meta-scriptJay Farrar On Son Volt's New Album 'Electro Melodier' & The Lifelong Draw Of Electric Guitars, Words & Melodies | GRAMMY.com
Son Volt

Son Volt

Photo: Ismael Quintanilla III

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Jay Farrar On Son Volt's New Album 'Electro Melodier' & The Lifelong Draw Of Electric Guitars, Words & Melodies

During the pandemic, Jay Farrar had more time than ever to craft Son Volt's new album, 'Electro Melodier.' The result is among the 30-year-old band's most personal, oracular and muscular works to date

GRAMMYs/Jul 27, 2021 - 03:44 am

When the Americana heroes Uncle Tupelo broke up during the Clinton administration, they left two unbelievably different rock institutions in their wake. While Wilco spent album after album racing to the brink of experimental chaos before pulling back in the 2000s, Son Volt remained staunchly devoted to the core components of rock 'n' roll storytelling — words, melodies and chord progressions.

Flash forward more than 30 years: The pandemic has given Son Volt’s leader, Jay Farrar, more time to write songs and check out vintage gear. "I had more time to be looking at equipment," the singer/songwriter tells GRAMMY.com. "I came across two amplifiers — one called Electro, the other one Melodier — and I felt like that was emblematic as a title for what I was going for with this record: An emphasis on electric, uptempo, melodic songs."

Farrar couldn't have found two words that better sum up Son Volt's latest, which arrives July 30 via Thirty Tigers. The album is a sequence of well-crafted, warmly-recorded tunes for fans of Tom Pettythe Replacements and Bruce Springsteen. And it's bound to be catnip for those who believe a guitar, a tube amp and a pen comprise the ultimate form of human expression.

GRAMMY.com caught up with Farrar to discuss the road to Electro Melodier, dive into every song on the record and discuss everything from COVID-19 to his 25-year marriage to the civil rights upheaval of 2020.

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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

You mentioned in the press release that the title comes from the names of two vintage amplifiers. Is an electric guitar through a cranked-up tube amp all one needs to genuinely express themselves?

It is if you had the background I had, yes. If you had the background I had, all you need is an acoustic guitar and a small amp and an electric guitar. It took me a while to realize what I would call the Keith Richards method of using small amps to record. You know, you get a bigger sound. On the very first Son Volt record, there's a small amp pictured on the cover.

This time around, with the pandemic, I had more time to be looking at equipment. I came across two amplifiers — one called Electro, the other one Melodier — and I felt like that was emblematic as a title for what I was going for with this record — an emphasis on electric, uptempo, melodic songs. 

What other gear have you been checking out lately?

On the new recording, I used a baritone acoustic guitar, which is an Alvarez. I've also adapted some new guitars to my live [performance] — when I get back to playing live. I recently had some rotator cuff shoulder surgery from playing too much guitar. Forty years of acoustic guitar took its toll, so like a pitcher in baseball, I got the rotator cuff repair. 

I was told to maybe find a thinner-bodied guitar, so I came across an old Kay Speed Demon guitar that I just put some acoustic pickups in and it sounds like an acoustic guitar. So, that's what I'll be going for whenever we start playing live.

Your debut album Trace just celebrated its 30th birthday. What feelings or memories about its making come to mind?

You know, I was living in New Orleans at the time and I had a lot of my equipment in St. Louis. Some of the other guys in the band were in Minneapolis, so I spent a lot of time driving north to south, up and down Highway 61. I used to take the 55 and the 35, just kind of soaking up those parts of the country. 

I also remember that I think I hooked up a U-Haul trailer to a Honda Civic — one of the hatchbacks — so I would fit all the equipment in there. Crazy things like that that I wouldn't do now, but I did it. [Chuckles]. I put the expenses for that record on my girlfriend's credit card and away we went.

When you mentioned Highway 61, I remembered that tune ["Afterglow 61"] from Okemah and the Melody of Riot. Is that a place you continually return to in your mind?

Yeah, it runs right along the Mississippi here, near St. Louis, as well as in New Orleans and all the way up from Minneapolis. It's a thread that follows the river and, usually, good music follows the river and the road.

To connect the timeline to Electro Melodier, where would you place this record on the arc of your overall development?

That's a good question. It's hard to put it in context, I guess. Since it was a pandemic record, it was a much more hybrid approach to recording. We started doing this Zoom, remote-type recording on the song "These Are the Times," and sort of realized that some of that synergy and chemistry was lost over recording through a computer in a remote location.

So, some of us got together with masks in the studio and brought that chemistry back. Yet, at the same time, it made sense for Mark Spencer, who's the multi-instrumentalist, to add his parts because he has his own studio in Brooklyn. It was kind of a hybrid approach that I felt worked on this recording. I think the pandemic made the ingredients for this record to sound and be different.

At the very least, remote recording means the bassist and drummer can't look each other in the eye. You lose the pocket.

Yeah, absolutely. There were myriad communication-type problems since everyone had a computer with speakers and you're in different studios with audio monitors. We were just trying to mute the feedback loops from the microphone to the speaker, whether it's a computer, headphones, microphone… It was just too much.

Son Volt. Photo: Auset Sarno

Think we could go track-by-track to see what each song kicks up in your mind?

Sure, we can give it a shot.

Let's start with "Reverie."

I think that song represents what the recording is about: Getting back to basics. It starts with a melody. The song itself is just an exercise with wordplay. There's a baritone electric guitar on that song kind of inspired by Glen Campbell's work on "Wichita Lineman."

What can you tell me about "Arkey Blue"?

There's a bar in Bandera, Texas, which is outside of San Antonio, that I visited once. Its claim to fame was that Hank Williams, Sr. played there and carved his name in a table. So, I had some time off, went there, took a photo of the place. I have a sign in my music room where I play music. So, when I was writing that song, I just sort of used that Arkey Blue bar name as a placeholder title for the song itself. 

A lot of lines from that song are directly from a speech Pope Francis gave, talking about turbulent rains never before seen, essentially saying that the pandemic is Earth's way of fighting back. That just sort of blew my mind, the Pope saying that, so that wound up in the song. Ultimately, I just sort of felt like the subject matter in the song has kind of a Noah's Ark vibe, so "Arkey Blue" stuck even though it has meanings that go off in different directions.

Did Hank really carve his name in the table, or was that a rumor?

Ah… well, it's there. It definitely looks the right part. The whole place is straight out of a time warp when you go in there, so it's totally believable that it was Hank, Sr.'s name carved in there. They do have it kind of roped off so people don't mess with it.

