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Posted September 19, 2012 by Always Acoustic in Interviews

Jonny Hetherington Interview

8:05 p.m. CST, Friday, April 8, 2011

Art of Dying is the opening band on the Avalanche Tour 2011. AOD brings a lot of energy every night and always are the last people to leave the venue. Jonny Hetherington and Aaron Keker discussed AOD’s debut album Vices and Virtues, the 8th Annual Texas Steak Cookoff, Jonny’s spicy barbeque sauce Sex, Drugs and Habanero, Kenny Rogers, playing acoustically, iTunes and the Avalanche Tour.

AARON KEKER: The Avalanche Tour was supposed to kick-off in Chicago on March 24th at the Aragon. Why was the Chicago show canceled?

JONNY HETHERINGTON:  I still don’t know. (Laughter)


JONNY HETHERINGTON: You know what, we’re the opening band on the Avalanche Tour and we just kind of do what we got to do. We roll into every city with the same attitude. I’m not sure why that show didn’t happen. Disappointing because we signed to Disturb’s label who Don Donegan and David [Draiman] are from Chicago, so it was kind of cool. We we’re really looking forward to it, but I’m sure we’ll do a make-up show eventually. Chicago is #1 on our map.

AARON KEKER: Congrats on Art of Dying’s debut release of Vices and Virtues on March 18th! Some of my favorite intoxicating songs from the album are “Sorry,” “I Will Be There,” “Best I Can” and “Breathe Again.” The most popular songs on April 8th were in this order on iTunes “Die Trying,” “Get Thru This,” “Better Off” and “Sorry.” Are you surprised that the bonus track “Better Off” is still more popular than “Sorry” and “Best I Can?”

JONNY HETHERINGTON: “Better Off” is a song that really hits home and rocks really hard. I’m not surprised by the fact that people want more of the “Die Trying” and “Get Thru This” from the band. We definitely have a different side to us which is very acoustic and we love to break songs down acoustically. You know those songs tend to lean more into the story and “Best I Can” direction, which we love doing too. Yeah! We do it all man. I can’t wait ‘til we have like an hour or an hour and a half on stage and we can just play everything we have on the record. (Laughter) That would be great!

AARON KEKER: Right. Do you think as the Avalanche Tour further progresses and more individuals get a taste of Art of Dying that “Sorry” and “Best I Can” will eventually become more popular than “Better Off?”

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Yeah man! We’re playing “Best I Can” right now on the Avalanche Tour and it’s definitely a highlight of our show. I think the lyrics of that song really hit[s] people close to home. I think just from the crowd’s reaction “Best I Can” is definitely gonna be one of the most popular songs on the record.

AARON KEKER:  I think that’s one of your favorite songs off the record too, right?

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Definitely! You know what their like kids. How can you pick between all of these children? (Laughter)

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter) Right.

JONNY HETHERINGTON: I tried to pick #1 and #2, but definitely “Best I Can” is very personal for me and it’s a very intimate moment that I had with my acoustic guitar. Just the way I was feeling that day and now that people are starting to sing the words back to me at the shows, it’s just an incredible feeling.

AARON KEKER:  Will the music video for “Die Trying” be available to purchase on iTunes soon?

JONNY HETHERINGTON: I have no idea! (Laughter)

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter)

 We had a blast making the video, I’ll tell you that. It’s such a day in the life of Art of Dying. We were throwing cards, drinking a little and having fun. We met a lot of people in L.A. You might think that the people in the video are like actors and stuff, but it’s just people we met at the Rainbow Room. (Laughter)

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter) All right.

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Let’s have fun! We’re just like do you want to be in a rock video? And that’s just the way we roll. Pretty cool!

‘Best I Can’ is very personal for me and it’s a very intimate moment that I had with my acoustic guitar

AARON KEKER: Well it’s funny that you mentioned earlier about playing acoustically. Cuz’ I actually had a question for you about that, but you pretty much answered it. Art of Dying will be playing acoustically at Ralph’s Records on April 16 at 2:00 p.m. in Lubbock, Texas. Does Art of Dying enjoy playing acoustically?

JONNY HETHERINGTON: We love it man! We write on acoustics. We have acoustics on our bus all the time. It’s like asking a classical pianist, do you like playing piano? (Laughter)

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter) Right.

JONNY HETHERINGTON: We just love breaking out the guitars and singing. Getting some harmonies rolling and seeing where the lyrics are going to go. It’s such a rewarding experience. We actually did it today. We actually wrote a song right just before our soundcheck today because we had some acoustic guitars all around it. I can’t wait for the day where we play — a longer set and we can do a bunch of special songs acoustically that you might not think we would do acoustically or maybe the ones that you think we are going to do acoustically.

