Editor’s Note: It was a beautiful, stormy night in Minneapolis, Minnesota as Canadian rockers Art Of Dying is currently providing direct support for Scott Stapp on Scott Stapp’s “Live and Unplugged” tour! Art Of Dying has recently released their EP entitled “Nevermore” which is available directly from their website. It was a quick conversation with Tavis Stanley, who is the guitarist for Art Of Dying. They had to book it from Minneapolis to the next tour stop in Denver, Colorado. I was immediately taken aback(in a good way) with their crowd interaction, three-part harmonies, and making their unplugged set feel like they were playing in front of friends in a living room. Without further delay, here is my conversation with Tavis Stanley, guitarist of Art Of Dying. Note: the conversation randomly starts off with shapeshifting.
M.T.C.: Speaking of shapeshifting, what is the one superpower that you wish you had?
Tavis: A superpower question? You know what, I believe that we all have superpowers. I think that the biggest superpower that you can have is knowledge. In all honesty, knowledge is power, I would pick to know everything that there is to know. I try to strive for that anyways. I like to learn.
M.T.C.: What do you like to learn about?
Tavis: Truth. Anything that is truth. I think that truth is a percentage. You can never know the truth 100%, if you do, you would probably turn into vapor and just become pure energy. Have you ever seen the movie “Lucy”?
M.T.C.: I haven’t.
Tavis: It’s a really brilliant movie where she opens up her brain. She opens up 10% to 25 to 30, and as she goes along, she gets these psychic powers and eventually, “Spoiler Alert”, she becomes a 100% and she becomes all that it is, and that is pure energy, and in the very last line of the movie, they go, “Lucy, where are you”, and the cell phone rings and they pull it up, and it says, “I am everywhere”, so that’s what the truth would be. We’re getting pretty deep here!
M.T.C.: So, you believe that we’re all spiritual beings and that God is everywhere?
Tavis: It’s in all things, we’re all a part of it, we’re all a part of a universal force, and that’s what runs through us all.
M.T.C.: Do you believe that’s what Art Of Dying’s music talks about or can it take on many different interpretations?
Tavis: Yeah, there’s a lot of different interpretations, I guess, but it’s this underlying synergy in our music, and an underlying theme is that it’s kind of hopeful, it’s about learning who you are, and that’s part of the truth, it’s about overcoming things, just like in our hit “Get Through This”, “The Best I Can”, stuff like that.
M.T.C.: Is that what people can take away from the “Nevermore” EP?
Tavis: Yeah, especially the “Nevermore” song itself, that’s another one, that song is based upon a relationship of mine from several years ago, a funny story was that I was late for a writing session, me and Johnny were on with our producer Mark Holman, and I was late because I was actually on the phone with this certain someone, I was an hour late for the session, and we got on, we wrote the next parts and we finished the song, the lyrics sort of came out of that situation. We really write about our own lives, and people can relate, our message is that, “we’re all the same, and we all go through the same stuff in different ways”.
M.T.C.: Art Of Dying has had five albums out in the past ten years. How has the music industry changed in the past ten years?
Tavis: Man, it’s crazy, everyone knows that it’s all moving away from CDs to digital downloads and stuff, and now we’re seeing it moving away from I-Tunes to streaming and YouTube, and they’re saying in a few years that I-Tunes is going to be suffering because people are streaming. Again, you just got to adapt and move ahead with the times. We’re just stoked to be in a position where we have our own label and that we’re in control, so we own all of that. We own the master recordings from all of the music that we’re doing now, and it’s streaming as well.
M.T.C.: Do you feel that there are a lot more bands and recording artists doing that as well?
Tavis: If you talk to most bands in this day and age who have had record deals, and we have had two record deals, and have been through it all. I don’t think we will sign another one to be honest, and I think a lot of other bands will say the same. Once you know what you know, and you have made the connections that you have made over the years, all a label really does is to give you money to make an album and to promote you. If you know how to do that, then all you really need is the money to be honest. You just need an investor or some cash, and you can do it yourself, if you’re smart.
M.T.C.: What can people expect from an Art Of Dying concert?
