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Art of Dying’s Jonny Hetherington on Desert Uprising, Music Making, Fans

Michael Hurcombe, Art of Dying photo, Art of Dying interview, Jonny Hetherington interview

Photo by Michael Hurcombe

If you tune into the radio here in Phoenix, you should know a little station around the dial of 97.9 called KUPD. And if you listen to that station, you may know about the Desert Uprising concert taking place Friday, Sept. 28 and Saturday, Sept. 29.

One of the many talented acts that will be playing this weekend is a five-piece Canadian group called Art of Dying. The band has been performing together for over six years, but its path to stardom grew tremendously with the release of Vices and Virtues in March 2011. After three singles off the album, non-stop touring and constant radio play, Art of Dying has no plans to slow down.

Lead singer, Jonny Hetherington, took time out of his busy schedule to talk to The Spec and give more insight as to who Art of Dying is as a band and its plans for the future.

Read on for Hetherington’s opinion of how his hometown breeds stars and plans for a possible second Art of Dying album…

The Spec: In between your last tour that you finished in July and Desert Uprising this Friday, what have you been up to?
Jonny Hetherington: I’m at home in Vancouver and I’ve been home for a while, since we finished our last tour, just writing and working on songs for what should be the next Art of Dying record. I’ve just been writing a lot, and it’s actually been nice here so I’ve been running a lot. Vancouver is a super beautiful place to be and inspirational. A lot of really great bands come from here and it rains a lot so there’s some sort of connection between just months and months of rain and being stuck inside with your guitar and writing good songs.

TS: So you plan on staying home in Vancouver until the show in Phoenix this Friday?
JH: Yeah, I think we head out to Phoenix on Thursday, the night before Desert Uprising, which will be great because we’ll have a chance to have a beer and then hit the stage the next day.

TS: Yeah, definitely. Desert Uprising is going to be an amazing event, I’m sure you’re excited to be a part of it.
JH: Yeah, we’re stoked man. We’re so excited. You know, playing these festivals, it’s such a thrill for us because we get to see all these amazing bands and perform with them. It’s just a huge opportunity to soak up all of these other talents and what they do and how their show goes. A lot of bands I’ve never seen before, like Marilyn Manson, and some of the bands we have toured with like Corey Taylor and those guys. It’ll be great to see all of them.

TS: After Desert Uprising, you guys are headed straight to Vegas, right?
JH: Yeah, we take off shortly after the Phoenix show and do a thing in Vegas called Rock Vegas. It’s the same kind of idea as Desert Uprising; it’s going to be amazing.

TS: So, after Vegas, do you guys have any immediate plans to keep touring or do you hope to take a break to maybe focus on another record?
JH: We’re going to stay in Vegas for a couple days and then yeah, I think we’re focusing a lot on writing right now, we have been all summer. Starting to feel like we might have the bones and skeleton coming together of a second record. We’re excited about making it.

That being said, we still love playing live more than anything so if the right tour came our way this fall, we’d jump on that too. Our boys in Three Days Grace are just putting out a record and we love those guys. If something like that came up, we’d definitely put the writing on hold for a second and jump on tour.

It’s strange, because you know you dream your whole life of being in a band and being on tour. We just happen to have this connection, the five of us, where we love the road. We love hanging out together, even if we weren’t playing a show that night, we love doing a lot of the same stuff. We play a lot of cards, drink a lot of beer, hang out together and laugh and listen to music. We just generally have a good time together. And then we just get to be on tour and play shows as well, which is pretty cool. You don’t see that a lot, you know, some people don’t like the road. Some people kind of look at it as a little bit of a job, or they can’t wait to get home. And we’re kind of the opposite, which is unique because I think people feel that energy coming from us when we hit the stage.

TS: When you are touring, what is your favorite part about it besides just getting out there and doing what you love to do?
JH: My absolute favorite thing is floating. There have been a couple of shows where I’ve kind of almost left my body and floated a little bit during some of the sets. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a car accident where things just floated and every moment just kind of opens up this part of your brain that you didn’t know was possible. I crave for that moment. You can’t force it, but it’s happened a few times now where I’ve kind of blacked out and forgotten what happened, but I remember just kind of floating a few inches above where I thought I was and it’s a pretty cool feeling. We’re floating, man.

