Interviews

Interview: Barry Stock of THREE DAYS GRACE

Three Days Grace are a band that seem to be a regular yearly touring stop in Manchester. I have been a fan of the band fan for many years before I had the opportunity to see them live. Since my relocation to Manchester a few years ago I have been lucky enough to remedy that on a couple of occasions. Ahead of the band’s afternoon VIP meet and greet I had the opportunity to have a chat and hang out with guitarist Barry Stock. Sporting an impressive line in facial hair he came over as more chilled and relaxed than his appearance would indicate.


ANTIHERO: Okay, what was your first introduction to music?

Barry Stock: For me, it was, when I first started listening to music and finding my own and stuff, I was about 11. And, I have older brothers, a bunch of older brothers so, that was how I sort of got into rock because they listened to a bunch of cool stuff. But I remember I used to sneak into my oldest brother’s bedroom, which of course, hopefully, he wasn’t home, or he’d whoop my ass, right? I used to sneak in there, and he listened to stuff like Pink Floyd, and Sabbath, and all kinds of cool stuff. So, I’d play his records when he wasn’t there. Yeah, Black Sabbath was probably one of my first that really.

ANTIHERO: Still sounds good, though. Iconic tracks like that one seem to last the test of time.

Barry Stock: The creepy three first notes were just like, I was hooked, from that moment forward, actually.

ANTIHERO: Do you recall then, hearing the song by your own band on the radio for the first time? You remember when that was, or how you felt?

Barry Stock: Yeah, I definitely remember how I felt. You know, even to this day, it seems weird when you hear it on the radio. It doesn’t sound like it does anywhere else.

ANTIHERO: You don’t get used to it?

Barry Stock: Well, I guess I appreciate it, you know what I mean? It’s cool. If you weren’t hearing your stuff on the radio, you’d be worried, right? It’s nice to, still when you hear it … Yeah, especially in the beginning. Yeah. I think we had to pull off the road the first time we heard it. Just sit back and go, “Whoa!” That was awesome.

ANTIHERO: Do you have any spare time hobbies or interests when you are not creating music or playing live?

Barry Stock: Absolutely. We’re all outdoors people, we all live in the country, and stuff. Yeah, I do a lot of hunting. I do a lot of hunting throughout the year, and outdoor stuff. We’re all, again, we love to hunt, fish, sit around a campfire.

ANTIHERO: Ice hockey, no?

Barry Stock: Some of us, it’s been a while for me, but, yeah, we all kind of grew up on, we’re kids from Canada, so everybody’s kind of born with a hockey stick.

ANTIHERO: What in your life are you most proud of? Something personal or something career-wise. Something that you’ve done with the band.

Barry Stock: There are many things. But, obviously musically, the fact that we’ve been doing it this long and we’re still relevant and doing well. That’s always, we take nothing for granted, so that to us is still really cool. You know, to be able to, ever since I was young, and I wanted to play music, and still, I’m still doing that.

ANTIHERO: Still able to do a living at it? Because, obviously, the music business has changed a hell of a lot. Are you able to do it full time?

Barry Stock: Oh, absolutely.

ANTIHERO: Full-time musicians? I know a lot of bands have to take in other jobs, and stuff. Just to pay bills and keep a roof over their family’s head.

Barry Stock: Yeah, especially these days, there’s different kinds of deals with the label. We come from an era where it was a good deal, and it was good for us, and we sort of stayed on top, fortunately for us, stayed on top of radio, which helped a lot, too. So, yeah, we’ve been really fortunate.

ANTIHERO: Would you be able to pick out any musicians or even friends who play music. Any that you’ve worked with over the years, that have really taught you the most? Can you pick anybody? Or, are you primarily self-taught?

Barry Stock: Well, I was self-taught. But, having said that, I always, right from when I was young when I first started guitar. You know, I started playing drums first, and my dad, we kind of grew up poor, and all us kids in one little house. I got a little drum kit, and he didn’t really want to put up with the racket of a drum kit, so he bought me a guitar, and stuff. And, when I started playing, I always managed to hang around and I made friends with the guys who were a few years older than me. Way more advanced than I was. I think that’s what helped me along, especially in the first bunch of influential years. Because I hung out with guys that I thought were really great and they were able to teach me. I learned a lot from those guys. But, having said that, I’ve learned equally as much, and sometimes through guys that aren’t professional musicians.

ANTIHERO: Maybe not even people who are playing in bands?

Barry Stock: Yeah. Exactly, there’s always something to learn, and you can take from anything. So, I just try to take in what I can.

ANTIHERO: Mentioned there, about the changes in the music business since you guys started. What would be good and bad about being a musician today?

Barry Stock: From what I understand of the business now, too. They do a lot these 360 deals, the labels, which they want to take a little more from you. You know, we own our merchandise and our licensing, and all that. But, from what I understand of these 360 deals, they get a piece of everything you do, so, hence why it’s harder. For some of these bands, where they may even have a song on the radio, and yet like you said they still might to do some other stuff to compensate. It’s definitely a harder go than it was 15, 20 years ago, for sure.

ANTIHERO: How can you explain why the band is still around? Still making music in difficult times and changed times for the music industry?

Barry Stock: I think for us, we really haven’t changed our work ethic in any way. We do what we’ve always done. We work really hard on our songs. And, we really make an effort to try and write things for our fans that they can all relate to. Our lyrics generally do that, you know what I mean? And, we write to, I think a lot of it has to do with, we write about our real life stuff, that happens to us, or to immediate friends or family around you. And, I think a lot of people can relate to that. And, I think that may have a lot to do with why people stay with us and seem to connect with our music.