How about "The Globe"?

That song, I think, was written through a period of turmoil, both in this country — George Floyd's death protests, Black Lives Matter — and looking at news across the globe. People in Belarus or wherever getting clamped down and their freedoms being curtailed. I think the gist of that song just came out of "We're all in this together across the world." A nod of solidarity to those in this country and across the world.

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And "Diamonds and Cigarettes"?

I guess that one could have been called "Ode to a Long-Term Relationship." The clock just turned 25 years of marriage for me. I think the pandemic also made one realize the people around you are incredibly important. So, that was one takeaway. Laura Cantrell sang backups on that one. I've known her since about 1995. She was interviewing when we were playing the first Son Volt shows back in 1995.

What do you appreciate about her approach to the tune, or just her voice in general?

It kind of blew me away. Again, Mark Spencer, who's the multi-instrumentalist in the band, also plays with Laura Cantrell as her guitar player, occasionally. They had a rapport. I know Laura and her husband, Jeremy, so it was an all-in-the-family type of experience. I felt that she really did a great job.

Where does "Lucky Ones" fit into the puzzle?

There were always cross-currents of R&B, soul and country music that I've always liked, whether it was Dan Penn, Charlie Rich or the Flying Burrito Brothers. That was my take, or my attempt at tapping into that aesthetic via rhythm and blues and country soul.

I remember the old cover of the Burritos' "Sin City," so obviously, that DNA runs deep.

[Shyly] Yeah, yeah. For sure.

And "War on Misery"?

A couple of years ago, some kids in town in St. Louis had put a manifesto in my mailbox called "War on Misery." It was kind of a self-published socialist manifesto. I could concur. I could relate. So, that title kind of stuck with me. I was trying to go with a Lightnin' Hopkins type sound. Lightnin' Hopkins would often perform with a regular guitar tuned way down, so he had this deep, baritone sound.

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How about "Livin' in the USA"?

It didn't start out as an intentional thing, but in retrospect, I see it as a nod to songs like Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" or Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World." Both of those songs have a similar thematic thing going on. I feel like those songs establish a thematic tradition, so I was just kind of taking it and running with it.

 But yeah, again, a lot of turmoil going on and looking around and seeing things that don't add up and putting them into the song.

Both songs are antimatter national anthems. Widely misunderstood, too.

Yeah, exactly. There could be some of that that happens with this one as well.

How about "Someday is Now"?

We started to veer off into prog-rock land a bit with that one, but we consciously kept in check. There were a few times in the recording when we had to pull it back from sounding too much like Rush but I think it ultimately sounded more like Zeppelin.

Has prog always been part of your creative stew?

Not so much for me, but it's in there somewhere, I suppose. Once it gets in there, you can't shake it out completely.

Tell me about "Sweet Refrain."

There are some COVID-19 references, I think, in there. "Looking out the window panes" — I spent a lot of time doing that in the last year and a half. Again, there's some references to relationships and that kind of thing, but there's also a line in there: "Another hero is gone," which references people that passed during COVID, like John Prine

That song is also an example of a stream-of-consciousness type, where it kind of goes from one verse to the next and jumps around. The final verse references some of the folks in Benton, Mississippi — [Jimmy] "Duck" Holmes and Skip James. I've used that tuning before and I felt like I wanted to tip a hat to that tuning.

And how about "The Levee On Down"? That symbolism weighs heavy in blues and country.

Yeah. I live close to the Mississippi River, so I've driven up and down the levees. They usually have roads on them. You can drive up and down. I was going to make a bad joke about a Chevy on the levee, but I'm not going to do that. 

I'm going to say that from driving up and down Highway 61 into Cape Girardeau, Missouri, when you go about an hour and a half south of St. Louis, there's the Trail of Tears crossing where the Cherokee Indians crossed. Many died on their way to Oklahoma due to the Trail of Tears forced march, and the person that was part of that was Andrew Jackson. He's on the $20 bill.

Then, we've got "These Are the Times."

That was very much a COVID reference. Changing times, and this is where we're at. Let's try to find our way through this.

We're almost through with the record. "Rebetika."

I came across that word in reference to a certain kind of Greek folk music that was described as being close to blues. It had maybe a similar impetus as blues. I just found that to be kind of fascinating. I took the title "Rebetika" and just kind of ran with it.

Then, after "The Globe / Prelude," we close out with "Like You."

Yeah, that was a stripped-down version—almost like a demo—of "The Globe." We were recording that very much in the [midst of the pandemic]; I think it was when the Black Lives Matter protests were going on. We actually released, I think, on Bandcamp during that time frame.

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I always tend to forget about the very last song, but then it sticks in my mind. I guess the way I would summarize this whole project is that I had more time to work on the song structures and arrangements — the writing itself — and more time spent recording the vocals. Really, all of it. 

It spanned the course months where often, in the past, the recording would happen between the gigs. With that song, Jacob Detering, who did the engineering, played a sort of drone, a Mellotron-type instrument on that. More time, more team. I think those were elements that went into the making of this record.

Gary Louris Of The Jayhawks On Barely Listening To Roots Rock & His First Solo Album In 13 Years, 'Jump For Joy'

Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker play instruments and sing under red lights during a performance on the set of the Jimmy Fallon Show.
Sleater-Kinney perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on March 15.

Photo: Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images

interview

On 'Little Rope,' Sleater-Kinney Still Wear Their Hearts On Their Sleeves

Sleater-Kinney's latest album delves into profound vulnerability, crafted in the wake of personal loss and global upheaval. 'Little Rope' showcases the band's enduring spirit, close friendship, and the approach that's kept them relevant over time.

GRAMMYs/Apr 10, 2024 - 03:29 pm

Using lively, raw instrumentals as a vehicle for emotional catharsis, Sleater-Kinney’s Little Rope takes the lead as one of their most vulnerable projects to date. 

The "Dig Me Out" singers approach their 11th studio album with a fresh perspective, influenced by their experiences during the pandemic. Despite the departure of drummer Janet Weiss in 2019, the band maintains their iconic post-riot grrrl take on rock music. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker infuse Little Rope with reflective lyrics and raw energy, mirroring their personal growth and resilience. 

While working on the album one day, Brownstein received a call with news that nobody ever wants to hear, nor expects. She had been informed that her mother and stepfather had been involved in a fatal car accident while on vacation in Italy. Faced with grief and a sense of unfamiliarity, the band turned to something that always brought them comfort: making music. Little Rope was born.

