Adam Gontier - lead vocals, guitar
Neil Sanderson - drums, piano, vocals
Brad Walst - bass
Barry Stock - guitar
When it came time to choose an album title for the follow-up to Three Days Grace's 2006's platinum-certified One-X, the four band members thought the phrase "life starts now" summed things up pretty well. "The new album is basically a commentary on the last couple years of our lives," says drummer Neil Sanderson. "Things have been fairly traumatic for more than one of us. We've all had to confront death on a few different levels, and we've had family go through some health-related things, so, for us, Life Starts Now reflects that feeling of redefining what life is and what it means to be alive after you hit rock bottom."
"The events of the past few years have made us more aware of what life really can be," says lead vocalist/guitarist Adam Gontier. "So the album is about taking the situation that you're in, no matter how bad it feels, and making the best of it. Lyrically, most of the songs are based around that idea."
Several tracks address powerful feelings of loss whether through betrayal, on "Bitter Taste" and "Last To Know," or death, on "World So Cold" and "Without You" — songs that bassist Brad Walst says "really hit close to home." "Bully" tackles the impact of bullying, something Sanderson describes as "a massive problem that can actually change someone's life and affect who they are as a person." The band switches things up on the more upbeat "The Good Life," which asks: "If you were to live a different life, what would you want to get out of it?" Gontier explains. Then there's the fiery first single "Break," which Gontier says explores not being controlled by your surroundings or environment. "It's about breaking away from being told what to do and living the life that you want to live."
A sense of adventure permeates Life Starts Now, which the Toronto-based band began writing after coming off the road for One-X in April 2008. Though the album doesn't skimp on Gontier's trademark anguished vocals, Barry Stock's urgent riffs, or Sanderson and Walst's thunderous rhythm section, the band knew that they had evolved as musicians, thanks to hundreds of live shows, and wanted to capture it in their sound. "While touring behind One-X, we'd try new things at soundchecks and experiment a bit," recalls Walst, "but we had a bigger vision for this record. We wanted to do something a little different."
"We had talked about how so many contemporary rock records have that formulaic, heavily layered, mechanical, shiny sound to them," Sanderson says. "They start sounding generic and fake. So we wanted to go the opposite route and freshen things up by making a record that was really open and raw and live. That's how we approached it—we went for that big, boomy sound." To get it, Three Days Grace recorded Life Starts Now at The Warehouse Studios in Vancouver, where everyone from AC/DC to Bon Jovi to Nine Inch Nails have recorded, and which Sanderson describes as having one "the best open drum rooms in the world."
They also prepped themselves in advance. "Before we went into the studio, we'd listen to classic rock records by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, just to remember the sounds that we loved while we were growing up," Gontier says. "We wanted to make our album sound very real, raw, and larger-than-life, like those old records do." Adds lead guitarist Barry Stock, "Everybody seemed to feel a little freer to expand and do something beyond the regular cookie-cutter thing, so we all just stepped it up. There are some great solos, some great drum parts, and great vocal moments. We're inspired by classic rock bands more than anything because they have this really great organic feel, but they sound huge, and we wanted to achieve that."
To help them reach their goals, Three Days Grace reunited with producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Motorhead, Papa Roach, P.O.D), who produced One-X. "He really saw our vision and let us experiment to get the sounds and parts we needed to make the best record we could," Walst says. "One of the great things about Howard is that he recognizes what kind of band we are," Sanderson adds. "He really complements what we do and is definitely a great guy to bounce ideas off of."
The result is an album that brims with confidence, musicality, and accessibility, while retaining what has made Three Days Grace so beloved by their fans: their authenticity. "I think people relate to our music on such a deep level because we're real," says Gontier. "We write about real things and I think people know that. Our fans know that we're not trying to be something that we're not." Adds Sanderson: "People can connect what we write about to their own lives because it's real. We've been dealt hands that have been difficult, but I think these days, people want something real more than ever, and they're especially sensitive to what is contrived and what isn't."
It's that genuineness, along with emotional themes underscored by their explosive sound and that has led Three Days Grace to rock stardom. Their 2003 self-titled debut spawned three hit singles, "I Hate Everything About You," which reached #2 on the Mediabase Modern Rock chart and went Top 5 on the Mediabase Mainstream Rock chart. "Just Like You" climbed to #1 on both the Mediabase Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts, while "Home" peaked at #2 on the Mediabase Mainstream Rock chart. One-X debuted on the Billboard album chart at #5 and produced three #1 Mediabase Mainstream Rock singles: "Animal I've Become," "Pain" and "Never Too Late." In 2007, Mediabase ranked the band as the #1 artist in airplay across all rock formats (Modern Rock, Active Rock, Mainstream Rock). Also that year, R&R/Billboard ranked Three Days Grace as the #1 Active Rock Artist of the Year, #1 Rock Artist of the Year, and #2 Modern Rock/Alternative Artist of the Year. Both Three Days Grace and One-X have been certified platinum by the RIAA and the band has sold more than six million albums worldwide. In 2008, they wrapped up more than two years of touring in the U.S., where they shared stages with fellow rockers Nickelback, Staind, Seether, and Breaking Benjamin.
Now Three Days Grace are looking forward to following up those successes with Life Starts Now, which was released by Jive Records on September 22, 2009. "I'm curious to see how people respond to it and what songs they relate to," Gontier says. "Music is emotion for us," adds Walst. "We're just trying to trust our own gut. If the four of us feel something while we're playing it, then we hope our fans relate and feel the same."
"Even though we wanted this album to be different, there's a lot that hasn't changed," says Sanderson. "We still use music as a way to release emotion. The other thing that hasn't changed is the best part of it all: getting up on stage and killing it in front of 20,000 people!"