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Three Days Grace's Matt Walst on juggling fatherhood, loss and recording new album, Explosions

A press shot of Three Days Grace
(Image credit: Music For Nations)

As far as covid lockdowns go, Three Days Grace vocalist Matt Walst’s was busier than most. As well as he and his bandmates in the Canadian hard rock juggernaut having written and recorded their seventh album, Explosions, during that time, he juggled that with the responsibilities of becoming a dad for the first time. On the eve of the new album’s release, he filled us in on the pain of loss, recording in a pandemic, and why it’s okay to agree to disagree. 

Classic Rock divider

Three Days Grace’s debut album turns twenty next year. How have the band survived when so many others of your era have faded away?

We write about personal experiences and what people are going through. I think that’s the key. 

Personal experiences of loss seem to be a key theme of Explosions.

My girlfriend’s dad passed away right at the time that we were writing [the song] Lifetime. I saw her get the call from her uncle telling her that her dad had passed away. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever seen her go through. You never know when you’re going to lose somebody. Everybody takes their parents for granted. You think they’ll always be around, and don’t call them as much as you wish you would have, and then when they’re gone you don’t know who to call. Everybody in our band has lost somebody very close to them, so it was close to us to write about that. 

The video for Lifetime echoes those feelings of loss, with it being recorded in Mayfield, Kentucky, a town hit by the EF4 tornado last December.

Man, it was crazy going there. Driving into Mayfield I saw these massive trees uprooted; I’ve never seen anything like that. Then going around the town and seeing the homes that were destroyed. You start putting yourself in their positions, and I started thinking about me having a small child and what you would do and how it would be to lose your whole house, family members losing their lives. It was eye opening.

How much of an impact did covid have on recording the album?

Because we were locked down we had to use Zoom so everybody could hear the session. We would talk about it or write our parts and send them over. It meant I could be working on a vocal while the other guys were working on a solo or something. 

You’ve spoken in the past about not leaning left or right politically. Is it increasingly difficult in these highly political times to not write politically? 

I try not to speak about things that I don’t know both sides of. I understand that there’s craziness going on right now, but if you say one thing you’re alienating half [of your audience]. I like to stay in the centre and listen to everybody. People don’t listen to each other any more, they have an opinion and stick to it. I prefer to listen to each other, not talk over each other, and agree to disagree. 

How does it feel for Three Days Grace to be seen as a ‘classic rock’ band?

Barry [Stock, guitar] listens to all of the eighties stuff like Queensrÿche and pulls inspiration from those guitar players. For me, I pull from Nirvana and I guess Deftones – can they be considered classic rock?! [Laughs] 

Explosions is out available now via Music For Nations (opens in new tab)

Rich Chamberlain has written for Classic Rock, Musicradar.com, Total Guitar, Nuts, FourFourTwo, Billboard, Classic Rock Presents The Blues and Classic Rock Presents Country.