Despite such a tragic, major life change and trying to make it through a global pandemic, Sleater-Kinney’s motive remains consistent.

"We hope to find people where they're at," Tucker explains to GRAMMY.com. "And it seems like we have, in each stage of someone’s life."

After hosting a GRAMMY U SoundChecks event with the Pacific Northwest Chapter of GRAMMY U, Sleater-Kinney sat down with GRAMMY.com to talk about their perspective on the ever-changing industry and the legendary bands they pull inspiration from.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

It has been almost 30 years since you all released your first album. In what ways has Sleater-Kinney changed since then and what has stayed consistent? 

Corin Tucker: We still try to write songs that are emotional and that reach people. Our songwriting has developed over the years and I think we have different methodologies for writing. But, really the most important point of a song is that it makes people feel something. We still try to judge what we do by the same metric as we did 30 years ago.

Carrie Brownstein: One thing we set out to do is to have a unique sound and I think we created a sonic language with each other that we've tried to maintain, but also push the narrative forward and challenge ourselves with each album. That's been consistent from the beginning, we never — even in the early years — wanted one album to sound like the last one. Things change and the industry changes. We just try to stay true to ourselves, but also adapt.

Are there any of your early projects that you feel still resonate to this day? 

Corin Tucker: The funny thing about streaming is that people are finding some of those older songs and really getting into them. We found out at the end of last year that people were really into one or two songs off of our very first self-titled record. A really nice thing about having your music available digitally is that it's available to everyone all over the world. 

Path of Wellness (2021) was self-produced, as it was made during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and Little Rope (2024) was produced by GRAMMY-winning producer John Congleton. What was it like going from a self-produced project to having John on the next project? Was there a certain reason you chose to work with John? 

Carrie Brownstein: Self-producing for us was very anomalous. We've always worked with producers and one of the reasons is to just have an outside perspective — somebody to come in and be the tiebreaker or to just bounce ideas off of. So, it was kind of a no-brainer to return to a producer after the solitary of the pandemic. 

We have always been fans of John Congleton's work. We come from similar backgrounds and have been in talks to work with him for a while. Fortunately for this album, it worked out and we felt like these songs would be really well served by his productions. 

Could you tell us a little bit about your dynamic as a music duo? When writing songs, do you both try to work on them 50/50 or is it on-and-off, where one of you may take the lead for certain songs? And what was this collaboration like specifically with Little Rope? 

Corin Tucker: Our goal is always to make the song as strong as it can be. We’ve worked together long enough to know that that's the most important thing. Sometimes a song is more an idea of one or the other, and you need to wait until they’ve fleshed it out to come in with your parts. We have a bunch of different modalities and we just try to keep the conversation going. It's a lot about communication – it's an ongoing constant conversation between the two of us on where the song is at and what we think it might need.

Can you share any standout memories or experiences from when you were writing Little Rope?

Carrie Brownstein: My friend has an apartment in Downtown Portland and he was out of town. So, he let us use the space as a writing studio. And neither of us live in Downtown Portland, so it was interesting to be in this highrise in Portland looking out over the city — sort of being in conversation with the city and changing the landscape in which we were writing was nice to have.

As Pacific Northwest natives, how do you see your Pacific Northwest roots stick out in your music? 

Corin Tucker: A lot of the sounds from the historic bands you can hear in our music. You can hear Nirvana, you can hear the Fastbacks, so you can hear so many of those Pacific Northwest musicians. They were bands that we grew up with and bands that we still try and emulate with what we do.

I feel like a good number of Sleater-Kinney fans have stayed fans and grown with you all over the years. What about your music and your brand do you think resonates with people even in different stages of their lives, and how did you foster this dynamic? 

Carrie Brownstein: Sleater-Kinney’s a very earnest band. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and I think our audience appreciates that rawness and vulnerability. It's emotional music.

We have a lot of younger and newer fans. I think they relate to the emotionality and the honesty in the music, so that’s what we try to stick with.

You have said that The Showbox is one of your favorite venues to play at in Seattle. How does it feel being back at The Showbox for two sold-out shows? 

Carrie Brownstein: We really enjoy the intimacy of a smaller venue, allowing the fans to get a little closer to the stage and feeling more connected with them. It's just nice to feel a sense of history, a through line with our career and our relationship with the city. We're really excited to be here. 

I’m curious to know how your fans reacted to Little Rope. Have you noticed any common reactions to the project? Or any particular responses that have stood out?

Corin Tucker: People really relate to the emotion in the music. We've gotten a lot of people saying that it helped them through a hard time. Having that impact on people is pretty special when they feel like it's okay to be emotional and process things with music.

Lastly, you have the rest of your international tour to go, but what else is coming up for Sleater-Kinney? 

Corin Tucker: We're very excited to play shows internationally. There may be some cool stuff coming up that maybe hasn't been announced yet, but we're looking forward to more touring.

Carrie Brownstein: For an album cycle, it's almost two years and so, for the most part it will be, it'll be touring and then we'll write something else.

8 Bands Keeping The Riot Grrrl Spirit Alive

Sheryl Crow press photo 2024
Sheryl Crow

Photo: Dove Shore

interview

Sheryl Crow's 'Evolution': The Rock Icon On Her "Liberating" New Album, The Song That's Her "Favorite Child" & More

As Sheryl Crow adds another album to her catalog, the freshly minted Rock & Roll Hall of Famer reflects on the major moments, musings and mushroom trips that led her to the unexpected new project.

GRAMMYs/Apr 4, 2024 - 04:24 pm

When Sheryl Crow released her tenth studio album, 2019's Threads, she declared it'd be her last — even calling it "a beautiful final statement."

"People don't listen to whole bodies of work anymore. In fact, I'm not sure they even listen to a whole song anymore," Crow explains. "So it seemed kind of, not only futile, but also, at this stage, it seems like a long process that's expensive when really, it's best to put out something you really believe in."

As it turns out, she really believed in her eleventh album, Evolution

Crow's music has always been as insightful as it is catchy, and Evolution is perhaps the most existential example of that. Throughout, the nine-time GRAMMY winner  poignantly muses over the state of the world and humankind, while also reflecting on the moments and the ideals that still give her hope. Along the way, she throws in very Sheryl Crow quips ("Anger sucks, but at least your brand's trending," she sings on "Broken Record") and makes some important statements ("We are brilliant, we are kind/ But sometimes we miss the glaring signs," she urges on the title track).