AARON KEKER: Down the line you’ll release some acoustic songs probably off the album then?

JONNY HETHERINGTON: I hope so man! I envision a day where we do an acoustic record. I think that would be really, really special.

AARON KEKER: Sweet! You tweeted that “Why rehearse for tour when you can record more music at a killer studio in Chicago” and “Just finished 6 hours of vocals on another song that I love!” What is the name of the song?


AARON KEKER: (Laughter)

JONNY HETHERINGTON: I wish I could tell you!

AARON KEKER: (Laughter) Uh-ah-ah!

JONNY HETHERINGTON:  I’ll tell you this, it’s a cover song. It’s going to be attached to a movie that comes out this summer. So ecstatic about being able to record this song and we actually scheduled that time for rehearsals, — (Laughter)

AARON KEKER: (Laughter)

JONNY HETHERINGTON:  that’s how sweet that is. We were supposed to be rehearsing for our tour, which is very important, but this opportunity came up to record this song and we had to do that instead. I can’t wait! July 2011 we’ll be able to hear that song.

AARON KEKER: Okay! You’re probably asked this question a million times about Art of Dying’s musical influence[s]. I’m going in the opposite direction. What bands or musicians will never influence Art of Dying’s music?

 Awe! Great question! I don’t think that’s possible man. It’s like anything else in the world. When you wake up and start breathing the air and the sun hits your face and you go outside and you notice things around you, I mean how can that not influence your day. Same thing goes with the music, whether its country or hardcore or punk or rock or whatever. Even elevator music is going to influence me. In my hometown in Vancouver, I’ll go to the grocery store and they’ll be playing some canned music, I’ll come home an hour later and I’ll be influenced by that in some way or another. I’ll have a melody going through my head that I can build on or learn from and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any music on the planet.

AARON KEKER: I remember waiting in line before midnight for GN’R’s albums Use Your Illusion and II outside Tower Records. So I can relate to Jon Bon Jovi when he remarked, “[T]aking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like … it was a magical, magical time.” I disagree when Jon said, “Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business.” Do you believe that Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business?

 Absolutely not! I think he’s possible for reinvigorating the music business. I absolutely love iTunes. You’ll never find me without my iPhone. (Laughter)


 I’m a Mac user. I literally check out TED’s speeches and Steve Jobs whenever I can at any point to just be part of what’s going on in the world today and music’s music. The music business started back in classical when pianists were hired to sing for the royal family and that’s part of the whole thing. We’re in our generation now, so we have a prospective of the music business of what it was and what it could be and what it should be. And that’s all bull*hit, in my opinion. It’s like the music business is what it is right now. There’s no what it was. There’s no what’s it going to be. It is what it is and iTunes is an extremely powerful tool to acquire music in a legal way and to discover new music. I can’t wait for Ping to be the newest thing. I don’t know if you are a Ping user, but it’s like how great is it that you can go there on and discover people that like the same music as you and then be able to purchase it right in the same environment. That’s powerful to me. If I go buy the new Three Days Grace record, dude I love it, I want to see that people are buying it too. I want to say, “Hey, what’s your favorite song? Mine’s “Break” or whatever.” I think that’s brilliant!

AARON KEKER: Right. Well I mean not only that you can buy like music videos. You can buy obviously the music. You can buy ringtones. That’s even more revenue for a band, even if it’s a small percentage. You’re still at least getting something off of that.

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Yeah, exactly! And who knows where it’s going. It’ll be something called, you know whatever, that we don’t even know what it’s called yet and that will be the new thing. I’m sure Steve Jobs and iTunes will have a handle on it. I’ll probably go that direction before I go through someone else. Maybe I’m wrong, but I kind of believe they’re in it for the right reasons. I know there’s cash at the day, but I feel like they care a tiny bit about the artists and I feel like they care a tiny bit about community.

AARON KEKER: I read that you can not only make a pretty mean steak, but you also make some spicy BBQ sauces using Habanero and Scotch Bonnet peppers. 


AARON KEKER: If you entered the competition at the 8th Annual Texas Steak Cookoff in Hico, Texas on May 21st, do you believe that you would crush the competition?

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Whew! I don’t know man. I’ve been having some pretty good food on this tour. (Laughter)

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter)

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Getting into Texas now. I had a bite of steak last night here on River Walk in San Antonio and I don’t know it’s pretty phenomenal. I’d love to be included in the competition and I definitely love the heat of the Scotch Bonnet pepper. Habanero is where I’m at. 

 Are your sauces available online?

