Want to know what it takes and what its like to sing at a professional level? Why not listen to the people who are already there? This interview features 3 Days Grace vocalist Matt Walst. Thanks so much to those who made this possible. Thanks Matt!
photos – www.alysoncoletta.com
hi i’m Mitch Seekins the vocal coach. I’m doing a series of interviews with the people I’m working with and have worked with in the pas,t who are at the top of their game and I’m finding out what it takes for them to stay there and passing it on to you.
How many bands out there still produce number one singles after being together for over 25 years? Throw in changing their lead vocalist mid stride? Usually this marks the beginning of the end for a band not getting even bigger than they ever have been! But this is what has happened for these guys. I’m talking about Three Days Grace! So far they’ve produced more us rock radio number one singles than any other band in history that’s pretty amazing stuff, in fact just this past weekend January 30th 22 – they hit number one again with their new single So Called Life! That’s the 16th number one, if you’re counting!
I started working with Matt Walst in 2014, at the request of the producer at the time, Gavin Brown, and only about a year after matt joined Three Days Grace. We did some work, and I was able to help with a few tunes on the Human album. We’ve continued to work together since then – in between tours that is- and he’s a great guy and I’m proud to call him a friend as well as a student. I thought it would be fantastic to interview him about being a front man for a band that constantly tours the world doing huge shows and give you some insight into what it takes to do what he does night after night. I got together with him at a studio in 2020 right before the very first lockdown… I know it’s been a long time but better late than never right? Oh and just so you know “So-Called Life” is the seventh number one for Matt with Three Days Grace. Hope you enjoy it!
Matt! Thanks for doing this man!
Excellent so how you been the tour was good?
Good man yeah … got some time on good it’s been home yeah working on songs and yeah we still do vocal lessons every week twice a week
Just to let everybody know this is really all about, you know, getting information to uh people and letting them know what it’s like to be at your level. What kind of preparation is involved you know all that all that kind of thing.
how old were you when you started (singing)?
I was about like 12 or 13 when I started like really trying to sing and like uh making my own music and making riffs and then singing melodies over it… but like from like as a small kid i was always in my room playing like Buddy Holly and singing along with it and yeah like my parents were very musical. They liked music but they didn’t play much of it. My dad can sing, he’s got like a opera kind of voice so yeah he was always singing around the house and stuff we always had music around so uh I was always singing in my room … but around like 13 14. and when i started singing like I did I thought I had a bad voice like and I probably did at the time. I had to find my voice and like what worked for me and like where my range was and yeah and at the age of 12
I mean you’re just going through that puberty stage you haven’t fully developed a range or total quality because it’s very unstable
I listened to videos from when i was like 16 and 17 and I’ve heard some stuff from high school and uh back then I didn’t think I had much of a voice and listening to it now I was like holy I was actually impressed with the 16 17 year old version of me!
And when did you turn pro touring?
uh 28 was the year that I started touring and really like got a record deal
oh okay! It was later on!
But uh yeah I moved to Toronto- we’re in Norwood right now- a small town of 1300 people, so I moved from uh Norwood to Toronto when i was about 22 and it was right after uh Three Days Grace blew up and I had two songs on that first record right and I was actually going to school in Peterborough here and uh for customs and I decided at one point when I when my royalties started coming in for Three Days Grace right I was like I made what I would have made in customs uh as a customs broker
On two songs in one year I made that money so while i was in school doing this like doing customs i started getting this money and I was like I’m gonna pursue music like yeah
I mean obviously something was starting to work
and i mean if it and if it’s a passion of yours….
um yeah well and seeing my brother’s band blow up at that point i was like well maybe this could be a possibility and the producer that they had i was working with and that’s kind of why those songs ended up there and
nowadays you tour a lot … like the last tour was how long was the last one (Album Cycle) two years?
um well there was one in the summer with the Breaking Benjamin and Chevelle , it was about 12 12 weeks long yeah but i mean like it it seemed like this cycle yeah it’s like a year and a half or something yeah we went from Disturbed in the winter to uh Breaking Benjamin uh in the summer then at the end of the summer we went Five Finger Death Punch tour so yeah this past couple years has been uh really good for us like we started off um uh not knowing where and like who we’re gonna tour with and then um after the single got out we just started doing it and we got a lot of tours by the end yeah
you were you were busy though yeah the whole time
now um i mean we’ve been working together for like four years now something like that um before that was there um any vocal problems that you had that seemed to be consistent uh or was it a haphazard thing or just when you got sick or…
yeah i was singing pretty hard like i was uh going hard to do i you still do!
