Life ebbs and flows in bursts of energy. Moments of calm give way to chaos only to eventually slip back into quiet. Between these peaks and valleys, we grow, change, and progress. Three Days Grace harness this ebb and flow in their music. The iHeart Radio and Billboard award-winning multiplatinum record-breaking Ontario, Canada quartet—Matt Walst [lead vocals], Barry Stock [lead guitar], Brad Walst [bass], and Neil Sanderson [drums, percussion, keyboards, programming]—balance moments of extreme emotion on an axis of pummeling hard rock anthems and pensive balladry. Along the way, they’ve amassed billions of streams and millions of album sales, sold out arenas on multiple continents, and reached unprecedented heights, earning a staggering 17 total #1 entries on the Mediabase Active Rock Chart and sharing the record for “Most #1 singles on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs Chart” with 16. However, the band ascend to another stratosphere on their 2022 seventh full-length offering, Explosions [RCA Records].
“We are born into a world of explosions, and they’re always present,” observes Neil. “We all bottle feelings of anger inside and act like they’re not there. Sometimes, you just want to express yourself and be creative. You try to be who you are, but the world hinders it. So, do you explode? It’s not always the right answer. Do you find something to take the edge off? We all do to some degree, because the other option is exploding. Not all explosions are bad; some are beautiful. If you’re a dad, your child goes out into the world and becomes a person. To me, that’s explosive.”
Throughout 2020 and 2021, Three Days Grace carefully assembled what would become Explosions in Canada. The band members initially convened via ZOOM. As restrictions eased, they tracked at Jukasa Studios and in Neil’s home studio. Matt would often hop on a snowmobile and cruise backwoods trails from his place to work with Neil. Meanwhile, producer Howard Benson [My Chemical Romance, Adam Lambert, Santana] beamed into the sessions on a life-size screen. For the first time, they also enlisted the mixing talents of Dan Lancaster (Bring Me The Horizon, Muse) adding another dimension.
“It felt like everyone was in the room,” recalls Neil. “We got a hell of a lot done. There were fewer smoke breaks, and we didn’t have to go for sushi every two hours,” he laughs. “Change brought out another facet of Three Days Grace.”
“It was definitely a different kind of record,” agrees Barry. “We had more time to experiment and expand the sound. It was a benefit to be able to try new flavors we haven’t tried before.”
“Usually, there’s a deadline to go on tour,” adds Matt. “We didn’t have to rush. The heavy tunes stand out, but there’s a lot of emotion. There’s something for everybody.”
Three Days Grace introduced the record with the opener “So Called Life.” Airy electronics underscore tightly wound verses before fits of distortion buoy an instantly unshakable refrain as Matt pleads, “Give me something to take the edge off, something to kick the night off, something to keep my mind off this so called life.” It set the tone for this chapter with a bang, marking the aforementioned latest #1 for the group.
“Everybody has one thing they do to take the edge off,” Matt goes on. “We all need something, or we’ll go crazy. Whether it’s going to the gym, taking a drink, or having a smoke, we find peace somehow.”
“Music is therapy for us, and it’s why we’ve been doing it for so long,” says Brad. “ ‘So Called Life’ is a party song. You’re getting rid of those frustrations with whatever works for you.”
A siren swell and piano punctuate “Neurotic (Ft Lukas Rossi).” The track originated as a collaboration between Neil and Lukas Rossi [Rockstar Supernova] for the side project King City. Now, Matt and Lukas duet on this bludgeoning banger teeming with nervous energy.
“We added a Three Days Grace spin to it,” Matt reveals. “Lukas has a great voice, and we match up pretty well.”
“Everything is about tension and release,” adds Neil. “It defines the record.”
Guitar creaks underneath the airy string-laden soundscape of “Lifetime.” As the beat trudges forward, Matt’s voice cracks with raw pain, “Who do I talk to when I want to talk to you? I thought I’d have you for a lifetime.”
“Loss is the biggest and most universal thing in the human experience,” Neil elaborates. “Nothing is forever. Humanity deals with loss, and this song encapsulates it.”
“My girlfriend lost her dad, and I watched her get the call,” Matt remembers. “We wrote the song right after it happened. You think you’ll have everyone you love forever. You need to hang in there when other people go away, but it’s easier said than done.”
Then, there’s “Redemption.” It illuminates the masterful dynamics at the heart of the album, teetering between acoustic guitar and a soaring chorus. Elsewhere, “Champion” hinges on a stadium-size refrain inspired by Michael Jordan’s The Last Dance. Everything culminates on the title track “Explosions.” It allows for a catchy catharsis at the edge of existence as Matt declares, “There’s no reason not to have a little fun, one more trip around the sun.”
“It’s a lullaby to soothe another person amidst chaos,” states Neil. “I’ve always pictured it as a message to console someone terrified by all of the fireworks going on. Recognize explosions are normal, and you don’t need to freak out.”
“It’s a big idea,” Brad remarks. “We all have our own emotions and inner struggles. It’s something we connect over.”
“It was the first song I sang to my son on the day he was born,” smiles Matt.
Explosions represents a natural step for Three Days Grace. In the wake of 2018’s Outsider, they picked up “Rock Artist of the Year” at the iHeartRadio Music Awards and “Rock Songwriters of the Year” for the single “The Mountain” at the SOCAN Awards. The album garnered nods for “Album of the Year” and “Rock Album of the Year” at the 2019 Juno Awards. Three years prior, 2015’s Human housed the gold-selling “I Am Machine” and “Painkiller.” Achieving dozens of gold and platinum certifications worldwide, their catalog comprises the double-platinum Three Days Grace , triple-platinum One-X , gold-certified Life Starts Now , and epic Transit of Venus . As “one of the most-streamed rock bands in the world,” they impressively attract over 8 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Speaking to quietly inescapable presence, they appeared on the NBA2K19 Soundtrack curated by Travis Scott, while Jeris Johnson served up a viral cover of “Never Too Late” and the late Lil Peep and Lil Tracy have sampled “The Real You.” The band also collaborated with Young Thug on Bighead’s “Emotions.” Thus far, their number one smashes span “Chalk Outline,” “The High Road,” “Misery Loves My Company,” “World So Cold,” “Good Life,” “Break,” “Never Too Late,” “Animal I Have Become,” “Pain,” “Just Like You,” and “Home.”
In the end, Explosions signals another era for Three Days Grace.
“There’s a lot of positivity in this record,” Barry notes. “It’s about living like there’s no tomorrow and making the most of every moment. Hopefully, you feel that.”
“This band represents a huge part of my purpose and identity,” Neil leaves off. “Art helps explain our lives. If fans feel like the songs explain their lives, there’s nothing better.”
“We’re from a small town of 1,300,” Matt adds. “We can’t believe how far we’ve come, and it’s exciting that there’s a long way to go.”
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