 No they’re not. It’s like a family and friend thing. I just make it for fun. It’s called Sex, Drugs and Habanero. It’s just something I started doing around Christmas time. I sent it to a bunch of people I love. Then I started sending it to a few other people and just, you know, see what they thought. If you love the Habanero like I do, send me a message on Facebook and I’ll see what I can do.

AARON KEKER: Actually my wife she’s from Jamaica dude and she loves Scotch Bonnet peppers man, so maybe you’ll have to get —


AARON KEKER: maybe a batch of that.

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Awe! Jamaica man, they got it going on!

AARON KEKER: (Laughter) Yeah! Without revealing any Texas hold ‘em trade secrets of yours, do you go by the lyrical line “I’ve made a life out of readin’ people’s faces, And knowin’ what their cards were by the way they held their eyes” from Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler?”

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Kenny is one of my heroes. I’m not even kidding.

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter)

JONNY HETHERINGTON: I love the man! I think he’s one of the best singers and I absolutely love his songs. I think he’s an amazing performer. Actually to be honest if I could ever sing a song with Kenny Rogers, I think I might just be in Heaven. (Laughter)

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter)

JONNY HETHERINGTON: I think he’s the best. His delivery and his smile. And just the whole thing. Actually I’m a huge Seinfeld fan and Kenny Rogers was featured not himself, but Kenny Roger’s Roasters. If you remember the episode, that was a pretty big with Kramer getting addicted to the —

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter)

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Kenny Roger’s Chicken. At the end of the episode he goes, “Kenny, Kenny!” (Laughter)

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter) I remember that, that was awesome! It was one of my favorite episodes. Especially the pants one too! Where Kramer was trying to put those —

 Oh, yeah!

 pants on? (Laughter)

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Oh, yeah! (Laughter)

AARON KEKER: You’ll have to do one of those Jonny Wish Foundations or whatever, so you can do something with Kenny.

JONNY HETHERINGTON: You know what, sign me up!

AARON KEKER: You posted on your Facebook page that you like the supernatural thriller The Vetala. Who is your favorite horror film director?

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Wow! Good call! You know what I’m not that big of a horror movie freak. I’ll watch ‘em. Wes Craven obviously with the stuff he did with Nightmare. I know there’s a lot of people out there I know. Help me out.

AARON KEKER: Rob Zombie? —

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Rob Zombie. Whew! (Laughter)

AARON KEKER:  (Laughter)

JONNY HETHERINGTON: I know Rob’s done a lot of stuff and I would love to check that out sometime, but I haven’t yet. I have a really talented friend of mine named Damon Vignale, he was the guy behind Vetala. We connect in between music and film and I always love what he’s doing. Vetala was just a supernatural kind of thing that really struck home for me. So it’s cool!

AARON KEKER:  So you watch anything on Travel Channel like Ghost Adventures or anything like that?

JONNY HETHERINGTON: You know what I don’t have a TV.



AARON KEKER: You guys don’t have one on the bus?

JONNY HETHERINGTON: We do have a TV. It hasn’t been turned on yet except for we put in a couple of DVDs. I’m kind of anti-TV. I don’t know why.


 Every time I’ve turned on a TV, I think I could be doing something else. With the guitar it’s different and more inspiring.

 I saw Art of Dying’s “To Do List” that was posted yesterday. Do you guys take turns dumping the shi*ter, filling propane and fixing things on the bus while touring?

 Everyone in the band is pretty amazing! We all take on our roles. Thankfully dumping the shi*ter — (Laughter)


 driving, filling up the propane and all those jobs, they usually fall on the shoulders of our work horses, which are Cale, Jeffrey and Greg. Those guys are just monsters when it comes to driving. We’re driving ourselves, so we have to be really careful about being safe and make sure we’re doing things right. Where to get propane and how to dump the sh*tter. (Laughter)

  (Laughter) Final question. For those individuals who’ve never seen Art of Dying live, what can they expect during the Avalanche Tour?

 A lot of energy. A lot of fun. A lot of Jack Daniels. We’re out here having the time of our lives, so I hope that rubs off on everyone who sees us on the tour. That’s our goal to have the time of our lives every night and to make sure everyone else in the room is doing the same thing.

AARON KEKER:  Are you guys going after each show and meeting people at the merch booth?

JONNY HETHERINGTON:  Absolutely man! We’re the last people out of the building every night.

AARON KEKER:  I can’t wait ‘til you guys come to Chicago because I definitely want to see you guys, especially if you’re breaking it down acoustically man. I’d love to be there.

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Cool! Well we’ll do it soon!

AARON KEKER:  All right dude! I’ll talk to you later man. Take care!

JONNY HETHERINGTON: Yep! Good chatter! Take care!