FEBRUARY 2004 ARTIST OF THE MONTH, BRAD WALST OF THREE DAYS GRACE
Three Days Grace Hits the Hard Rock Scene with Peavey Bass Amps
February 1, 2004
Every rock band wants to find an easy path to success. Many toil away months and years trying to find a back door into the music biz, shipping demos to A&R reps and radio DJs and simply hoping for the best.
Three Days Grace earned its stripes the hard way. The band left behind its small Ontario, Canada, hometownthe inspiration for many of its pointed lyrical themesre-emerged in Toronto and, as bassist Brad Walst puts it, "started pounding the pavement."
Makes sense, right? Move to the city, record some demos, play anywhere and everywhere, and eventually you'll bend the ear of a well-connected tastemaker. For Three Days Grace, the formula worked out well. But this is also a serious hard rock band with more than perseverance and luck on its side. Three Days Grace has the kind of heavy, melodic sound and slash-and-burn live show that commands attention, and with the Modern Rock hit "(I Hate) Everything About You" in its back pocket, the band landed an opening slot for Nickelback on tours across the U.S., U.K. and Canada.
Peavey caught up with Brad during his band's tour with Nickelback and Staind to hear what all this success means and why he's relied on Peavey amps since the beginning.
Peavey: Are you surprised by your sudden success in America?
Brad: Yeah, we just kind of hoped for the best and it's gone really well. We toured across America with Trapt and Smile Empty Soul and we just did a tour with Nickelback down there for, like, six weeks. It's wicked. We're really happy with what's going on down there.
Are people all over reacting the same way?
Yeah, Canada's about the same, definitely. We've played a lot of gigs in Toronto and around Ontario, and our album came out there about a month before the U.S.
Have you gone over to Europe yet?
Yeah, we just did two shows over there, one in Manchester, U.K., and one in London. I think there's plans to go back after we finish the Canadian tour with Nickelback. You know, go for a couple of weeks and do it properly.
Has watching Nickelback's intense live show influenced Three Days Grace in any way?
I think our live show is a little different from theirs. They have a lot of production behind them, you know? I think we're pretty intense as well, though. We watch them every night and they put on a kick-ass show. Staind's also on the bill, so it's cool watching them every night. I'm a big fan, for sure. So, you watch things and maybe pick up little tips.
So what's a Three Days Grace show like?
It's pretty intense. A lot of movement. High energy.
You and your bandmates don't have a problem assimilating your influences. On your album, I hear acoustic strumming, heavy riffs and even processed drum sounds in the confines of the same song. How did this sound develop?
I think our influences vary pretty wildly. Adam (Gontier), the singer, he's into a lot of songwriters, like Jeff Buckley. Neil (Sanderson, drums) is more on the heavy side. He likes a lot of Pantera and stuff like that. I grew up on the grunge movement, so it varies. When we all come together, I guess we bring those in subconsciously. I don't know how that works! (laughs) We just sit down and jam out on acoustics and develop it there, then bring it to the electrics.
So, the way "(I Hate) Everything About You" starts out on acoustic guitar, that's how you actually wrote it?
Yeah, exactly. We do that with every tune.
What are you working on now?
We actually have a studio set up in the back lounge of our bus, and we're constantly coming up with new ideas. I guess we'll just see how it develops as we tour. Of course where we draw from will change, just from being on the road and things like that. We're just in the beginning stages of our next record, but it's going to be interesting.
To my ears, your Soundgarden/grunge leanings come out in off-time riffs like on "Drown."
I think so, yeah. We're also really passionate about what we do, and playing live is kind of like venting for us. We're all happy-go-lucky guys, but I think when we turn to the stage, we kind of change in a sense. It's what we love to do every day. I can see that stuff coming out in my playing, for sure.
When did you discover Peavey?
I used Peavey for years and years, probably until about two years ago. I just had two 15" Black Widow® speakers with a Mark VI, and I had that forever, man.
Yeah, they don't break!
Yeah, I know! (laughs) My first amp was actually a Peavey TNT®, so I've always known about Peavey. This new rig is great. It's definitely the best sound I've ever had.
(Brad's Peavey rig includes a Pro 500 bass amp head, various Pro Series bass enclosures and GPS® power ampsEd.)
There are many different schools of bassists out there, but in rock music, it seems that players either go for clarity or a growling tone. Do you fit into those categories?
I've got some growl, but I also love the low "sub" feeling. The thing about the Peavey amp that I've never had is the tightness. You can still have that really low sub sound with the tightness, too. It comes across really well.
I noticed on the record that you have a lot of low end, like almost subharmonic.
Yeah, totally, and that's what I love.
Do you use distortion or other effects to achieve that tone, or is it all in your Peavey rig?
No, I don't have any effects at all. I just go straight up through it.