Art Of Dying's Tavis Stanley
By Jay Oakley
I'm sitting here with Tavis Stanley from Art Of Dying and how are you, man?
Great, man. A little tired but it's the first day so that's how it's supposed to be.
So, it's the first day of the tour and how long's the tour looking to be?
About eight weeks. We do a big circle around the country so it's the first day and getting ready to do this for another eight weeks is kind of mind-boggling but it's going to be fun and we're looking forward to it.
A headlining tour?
The bands that are here and getting set up right, are they with you for the whole tour?
Yeah, Children 18:3 and Letters From The Fire are going to be following us around. It's good, a little package and they're a couple great bands and we're really stoked to have them on.
Have you worked with them before?
Nope, first time. But, we liked their music and we asked them to come out and they said yes.
I definitely want to jump into the new album, Nevermore. Tell us about it.
It's interesting. Nevermore, we, kind of, had this under wraps for a while and we just dropped the bomb like a week ago. We've been working on it for the last couple months but we actually started recording some of these songs three years ago. So, we had this tour and we wanted to have new music and we decided to finish them up and a lot of it was done remotely. We recorded some of the vocals, I did it from home and we emailed some stuff off just to get it finished. Just to get it in time for the tour and here we are.
Has it come out yet?
It comes out on iTunes in two days, September 2nd. But, we have it at the show tonight so if you're at the show tonight or tomorrow you get the first physical copies.
So you're releasing this album but this isn't your debut album, right?
No, this will be our third release, well technically our fifth. Yeah, technically our fifth release but, this is our first indie release in a while. We had a couple records with labels. Last year, we had Rise Up with Eleven Seven (Records) and now we got out of our deal which is actually awesome. A lot of people think it's bad that we're not with a label but we're actually really excited, we're in control. That's how we got to put this out in our own way because we're in control and we just hustled and got it done. So, it's just exciting to have all the control right now and bring it to the fans in our own way.
When you started recording these songs and putting together this album, at the time was it potentially going to be released under your old label?
Yeah. When we made Rise Up, it's been a couple years now since we made that album, we had literally eighty songs so there's still more that are waiting that can be used in the near future. These ones were almost finished, like I said, so we picked the ones that we thought we could get done and get it out. Like I said, there's a lot more so we might do it again in six months, who knows.
You're playing Arbutus tonight, just outside of Baltimore and where are you playing tomorrow?
Tomorrow we go down to Carolina for three shows, Jacksonville, Fayetteville and Hickory and then down into Texas.
For people who are unfamiliar with Art Of Dying, what do you bring to the rock scene?
We like to think that we bring a little bit of a positive message. Our songs have that underlying theme of hope most of the time. "Die Trying," "Tear Down The Wall" and now "Torn Down," the new single, is in that thing too. It's about the same kind of thing, rising up and taking your life back to quote the song. [Laughs] "Torn Down" is in that same vain, I'm sick of being torn down and now I'm stronger. So, it's giving the people something to scream at to make their lives better.
How are you looking to progress from the start of this tour to the end?
Well, we'd like to learn the new songs to play live. [Laughs] That's the first thing. We're going to be sound checking and rehearsing a bit to play the new songs and, hopefully, by the end we'll have them learned. [Laughs] We haven't toured in a year so we're, kind of, fresh out here and remembering how to do it. We're tight but we're, hopefully, going to get a lot tighter.
Have you sound checked tonight?
Yeah, we just sound checked so we ran a few tunes and it sounded good.
Talk a little about you. What got you into music?
Led Zeppelin got me into music when I was fourteen. I picked up a guitar and my buddy taught me how to play "Stairway To Heaven" and I was pretty hooked. That's when I got into music and ever since then it's been full on. In high school, I did the whole high school band thing and playing at the noon hour and went on the road at eighteen and right after high school now I'm here. It's a long a winding road and it leads somewhere.
How would you describe your live show?
The live show is really interactive with the crowd. We have a lot of moments where we get people to clap and sing, get people into it and screaming those words back to us so we try to get people to sing as much as we can and be a part of it. There's also a lot of sweat and a few beers up there too.
What do you love the most about your band and band members?
Well, we're all really good friends. That's the best part of it. It's like everybody says, It's like being in another marriage. Fortunately, we all get along really well, we don't really fight, we're on the same page when it comes to the music and when it comes to us as people. If we have days off, we actually go hang out together. Most people will go grab a hotel and get away from everyone but we're like, "No, lets go out and hang out." We just really get along well, best friends.
Has it been the same band?
Actually, our old drummer (Jeff Brown) just left about eight months ago and Cody (Watkins) is our longtime stage tech and drum tech and he just sort of stepped in. This is his first tour with us playing drums. So, he's not just setting them up now, he's playing them too. He's excited, we're excited too. He brings a youthfulness to the show and we're excited. We're just going to throw him to the wolves but he's up for it. He's been with us for a while so he knows what it's like and now he's just got to hit the drums.
What's the message you want to put out to people, from the start to finish of this tour, to make people want to give you a listen and see you if they haven't already.
It goes back to our message of hope and to be inspired and live your life to the fullest. "Art of Dying is my life to live" is the longer phrase we go by. We call our fans "the die hards" and they're into the whole philosophy that time is precious and make every moment count. So, especially when you come to the show, we're working and 180% in the moment. We want everyone to have a good time and leave the show feeling a little bit better then when they came in.
What's your favorite thing about being on tour?
Aside from playing the shows it's getting to go back to the places you've been and seeing friends. We have a lot of friends everywhere now and we pretty much can't go to any city without fans coming up to us. We make friends with our fans and talk to them online so everyday it's another batch of friends to hang out with.
What's one of the craziest things that's happened on tour for you guys?
There was a cool moment on a festival years ago. We were playing one of our ballads actually and there was a mosh pit breaking out and everyone stopped and there was this guy way in the back in a wheelchair and they picked him up and helped him crowd surf in the wheelchair all the way to the front. We were almost brought to tears because it was one of those moments where it all came together at it was indescribable. But, we were fighting back tears and thinking, "Wow, this is great!" Everyone cheered when he got to the front and when he got to the front they helped him down in the front. Everyone was cheering for him.
What would you like to see the new album accomplish?
I just hope people listen to it and listen to the words and just feel something. We're really proud of the lyrics and Jonny's (Hetherington) an amazing lyricist. Everything that he writes is super from-the-heart and just represents us really well. It's about us, all of the songs are about us. We just want people to know that we go through all the same things, in different ways, and struggles and that's why we want to say something positive. So, we're really living it at the same time, it's not a picnic out here, lets just say that.
Tavis, thanks so much, man. It was a pleasure.