ANTIHERO: Do you think your fan base has changed? Do you find people who are straight into the band as new listeners?

Barry Stock: We do have that.

ANTIHERO: So, it’s a mix of new fans that have come on board with the latest album, and, also people that have grown with you?

Barry Stock: Exactly. We have, that’s what’s cool, we have a little bit of both. When we first started, we had a lot of younger fans. And, they’ve obviously grown up a bit, we’ve been around enough now. But, then I equally see as many young kids, which I’m surprised at. Still, 14, 15-year-olds, and stuff like that, that are right into the band. So, for us, that’s really cool, especially as we’ve been around for a while. And, I think Matt has a lot to do with that. Matt is a young, good singer. He’s great, he looks good.

ANTIHERO: Fans he’s brought in are new to Three Days Grace?

Barry Stock: Yeah, and early on for us, we really, we really attacked America as far as trying to break America. And, it really worked for us. But, we didn’t put in a lot of time over here. And, Russia, Eastern Europe, and all that. And, then in the last five, six years, we really did focus on that. And, I think that brought in a whole new plethora of younger fans again. So, that’s really us coming over here a lot.

ANTIHERO: Let’s see, just a couple more. What advice would you give your younger self?

Barry Stock: There’s probably many. Yeah. What would I give?

ANTIHERO: You just find your own way. I mean do you just learn as you go along, and have no regrets, and stuff?

Barry Stock: Yeah. I’m not really one for regrets. Having said that, I’ve made some mistakes, but I probably learned from those mistakes, too. You know what I mean? What I would do again, and I would do over and over, is just stick to what’s true to your heart. If you really feel this is what, this is where my parents were great when I was young, and I knew at a young age. I said, “I’m going to play music for the rest of my life.” And, I stuck to it. It took a long time, you know? It wasn’t just all of a sudden overnight we were, you know, I spent years and years and years, just like everybody else. So, when I finally took off, it was to me, really rewarding. I think that could be for whether you’re a musician or just anybody in life. Really, go with your passion. We only live one time. Especially as you get older, and you start realizing, “Wow, imagine if I didn’t do that.”

ANTIHERO: Nice to make a living from what you enjoy, as well.

Barry Stock: Absolutely. Whatever that is.

ANTIHERO: Recording albums, do you find that’s something that’s got more difficult or easier? As you get more experience, I mean, you obviously don’t want, do you go into recording an album going, “We don’t want to repeat things.” You want to change, constantly evolve?

Barry Stock: Yeah, that’s the hard thing. Because, there is a balance there. You know what I mean?

ANTIHERO: Yeah. I understand exactly.

Barry Stock: Because you’re right, you don’t want to keep rewriting the same record. At the same time, you don’t want to get too far left field or right field, because your fans will just disown you. If you get too over the top. So, that’s always been a balance. We just try to stay true to ourselves, but also stay true to the fans. I mean, that’s a good question because it is difficult sometimes because you don’t want to keep rewriting a record. So, you do your best to hopefully try to please your fans. At the same time, you want to try some new things, and experience some different things.

ANTIHERO: Just a final one, who would you like to sit down and interview? You asking the questions? Maybe not even a musician, I mean sporting hero, somebody that inspired you during your life?

Barry Stock: I don’t know, maybe some of the classic rock guys that aren’t around anymore. I’d love to chat with them.

ANTIHERO: Like who? Black Sabbath? One of your first musical heroes?

Barry Stock: Yeah. About a month ago, I saw Deep Purple and I met Don Airey through a friend kind of thing, and he had a, he’s awesome. He’s played on so many, of some of my favorite records of the few years playing with Sabbath, Ozzie, obviously. He’s done so many great things. I was a little bit starstruck, just a little bit. It’s cool talking to someone’s been around that long, and still, at 70, still kickin’ it. So, I’d love to interview some of those guys from those eras that are still around, and it’s always a joy to talk to. It’s very humbling when you see they’re still doing it.

ANTIHERO: Do you keep in touch with new bands? New music? Or, do you refer back to your old classics?

Barry Stock: I don’t know, for me, yeah. I love the classic rock era. I love, pretty much the 19ths rock. I would say 1975-85, was just to me, awesome. Especially the ’70s. So, I tend to, that’s what I listen to. I really appreciate a lot of the newer bands. I don’t keep up on names, and things quite as much. The other guys in the band, I always have to ask them, “Who’s that again?” And like, “God, I knew that.” Great bands. I just don’t keep it in me.

ANTIHERO: What about picking your supports? Is that something that’s handled outside of the band? Record labels, and others making those choices for the band?

Barry Stock: We’ll ultimately pick who we think will be cool. But, we get hints and things. They say, “Hey, we got these few options here.” Sometimes it works that way and you can sort of pick out of those, who are available. Because you are competing with bands, are booked, you know. So, you try to fit it in with who’s available. In this case, it was great because the Bad Wolves guys came aboard for our Canadian tour, and they were able to say, “Hey, yeah, we can jump on this, too.” And, they’ve been super great. So, it’s nice when, we’ve never met these guys, so it turned out they were really cool. You know, a lot of times when you’re doing festivals and stuff, you meet, you know a lot of the bands, it becomes like a small family almost.

ANTIHERO: Won’t take up much more of your time as I see that the fans are already gathering for the pre-show meet and great. Are you playing much new stuff tonight?

Barry Stock: We’re playing four new ones. Yeah, four.

ANTIHERO: Thanks very much, Barry, for chatting to me. Have a great show. I’m really looking forward to hearing how the new material slots into the set tonight.

 

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Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time.Photo: Mark Dean with Jeff Kendrick of Devildriver - Photography by Olga Kuzmenko

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