If Evolution ends up being Crow's actual last album, she'd certainly be going out in signature style. It's a culmination of what's made her music so timeless: unabashed honesty, soulful musicality, and unbridled joy. 

GRAMMY.com sat down with Crow to discuss her unexpected album, her "liberating" new creative process, and major moments that have made her career feel like a fairy tale.

After declaring that you wouldn't make any more albums, how did creating Evolution change your perspective on the rest of your career? Do you think you'll go back to making albums?

Well, this was not like any experience I have ever had. I've never made a record where I wasn't there for it. I mean, I was there, but when I typically make a record, everything starts and ends with me. 

This was me sending a guitar vocal to this incredible producer, Mike Elizondo, who basically was like Martin Scorsese. He would take my little screenplay and just build this cinematic landscape around it. I've never had that experience where I walk in and hear myself in the context of something I've never heard before. And it was really a beautiful experience. 

Once I got over the fact that I'm not playing everything — once you check your ego and go, Wait a minute, this is exactly what you wanted. You wanted your stories, your thoughts to be built on — it made it so different than any process I've ever experienced. 

Will I go back and make records the way I used to? I don't know. I'm going to quit saying I'm never gonna do an album again, because I don't know. [Laughs.]

You've said that this is kind of a diary turned into an album. You can actually feel that in some of the songs. I can envision you sitting down and just spilling your heart out, and then it turning into a song.

I've never made a record where I just wrote the song and then let it go, and then it came back to me. It was a really colossal gift that I gave myself, to let go of it and be okay with what came back to me. 

Luckily, there was no disappointment in what came back, because I know Mike Elizondo so well — like, for 20 years. And the interesting thing about this process is the whole thing came together over one song that we put on the record [last]. 

It's called "Digging In The Dirt," it's a Peter Gabriel cover. It's on the deluxe [version of Evolution]. I called Mike, I said, "I have been really soul searching. I've done a guided mushroom tour. I am really trying to navigate how I'm feeling about this moment in our humanity, and I want to do this song 'Digging In The Dirt,' would you produce it?" He said yes. 

We sent it to Peter, and quite a long time went by, and [when we] got it back, he'd put himself on it. Then, it was like, Okay, we have an album.

I imagine that you probably weren't thinking he would put himself on the cover.

I wasn't. We sent it to him and he really liked it. And I said, "If, you know… no pressure!" 

Of course, it's a compliment. But I think his work is pretty emblematic of what this record is about: Digging deep and taking no prisoners, calling out what you see, trying to figure out a way to get back to [your] authentic self — which is what every human being at some moment in their life will struggle with.

I feel like you've always been pretty outspoken in your music — not in an abrasive way, but just in a way that you're very assured of the message you're spreading.

I hope so. It's a weird thing to be now — because when you think about music before MTV and VH1, like before videos, you'd write a song and there was no image that was attached to it. Then MTV and VH1 [come along, and] suddenly you're writing little stories [for visuals], and that gets in somebody's head. Like, I can listen to Madonna song, and instead of what I experienced, I remember the video.

Now, you put out songs, and there's so much branding and social media that you're attached to before you ever hear the song, that it taints what your songs are about, you know? And it can also make you [think], I would never listen to her because she's a liberal

It's like we're programmed to decide if we could like somebody's song based on how we feel about that person. It's different than it used to be. All that to say, there's nothing that can stop me from writing, because it's the thing that I know how to do. It's a salve for me.

I saw an interview with the Guardian where you answered fan questions, and someone asked about how your creative process evolved. And you were basically like, "I don't know who's listening anymore, and I don't really care who's listening. So I'm just gonna say what I feel." Do you feel more creatively liberated than you ever have?

I do. I mean, there were many periods during the process of making the albums in the early days where I would sit and listen to the body of work and go, I gotta write something that could maybe get played at radio. There's none of that anymore. Because radio is based on streams, and streams is based on social media and TikTok, and all that stuff. And also, being my age, I can't even hope to be played anyway. So it is liberating.

That's not to say that it's not frustrating. It is frustrating to feel like you're writing some of your best work and [have to ask] Will anybody hear it? But I had to stay out of the outcome, just like I've always done, and be into the process. And that's where I continue to find my joy.

You've been able to celebrate a lot of success before the streaming era took over. This year actually marks 30 years since "All I Wanna Do," hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, which started a very epic run for you, including your first GRAMMY wins. What do you remember from that time?

When I reflect on that night, I think I was not equipped to hold all that. In fact, it's funny, I look at what I wore, and it was very not designer. I just was a country bumpkin. [Laughs.]

We had already toured for, like, a year, and nothing had really — I mean, it was just starting to pick up, and then "All I Wanna Do" came out, and it exploded. And then I was nominated for GRAMMYs, and won the GRAMMYs, and then the next day, we played in San Francisco like it never even happened. 

It took a little time — in fact, the better part of that year — to realize that, at that time, the GRAMMYs, which was the one night of the year that everyone tuned into, that winning a GRAMMY could change the trajectory of your career. Just from the GRAMMYs, and that visibility, my record sales expanded exponentially. It was just over the top. 

It was a whirlwind. And what looked like, to most people, as being an overnight success, to me, being a 30-year-old, I felt like I'd worked my whole life — I studied piano, I taught school. I had a whole life before I ever made it. 

It was a bizarre time. And obviously, there's no guidebook for how to become famous and how to navigate that. So I just tried to really stay in my lane, and I didn't really enjoy it as much as I could have enjoyed it. I wish now I could go back and say, "You need to enjoy it more! Be a rock star!" [Laughs.]

You were just inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and you've hung out with — and recorded with — Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. I would say that puts you in the ranks of a rock star!

I've been so dang lucky. And that was an amazing thing. I grew up in the middle of farmland, in a town with three stoplights. And my parents were like, "You work hard and you're a good person, good things will happen." 

You just don't really know what life can be like. As you get older, you realize that the stories we tell ourselves [when we're younger] about what [life] can be can be very limiting,

In my particular instance, I could not have envisioned knowing these massive heroes that I got to brush up against, and I got to learn from. I think there's not an award on the planet that could measure knowing some of these people. 

I mean, even singing with Willie Nelson, for as long as we've sung together is — the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame [performance with him] was just icing on the cake. To be in a "club" — as my dad calls it — with the people that wrote the book on it is just very humbling.

I read that you didn't even want to record "All I Wanna Do" at first. Is there a song you've never gotten sick of playing?

