How much of music is bullshit? When listening to a band like Art of Dying for the first time, one gets the true sense these songs come from real-life experience. This five-member guitar/rock band from Vancouver, Canada offers a strong mix of good guitar hooks with strong vocals, and a roughed up sound, heavily influenced by the Seattle Grunge scene. The songs are filled with real emotion and noticeably well-written lyrics. Lead singer and founding member Jonny Hetherington talked about his songwriting experience and how his band came to be in a recent phone interview.
Hetherington, who writes all of the bands lyrics, admits that “I’d say all of my songs are pretty much based on personal experience. I go through the regular ups and downs that everyone goes through, and sometimes I think it’s amazing to be alive. Then other times, it can be the worst thing possible. I think we’re all just sort of stuck in the middle of just figuring shit out and I just end up writing about it.”
This type of songwriting philosophy is certainly present on the band’s debut, and still most current self-titled 2007 release [Thorny Bleeder]. Hetherington recalls that “The first songs we ever recorded actually made it on the record. We recorded three. And the three were “Get Through This,” “Completely” and a song called “Do What You Can.”
“Get Through This,” the opening track on the recording, is one song that has really drawn a lot of attention to the band and is the opening track on the CD. Hetherington says:
“It was a moment in my life when I received a phone call that my father was diagnosed with cancer. I was at my day job and I went into a state of shock. I just kind of closed up the store, and I had my guitar there. It was really about the way I felt at that moment. And the music, when I brought it to the band, it was just really powerful and it had that sort of driving intensity to it.”
Hetherington founded Art of Dying in 2006 in the city of Vancouver. He was always drawn to the Seattle grunge scene of the early 90’s, a sound originating from what he calls “the sister city of Vancouver.” He says:
“I love Seattle. I grew up listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Alice and Chains and Soundgarden. These were huge influences on me as a musician and as a person.” He went on to say, “I bought my first Pearl Jam record, actually by accident. I just heard something on the radio that I really liked and I called the radio station and the DJ said that it was Pearl Jam. So I went and bought the record. It turned out it wasn’t Pearl Jam that I had heard, and that song wasn’t even on the record. So I was kind of pissed off at first but I ended up kind of throwing it back in and I discovered that whole energy that Pearl Jam kind of brings to the table. “
Much like Seattle, Vancouver is a place that has a strong emphasis on the arts. Hetherington says:
“Its always kind of been one of the more artistic towns in Canada. I grew up in Lacombe, Alberta. Growing up there, I just always wanted to come to the West coast to do my music and to do my art, and just kind of create out here. There are a lot of artists out here and it’s really a creative place. I met Greg Bradley, our guitar player, in Vancouver just on the street. I was just playing guitar and singing, trying to learn how to do it at the same time, on the street corner and we just started playing music together. We’ve just been going ever since.”
The rest of the band was formed soon after the partnership of Hetherington and Bradley began:
“Jeff (our drummer) lived in Vancouver and we knew him through a few other local bands, but he's originally from Ontario, which is how we hooked up with Tavis and Cale, who still live in the Toronto area.”
As with any interesting rock band, the live show plays a big role in the groups’ career. Most recently, the band supported Disturbed on a major tour of the states and gave new life to Art of Dyings’ songs. Hetherington says:
“We end up playing them pretty close to how they were recorded, but I like to indulge in the live show. Sometimes we’ll do break-downs, and we like to get the audience involved in the middle of a song. And that’s kind of a natural thing, too, because when you’re playing out live, there’s kind of a different vibe to it.”
No doubt with a major release and extensive touring behind them, Art of Dying is off to a strong start and music listeners have only seen the beginning of what will be a lively career.