but I choose I choose my battles better and now i know where i can light up and where i have to like give it uh i found my way through it but i did have some problems that’s that the first right but you know i i still do once once in a while you know you get a cold or a flu and and there’s not not much that you can do about it’s a human instrument yeah um and i mean with the other stuff i mean you are talking about recovery time so i mean if you hurt the voice during one show unless you have like a day or two off yeah the problem just persists and gets worse um yeah you know for the next for the next show yeah uh so it was just kind of a haphazard kind of hope you get better kind of thing or yeah or how did you deal with that i just uh you know lots of water but and uh lots of rest the same way i deal with it now um i just find that i i found a better place in my head like in my head voice yeah i don’t i don’t use my throat as much as i used to i send it up up here and i i find tone up here instead of like down here yeah because when you’re when you’re around here when you have lots of weight that’s when that’s when the damage starts happening so i don’t need i don’t do that as much now but uh you know i still uh on tour i i try to get as much rest as possible um yeah you know like and on a bus it’s hard but you got to do it you need like i try to get at least 10 hours sleep at night that’s amazing i try that’s amazing right another thing that a lot of people don’t necessarily think about is the actual psychological um hardship i mean particularly when you’re not sure of how to approach things and you’re on tour you’re doing you know bigger shows and you heard the voice what was it like dealing with that like the stuff in your head yeah yeah what was that like um you know i i go through it like even like after show um i i worry about the next day like i’m always always like because i got a show the next day i just finished an hour and a half yeah you know and like if you if you’re hurting here like you start thinking about it um i just had like honestly i have a few drinks and i try to get in no i try to get in that that mindset and to try to forget about that yeah and just do do what i can yeah and it usually works like yeah it but if you go out there thinking you’re you can’t do it and that you’re hurting you’re not going to be able to do it exactly so if you’re not thinking about that you’re going to have the right show so in terms of vocal recovery like you just mentioned you drink lots of water you get as much sleep as you can which is paramount um is there anything else that you do to enable a vocal recovery in between shows yeah um i can go over all them yeah yeah yeah i honestly i drink water like it’s going out of stuff yeah i like like if your pee is yellow you’re not drinking enough water that’s right you’re not hydrated enough first that’s first um i sometimes use my personal humidifier before it shows i usually use it for about 15 minutes watch the humidifier i usually use it for about 15 minutes um it can be good but also if you’re like have some bacterial going on and you’re huffing steam a lot it can turn bad yes it can be like a petri dish yeah like the steam so you gotta weigh that out um sometimes in hotels when i’m traveling i’ll crank the the shower in the hotel and i’ll get that bathroom like just like like crazy yeah some of them it’s just like water is running down yeah yeah but then i’ll crank that and i’ll just lay in there for about an hour and yeah like that i found when i was on tour that’s exactly what i’d do yes go have a like a ridiculously steamy hot shower before and after the show yeah yeah um i was very helpful uh big shows versus smaller shows now i don’t even know if you guys do any smaller shows vocally well i do your warm-up ever yeah before every show i i do uh about 15 minutes of your warm-up every time i’d say that the bigger shows are definitely harder on your vo vocally right because you don’t have that acoustic uh pa coming back yeah like you know you sing in a hall it’s way easier to hit the sing in the hall with that those acoustics you get the room to let everything relax and go yeah so when you’re at a big outdoor uh festival all that sounds going out to the crowd um so you don’t get that ambience right right and any you know difference in the actual show itself or is the show consistent smaller venues big venues doesn’t matter the three days great show is the three days great show yeah i would say like we treat it the same we just need a big show like outdoors to ten thousand fifteen thousand uh we’ll treat it the same as an indoor club with 2000 right connect better with a smaller crowd like especially if they’re going off and like crazy but then like you know we just played a festival i believe it was called louder than life um and it was massive it was massive it was like 50 000 50 60 000 people and it was insane like the crowd was just insane like i think there’s a actually a video clip of it on our instagram
