They’ve toured with Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Three Days Grace, Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park, and even Alice Cooper. They tore up rock radio with their debut hit “Porn Star Dancing” featuring Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society, Ludacris and Chad Kroeger. Now, My Darkest Days are opening for Nickelback’s “Here and Now” tour. But before they killed it onstage at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, I got to sit down with singer Matt Walst, guitarist Sal Costa and bassist Brendan McMillan and talk to them about the tour, their latest record “Sick and Twisted Affair”, and more – below the cut.
What was it like playing Madison Square Garden for the first time?
Matt: Pretty cool. My brother’s in Three Days Grace and they just played a lot of arenas, and that’s one that he hasn’t done, so I made him pretty jealous on that one. He’s like “Man, that’s the place! We gotta play there!”
Sal: There’s that Led Zeppelin DVD, “The Song Remains the Same” and I watched that DVD for years. And it’s pretty cool because when we pulled in, it was just exactly like the DVD. It’s such an old building, historic, very cool.
So what do you think you guys prefer – large arenas or small venues?
Matt: It’s kind of like a double-edged sword. We like both for different reasons. We like playing arenas because obviously it’s a lot more people, the sound is bigger. But with clubs, we get to bring everyone up onstage. We own the show and get to do whatever we want. But being an opening band, we have to watch what we do,
Sal: We can’t bring naked girls up on this tour [laughs]
Brendan: [laughs] Unfortunately!
Now that you guys are well into the tour, what do you think is your favorite song to play live?
Sal: For me, it’s still “Porn Star Dancing”, definitely, because the most people know that song and you always get a rise out of them. And even if they don’t know the band at first, they’ll see like ‘Oh, that’s the band that plays that song!’, because we’re a new band. But “Sick and Twisted”, too.
Brendan: I like “Casual Sex”. Every time we start that song, it always gets them going.
How did touring and being on the road so much influence their new record?
Matt: We were opening up for Papa Roach, Sevendust, Drowning Pool, all these heavy bands. And we have this song we covered – “Come Undone” from Duran Duran, and playing that song right before Sevendust comes on, it doesn’t really match up sometimes.
Sal: Or “Can’t Forget You”
Matt: The first time we opened up on a really heavy bill, we were about to play “Come Undone” and I just remember this one guy yelling, “This song better not suck!” [whole room laughs]. And we started playing the intro and I hear him again, “It sucks!”. We just found we were opening up for heavier bands, and we wanted to sound heavier, and I think we succeeded at that.
Sal: Matt can do the AC/DC scream, so we were just like, ‘Just take the blank songs and do that to heavy up the songs during the sets!’
On both records, there’s a blend of the “sex, drugs, rock n’ roll” and also very serious types of songs. How do you guys keep that balance?
Matt: It’s just our lives. Some days we’re happy, some days we’re not.Your personal life could affect your day and your relationship. I think a lot of people deal with that, a relationship can destroy what they’re doing throughout the day. You can go to work and if you have a fight with your wife or your husband before you go to work, you’re not gonna have a good day at work. But then, some days it’s just party-hardy, and you’re on top of the world.
Now you guys are playing in front of crowds who like all different styles of rock music, like you said, so how do you think these crowds on this tour specifically are reacting to your music?
Sal: I think really well. It’s actually pretty cool to jump onstage and see completely blank faces of people who don’t know who you are. We toured with Hinder for almost a year, we toured with Papa Roach and Buckcherry for so many months, so we were kind of recycling the same type of people we were playing in front of, since they were the same crowds all the time. So it’s very refreshing to play in front of the fresh new faces. And you know, they might not rock out as much during the first few songs and they don’t know who we are, but later when we go to the merch booth, we’re meeting all these new people and a lot of people are coming by to say hello.
Matt: I think our music is like all these bands kind of combined.
Speaking of that, what bands have had an impact on your sound?
Matt: Tons! Nirvana, Stabbing Westward, all the popular stuff – like end of the 90’s. Just everything influences our music. We listen to it all, and just take in aspects we like from each and –
Sal: — put it in a blender.
(To Matt) Your brother is in Three Days Grace, has he had any influence on you?
Matt: Oh yeah, watching them growing up is why I started playing music. He started bringing guitars home, I’d sneak into his room and play all his CDs and tapes. He was always there to put forward all this music for me to listen to because he was six years older than me.
Sal: We’re still learning from those guys. After touring with them and watching them every night, we would sit there and be like ‘Wow, they’re so good.’ So we’re still learning from those guys, they’re really talented.
Matt: They’ve been a band now for 20 years, it’s pretty mind-blowing.
If you could form your own supergroup, who would be in it and why?
Matt: Man, that’s tough. Well, they’d all have to be singers. I’d have Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Sting on bass.
Sal: John Bonham on drums!
Brendan: Don Henley from the Eagles would be cool too though!
Sal: Slash would be cool, Randy Rhoads would also be really cool. And John Bonham and Jimmy Page! And Kurt Cobain, for sure. Even though we said that, two Kurt Cobains.
Brendan: JPJ on bass. Actually pretty much Them Crooked Vultures – now that’s a supergroup!
Sal, I’ve seen you’ve been playing the pink “Rethink Breast Cancer” guitar, can you tell me a bit about that?
Sal: Both Matt and I come from families that family members have had cancer, either survived or passed away. My grandmother had gotten diagnosed with breast cancer, and luckily enough she was a survivor – as a tribute to that I wanted to bring more awareness to breast cancer and the research of breast cancer. So I hooked up with my sponsor, Kramer Guitars, and also a great organization called “Rethink Breast Cancer” to create the guitar. I’m gonna play it on the whole tour, and at the end of the tour, we’re going to have all the bands -Nickelback, Seether, and Bush – sign it and auction it off and all the money we get is going to go toward breast cancer research. And once a year we also work with the James Fund.
Matt: The James Fund is for neuroblastoma research, which is a childhood cancer that has hit close to home for me – my nephew had it at three years old and had to go through a couple of surgeries. So we’re going to be raising money for that.
Sal: We did a walk last year. It was us, Three Days Grace and a bunch of other people who had showed up. We just do this giant walk and raised a lot of money. We like doing a lot of that stuff, we like to help people.
Matt: Tom Hanks is a huge supporter of the James Fund. James Birrell was a small boy who had neuroblastoma and ended up passing away from it. You just watch the story and it tears your heart apart. We’re going to do as much as we can for the James Fund.
Sal: We’re going to be using the leverage we have and the platform we have to help other people.
Matt: Throughout our career, the more we could put towards the people in need, we’re always going to be there for them.
Any final thoughts?
Matt: Look out for an upcoming headlining tour, and check out the new record – “Sick and Twisted Affair” – if you haven’t checked it out. And of course, thanks to all of our fans, all of the people who have supported us through all these years,
My Darkest Days can be found on twitter @MyDarkest Days
To find out more about Rethink Breast Cancer and The James Fund please visit:
My Darkest Days will be supporting Nickelback for the rest of the “Here and Now” tour.