Saint Asonia are a new hard rock group notably featuring Adam Gontier former Three Days Grace vocalist and Staind guitarist Mike Mushok. Saint Asonia have just released their debut album and we were lucking enough to chat to Mike Mushok about the album and the possibility of an Australian tour.

SCENEzine
Firstly congrats on the Saint Asonia album the sound is fresh yet heavy and has a real relevance in 2015. The album is literally all killer no filler. Was that a conscious decision to make every track hold it’s own?

Mike Mushok
It just kind of worked out that way and thank you for your kind words I appreciate that. We just got together and started going through some ideas. I just started playing with some of the music that I had written we went through and picked out what Adam liked. The songs that Adam brought I just added some parts to and before you knew it we had the record done.

SCENEzine
How was it playing Rock on the range? Was it good to get your first gig under your belt?

Mike Mushok
Yeah for sure. It was a little nerve racking as it’s a pretty big gig here in the states. We’ve all kind of played it before.
But being able to come out there and finally let everybody know what we were doing felt really good. I was real happy with the way the gig turned out. It was actually filmed for a television station here so after the gig I got to watch it and was really happy considering it was our first gig.

SCENEzine
Can you tell us a bit about the cover art for the album?

Mike Mushok
Yeah that image was something one of the artists we were working came up with that really hit us. We were drawn to it. There’s no other explanation than we were going through images and that really stood out with the logo and it represented what the album was.

 

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SCENEzine
A lot of fans are probably wondering will the album be released on vinyl?

Mike Mushok
That’s a good question I’m not sure about that. It seems to be the thing these days. I haven’t asked that question cause I’m not a vinyl guy. But it’s pretty amazing the difference in how good things sound on vinyl. So that’s something we should look into and would be great thing to have done.

SCENEzine
You recorded at Groove master studios in Chicago. Did the city of Chicago help influence the album?

Mike Mushok
Chicago for me is really was about the fact the Johnny K the producer is there who has done the last couple of Staind records. So that’s who brought us to Chicago because of his studio and being able to work with him. It’s really centrally located for everybody also. His setup is great he has this building with a studio on almost every floor and you can stay there also. It really makes a great work setting. I would stop recording and go to sleep right where I was working and wake up the next morning and keep going. It was also good because Chicago is a two hour flight from where I live. So I could fly home and still be able to be with my family and recharge my battery a little. I’d fly out of Chicago at 9:30pm and snowboarding at 8:30am the next morning on a mountain with my kid. So I’d have the weekend then Monday morning get up early go to the airport and fly back to Chicago then work 18 hour days working on the record. Chicago really worked out well and Johnny is great to work with.

SCENEzine
Are the songs themselves lyric ideas that Adam as had for years and riff ideas you have had for years?
Or more fresh new ideas when you both came together?

Mike Mushok
It’s really kind of a combination of both. Some of those songs I originally had riffs for and some I wrote with Adam in mind. Adam has notebooks of lyrics and I know he goes to that and finds things. Literally I’d give him a song and he would come back to me half hour later with it written and a melody. He is great and never disappoints he’s just a real talented guy.

SCENEzine
Would you say the track “Better Place” that kicks off the album represents how the band is feeling?

Mike Mushok
I never really gave it a lot of thought but it definitely could be said. Everybody is real happy with where the band is and we are all proud of the record. Now it’s time to go out there and play these songs and hopefully there is some people who knew our previous bands that want to check us out and hopefully we can get some new fans along the way.

SCENEzine
One of our favourite tracks from the album is “Waste My Time”.Did the song come quite easily in the writing process?

Mike Mushok
Yeah that music was one of the first things I played Adam when we got together. I demoed the music and sent it to him and a day later he sent me the finished track back. It came together nicely and quite easily.

SCENEzine
Are you looking forward to trying some of the heavier tracks acoustically someday?

Mike Mushok
Yeah in fact it’s funny you say that we have some press coming up where we have to play some of the songs acoustically. So me and Adam were just working through some of them. It’s fun. We are both very comfortable in the acoustic world it’s a cool way to put a different twist in what you do.

SCENEzine
You recently played Staind’s “Mudshovel” at Rock on the range. Is it crazy to you how songs like that can stand the test of time and still sound awesome to this day?

Mike Mushok
Thanks for that. Yeah it is crazy. That song was on our independent record we recorded back in 1996 so it’s pretty unbelievable that it’s nearly 20 years old. Staind never did a gig without us playing it so it’s definitely been a staple and really helped our career and gained some fans for us.

SCENEzine
You’ve managed to come to Australia with Staind a couple of times over the years. The big question for us is will we get to see Saint Asonia in Australia and here these new songs live?

Mike Mushok
The answer is I really hope so. The couple of times I’ve been there I loved it, what a beautiful country you have. The shows there have always been great. We have our first headlining tour in the states about to start but it seems like the Australian summer festivals would be the best for us. So I am hoping we can get over there and play.

SCENEzine
Going back in time to when Staind wrote the massive hit “It’s been a while” did you realise while writing it how huge it would end up being?

Mike Mushok
We didn’t know while writing it. But I do remember the first time playing it and we definitely all kind of looked at each other and went wow. It’s funny I had the same kind of moment today when Adam and I were playing “Waste my time” acoustically. When we finished playing we looked at each other and were like wow this is something special.
But having played on nine records now you can never predict that a song is going to translate into how big of a song “its been a while” was. We’ve had other songs along the way I felt the same thing about and some of them went big and some didn’t. There’s really no rhyme or reason. A lot of it has to do with timing, the label who’s working the songs. Also who plays it and how it connects with people you just don’t know sometimes. There’s definitely been a couple in our career that I felt like ok this is gunna be big and it wasn’t and there’s some songs that have been so it’s really hard to tell. So long story longer we all felt like that song was a special song but nobody knew it was going to be as successful as it was. I am very thankful for that song.

SCENEzine
Do you have a favourite memory from visiting Australia?

Mike Mushok
The first time Aaron and I went there it was literally just us two and we went and played acoustically at some clubs.
That really stands out to me. We had never done that. Aaron would go play acoustically by himself but when we did that together like that I really enjoyed it. It was great we did some covers and a bunch of songs we wouldn’t normally do. The way that it was accepted by he crowd was fantastic.

SCENEzine
Can you leave us with one last message for your Australian fans?

Mike Mushok
Listen you started of the interview with something I’ve been saying and I appreciate your words. In listening back to the record I think it’s great from beginning to end. I know a lot of people here in the states don’t really buy albums anymore and if you do thank you I appreciate that. But however your gunna get it just listen to the whole thing and give it a chance. I’m really proud of the whole thing beginning to end. There were some of songs that we recorded that were just as good so it was a really tough decision deciding what to not put on the record. I hope people give the band a chance take the time to listen to the whole thing. Hopefully we will make it to Australia soon and will see you at a show.

(Interview by Christian Ross)

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