Alissa White-Gluz is a vocalist I have a ton of respect for (not for her looks, though admittedly she's very cute). I respect her instead for her strong voice, her passion as a vegan and animal rights activist which she vocalizes through her band The Agonist. I recently met up with her during their short Ontario tour to get insight on the new album, her vibrant voice, how to eat healthy on the road for a vegan/vegetarian and her recent winning as the sexiest vegan award. Read on to see what she has to say about these topics.
You are currently doing a short Ontario tour before going on your big North American one. When you have long ones, how do you keep yourself entertained? Alissa: Well on the long tours normally it's a pretty full tour package so you will have 3 or 4 or sometimes 5 bands or if it's like a festival tour you will have even more than that. So usually you end up making friends with all these people and you sort of become like a little family, since there is usually about 25 people from the other bands and the crew. When you have that many people to hangout with every day it doesn't really get boring. [laughs] So yeah we just hangout, work on songs, work on other projects, read books, do artwork, walk around, workout. There is always things to do like that.
I saw you are working on a new album. Who are you recording with and will it be on Century Media Records? Alissa: Yup it's coming out on Century Media and we are recording with Christian Donaldson again. That's who we are working with to record it and we are actually in the studio right now. We are halfway done.
When do you plan to have it out by? Alissa: I would say about early 2012 which is what we are aiming for.
Wicked I can't wait. So how do you go about writing your music? Alissa: This album is different because we have more than one guy that can write on guitar. Of course Danny writes the majority of the song, but Simon also plays the guitar and writes and so does Pascal obviously. Basically the band will put together the instrumentals and other guitar parts, Chris will put in his bass lines, Simon will put in his drums. They work on the structure and record a ghost track which they give to me and I will start writing lyrics, melodies and rhythm to it. We go back and forth like that, then we get in the studio to record it. Sometimes Christian Donaldson will have a few polishing up things or suggestions that we take into account and that's pretty much it.
Wow a lot of work goes into an Agonist song. So your vocals are really strong with growls and a beautiful singing voice. How do you maintain it? Alissa: I don't really know. [laughs] Sometimes I don't and sometimes I will get sick on tour and it's the worst thing ever because I will still do the show but I'm singing at 30% instead of 100%. I think the fact I don't drink or smoke or do drugs or anything like that probably helps. It's your body so you have to be healthy. I drink a lot of water and I eat as well as I can. I'm vegan and I work out which probably all contributes to it. I use to warm up a lot before but honestly I barely even warm up and just go for it. I haven't really notice that much of a difference. I use to swear by warming up but I don't know. [laughs]
[laughs] So your acapella "Swan Lake", did you do all the vocals or did you have some friends come help? Alissa: Mmhmm.
Nice. I watched your video for the making of the paper coffins and you announced on it that you were an art teacher. I was wondering if it affects your music career? Alissa: Yup I was at the time, but not anymore so no it does not affect my music.
Congratulations, recently you won as the world's sexiest female vegetarian. Do you think awards like these help your career? Alissa: It can't hurt. It's not like a bunch of people are going to look at that and instantly come to the show, but there is a chance that people that don't know the band might see that and come listen to us and like it. Just like there’s a chance fans might read up on it and say "Oh she's vegan" and go read up on veganism and want to try that out to which would be cool for me. It's a cause that I really believe in.
It's all kind of lighthearted like in Revolver, these calendars and things. To be honest I do not even know about them and then one day I will get an email one day that will say "Hey you won this or nominated for that" so it's like "Ok, sure?" [laughs]. So yeah I don't really mind it. It's not a career in making but it's not a career stopper either. It's another one of those fun things that goes on when you're in the public eye. People make fan art for you or little competitions like that. It's all fun stuff.
Check out the song "Thank You, Pain" here.
Awesome. I recently went on a road trip and we had a girl that vegan with us but all she ate were fries on the road. How do you eat when on the road and do you have any tips for what a vegan/vegetarian should take on the road so they can be healthier then my fry eating friend? Alissa: Well like you just saw I went to the grocery store and bought my own food rather than ordering something from here. For me I have done enough touring and road tripping in different countries where I cannot communicate properly because they don't speak English or French. It's really just about preparing so have a supply of food with you in case you don't find something. A supply of non perishable food can foods and vegetables or like trail mix or whatever for just in case.
Normally you can find stuff you just have to look. It's not always convenient but I've never really had a problem with it like I don't even eat fries [laughs]. Sometimes the boys will just go to a restaurant and I will join them an sit with them and won't order anything which is fine. I don't mind just chilling with them having a glass of water. It's a lot cheaper in the long run anyways to not eat at restaurants all the time.
I really want to point this question to my friend so that now she and other vegans and vegetarians can know what to do when on the road so they can break away from fries. So what's up with The Agonist in the near future? Alissa: We are doing these tours coming up and finishing up the album. We are going to be doing all the visuals for the album and probably some more tours next year kicking off right when the album drops. Hopefully hit all the territories we hit with this album and some new ones.
What territories have you not been to? Alissa: We haven't done Africa or Australia. I would love to even do Alaska or just random places you don't hear about when it comes to touring. Little one or two week tours for places that don't get to have bands come through often.