Tavis: This concert tonight was a sit-down acoustic show, but with a lot of vocals. We always focus on the vocals, it’s our biggest strength, our lyrics and our three-part harmonies. We try to play on that a lot, at a regular show, we like to be plugged in, louder, and heavier, but we still have those harmonies, and that is still something that we try to showcase as much as we can, good songs with a good hook, having fun, and having a good message.
M.T.C.: You guys have been together for ten years, give me one memory from the band that is on the top of your head right now.
Tavis: Coming back to this one, we were on the Rockstar Uproar tour in 2011, and we were playing “Best I Can”, it was kind of a ballsy move at the time when I think about it, we decided to play one of our ballads, by breaking it down sort of acoustic-ish at a metal festival. It went over really well. One day, in particular, we were playing this song “Best I Can”, and we had this guy in a wheelchair up and crowdsurf from the back of a crowd of 5,000 people to the front. Everyone sort of stopped doing what they were doing and watched as we were singing and playing, and they were gently bringing him down right to the front of the stage. It was one of those moments where we just sat and watched this happen, as the crowd came together at this moment just to help this one guy, and it was just a real great moment of people helping people, all this synergy, it was great!
M.T.C.: If music didn’t exist, what would you be doing for a living?
Tavis: If music didn’t exist, I would probably be a poker player.
M.T.C.: What’s your favorite poker game?
Tavis: I like Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha Hi-Lo. But, Texas Hold ‘Em, that’s the game of choice. I live in Vegas now, so it’s fun to be able to do that, it’s more of a hobby, but it’s also a passion. One day, I hope to have some free time to go to the poker thing.
M.T.C.: Have you earned any bracelets or trophies from poker tournaments?
Tavis: No, I’m just your local guy that’s in the $80 tourney at the MGM twice per week, for now. It’s all about getting out and it’s something fun and social to do.
M.T.C.: What’s one piece of advice that you would give for a band that’s just starting out?
Tavis: Write. Focus on writing, learn to write because if you don’t learn how to write great songs, you won’t really get too far. A lot of bands try and try, but they haven’t focused on thinking that they can write a good song. Even when you think you’ve got a good song, try to do better, try to write a better song. You’ve got to write 200 songs to get one good one I think. A lot of bands think, “here’s my best 12”, “how many have you written, there better be like a thousand songs then”. You just have to keep going, it’s trial and error, it’s learning and learning, and be humble, if you think you’re good, you’re probably not.
M.T.C.: What’s your favorite song that you have written?
Tavis: I would say “Nevermore”, it’s one of those songs that’s very special and it came very quickly to that moment that I was describing before, it’s one of those that touch a lot of people, and that it’s special, and people will say that this song has helped them.
M.T.C.: Looks like you guys are loaded up and getting ready to head to Denver, so I’m going to give you the floor to say whatever you want to say about the band, the “Nevermore” EP, and a message to the fans.
Tavis: We’re out on tour now with Scott Stapp for a few more weeks and “Nevermore” is out there and “All Or Nothing” is the current single, people need to go request that on the radio, or go stream it, or go buy it on I-Tunes. We’re working on a new record right now that could be out either later this year or early next year, just go get the music, stream it, buy it, steal it, anyway you can get it! *laughs*
M.T.C: Thank you so much for your time!
Tavis: My pleasure man!
And there you have it, please go to I-Tunes and pick up the “Nevermore” EP at this location here and find Art Of Dying at the following locations listed below:
Here are the tour dates in direct support of Scott Stapp’s “Live And Unplugged” Tour:
Saturday, June 3rd at Perham Hall in Zilla, Washington
Tuesday, June 6th at Harlow’s Restaurant and Nightclub in Sacramento, California
Wednesday, June 7th at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, California
Saturday, June 10th at Summer Fest in Anchorage, Alaska
Tuesday, June 13th at Fox Tucson Theatre in Tucson, Arizona
Thursday, June 15th at The Rock Box in San Antonio, Texas
Saturday, June 17th at White Oak Music Hall in Houston, Texas
Sunday, June 18th at Trees in Austin, Texas
Tuesday, June 20th at RockHouse Live Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee
Here is the video for “All Or Nothing” below: