Frontman of the Week – Adam Gontier

Adam Gontier

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Adam Gontier

Adam Gontier in concert [Three Days Grace @ Molson Amphitheatre (Toronto, ON); 7/14/11]
Burning Photo by MJ Murphy

Adam Wade Gontier was born on May 25th 1978 and he is a Canadian songwriter and musician. He is the lead singer, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the band Three Days Grace. He is known for having a voice range which ranges from high tenor to medium low bass. When I listen to Adam’s voice I noted a few interesting techniques that he uses. He can make his voice sound real gritty and coarse (which is prevalent in rock music) whereas other times his voice sounds more distant and surreal. He conveys a lot of aggression and angst in his songwriting as well as in his voice. In addition to his work with Three Days Grace he has been involved in  collaborations with other bands like Art of Dying and Apocalyptica.

Adam was born in Peterborough, Ontario. In 1995 he moved to Norwood and he attended Norwood District High School where he met fellow bandmates Neil Sanderson and Brad Walst. They formed a band under the name Groundswell, which later evolved into Three Days Grace. Groundswell gained popularity in the local area and a few years later the band decided to move to Toronto to pursue their music career. Adam stated in an interview with George Stroumboulopoulos on October 7th, 2012 that they used to practice in the garage as a 5-piece before they decided to move to Toronto.

Adam named his greatest influences as Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Beatles and Jeff Buckley. When he was between 8 and 12 years old his mom, a jazz piano player, would take him along to her concerts. Adam Gontier has a large selection of tattoos. On his right forearm he has a solid black band and lyrics to his band’s song ‘Never Too Late’ from the album ‘One-X‘ and on his left arm he has a tattoo with special words made out to his grandmother. He has two tattoos on his chest and he has a tattoo of the word ‘grace’ on his knuckles of his right hand in the same font that was used on Jeff Buckley’s album Grace. He has ‘hope’ tattooed on his knuckles of his left hand. In 2007 he added a tribal tattoo to his upper right arm. On his left upper arm he has a tattoo of a picture of his wife. He has a tattoo of a butterfly on his right wrist. Adam received Jeff Buckley’s Grace album from his cousin after which he took it home, he turned off the lights and just laid down on his couch closed his eyes and listened to the record from start to finish. He was blown away by the album and Jeff’s talent, he got up off the couch and just thought that he should quit music, because he can’t top Jeff.

“Gontier, Walst and Sanderson regrouped in 1997 under the name Three Days Grace. In 2003 the band recruited lead guitarist Barry Stock. Since signing to Jive Records, the band has released four albums, Three Days Grace, One-X, Life Starts Now and Transit of Venus” – Quote obtained from Wikipedia, 16th October 2012.

Adam Gontier will be joining singer/songwriter Martin Sexton on his 2012 “Fall Like Rain” tour run providing opening support as a solo artist. In 2011 Adam composed a song ‘Try To Catch Up With The World” for his fans and “I Will Stay”. In 2012 Adam Gontier composed a song called ‘Lost Your Shot’. Outside of Three Days Grace Adam has contributed to vocals on “I Don’t Care” from Apocalyptica’s album Worlds Collide in 2007. He was featured on the track “Raining” by fellow Canadian band Art of Dying on their album Vices and Virtues. Adam’s cousin Cale Gontier is the bassist for Art of Dying. In 2006 Adam was a band member of rock supergroup Big Dirty Band along with Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Jeff Burrows, Ian Thornley and Care Failure. In 2011 Adam Gontier founded Sludge Factory Records and he has signed one local band called Before The Curtain.

In 2005 Adam went in for rehabilitation for his addiction to OxyContin at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto where he wrote many of the songs for One-X including Pain, Animal I Have Become, Over and Over and Gone Forever. He is still sober and a docu-drama about his addiction was released in 2007.

Adam turned to music partly to escape the suffocating confines of a small town, but then his band’s big-time success led the singer into a different psychological trap. After 2 years of touring in support of their debut album Gontier’s drug dependence was so alarming to friends and family that he decided to check himself into a rehab facility. Adam didn’t start taking pain killers because he had any pain, he was introduced to them. After using them a few times Adam started to become dependent on them. Gontier spent about 10 days at (CAMH). This was followed by another 20 days of outpatient visits and 3 months of daily visits to Narcotics Anonymous Meetings. Most of Three Days Grace’s debut album including ‘I Hate Everything About You’ was a response to the limitations of a small-town life, whereas One-X serves as a document for Adam’s battle with addiction.

As a songwriter Adam has always been inclined to write dark content for his songs with underlying themes like despair, hopelessness, anger and aggression. This might stem from the fact that when Adam first picked up a guitar he was influenced by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. He uses music as an  outlet for his emotions and although he has written the odd upbeat song, he normally feels the need to write when he is feeling down.

With the release of their latest album Transit of Venus on October 2nd 2012 Adam has been speaking to the media about evolving as band and introducing some electronics to their music which they haven’t done before. This includes synth sounds, piano parts and keyboard parts. Adam says that they approached the recording process for the album differently than they had before. They used to complete the songs and then just get in the studio and start recording whereas now about a quarter of a song was done and they completed it in the studio. Some songs didn’t have any structure/formula before they went into the studio for example the song ‘Give Me A Season’. Their producer Don Gilmore told them to just get out on the floor and see what happens. Adam really wants to use the same method of recording for an album in the future. Three Days Grace actually hired a guy to play all the keyboard and synth parts during the live show which means there will be 5 guys on stage now. They made this decision because they are against using tracks during live shows.

Despite their success Three Days Grace has remained fairly anonymous in public. They really appreciate the fact that they can walk down the street and not be recognized.

All in all I think Adam Gontier is a guy with loads of talent, he has a sensitive soul and all the feelings he kept pent up inside over the years is being released through his music. I look forward to hearing more great music from him and his band.

If you are interested in some Three Days Grace facts go here:

One of my favourite songs from Adam Gontier: Apocalyptica – I Don’t Care ft Adam Gontier

You can follow Three Days Grace on Twitter here:

Thanks for reading!

Rock Regards,

Lauren K


3 thoughts on “Frontman of the Week – Adam Gontier

  1. […] 10. Adam Gontier has the word “grace” tattooed across his knuckles in the same font of Jeff Buckley’s album, “Grace”. (RockRiff) […]


  2. Amanda says:

    Honestly, I thought Adam and Cale were brothers. Maybe I’m wrong. But I know he didn’t quit the band just because of a guy’s record. He’s good solo. He dosnt need the rest of three days grace to do music. He has a voice that’s good and a strong heart and that’s all that matters. 🙂


    • Kelli says:

      Amanda, Adam and Cale are cousins. Their dads are brothers. Cale has a brother named Josh. I also live in their hometown and last Cale last week jamming with his brother. No he does not need 3DG to write music, we are all waiting for his 1st solo album to be released, should not be too long now. I look after a facebook page on behalf of Adam and he supports and appreciates it.


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