JONNY’S SECRET JOURNAL – IN THE STUDIO – EPISODE 1

While making the new Art of Dying record, I made a few video journals to try and capture the moment. They may not be the prettiest of moments at times, but they are real, for better or for worse.
Episode 1 was filmed on May 1, 2014 after a tough week at David Bendeth’s studio in New Jersey. The subject of “shedding skins” comes up a few times in the journal, and that’s really what was going on with me at the time. As a song writer it’s incredibly hard to let go of songs that you hold close to the heart, but I really had to come to terms with doing just that while making this record.


ART OF DYING SIGN TO ELEVEN SEVEN MUSIC AND SECRETLY FINISH NEW ALBUM WITH PRODUCER DAVID BENDETH

It’s been a busy year for Art of Dying as we’ve inked a deal with Eleven Seven Music, (Motley Crue, Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach, Escape The Fate) and finished our new record with David Bendeth (Bring Me The Horizon, Breaking Benjamin, Of Mice & Men) in New Jersey completely under the radar.

I can’t tell you how excited we are about the new music! Making this album was one of the most intense experiences we’ve ever been through, so we kept things pretty tight lipped in order to focus all of our energy into every lyric, note and beat of the creative process. We’ve seen all of the calls for new music coming in from our fans on our social media channels, and now I’m thrilled to say the record is done, and the wait is almost over!

Many thanks to Allen Kovac, Nikki Sixx and our new family at Eleven Seven Music for aligning their vision with ours and helping us make this album a reality.
We’re ecstatic about our new home on the label where we’re joining some amazing bands. North America is home base for Eleven Seven, but they put a ton of weight in touring their bands internationally to places in Europe, Asia and South America. So if you want to see Art of Dying in your back yard, now is the time to speak up and be heard!

#ArtOfDying2015

The Art of Dying is My Life To Live!
Jonny Hetherington and Art of Dying


Thin Crust Pineapple Bacon Pizza

I like wine. I like wine a lot more with food. I like wine even more with home cooked meals using fresh ingredients. Thin crust pineapple bacon pizza from scratch and a glass of red… what could be better?

The Crust
Mix a little more than two teaspoons of yeast with 1 cup of warm water, a spoonful of honey and a half cup of flour. After that bubbles for 20 min stir the liquid into 2 cups of flour that you’ve already cracked 2 teaspoons of sea salt into.
Kneed the dough for 10 minutes, shape it into a ball and cover it in a bowl with a kitchen towel for 2 hours or until it’s doubled in size. (This is the part I have the most trouble with as I can never seem to wait 2 hours). If you’re really patient, punch the ball down again after waiting the 2 hours and cover in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 24 hours. I rarely get to this stage myself, but it does contribute to an even better crust.

The Sauce
I “cowboy” the sauce with whatever fresh vegetables I have on hand, so it’s a little different each time. In a blender, whazz up a clove of garlic, a shallot, a tomato, spinach, green pepper, habanero, oregano and basil using a little water to get things blending. Throw in some sea salt, cracked pepper and some tomato paste. Throw that in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, then let simmer for 20 min or until most of the liquid has cooked off.

Toppings
This is the hard part. It’s so tempting to throw too many things on. I’m sure you have your favourites, but try this simple approach just once and I bet you’ll be back for more. 1 ball of mozzarella grated. 1/3 of a fresh pineapple diced. and 4 strips of bacon diced. For this pizza, I had just come back from my favorite charcuterie counter in Vancouver (http://www.oyamasausage.ca/) so I had some smoked schinkenspeck (basically amazing hand crafted prosciutto) that I subbed in for the bacon.
Try to not add any other toppings, and you’ll see what these simple fresh flavors can do together.

I bake my crust for 8 minutes at 425 before adding the sauce, cheese and toppings. Then I cook the whole thing for another 10 minutes switching to the broiler for the last 3 minutes to brown the cheese a little. Parchment paper is a must to prevent sticking. I tried one without a while back and had to eat the pizza out of the pan with a chisel! LOL

Enjoy!
Let me know how it turns out on Facebook, pinterest or twitter.


God For A Day (Piano) on iTunes

I’m writing this blog post on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (yes we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada too!) as it seems very appropriate to be releasing the piano version of “God For A Day” at this time because this song is all about giving. It’s a strange feeling: to care about someone so much that you would swallow up every ounce of their pain in attempt to set them free. Giving yourself to someone requires just that. And when it is to a person that has given so much to you, it amplifies the feeling.

If you care about someone deeply like this, I know you will identify with this uniquely raw piano version of “God For a Day“.

Get it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/jonny-hetherington/id685194982

I am extremely thankful for the “givers” in my life.


Vera’s Burger Review, Vancouver

I sit at Vera’s Burger Shack on Main and 13th in East Van (in my home town of Vancouver) and the only thing going through my head as I finish my burger, is why do I keep coming back here? The staff is friendly, the location is open to the street and has a big screen locked on sports – (This is where I watched the Blackhawks take the stanley cup in the last 2 minutes of the the 3rd period last month. As to my amazement, no other bar on Main Street would turn the volume on for the final game of the playoffs!) so far so good right? They make their own fries and their own patties here, so this should be an easy home run… but unfortunately, it’s an easy pop up with two outs.

