Saint Asonia’s Adam Gontier Inspired by Rehab Stint During Son’s Birth
We recently had a chance to preview some of Saint Asonia's new music for their upcoming album, Flawed Design. Singer Adam Gontier welcomed us to a studio in Los Angeles where the group is mixing the music for their upcoming album and he played a trio of new songs, before sitting to chat about the new album.
Among the new songs is "Blind," a driving rocker with a powerful chorus that will likely open the new record; "Sirens," a haunting and uniting new track in contention to be the next single with Within Temptation's Sharon den Adel lending guest vocals; and "Ghost," a "wow"-inducing cinematic and epic soundscape that found them writing with Starset's Dustin Bates.
Gontier also offered some insight on the Flawed Design album title, shared some of the difficult, life-changing experiences — such as missing the birth of his son — that inspired the music on the new record and discussed his openness to outside collaboration for the album. Check it out below.
It sounds like you're having the time of your life right now. You've said it's the best music you've written since 2005. Can you talk about the feeling of what you're going through with this band at this moment?
We started working on these songs that shortly after the first record, and we had to take a break. I had to take a break, get my head in the right place, and I had a baby with my wife as well. So there was a big period that we just took off and didn't think about music.
That break we had, really for me, it put a lot of things into perspective. My perspective on life in general has definitely changed. Having a child did that for sure. [laughs] So, after all that, we came back to the project and it was just a different process. During this time I felt more aware and more present and just really, really focused on the music for a lot of different reasons now. I'm really, really proud of it. I was really proud of the Three Days Grace record One-X.
I think writing songs or getting to that point is important to me. It's not really compared to that record because it's definitely different obviously, but just the amount of work that I put in and the amount of life's situations that I went through making that record were very similar to this time around. Here we are, three years later with the same batch of songs, but it's better, and there's a few more songs, different songs, co-written, with outside writers and stuff. I'm just really proud of this one.
"The Hunted" is the single. It precedes you even being in Saint Asonia, right?
Yeah, it was. Mike [Mushok] and Sully [Erna] started writing the song years and years ago. I think the idea was they wanted to submit it for a specific film. Actually, when we were recording the first record, I heard it. Mike played it. But he at the time wasn't sure if it was still going to end up on a soundtrack or what was happening. So it was one of those songs where I heard it and was like, "That's awesome. We should work on that." But it never came to life on the last record, so this time around, we had to do it.
We ended up co-writing back and forth, some ideas I had changed a couple of things like the verse and some of the lyrics and a couple of melodies. I brought it to Brian [Sperber] the producer and I think we nailed it. We changed it a little bit. Because obviously Sully co-wrote the song it made sense to have him guest sing on it if he wanted to, [laughs]. So he did, and we're thankful for that.
We have Sully Erna on the first single, but we also have Dustin Bates from Starset. You've worked with Keith Wallen from Breaking Benjamin. Within Temptation's Sharon Den Adel is on a song as well. How much fun is it to open up the creative process and bring in your friends?
Yeah, it's really cool. I've never done that really in the past. I've been in the industry for a long time now and have a lot of friends and it's nice to ask people if they want to be a part of it. And it's even nicer when they say, “Yeah.”
I know Ben Burnley has talked about his acoustic album that's he's got coming up and that you're working with him as well. What's your relationship with Ben and the band?
It's really great. Good friends and I've spent a long time touring with them and became really solid friends. Ben and I wanted to do something together for a long time, but it just never really panned out. So, he asked me to sing on "Dance With the Devil" from Phobia there on the acoustic record. It's fun. I did that actually already, so it should be cool.
The band has evolved since the first record, you now have Cale Gontier and Sal Giancarelli. Going into this record and having an album under your belt now, did you feel a little bit more settled?
For sure. You're right, the first time around we just kinda just went into it and went after it, but Cale and I have played music together since I can remember, like since we were five years old or something. So the fact that we're playing together, it was going to happen. We've always talked about playing together and that sort of thing, but we just weren't sure when it was going to happen and it's definitely the right time.
