EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH 3
I recently had the chance to sit down with not one but four members of Woodstock, NY’s prog-rock breakthrough act, 3. From inside their seventh floor hotel room dubbed “The Ivory Tower,” the band revealed the state of their current tour, their thoughts on last year’s album The End is Begun, and touring with bigger bands. Of course, in true MetalSucks style, their answers have a healthy helping of goofiness to them. Read the full transcript after the jump.
Daniel: Daniel Grimsland, bass player.
Chris: I’m Chris Gartmann, drummer.
Billy: Billy Riker, guitar.
Good to have you all here. So you guys are on your first headlining tour? How the fuck does that feel?
Joey: It’s actually really awesome, we’re used to sort of having to cram it all in to half an hour and now we get to stretch out and give people a little bit more of a well rounded sense of what we do as a band.
Billy: We get to jam. Daniel gets to jam. [laughs]
So its eight days in now and it’s all gone pretty good?
Joey: Yeah, it’s been great, really really awesome. You don’t know what you’re walking into because we really haven’t done this before. It’s been solid turnouts of 150 people-ish that’s probably our average per show. It’s just real fans and having people sing your songs back into your faces. It feels good. [laughs from rest of the band]
[to the band] What are you doing?
Billy: Beef up the numbers!
Daniel: In all seriousness, there were like 500 people.
Billy: No, I think there was 220 at one and 200 at another.
Daniel: We had 1500 last night, I mean only…
I mean you guys have toured with big bands before: The Scorpions, you did a UK tour with Porcupine Tree, Progressive Nation last time you were here in Vancouver with Opeth and Dream Theater. How do you manage to get on all these awesome tours with these amazing, big bands?
Daniel: Booking agents.
Joey: Booking agents, but it’s also the music. Ultimately these big bands have to listen to your music and go “Oh yeah, I think this could work.” In the case of Progressive Nation, it was really Mike Portnoy who stepped up and fought for the band to get on that tour, because he felt like it was a band that their audience would really “get” and really embrace. He was definitely right on about that.
Steven Wilson’s had a lot of good things to say about your band, as well, right?
Joey: Yeah, I have to say in my opinion that was probably our best match-up yet. I only heard of Porcupine Tree through our fans saying that’s a band that we should play with. Our manager was able to hook that up, and once we got to know each other and it went so well we decided to do another tour so we got to do two. They wanted to bring us to Europe as well but we couldn’t make that one happen financially – next time.
What do you guys think is cooler, headlining smaller more intimate venues or playing bigger venues but being in the opening slot?
Billy: They both have their place but ultimately the idea is to play the headlining shows, I mean that’s always better. You know, it’s hard when there’s not deluxe catering in Turnips, Winnipeg and five different kinds of cheesecake [laughs from rest of band], but it’s more about a room full of people really excited about your songs, singing along, you get to play a longer set.
Daniel: That’s right.
So tell us a little bit about your latest album, The End is Begun…
Joey: [to band] what do you guys have to say?
Daniel: It was cool! It was a lot of fun making it. We produced it ourselves. It was fun to be the producer and get to do your own thing. I had a lot of fun making it and I think it came out pretty good.
In my personal opinion, I think this album has opened you up to a lot more people, a lot more fans. I heard about you guys after this album came out. Do you guys think this will come to be known as the breakthrough 3 album in a couple of years?
Joey: Who knows? [laughs]
Daniel: It’s a good question.
Joey: Every album is our breakthrough album. Wake Pig was the record that sort of put us on the map, but each record is sort of a stepping stone and we’re the kind of band that get better with each record, so who knows what the future holds? The next record could really be that big step. That’s what we’re hoping.
So you guys are signed to Metal Blade records… Do you ever feel out of place on the same label as bands like Cannibal Corpse and The Black Dahlia Murder?
Joey: Yes! [laughs] But we’ve never really fit in anywhere really. That’s been my lot in life. At first we thought it was really cool that we sort of contrast with the rest of the sound of the label, but there’s definitely a connotation to that. And there’s definitely… I mean, I thought the idea of our band being a surprise could work to our advantage and it has in some regards. But it’s also been a challenge.
Now Joey, you’ve got kind of an interesting guitar technique that you don’t really see in a lot of bands. A kind of slap/flamenco style…
Joey: I just never played with a pick. Playing in a rock band, I’ve just found different ways of using my fingers. I’m always exploring the instrument and there’s no rules. My technique is always evolving and I just sort of stumbled onto this flamenco-esque type of thing but I play on steel strings. Personally I think it’s about taking your own approach to your instrument, and that exploration gives you your own voice, and when someone has their own voice on an instrument… The rest of the guys in my band, they’re all guys who have their own voice on their instrument and when it comes to art that’s what it’s all about.
Billy: I play traditional guitar and Joey uses Euro-grip!
Joey: What? [laughs] Euro-grip?
Daniel: [laughs] What?
Joey: I don’t even know what that means. [laughs]
What are you biggest musical influences?
Daniel: Definitely The Beatles for me. They’ve always been the thing that I run to when I don’t quite know what to do.
Billy: Yeah, that’s right, we had Beatles Day in the van today.
Daniel: Yeah we did.
Joey: We did?
Billy: Well yeah, you’re up in the Ivory Tower [laughs].
Joey: Yeah I guess I missed Beatles day. Yeah, definitely The Beatles. John Lennon’s a personal hero of mine. For me: The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, I love song writers, I’m a big fan of Elliot Smith, Joni Mitchell…
Billy: You’re a little Frou Frou girl.
Chris: Yeah, Imogen Heap.
[band members exhale deeply and then continue to make wind noises]
I haven’t heard that one.
Joey: Yeah it’s on the new record. [laughs] You gotta come to the show.
Chris: Well, “The End is Begun” is definitely one of them.
Joey: Well, I always thought “All That Remains” was a good, all around song. That’s why it was a single, because it had all the elements of what the band was about on the latest record. The thing about our band is we’re not a band with a singular boxed-in identity. We’re more than that. You’ve gotta come out and see it live and experience it as a whole to really have an idea, to really have a grasp on who we are and what we do.
What three cities are you guys looking forward to playing the most?
Daniel: Montreal was one of them.
Joey: Yeah, Montreal was awesome.
Billy: All the Canadian cities.
Chris: Vancouver, man! Shit… [laughs]
Finally the last three words of this interview are…
Billy: [hysterical laughter]
Joey: That’s one of them.
Billy: Spurtling Anal Ring [laughs all around].
Joey: Mercurial Spurtling Anal Ring?
That’s four words! Good enough for me…