I order my classic, medium rare burger with cheddar cheese and sauce on the side. The burger comes medium well to well done. The cheese is shredded, which maybe I’m being too picky here, but don’t you like seeing the corner of a piece of cheese drop out of the edge of your bun with little beads of greasy goodness pouring out? Maybe I’ve been brain washed by burger ads, but I think that a slice is much more attractive. The bun is ok, but nothing special. Actually, that is my review of Vera’s in a nutshell: nothing special. Overall the meat lacks flavour and seasoning. Combined with an average bun and shredded cheese, it’s a completely average experience.

The Vera’s sauce on the side seems nice on the first taste, but as I continue to dip, it slowly resembles nothing more than a garlic heavy Caesar dressing. (Which I like, but again, seems a little lack-luster. I hate to be too hard on these nice people (that run the place) but I’ve just listened to them plan a vacation to Vegas for the half hour that I’ve sat here eating. A little unprofessional, and I think that’s why my burger was overcooked.

Vera’s is in my neighbourhood and they have the odd special that’s a bargain, so I’ll continue to stop in from time to time or to catch a Canucks game. But this burger doesn’t really even show up on my radar on my search for North Americas Best Burger.

The beer was cold and a proper 20oz pint, so for that I will give them 1 beer out of 5.
Sorry Vera’s, you have the potential to be a great burger joint. With a little focus and attention to quality, taste and providing an amazing experience you could turn things around quickly, but for now you are simply pleasant, but boring.


Best I Can Piano Release

There’s something special about a piano. I mean, I write on guitar pretty much every day of my life, but when I sit at a piano, the music that comes out seems just a little more emotional… maybe even a little more sad at times. The dynamics become more dramatic on a piano which I find pulls a different vocal performance out as opposed to playing plugged in with the full band, or even on an acoustic guitar.

I’ve had so much fun playing some of our songs on my new baby grand, and I’ve really been blown away by the positive reaction after posting the piano version of “Sorry” on YouTube.

I asked you what song I should do next, and the response has been overwhelmingly in favour of “Best I Can“. So, here it is!

Enjoy.

If you pick it up for your collection on iTunes don’t forget to take a second and write a review.

The Art of Dying is My Life To Live!
Jonny Hetherington


Iconic Images in Black and White

There’s nothing like black and white images when it comes to breaking down a musician or a rock moment to it’s essentials. Such a brilliant art form and iconic language. Here’s a few images I really like.


Moments from the making of Art of Dying’s Self Titled Album

A secretary sits at her window in a dreary office in Burnaby, British Columbia checking her MySpace page while her boss is sidetracked in a board room meeting. It’s June 2005 and the lush green color of BC’s west coast is in it’s happiest of months. She glances out the window to take in a little of the summer she is missing and to her shock witnesses a naked shaggy haired white guy streaking down the street at top speed. It’s none other than Jonny Hetherington.

We were maybe half way through our month long session at Green House studios where we were spending 16 hours a day tirelessly making the self titled Art of Dying record with producer Darryl Romphf and engineer Alex “the condor” Aligazakas. We were not sleeping much. We were eating almost exclusively ‘bottom of the barrel’ hotdogs and we were in heaven!  I can’t remember exactly how it went down, but someone dared me to run down the street naked and I was totally in. Not my finest moment, but kind of memorable now that I look back. The streaking part at top speed was a lot of fun actually, but the naked walk back was something I had not properly thought out. lol. Since we’re celebrating the 6 year anniversary of the release of our self titled album, I thought I would jot down a few memories that stand out for me.

Dog is My Co Pilot – Darryl and Condor got me set up with my acoustic in a make shift back booth of the main room. I was assuming I’d have to roll through the song about 20 times before we were all happy with a version, so we were ready for a long night. I cleared my throat and started the first take, and as I got closer to the end I decided to just let the song happen. I was experimenting with my voice and the energy of the moment. So, when Darryl asked me to come in, as he did many times during the session when he wanted changes made or had comments, I thought he was going to really critique my first take. When I entered the control room, he simply said “you’re done, that’s the record”. So the first take is what you hear on the album.

Car Crash – Making this record was an exercise in perfection. Tuning, timing, performance, dynamics, everything had to be perfect. So when Flavio (Cirillo) nailed a drum take that needed zero editing it was an amazing accomplishment. The drumming you hear on “Car Crash” was that one take.

Poker – We played a lot of late night poker games at the studio. There was a lot of whiskey involved and things usually got out of hand.

Guitars – Greg and Darryl spent so much time digging into the details of the guitars on the record. I can still picture those moments in the studio where the tracking room was filled with smoke, literally burning the midnight oil, and usually not finishing until the black night gave way to blue dawn. People generally lose their minds a little bit in those wee hours of the night and I think you can hear that on the album.

