of the stuff on Vices & Virtues came from our indie recordings way back. So we really enjoyed putting together a complete record and writing a lot of it in the moment…writing it in the studio together. It goes back to the idea of an album being a snapshot of a period of time. So Rise Up was really a record of that time in our lives, and I think Nevermore was a really good record of this last year in our lives, and in 2017 we’ll be doing a full-length record of that time in our lives. So we can’t wait to get together and create that.”
This year marks the 10th anniversary of your debut self-titled album. Can you take us back and share you memories of making that first record?
“You know, my jaw just hit the floor because I had no idea [laughs]. It’s so crazy that it’s been 10 years. I forgot to do the math I guess. We were an independent band from Vancouver and we basically went in to make that record with our buddy, Darryl Romphf, who kind of helped us get the songs together close to recording time. None of us had really been in a studio before to that extent. I remember I went in to my work and I quit my job. I’m like, ‘I’m out of here. We just booked a studio 30 days and that’s my life and that’s what I’m doing, so I can’t come back to work. Sorry. [laughs]’ It was a really special time because 10 years ago things were different. We were working on Pro-Tools, but it was a newer thing. So a lot of the old stuff was still around in that studio like the big board, and they had a great room. We did some special recordings in there and I’m really proud of it. A lot of those nights we definitely watched the sun come up as we were still tracking. It was that kind of recording where you just lived and breathed the music every single day.”
You can check out the full interview with Jonny below. He talks more about the new record, about some of his favorite new bands, foods he likes to cook, and how the band’s newest member has impacted the group.
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Official website: www.art-of-dying.myshopify.com/