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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Mike Mushok Saint Asonia - Interview
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Formed out of a passion to keep playing music, Saint Asonia is a brand new band that features Adam Gontier (Three Days Grace), Mike Mushok (Staind), Corey Lowery (Eye Empire) and Rich Beddoe (Finger Eleven) and while those names may sound very familar to a lot of people, Saint Asonia is somewhat different from all of those bands even though there is still a strong alternative rock sound coming through. Guitarist Mike Mushock talks to us about how the band formed, the debut self titled album and what we can expect for the rest of the year.



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Andrew: I guess we should talk about the band first. I first heard about it a few months ago and now all of a sudden you have a new album which is already out. Tell me a little bit about the band and how it all came together.

Mike: It all kinda started with myself reaching out to Adam (Gontier, vocals). Aaron (Lewis, Staind) has been pursuing a country career so we haven't really been doing much and Three Days Grace and Staind has spent some time on the road together, I've always been a fan of what they do and of Adam in what he does. I was actually playing with Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica, Newsted) and our tour ended in Toronto and that's where Adam lives and I asked him if he minded if we could hang out for a couple of days and just kinda get re-acquainted, play some music and see what happens. And we did and it went really well and we ended up makig a demo for RCA, written a couple of songs for them and RCA really liked it and management did and so that's when it really turned into a band, was at that point. We went and recorded the record in January and so here we are.

Andrew: How was the writing and recording process? How does it differ to what you guys had done with your other bands?

Mike: For myself anyway it wasn't really much different. I got together with Adam and I write a lot [and] I had a lot of stuff together and we just went through it and figured out what he liked and what he was excited about and wanted to sing over. Spent a little time changing arrangements here and there, I would send him a song then I would get it back and 45 minutes later he would write other things on it and it was always really great. So between that and some great songs Adam brought to the table, that's really how we got the record together.

Andrew: This album is I guess a little heavier than some of the stuff that you have done in other bands so what was the idea behind what you wanted to do musically? Did you want it be more alternative rock or heavier?

Mike: It really just came together from stuff that I wrote and gave to Adam that he liked. We didn't sit down and say, 'This is got to be heavier', or whatever. We just wrote what felt right and what you hear is what ended up being. I do have to say that I like some diversity in a record, I know I didn't want it to be all just super heavy. I mean Adam is such a great singer too, you want to hear him sing...well I do anyway. So I think that's what gave the record a little bit of diversity and I do think that there is some heavier songs on there and I think there is some pretty beautiful songs on there also.

Andrew: Yeah you are right, it's definitely a diverse record with some heavy and mellow stuff blended together. Now obviously the media have taken a hold on the fact that you guys come from other groups so are you comfortable with the whole supergroup tag or do you feel the group is more than just that?

Mike: I don't know, I mean what is that? Adam and I and even Rich (Beddoe, drums) and Cory (Lowery, bass) have been in a lot of bands too, and we've been fortunate to have the careers that we've had and where we are and what we've done. I think basically Adam just said we're just a bunch of misfits that aren't playing with anybody else right now and came together! Like I said, we're just fortunate to have played and been in the bands that we've been in and I feel fortunate to be playing with Adam right now with Rich and Cory, we're very happy with what we have going on.

Andrew: What kind of reception have you been getting since the album came out? Have the fans been responding to it really well?

Mike: Yeah it seems that way. Listen, my Mom liked it haha!

Andrew: Haha! Well that's a good thing!

Mike: She sends us good reviews, I don't know if there's bad ones that she doesn't send, I don't know! For me I have to be happy with it, with what we do and I'm very proud of what we did. I've talked about it with Staind and all the other bands, you have to be true to yourself and make yourself happy first and I've always been lucky with the fact that when we did that, it translated into other people liking it so I hope that this is the same. I don't know if it will be but I hope it is but we'll see.

Andrew: The lead single that came out "Better Place", do you feel that song best represents the album?

Mike: I don't know, we did that song on the demo and then we did it and it seems like one of the songs that people always lean towards and they wanted that to be the first single and it's more uptempo. It wasn't my choice but it's a good song, I enjoy it and I understood why people wanted it to be the first single and I'm fine with that.

Andrew: Well it's a great song to start off with and it really captures you guys in a really cool way. And you guys are heading out on tour with Seether in October in the U.S. which should be a fun tour I think.

Mike: Yeah it should be good! We've done a lot of shows with those guys over the years too. Great band, good people. I look forward to it, should be some good shows for sure.

Andrew: Yeah definitely. We were lucky enough to catch Seether a couple of months ago and they put on a fantastic show so you and Seether teaming up together should be also fantastic. I think the fans will come in droves.