and like that was so much fun like i connected with that crowd really well and at that point it just you just yeah once you practice and and and you just know the songs enough it’s you you get to concentrate on other things like i i saw santa claus in the middle of summer out in the middle of the crowd and i remember like i think it was between songs and i’m like hey santa you know it just becomes fun so yeah any thoughts on studying voice and how uh you know how and if it has enhanced what you do um abilities range endurance stamina what what’s your thought on on studying voice because what i run into occasion not so much anymore is you know people when they come to me is this going to change my voice am i going to just sound like an opera singer you know that kind of thing what what are your thoughts on studying i now of course it’s a loaded question you’ve been studying with me for four years but is there any advice that you would you would uh give people um i i just think for me the what i’ve learned from studying uh with you is that just like the positioning of of my voice like uh like a lot of the stuff is loud uh like i’m a loud singer when it’s up there and the choruses are loud um i just try like for me uh it’s positioning and singing from like positioning it up here instead of here and like i i definitely use my gut a lot more uh you know for singing the support stuff yeah yeah yeah um and it’s it’s made it more consistent it’s made it easier definitely easier like uh and consistent yeah so i can do the do what i do um more without uh without hurting myself right that would hopefully translate into not worrying about doing so many shows in a row yeah because you just have the confidence that well yeah i can do it i just did it last week so yeah yeah i’m going to do it again right yeah we’re only human so yes at one point at one point you know we’re only human and we can only do so much but uh you know the quality of what we do uh that definitely the quality of my singing i feel has got better over the years in the studio uh like you can hear the difference in more control more control better tone is there anything in particular that we’ve worked on that has made um a more impactful difference um i believe that the the uh blending stuff has definitely helped me out a lot yeah um it’s just when we’re blending like up so high and stuff like it just makes and then when you go to sing it like sing full voice it just makes those notes the the full voice stuff that i’m singing like seem really low like because we go up so high yeah blending um like when when i do that and then go sing something that usually i believe is pretty high i can hit it uh yeah yeah yeah yeah because that’s my philosophy you know i i approach the voice as a as an athlete so what i do with everybody is i over train yeah what they would naturally do so that just gets ingrained in your head yeah like well i’m doing this during the last yes this is easy yeah yeah and that’s that’s part of the confidence and uh which alleviates strain stress yeah emotional stress and then hopefully increases the consistency yeah do you have any personal tips other than what we’ve talked about that you could think of because i mean we talked about a lot of stuff yeah any any tips for young singers coming up sure what kind of advice would you give them sure um if you ever have pineapple pineapple’s the best like it just like i don’t know like if you got a dry throat and you eat a bit of pineapple it gets what gets everything going i don’t know what
i told you about that yeah yeah because when i was touring that was our only thing on the rider was a fruit tray yeah and there was cantaloupe um honeydew melon uh pineapple and oranges yeah um the fruit stuff so you found that the pineapple works yeah pineapple yeah i always eat a bit of pineapple and get the eggs yeah the citrus helps clear the throat the fruit juice uh your body accesses the energy immediately yeah um it’s yeah it’s just it’s really good stuff so um i think that’s it cool
oh uh this is for the the tech guys um do you have a favorite microphone that you use?
i just use my old Sennheiser uh no really favorites i i use a Sennheiser wireless on stage yeah uh it’s it’s pretty good yeah it works for me i think i think i’ve always had two i’ve always been on Sennheiser i use uh Sennheiser and Shure at home you know yeah yeah not a big deal
well thank you very much uh hopefully everybody found that helpful and uh thanks man i appreciate you doing this for me
no problem all right
okay so what was that last little bit of advice that you were given well you know we didn’t talk about colds too much but if you can try not to get a [ __ ] cold that would be very helpful yeah
Thanks for watching! I’d like to give a shout out to some of the people who made this all possible a huge thanks to Matt Walsh for doing the interview. To the boys in Three Days Grace and their management Q Prime Management for allowing me access to the footage and the pictures from the last world tour …. to RCA Records for their permissions and to Allison Coletta the wonderful photographer who took all those images… I’ll provide a link to her page below please check out her work it’s awesome.
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