TS: I did want to congratulate you on the success of Vices and Virtues. It seems like you guys blew up quickly after the release of that album.
JH: We’re really proud of our record, and it’s still doing well on the radio and everywhere. We are not at the stage where we’re actually thinking about the next record but at the same time we’re pretty prolific writers and we’re always writing. Even when we were picking songs for Vices and Virtues, some of the songs I was writing at the weirdest times. And of course, right after you make the record and the day after it is done, all of a sudden you’ll write a bunch of songs and go ‘shit!’ and that happened to me for sure. As soon as I got home from LA, I wrote 40 songs and I’m sure some of those will make it on the next record. So I’m always thinking about a second record, but until we have a producer picked and a studio booked and a plan to make it happen, it’s just kind of like out there in the atmosphere.

TS: I know you guys have your Facebook page, Twitter and such. Do you guys run these social media sites yourselves? Do you like to have that Internet presence with your fans? What are your thoughts on that?
JH: Yeah, you know, I was just going through Twitter all morning, answering questions. It’s very important to us. It’s such an amazing tool that’s been handed to bands in the last 10 to 20 years of technology. All of a sudden, you can talk to your fans. Not through pen and paper, not through mail, you can actually get immediate feedback from your fans now instantly.

I have this thing called Jonny’s Journal where I just post videos from the road. I make them myself with my phone and it’s awesome. I post a video, go check half an hour later and there will be comments, you know. It’s just an interactive thing that I’m sure everyone experiences. For me, personally, it’s become very inspirational really because a lot of people have connected with some of the songs and those songs seem to be really deeply connecting with people. I get to hear these stories, a lot of people send me private messages on Facebook and I’m fighting back tears on a lot of these. It’s great that people are sharing with me how the song and the music have changed their life, and in some cases even kept them alive. It’d be a different world for me as a musician to not have that kind of connection online with people, so it is definitely super important.

TS: Awesome. I definitely agree that technology has come a long way and I’m always glad to hear bands using it to their advantage and taking the time to talk to their fans. Now, I know for myself, I am curious as I’m sure a lot of your fans are, when you are on tour or even when you’re sitting at home trying to write a song, what is playing for you? What do you listen to?
JH: I listen to a lot of Art of Dying. I’m writing a lot, so I listen back to a lot of the ideas that I thought were the most amazing song ever as I was writing it. But I’ll come back a week later and think to myself ‘eh, I don’t really know what I was thinking that day.’ I’ll listen to ideas from everyone and try to get inspired. I also listen to Led Zeppelin, and when we play cards, we listen to a lot of Aerosmith. I can’t wait until Oct. 2 because the new Three Days Grace record comes out and I know that will stay on my playlist for a while.

TS: So, would you say your sound is influenced by the classic rock that you enjoy?
JH: I think anything you’ve ever listened to actually has an influence on you. It’s like if you’re a painter or a photographer, it’s kind of like everything you’ve ever seen will affect and go into your work. With music, anything you’ve ever heard goes into your work. So whether it’s country albums you listened to growing up, or classic rock you just discovered, or the next biggest new band you don’t even know the name of– Everything you hear affects you and eventually goes into your Rolodex of influences somehow.

TS: Well, thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with me today. Is there was anything else you want to add that you think your fans should know?
JH: We’re very vocal that we love our fans and there’s a group of fans that started this place online called “The Die Hards,” so if you wanted to become a Die Hard, it’s really cool. We love our fans all over the place and we love our Die Hards too and we definitely want to hear from you.


WHAT: First Annual Desert Uprising presented by 98 KUPDfeaturing Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Buckcherry, Corey Taylor, Art of Dying, All That Remains, Red Line Chemistry, New Medicine, Otherwise Digital Summer, Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind, Hellyeah, Adelitas Way and more…

WHERE: Ashley Furniture Homestore Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue

WHEN: Friday, Sep. 28
and Saturday, Sep. 29, doors at 12:45 P.M., first band at 1:25 P.M.

HOW MUCH:
$25-$98
Find out more about the event and purchase tickets through 98 KUPD.

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