Mike: Yeah I hope so! Like I said, we've done a lot of shows with those guys, both Adam's [band] and Staind over the years so looking forward to it for sure.

Andrew: How did you get into music in the first place? Who were your biggest influences?

Mike: Probably as far back as I can remember, I've always had a guitar. I've got pictures of me at 3 years old with a guitar, my uncle was a singer/songwriter, I was always drawn to it. That's what my parents listened to as a kid growing up and kinda why I started playing, maybe it's why I like a diverse record and a little of that mellower stuff. Whether it was james Taylor or Harry Chapin or Crosby, Stills & Nash, the more accoustic singer/songwriter kind of thing which I've always really enjoyed and that's why I started playing really. From there I had a guitar teacher that really changed everything for me, which is Tony MacAlpine who has gone on to do pretty well for himself also. He was a huge influence on me but music-wise, it was Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Pantera, Rage Against The Machine, Tool. The Seattle thing and Soundgarden, love Soundgarden, Alice Chains, all that stuff.

Andrew: Yeah you can definitely hear that stuff in your style and also a lot of people credit you as being a somewhat infuential guitar player on their stuff as well. Playing with Staind who have had an impact from the whole 90's era so how does it make you feel to hear people say that you have been an influential player as well?

Mike: It's an honour! I mean if someone can take something that we do and have it inspire them to want to play and to try and do their own thing, that's fantastic. It's a very cool thing.

Andrew: Aside from the tour with Seether, what else have you got planned as far as playing shows and maybe making more music?

Mike: We actually start another tour on a little headlining run for about 2 to 3 weeks starting this Friday (August 14th). So doing that and then we have the Seether thing and we have some offers for some stuff after that but nothing has actually been confirmed yet, so there will be more shows I'm sure through the year as we move forward. It's just a matter of figuring out which ones we decide to do.

Andrew: Now I did hear talks about you maybe coming down to Australia, are you guys working on that as well?

Mike: I think we should get AJ (Maddah, Soundwave Festival organiser) on the horn and see if he wants to make an offer for Soundwave, right?

Andrew: Absolutely, definitely haha!

Mike: Haha! That's really what makes the most sense these days, to at least get there for the first time. So hopefully that happens, I think it would be great to get over there and play. Always love your country and always have a great time there, the shows have always been great.

Andrew: Yeah it would be great if you guys can make it out here and especially for Soundwave. Anyway, the album sounds fantastic and as you said, the fans are responding to it pretty well so thanks for your time today and hopefully we will see you in Australia some day!

Mike: Fantastic, thank you Andrew. I appreciate the support.

You can catch Saint Asonia on tour in North America at the following dates:

Aug 14 - Zooo Amphitheater - Oklahoma City, OK
Aug 15 - Pop's - St Louis, MO
Aug 16 - Majestic Theatre - Madison, WI
Aug 18 - Varsity Theater - Minneapolis, MN
Aug 19 - Boondock's - Springfield, IL
Aug 21 - The Machine Shop - Flint, MI
Aug 22 - 95 Will Rock Fest - Franksville, WI
Aug 24 - Bogart's - Cincinnati, OH
Aug 25 - Newport Music Hall - Columbus, OH
Aug 26 - Mercy Lounge - Nashville, TN
Aug 28 - Starland Ballroom - Sayreville, NJ
Aug 29 - Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park, NY
Aug 30 - Baltimore Sound Stage - Baltimore, MD
Sep 01 - The Phoenix - Toronto, Canada

Supporting Seether

Oct 03 - Louder Than Life - Louisville, KY
Oct 04 - Track 29 - Chattanooga, TN
Oct 06 - Sokol Autitorium - Omaha, NE
Oct 07 - The Midland - Kansas City, MO
Oct 09 - Eagle Ballroom - Milwaukee, WI
Oct 10 - Monster Energy Rock Allegiance Festival - Chester, PA
Oct 11 - Stage AE - Pittsburgh, PA
Oct 13 - Iron City - Birmingham, AL
Oct 14 - New Daisy - Memphis, TN
Oct 16 - Stubb - Austin, TX
Oct 17 - Aztec Theatre - San Antonio, TX
Oct 20 - House of Blues - Las Vegas, NV
Oct 21 - House of Blues - San Diego, CA
Oct 23 - Riverside Municipal Auditorium - Riverside, CA
Oct 25 - Knitting Factory - Reno, NV
Oct 27 - Roseland Theater - Portland, OR
Oct 28 - Showbox SoDo - Seattle, WA
Oct 29 - Knitting Factory - Spokane, WA

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on August 11th 2015