You Don’t Know Me – Originally titled “Living Like The Kings” with a completely different melody, Darryl challenged me to make this song better. I had a room full of house guests at the time, so I locked myself in a tiny closet and came out with all of the words and melodies that made that song into You Don’t Know Me on the last day of recording. I’m really proud of how it turned out.

Vocal effects – This era was back when I used to sing through guitar pedals. I had mastered a string of effects and used them a lot on the record. I also brought in a megaphone and doubled a lot of my lead vocals using it, which really helped keep the edginess strong. (You can here the megaphone “click” in the breakdown of “You Don’t Know Me”) Almost all of the interludes in-between songs are just me jamming on my pedals in the moment. I can still see the vocal tent that Condor made me. Fabric walls and ceiling with christmas lights at the top. Two mic stands and a stool with 1 bottle of red wine, a few crushed beer cans, a jesus candle and my secret weapon, a bottle of port.

-Jonny Hetherington

Greg looks back on the making of the record:

Recording the Art of Dying self titled album really transformed us into recording artists. It was an incredible experience that landed many tour opportunities and ultimately led to signing a major recording contract.

One of my most memorable moments in the making of “Art of Dying” self-titled was when Jonny was recording his vocals for “You Don’t Know Me”. I was sitting on a couch in the control room and the vocal booth was just to the left of me. It had a door with a window so I could see Jonny while he was recording. If you know Jonny well (no pun intended), you know he has a lot of energy. When he started singing the song, he got so into the moment that I swear he was a couple inches off the ground! It was amazing to watch him deliver such a powerful performance that you can definitely hear on that recording. It’s one of my favourite tunes of the album!

I came up with the lead guitar line for “You Don’t Know Me” upstairs in Greenhouse Studios while we were recording the album. Like many studios, there are tales of them being haunted. Apparently Greenhouse Studios also had some haunted tales, we would often hear weird noises coming from the room upstairs while we were near it and nobody was in there. Needless to say, we would only go in there when necessary. Perhaps I had some spiritual help creating that line……

Coming up with guitar overdub ideas was a lot of fun during these sessions. Our producer, Darryl Romphf, had a way of inspiring unique ideas and performances from each member. He also played half the guitars on that record as well. We sat up late at night listening to tracks like “Completely” and “Get Through This” and adding colour with our guitars. I remember us just feeding off each other’s ideas and getting really excited as the ideas developed. Darryl inspired me to come up with a really cool lead line in “I Will Be There” that reminds me of something Joe Perry from Aerosmith would do. We were really proud of the ideas we were coming up with!

During the pre-production on this record, there were a couple of stand out moments. Jonny brought in “Get Through This” and “Inside It’s Raining” to the sessions and we started jamming them in our dungy little rehearsal space. They both sounded quite a bit different initially than they ended up sounding on the record. There was a moment of frustration during the pre-pro on “Get Through This” and it added an intense real energy to that song and we were able to capture that energy on the album. When we were working “Inside It’s Raining”, we slowed down the tempo and made the chorus guitars and drums sound staccato. I remember us all looking at each other when we heard the new approach with big smiles on our faces. It was so heavy and awesome!

-Greg Bradley


Barefoot Bernie’s Bar and Grille, Hagerstown Maryland

I’ve just sat down at Barefoot Bernie’s Bar and Grille in Hagerstown, Maryland. This place is pretty cool for a hotel bar. They put the Ottawa/Pittsburgh game on for us, which is cool. Speaking of hockey, Cale and I were just chatting about who the hell to cheer for now that both the Canucks and Leafs are out. Gotta back Ottawa because their Canadian and Anderson is on fire.  Although its stupid (cause they’re down 2-zip) I think I’m feeling the Rangers too.

Onto the burger. We all just ordered the “loathing burger” inspired by Hunter S Thompson. They’re pairing it with a local brew: Flying Dogs – Gonzo Imperial Porter although I opted for the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.

Burger arrives. Pretty awesome presentation. Mine is falling over which I love. You can tell the patty is hand made with its jagged edges. There’s an onion ring on it, mushrooms, lettuce and tomato which I set aside after the first bite. (Had to give it one shot with the toppings). The applewood smoked Gouda is surprisingly good. The burger meat itself is very tasty and thick. I ordered medium rare, but it comes med to medium well. I’m actually surprised again at how good it is while being over cooked. The bun is the one aspect that really disappoints on this burger. As many of you know, I can go on and on about the importance of the bun, so I’ll save you that rant.

Although its brioche, which I like, it’s overly sweet and flavorful, almost like corn bread. It’s also yellow and cakey on the inside. This totally detracts  from the experience and steers away from the quality of the beef.  New bun, more cheese, cooked med rare, this could be a contender.

The IPA was quite good. Had a really nice bite, but still refreshing with this meal. The staff we’re great and the place was welcoming. If they master their bun I’ll be back.

The Barefoot Bernie burger gets 3 beers out of 5.



Storm Passes

Sad news to hear that Storm Thorgerson passed away. He was by far my favorite album cover artist of all time. You will be missed Storm. You will be remembered through your work that touched millions.