After two years of touring that record, I was so sick of ["All I Wanna Do"]. Now, of course, I play it with absolute and total gratitude, because it's taken me to St. Petersburg, to Tokyo, to Bogota, to Tel Aviv. That song has literally taken me all over the world, and I've watched people who don't speak English sing the many thousands of words in that song. 

There is one song that I love every time I play it, and when it comes on the radio, I don't turn it off. It's "My Favorite Mistake." The original intent of it, the experience of writing it, the feel of the song. It feels like the best song in my catalog.

That's a big statement! You don't see artists making that statement a lot, because they're like, "Oh, I can't pick one, they're all like my children!" 

"My Favorite Mistake" is my favorite child. There, I'll say it.

It's amazing to have a piece of work like that, right? I can imagine that you have so many songs you're proud of, but it's very cool to have a song, no matter what it meant to other people, for it to feel so special to you.

It is. You hear that woo-woo statement of "I was just a vessel." I've had a few of those songs where I go, "Okay, that's weird. I don't know how I wrote that song top to bottom." There are those songs, and I do look at that and go, "Okay, there is some divinity in that." 

Because we learn really early on how to craft a good song — what the form of a good song is, how to build interest in it, how to make it exciting, how to hold the listener. All kinds of crafting tricks. But on the odd occasion you get, like, a "Redemption Day," which you go, "I don't know how I wrote that song, because that's not even how I write," and 15 years later, Johnny Cash records it. 

There are those songs where you think you just got to be in the room for it. "My Favorite Mistake" was a little bit like that. It was so effortless. Most of the lyrics I sang onto the mic as I was playing it on bass, writing it with Jeff [Trott, Crow's frequent collaborator]. 

It just fell together, and it felt so authentic to how gutted I was over my relationship falling apart. And I think sometimes that is what makes a song universal — it's the emotion we all experience no matter what the experience looks like. 

That can very much apply to Evolution as well — in a very different way than "My Favorite Mistake," but there's a lot of relatable sentiments on this album. 

I think as a mom, as a person who's raising two young people, a lot of what I'm asking myself — and what I'm witnessing, which causes me to scratch my head — I don't know what to do with it. And you can't really engage anymore in narrative conversation where people share ideas, and try to come up with solutions, and make compromises. Because we are now being, I guess, in some ways, programmed to not do that, you know? To not give in to the other side because it might be a show of weakness.

My safe haven is to write songs, and this process was really that. And I can safely say, without ego, I love the way that it turned out, and that is because I did not produce it. It's just my songs and a great movie around them.

So your biggest takeaway from this album is that you should stop producing your own work…

My biggest takeaway is I should just sit and write little songs and then fire them off to a producer.

You know, that's what they're there for, right?

Exactly! That's why we pay you, anyway! [Laughs.]

You're such a statement-based artist and you've always stuck to your guns. What are some things that you look back on and you're like, Man, that is exactly what I set out to do?

Oh my gosh, I have so many that now I allow myself to feel proud of. I think it's our knee-jerk to not ever give ourselves a minute of homage. 

I got to sing with Pavarotti. I got to sing a piece by Mozart in front of my mom and dad in Modena Italy for War Child. The look on my parents' faces will never leave me, ever. My parents are musicians. I don't think they could have envisioned their little girl, like, singing legitimate music, after the years of piano lessons and getting my degree in voice and piano. 

To see me up there singing Mozart with Pavarotti, and then getting to play my own music with Eric Clapton backing me [at the same event], that one moment was a personal highlight for sure.

I've had some incredible experiences — getting to sing with, like you said, Dylan, and getting to walk out on stage with the Rolling Stones and strut around and be a rock star. But doesn't it all come back to your parents, ultimately? I will never forget the emotional looks on their faces. And I will carry that with me forever. 

Well, especially, like you've been talking about, coming out of such a small town. What you've accomplished is so rare, especially coming from a place with three stoplights.

To bring your parents all the way to Italy! They'd never been out of the country and [I had to say] "Okay, you guys are gonna have to get a passport. You're gonna drive an hour and a half to the airport in Memphis, Tennessee. You're gonna fly all the way across the world." 

You know, those are the things that fairy tales are made of. And I would say that my life has been a fairy tale.

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Nickelback Press Photo 2024
Nickelback

Photo: Richard Beland

interview

Nickelback Dares You To 'Hate To Love' Them In New Doc: 6 Revelations From Bassist Mike Kroeger

As Nickelback's new film heads to streaming platforms, the group's Mike Kroeger details how 'Hate To Love' is about "the humility of the band" — and helps them reclaim their story.

GRAMMYs/Apr 2, 2024 - 05:53 pm

When a band achieves global success like Nickelback, fans may think they know them. It may be a cliché, but how well does any fan really know their favorite band? That's a question that both serious devotees and detractors will find themselves asking in light of the new documentary, Hate To Love.

Directed by The Sound Of Scars director Leigh Brooks, the feature film shows how the band worked incredibly hard to escape their far-flung small town of Hanna in Alberta, Canada, and braved the rough terrain — and sometimes brutal weather conditions — to build up their name North of the border before being signed to Roadrunner Records in 1999. It also chronicles the backlash they faced when their success and their music put them in the crosshairs of internet haters and meme creators everywhere.

While Hate To Love does not break down all the reasons for the vitriol in extremely specific details (although a media montage does show how some of their fans also get mocked for liking them), the film shows what it's like to be facing that disdain both virtually and publicly. And most importantly, it offers a new perspective: Nickelback's.

"People will create the narrative if you don't supply it," bassist Mike Kroeger tells GRAMMY.com. "I think that that's where some of that negative sentiment came from — much less [from] what we're doing, and more from a vacuum of information."

As he suggests, Hate To Love film was a chance for Nickelback to reveal some aspects of themselves and their career. We get to learn a lot more about Mike and his famous frontman brother, Chad Kroeger, along with guitarist Ryan Peake, and drummer Daniel Adair, and the different types of adversity that they have all faced — the many years toiling away in clubs, the hateful "corporate rock" tag that was foisted on them, the effect it had on their kids, their serious medical scares, and even personal insecurities among members of the group.  

But what makes the film most impactful is that we also get to hear from their parents, children, relatives, management, and media people. The culmination of personal stories and anecdotes from those on the outside helps humanize Nickelback in a way they've never been able to amid the mockery — and will win over anyone who has loved (or hated) to love them. Mike calls it a "tell most";  it's not about airing all the dirty laundry, it's about showing them as people.  