Sal is a professional, and he's awesome. We were able to do pre-production for this record as a band, playing in the warehouse and stuff, so it sounds good. It's a good band, and I’m really stoked.
We talked about "Ghost" earlier. You just played "Sirens" and said it might be the next single ...
Actually, "Sirens" was a song that Steve [Aiello] from Thirty Seconds to Mars and Dustin Bates from Starset had the basic idea for the song and they sent it to me. Then we just started sending ideas back and forth remotely and the song evolved. It's a really cool song.
It's different for us for sure. It's got a different vibe. There are different elements and it's not necessarily just straightforward riffs and solos and that sort of thing. I'm excited and Sharon from Within Temptation is guesting on that.
You mentioned before, it's been four years you've kind of been working on the songs. Given the time spent, is it a little more all killer no filler situation where you feel you have a deeper collection of quality tracks?
For me, every song on this record is really solid. If we were to have to pick a single, just in my opinion, we could take any one of these songs and put them on the radio. It's not necessarily something we're consciously thinking about, like, let's make sure there's no filler on the record. It's more like let's write a bunch of good songs, and we actually recorded another two or maybe three songs that won't be on the record and it's going to be kind of tough to decide which ones.
I wanted to ask about the title Flawed Design. I know mentioned a little bit about it being the way that you present yourself as maybe not being the person that you should be or want to be. If you could maybe expand a little bit on what the mindset is with the title.
"Flawed Design" is a song on the record and it explores why people feel a need to present themselves maybe not necessarily as what they actually are. It seems like in society, a lot of people want to be or try to be perfect. A lot of people tend to want to fix the way they look when you take a picture and make yourself perfect. People want to be perfect, and I think that's just a lot of pressure and flawed design is just exploring that.
Nobody's perfect, everybody is flawed in a way, and to recognize your own flaws and to just enjoy them is something that I try to do for myself. I do that all the time. I take selfies or photos with people and I'll look at them over and over and make sure I look quote, unquote "cool enough" to put them online or something. I don't like it, but it's just the way things go.
In terms of lyrics, what's inspiring you these days?
There's a lot of different things. This record for me, there are quite a few things that happened in my life that I wrote about on this record. One of them being my son was born and I actually wasn't there when he was born. I was checked into rehab in Minneapolis at Hazelden Betty Ford.
Basically, I ended up in the emergency room. I didn't necessarily know if I was going to make it back. At the same time that was happening, my son was being born on the other side of the country. So really him being born and the way my life changed all in that small period of time is a lot of what this record is about. There's a song specifically called "This August Day" on the record that is all about that. There's a lot of different things that inspired me on this record, but I think that has to be the most important and the biggest thing that happened.
That's some heavy stuff to go through and to put that out there and share it with people. Are you ready at this point to go through that?
Yeah, I think so. That was two years ago, actually coming up on two-year birthday for my son. But it's been two years and I'm in a great place now, and I have been for a couple of years. I think being honest and telling people what this record's about and how it came to be and how certain songs came to be is really important. It's pretty easy to write songs and just say they're about this and they're about that. But I want people to know that they really are about something that means the world to me. Nothing's contrived on this album.
What's on the horizon? Have you booked touring yet or figured out when the album is coming?
I think the album's going to come in October, probably beginning to middle of October. And I imagine we'll be on tour by the latest in November. And we have festivals next year, 2020 summer festivals for sure. I'm not sure what tour we'll be doing in November but we're definitely going to be out. Breaking Benjamin and I, we've been talking about possibly doing a tour together in November. So, it's nice if that comes to life but we'll see.
Obviously with all the guests that have worked with you on this, might there be a collaboration or is that something you'd be open to?
Absolutely, that'd be great. If we could get out, do a few shows with Godsmack and get up onstage and do a few songs together, that'd be great. I'm assuming that's definitely going to happen. We've got a couple of festivals together and we'll get Sully up for sure.
Our thanks to Saint Asonia's Adam Gontier for the interview. Stay tuned for further information on the release and pre-order of the band's second album, 'Flawed Design.' You can also keep up with their touring announcements via their website.