Speaking with Matt Walst, of Three Days Grace and My Darkest Days



Being from a small town, I remember everyone. It’s a habit I think birthed from growing up in a place like that. I lived in a house on a main street surrounded by houses of people with important family names, and who came from big family trees with deep-rooted history in that area. They were people who were related to everyone, and who knew everything about everyone else. Around the same time, though, there were some guys who loved to make and preform music that were coming onto the scene to create a big name for themselves.

Originally formed in 1992 as Groundswell, they re-launched in 1997 as the more widely known Three Days Grace. The band consists of Adam Gauntier, Brad Walst, Neil Sanderson, and later, Barry Stock.

A controversial topic for many die-hard fans of the band is that the lead singer Gauntier has in the last year been replaced by My Darkest Days singer-songwriter Matt Walst, younger brother of Three Days Grace’s bassist Brad Walst.

Matt is great guy that stepped in at a difficult time, and I think fans of the band need to see and remember this. Any reviews of the tours that followed have been nothing but good reports of the changes made. One person does not make a band – Walst (Brad), Sanderson, and Stock are excellent musicians and have dedicated years to this endeavour as well, and so should be recognized as such. Without them, the band is just as lacking as one without a vocalist.

As Canadians, I think something we could work on is our excitement and support of local musicians or people who do big things in our country. It shouldn’t have to be that our own have to go to the States to make a living for themselves. Granted, we do have a smaller population than the States, and granted, there will always be the haters who didn’t make it themselves and are drowning in bitterness. But these guys put Norwood on the map!

I’m proud to have grown up around these guys, so a big thanks to Walst for making the time to sit down and chat with me. It was a great afternoon to relax on a lawn with a down-to-earth guy who just so happened to tour the continent with a band that’s been nominated for tons of awards. They were named Rock Artists of the Year by Billboard Magazine in 2007, and Walst’s My Darkest Days was also nominated for New Group of the Year at the Juno’s in 2011.

This last year has brought about a lot of changes, but before addressing that, for all the My Darkest Days fans reading this: Your Facebook page says that you are working on a new album. Do you know of a release date for the album yet?

Ever since I joined Three Days Grace, it’s been hard to dedicate the time needed for MDD. I’m currently working on the new Three Days Grace album, so it is going to be a while before a new MDD album is released.

Where did the name “My Darkest Days” come from?

There is a record by Stabbing Westward called Darkest Days, and our guitar player at the time had that as his MSN sign-in name. I also found it was on my darkest days that I would write because I needed an outlet.

What would you say to people who have called MDD’s music as objectifying women, and uncreative in its lyrical content, because of how raunchy a lot of it is?

I can see why people would think that the videos are anti-feminist, but my views on that subject is specifically that I believe women have always had a power over men, especially with sex, the idea of  strip clubs, things like that. Women really run the show, even covertly. They can have guys on their knees handing them money, so really, it’s not that we think less of women at all – we think women are strong, and are a force to be reckoned with.

How has being from the Peterborough area helped or hindered you in your development as a band and musicians?

I believe it helped being in Norwood at the start because in small towns, you can be loud and not get complaints because you are out in the middle of nowhere. However, I feel that inside Peterborough, it’s hard to be loud and jam because of the 24-hour noise by-law. This is the only place I’ve known to be this way. If there is anyone out there who wants to fight that with me, let me know!

What has been your biggest challenge as a band?

There has been so many challenges over the years. Heading the band, you’ve got to make everyone happy in the band and getting gigs at first. For any band in the Peterborough area, you’re going to have to look into Toronto. You can only play around here for so long, and all the agencies are in Toronto.

Matt and BradDo you enjoy touring together? How would you describe your experiences on the road?

With MDD, we enjoyed touring, but even with Three Days Grace now, it is a lot more comfortable. At first with MDD, we travelled in a van which was fun, too, but when you hang around the same people for a long time, you are bound to have your disagreements, and your ups and down.

What has it been like touring with your brother? Do you guys fight a lot, or is it a better camaraderie?

We don’t fight anymore at all, we did as kids though, mainly because he was six years older and I was really hyper. It has been awesome touring with TDG because I’ve always looked up to them.

What are your rehearsals like? Do you get right down to the music? Is it very structured or not?

TDG rehearsals were much different than MDD just because I only had three weeks to learn songs before upcoming arena tour co-heading with Shinedown. With MDD, we were spending hours on the same song, so no matter how drunk, stoned, or sick we were, we could still pull it off with our eyes closed.

Do you have any embarrassing moments from performances?

I have only forgotten the words a few times, that would probably be the most embarrassing. A few times I was so drunk that I could hardly play, but that was in the earlier times.

What is your favourite song that you’ve written, and why?

There are a couple songs, each for different reasons. I like “Porn Star Dancing” because it gave us the success we needed, and was a good enough song that Chad Kroeger, Ludacris, and Zack Wilde wanted to get on it. For a band from Norwood, getting gigantic artists in on this was flattering and overwhelming. There is also a song called “Without You” which people have used as their wedding song. It’s cool to think that people are starting the rest of their lives to your song.

Who are your biggest influences musically as well as in life?

In music, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Deftones. In life, I look up to my brother because he is a smart dude with a good head on his shoulders. Having an older brother with a [solid mind] and great parents kept me out of trouble. Having great parents always helped.

What have you been listening to recently?

The new Daft Punk record, it is amazing.

If you were not doing this, what would you be doing?

I’ve been asked this a few times, and it would have to be something with music. If not, I have no idea.

My Darkest Days will be playing in Peterborough at the Red Dog on November 15.