After the doc briefly hit select theaters on March 27 and 30 (it first premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)), Hate To Love will be available to stream on VEEPS starting April 12. To commemorate the doc's release, Mike Kroeger sat down with GRAMMY.com to break down what he hopes both fans and naysayers will take away from Hate To Love.

Three Of The Members Suffered Major Medical Crises

Mike suffered a near-fatal stroke at age 41 while working out. He spent two weeks in the hospital and several months recuperating. Chad had to have surgery for his vocal cords; while the official diagnosis for what happened was not revealed — and Mike says it was called so many different things during that time that he can't remember — the singer was not allowed to speak for a month. Daniel developed a rare neurological condition that affected his right arm up to his neck, and in turn he thought his career with the band was over.

But Chad rallied around his bandmates to support them, as they did for him.

"I feel like all of these fragile human moments that we had — my brain blowing up, my brother's vocal cords going bad, and Daniel's very complex condition — and also with COVID, we got shown in a very short period of time how fragile this situation is, and how lucky we are to be able to do this," Mike says. "This can be taken away at any time. I think it made everybody just a little more sensitive to [knowing] this is a gift, this is just a totally awesome gift to be able to do this for a living. It's absurd."

Only guitarist Ryan Peake has not had a major medical issue. "That we know of," the bassist quips. "He's the most likely to have a health crisis and not tell anyone."

Firing Previous Drummer Ryan Vikedal Was Painful For Them

Vikedal played with the band on their second through fourth albums, 1998's The State, 2001's Silver Side Up, and 2003's The Long Road. During the doc, we learn that Vikedal started to suffer from burnout, and his bandmates sensed that things weren't working; they now both acknowledge the chemistry was not there anymore. As the group prepared to make their fifth album, 2005's All The Right Reasons, they made a difficult change that their drummer didn't expect and fired him.

"It was terrible," Mike admits. "It was really, really hard. It's like firing a member of your family. It is business, and the decision to let him go was not a personal one. It was more of like, Hey, we can see this is not functional, and we're going to act before this just falls apart. We felt that that was coming, that if we pretended that everything was fine and kept doing that, probably sooner rather than later something was gonna happen."

Of course, it's never just business, and Mike concedes that. "We're not firing a person out of personality conflict," he says. "Of course, it's personal. There's no way to say, Hey, man, no hard feelings, right? Yeah, right."

The doc also reveals how Peake visited Vikedal years later to try to mend fences — one Ryan to another — and the old bandmates hashed things out and renewed their friendship.

Daniel Adair, who previously played with 3 Doors Down, took many years to shed the "new guy" title in his own mind. The turning point was when the band supported him during his neurological struggles rather than letting him go which is what he feared. They wanted him to stay as he was part of their family.

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Crowd-Commanding Frontman Chad Kroeger Is More Sensitive Than You Might Think

In the documentary, the singer and guitarist reveals that while he can shrug or laugh off 90 percent of the barbs and insults hurled their way, some of it hurts. 

As the doc shows, Chad is a workaholic who has spent a lot of time in the studio; unlike his bandmates, he is not married with children, so their priorities can be different at times. When he was a kid, Chad got in trouble with the police for a lot of petty crimes like theft and breaking and entering, although as his brother jokes, "He never got arrested for working too hard."

Something deeper is also at play. "The Chad that I know is still the boy who just wants love," says Mike. "He was the bad kid that a lot of kids weren't allowed to play with... nevertheless, it's still tragic that you kind of feel unworthy. I know that that's a typical male condition to feel unworthy — and I have it, a lack of self-worth. 

"When you take a person who already has a stunted self-worth — maybe the impostor syndrome isn't all of it, that maybe you actually don't feel that you deserve this — you've got to work harder and harder and harder to justify the gifts," he continues. "The problem during COVID was that purpose was removed. And then who are you? Who am I if we don't do this? Who's Chad, who's Ryan, who's Daniel, who are we? Now what's our function? What's our purpose? It was kind of difficult."

The Internet Has Been A Blessing And A Curse For Them

The film makes a good case for paralleling the storm of vitriol against the band and the rise of social media in the mid-2000s. Mike says they could arguably be Patient Zero for cyberbullying, which his brother says spilled out in the real world when people would shout out insults at him in public. Mike and Ryan's children also speak about being hated at school simply because their dads were in the band.

The bassist admits that he thinks the dearth of real information about Nickelback and where they're coming from led to a narrative created by others. At the same time, he admits, "I think we can wear some of the responsibility for that. All of our biggest and favorite rock groups went through this. Long before social media, Jon Bon Jovi and his band were getting beat up by the hate stick just because they were successful. Every guy wanted to be them, and every girl wanted to be with them, and thus they must be destroyed. [Laughs.] That's what happens to you."

But in Mike's eyes, hitting it big in an internet-driven era hasn't been all bad. "I don't think we would have broken through in the first place without the controversial Napster file sharing situation," he suggests, "because a lot of people heard of us for the first time on Napster and on these file sharing platforms. So I think that there's been externals that have worked in our favor, very much so."

They Don't Need To Be Compared To Anybody Else

At one point in the film, Chad says, "I play Nickelback songs to Nickelback fans. So I don't have to go and win over someone who doesn't like my band. That sounds like some very strange form of torture, probably for both of us."

His brother remarks to Grammy that some of the disdain thrown their way comes from "an outgrowth of another condition" about how the public perceives rock stars. He points to bands like Queen and U2 or a performer like Prince, and how they are archetypal musicians and rock stars who people think have a special or unusual quality to them.

"Then they look at us and they're like, What makes these guys so [special]? Why do they deserve this? They're just normal guys. Why them?" Mike muses. "And I don't disagree with that. It's true. We are just normal guys. We're not Prince, we're not weirdos. So then the question is: Why should anybody think that we're that special? And the answer is they shouldn't. They just shouldn't. We don't think they should. It just turns out people really like the music, and I don't want to argue with that. I'm not mad at it."

There Are Things About Them You Will Simply Never Know — Nor Should You

As Mike explains, being in Nickelback is a brotherhood — and there are some things that will stay only between them.

"I think you just go through so many guttural, gritty, sometimes emotional, sometimes tragic situations, that after a while, you look at the team around you, and you just go, We're together. We've experienced these things with people that we work with in this tight group that other people just can't understand. 

"We have an encyclopedia of inside jokes inside this group," he adds. "There's also an encyclopedia of life experience that we only have in common with each other. Nobody's wives know this stuff. Nobody's families know this stuff. The public doesn't know this stuff. We know each other on a level that no one else gets to share. There is still that element of being a gang."

Even if all is not revealed in Hate To Love, the film offers some insight into what makes them tick. They know that their music was overexposed in the early to mid-2000s. They know that some people don't like their music period. But they're not the first band to elicit strong reactions, and they're not a "corporate rock" media creation. They're small-town dudes who made a mark on the rock world, whether you love, hate, or hate To love them.

"[For] anybody who thought that Nickelback was just a big monolith thing that doesn't care what anybody thinks and just hoovers up money and cranks out hits," Mike declares, "this documentary humanizes us in a way that is not about humiliating us — but it's about the humility of the band."

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Sum 41 2024 press photo
Sum 41

Photo: Travis Shinn

interview

Sum 41 Says Farewell: Deryck Whibley Shares His Favorite Memories With The Pop-Punk Icons

As Sum 41 bid adieu with an epic double album, 'Heaven :x: Hell,' and a massive world tour, frontman Deryck Whibley reveals some of the band's most memorable moments — from their first Warped Tour to setting their tour bus on fire.

GRAMMYs/Apr 1, 2024 - 08:57 pm

Deryck Whibley didn't know Heaven :x: Hell was going to be Sum 41's final album when he began the process of making it.

"I was just listening to it as a finished record to see how close it was to being done — and it was almost done — but I thought, 'This to me feels like a record that I could call our last record.' I feel so proud of it, and it encapsulates the entire sound of the band and everything that we've tried to do over the years. It's all in one record," he explains over Zoom from his home in Las Vegas.

To be fair, the Sum 41 frontman, 44, had spent the past five years contemplating a future without the band that has defined him since their punk rock beginnings in 1996. "I always knew if I was ever going to do something, I can't do two things at once," he explains. "I didn't ever have a date or a time — I just knew it would kind of hit me."

Amid the release of their 2001 debut album All Killer No Filler and the height of Warped Tour, Sum 41 became pop-punk pioneers of the early aughts. The five-piece — comprised of Whibley, Dave Baksh (guitar, backing vocals), Jason McCaslin (bass, backing vocals), Tom Thacker (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals), and Frank Zummo (drums, percussion, occasional backing vocals) — has since released seven more albums, even earning a GRAMMY nomination in 2012 for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the song "Blood in My Eyes." Over the years, they've toured with artists including Good Charlotte, The Offspring, Mötley Crüe and many other titans in the punk and pop-punk world.

With their eighth studio album, Whibley believes it's the band's "complete work." The 20-track Heaven:x: Hell is a testament to the band's expansive punk sound throughout their nearly three-decade-long career: Heaven's 10 tracks channel the energetic pop-punk sound that brought them to the forefront of the Warped Tour scene; while Hell taps into the band's affinity for experimentation and heavier elements with bombastic riffs and explosive anthems. To culminate their tenure, Sum 41 will hit the road for a massive farewell tour, kicking off on April 19 in Omaha and concluding with their final show in their native Toronto on Jan. 30, 2025.

For Whibley, life after Sum 41 remains a question mark. Perhaps he'll work on a solo project or maybe he'll work on some scripts. Ultimately, he believes that once he's faced with the uncertainty of his own future, his heart will gravitate toward what excites him the most. "I love music," he sighs, "but I like to think that there might be something else out there."

As the end of Sum 41 approaches, Whibley reminisces on the breadth of experiences the band has had over the years. Below, he details seven of his most career-defining moments to date. 

Playing Warped Tour In 2001

We started the band by going to the first Vans Warped Tour that came through Toronto [in 1995]. All the bands that we were obsessed with at the time [were there] — NOFX, Pennywise, Face To Face, Unwritten Law, all these California punk rock bands. We were already in a band but as a different band [called Kaspir], and we just thought, This is the kind of music we listen to. This is the kind of tour we want to be on. We want to play with these bands and be like these guys. We need to start a new band. That was the moment we decided, let's start a band that could be one day on a tour like this.

So six years later, we ended up getting [on] the tour, and we became friends with a lot of those guys, like The Vandals, Pennywise. Fat Mike was on the tour. He wasn't with NOFX, but he was with another band. We used to be just watching them from the front of the stage. Now we're hanging out backstage, and we're parking our tour buses next to each other every single day on the whole tour for two and a half months, every single day. It just became this great thing. 

It was also at the same time as our first record, All Killer No Filler,was taking off and our first single, "Fat Lip," was taking off in the middle of that tour. So when we started, we were on MTV, but it wasn't a big song yet, and as the summer went on, it just got bigger and bigger. So we saw the growth happen while we were out on that tour. Everything really exploded in that summer on that tour.

Performing With Tommy Lee & Judas Priest's Rob Halford At MTV's 20th Anniversary

That was in August [2001], and we were on Warped Tour — we had to take a little break to go over to New York and do [the MTV performance]. That came last-second. When we started Warped Tour, we were on MTV, but it just started and in mid-July, ["Fat Lip" was doing really well. 

We were still a new band, but MTV asked us to come and perform at their anniversary bash, and we were going to open the show. So in our minds, we were like, "Why don't we do something cool that we've seen before?" They do collaboration stuff with like Run DMC, and Aerosmith and stuff like that. So we asked if we could do that, and they said, "Sure. Who are you thinking about?" 

We threw out a couple of names and we were like, "Let's ask Tommy Lee, let's ask Rob Halford and we'll place some of these songs." We even said, "Let's see if we can get Slash from Guns N' Roses and the Beastie Boys. Both Slash and the Beastie Boys were like, "We're not going to show up. We're not doing that thing." But Tommy and Rob were like, "F— yeah, sounds great."

So we met in New York, the night before the show, and worked on this little medley of different songs from Sum 41. We did a Beastie Boys song, we did a Mötley Crüe song, we did a Judas Priest song. We threw it together really quickly.When we opened the show, I thought we played like s—. Because when [we were]  on stage, it just didn't sound good in our monitors. It felt a little weird, and you're playing to a lot of industry people. So you don't know if people like it or not. 

We walked off stage, not really knowing if that was good or bad. But it all kind of blew up for us. When we walked off stage, the heads of MTV came by and they were just saying, like, "That was phenomenal. We're gonna have a great relationship together. You guys are the next big thing. We're gonna get behind your whole thing." 

From that moment on, our video went into heavy rotation the next morning, it went all over the world, and "Fat Lip" became a No. 1 song. It just turned into a whole thing. That next day, we flew back to the Warped Tour, and our friends — all those bands — had watched it, and everybody was like, "You guys are going to be massive. After that, nothing's gonna be the same." And it never was. Everything just took off from that moment on.

Touring With The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

We were really young — this was still in the van days — and it was only the second tour we'd ever done of America. Flogging Molly was the [other] support band. Right from day one, even though we were these kids that nobody ever heard of, both the Bosstones and Flogging Molly treated us like family. We all became this great family for this whole tour. 

We would go on the Bosstones' bus and Dicky Barrett, the singer, taught us all how to play dice and gamble. He took all our money every single night. He didn't even care that we were completely broke kids in a van who barely had $20 between all of us. We lost, he took it all. [Laughs] 

Watching [the Bosstones] every night was also such a learning experience. They would get in all their suits, and they all went out on stage. [Dicky] had a character. He's a character off stage, but he even had more of a heightened character on stage. He had banter and bits that he would do every single night. And I realized, "Oh it's a show. You're putting on a real show." It's not just off the cuff — he put some time and effort into making it entertaining. 

The other thing that was memorable about that tour was Dicky and I both kind of had a similar hairstyle, and within like five or six shows, all of a sudden, he started calling me his son. People thought we were related.

A couple shows into it, the Bosstones were on stage, and I kept hearing over the PA, "'Deryck, where is he? Get Deryck up here." I'm backstage, and people are saying, "Hey, Dicky's calling you out on stage.' I didn't know for what. I walked out on stage, and he goes, "There he is, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for my son." 

The whole crowd starts cheering. He does this whole bit where he's like, "I haven't seen my son in 20 years. This is my way of getting to know him, bringing him on tour." And he kept that bit up every single night to a point where if I see him, I saw him a couple of months ago, he still calls me his son. I still call him Dad. And that was from 23 years ago. He's my punk-rock dad.

Setting Their First Tour Bus On Fire

We were so used to touring in vans, and we used to tour in this old 1982 Ford Econoline that had no air conditioning, no heat or anything. It had holes in the floor, so if you were driving in the rain or the snow, all the rain and snow would come through on your feet.

So finally, we get to the point where we're big enough that we're gonna get a tour bus. We were so excited, and we were pretty young. I mean, we're like 19 or 20 years old at that point, and we used to party all the time. We thought we were like Mötley Crüe — we just partied all day all night. 

The first night that we had the bus, I said on stage, "Hey, everybody, we just got our first tour bus. After the show, we're gonna have a party, so you guys are all invited." We kept doing it every night, but that first night, there was a lineup of 1,000 people trying to get on the bus, and our tour manager was there to allow a few people on and check IDs. But our bus was crammed with people. 

We ended up partying really late, and I think one of us — it might have been me or it might have been Steve [Jocz], our drummer — was making food. It was 5 a.m., and we all passed out while the food was cooking. The toaster oven caught on fire and the whole bus filled with smoke.

Finally, it woke somebody up, and you couldn't see anything. The whole bus was filled with smoke, and this thing was on fire. Obviously, we got it out and everything, [so] then we drove. 

When we woke up the next day — probably in the afternoon — there was some random person who had passed out in the back lounge from the other city. We're now seven hours away somewhere else, so we had to wake this guy up. We were like, "We don't even know who this guy is." He's like, "Oh s—, I live in Pittsburgh." I was like, "You've got to get a train or something."[Laughs.]

Earning An MTV Music Video Award Nomination

We were so excited and nervous. We were so brand new to this whole thing, and it was also in that heyday of pop music, so really big pop superstars were there — NSYNC, Britney [Spears] and Christina [Aguilera] — they were all the big talk the whole thing. We're these kids that were just touring in a van that all of a sudden are now at these awards with all these superstars. 

I remember the night before, we went out to a bar, we did a bunch of mushrooms, and we got really drunk. Other people from the award show [were] there, too. Nikka Costa was there, and she came by our table. Somebody introduced us, and our bass player ended up vomiting all over her feet when she came over to say "hello" because he was so high and drunk at the same time.

We ended up going to the awards show the next day [where] we were up for the Best New Artist award. And I remember Alicia Keys was up for it because it was her first single, ["Fallin'"]. None of us knew much about each other. We were all brand-new artists. And she went up to go perform that song — it was before our award was announced — and she was so f—ing incredible. 

It was so amazing that instantly, I just was like, "I don't want to win this award now. After seeing that, we don't deserve it. This person deserves this award. She's clearly talented, and we're just some punk band [that] can barely play our instruments."

Then right after she was done, they said, and now the nominees for Best New Artist. The entire time I'm saying, "Please don't win. Please don't win. Please don't win." And they say, "The winner is Alicia Keys." And I was like, "Yes! Thank God it was not us."

Getting GRAMMY Recognition

One of the most unexpected phone calls I ever got was in 2011 from our manager telling me that we were nominated for our first GRAMMY. It was for a song called "Blood In My Eyes." 

Not only was it an incredible honor, but it was for a song that our record company didn't think should be recorded for our album at the time. The reason they didn't want to have it on the album was because I was taking a long time to get the recording right and they felt I was dragging the process on and on. 

I put my foot down and got the song finished and for it to have been nominated for the highest musical honor was complete validation for all the time and work I put into the making of that song.

Making Heaven :x: Hell & Announcing Their Final Tour

It's a strange "best moment" because it is the end. When we announced that this was going to be a final album [and] final tour, I was not expecting it to be anything surprising, or for many people to really care. I felt like our core fan base would be upset, but I wasn't expecting much of a reaction. It was such a bigger reaction than I could ever imagine. 

When we put [out] the tour [dates], shows were selling out, and we're adding second dates, and that was selling out. Everything just blew up into a thing that I was not expecting. 

So although it's bittersweet and sad that it's the end, in some ways, I'm happy. But I know there's a lot of people in our world that are upset by it. It was such a surprising moment for me to see how much people do care because I wasn't expecting that.

The way I work on things is that I put all my focus and energy and attention into one thing. I always knew if I was ever going to do something [other than Sum 41], I can't do two things at once, and would I ever get to a point where I'd walk away? I'm so focused on making this final tour the best it can be as a final tour. The point of this, for me, is to go try to find something new and do something different. 

So I don't really think about, "In a few years, we'll get back together." The goal is, this is a chapter I'm closing, and it's been great, but I would love to create a new chapter that's great. That's the plan. I don't know what that is. 

I think anything's possible, but it's also so possible that we never play together again. I have no plans for it. It's very possible we never get on stage together again, but I can't say "Never say never" because I don't know. Life is life, and you can't predict anything.

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