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Alexisonfire - Interview

  by Adrian Huggins

published: 23 / 3 / 2007

Alexisonfire - Interview


Canadian band Alexisonfire's unique brand of hardcore has won them much acclaim and increasingly large audiences. Adrian Huggins speak to them about their intense touring schedule and well-received third album 'Crisis'

Canadian rockers Alexisonfire, who originate from St. Catherine’s, Ontario, were in the UK during March as part of their worldwide tour in support of their latest album 'Crisis'. The album went down a storm in their native Canada as well as across the United States and in Britain. The band are notorious for eclipsing many of their ‘screamo’ peers with guitarist/vocalist Dallas Green's heartfelt lyrics and melodies being mixed with the ferocious hardcore screams of front man George Pettit. As well as releasing three fantastic albums, the self-titled 'Alexisonfire', 'Watch Out' (2004) and last year's 'Crisis', the band, which also features guitarist and vocalist Wade MacNeill, bassist Chris Steele and drummer Jordan "Ratbeard" Hastings, have a well earned reputation as one of the best live bands around at the moment with their high octane and at times humorous shows. Pennyblackmusic had a chance to chat with the guys prior to the UK date of the tour in Newcastle. PB : How is the tour going so far? DG : Very good. Very, very good. All of the shows have been great. We’ve been getting a great reception. CS : It’s been going sweet. PB : Have you been anywhere on this tour that you’ve never been before? DG : Not yet. GP : Scandinavia. DG : We went to Scandinavia a couple of months ago and that was awesome, but, as far as the UK, we’ve not been anywhere new. But I know when we come back to the UK in October we’re going to do a couple of shows in places that we’ve never played before. PB : Was that your choice? DG : I was talking to our booking agent, and he mentioned playing places where not everybody goes. GP : Yeah, it would be great to play the places that most bands don’t normally go to. PB : There seem to be a few good Canadian hardcore bands like Cancer Bats, Comeback Kid, Moneen and Protest the Hero emerging at the moment. Do you think there is any particular reason for that influx? DG : I think there’s always been a bunch of good Canadian bands. It’s just now there’s a bunch that are starting to tour round the world. Record labels are starting to offer them the chance. GP : Canada really has a rich history of punk and hardcore music and stuff like that. It’s all there. I think it’s been a lot of years in the making and now I think there’s a really vibrant scene for that sort of stuff, especially in Southern Ontario, and to a lesser extent Vancouver. There have quite a few good bands coming out of there as well. But Ontario seems like a hotspot for heavy and independent bands. PB : Do you think your popularity has helped other bands? DG : I’m sure groups such as us and Billy Talent opened up more eyes to what was going on in Southern Ontario. JH : There are bands like Silverstein and Moneen that toured the States before we were there as well. PB : You have Comeback Kid from Winnipeg supporting you on this leg of the tour. Did you specifically want to bring out another Canadian band with you? DG : Actually we’ve been trying to do a tour together with Comeback Kid and to come to the UK with them for a really long time, but our schedules kept missing each other. GP : We’ve played festivals with them out west and they’re really good guys, so we’ve been wanting to do that for a while. I mean we always try and do that, to bring friends' bands out and a lot of the time when that happens it will be bands from Canada like the Cancer Bats or Attack in Black or Moneen. You know, anyone local. There are so many people in Southern Ontario that have made huge sacrifices in their lives to make music for a living. You just want everybody to do well and to try and get out there. If we can help another band out that’s great, just to keep that community feel, but only on a more global level. PB : I’ve noticed that yourselves and several other Canadian bands have thanked the Canadian government on your websites and album sleeves for helping with funding along the way. How does this work and how has this helped you and other bands? DG : It was with our videos. Most of our videos were paid for by the Canadian government, and we get tour support for coming over here and going down to the States. PB : Do you think its something that the governments in Britain and the States should do ? DG : The thing with Canada is that it’s really hard to be in a band and to get out of there. In England you have a really small country and a huge population and the States is a pretty big country, but with an enormous population. With Canada you have an absolutely huge land mass with a pretty small population so it is more difficult. There’s not a lot of eyes looking toward Canada. GP : It’s hard to get into the States. Getting across that border can be hard when you’re a young band. My friends' bands are getting turned away. They can’t do it. They cant get across. It has got to the point where if you're touring the States getting on tour is hard enough, but then you have to be at a point where you’re making enough to pay for the work visas as well. It is difficult being a Canadian band. You can’t just tour Canada all the time. There are a lot of 20-hour drives involved with that. DG : Some long traitorous drives. GP : Yeah, like long traitorous drives through Canadian terrain, a lot of beautiful landscape, but not a lot places to play. Playing to… JH : To caribou and moose. GP : (Laughs) Yeah, to Caribou. PB : So are you making up for Celine Dion and Nickelback? CH : Hope so. GP : (Sighs) DG : Yeah they still suck, but they’re still drawing attention to Canada. GP : We don’t need to get into that. Alright, we’ve got Nickelback and Sum 41 but you’ve got Take That. Come on, you guys have got world Wham! (Entire room laughs in agreement). We always get so much shit for that. Everyone always drops that, but there’s so much more embarrassing shit that comes out of the United States and the UK too(Laughs). PB : As a band you always seem to come across in interviews as a band with a good sense of humour who don’t take yourselves too seriously. Do you think this adds to your appeal? DG : Maybe. I mean we’re just ourselves all the time. GP : I think yes. Maybe there’s something to be said as to how absolutely real we can be on stage. That can be a breathe of fresh air for some of the crowd we play for I think, especially if you’ve just watched 10 bands in a row that have that a rock and roll, cookie cutter kind of stage presence. We are goofy kind of guys and that sometimes translates over onto stage and that benefits us. The crowd can relate to us more on a normal level. PB: I think that it makes it fun. GP : Yeah it does. PB: So what’s next for the band? DG : Touring GP : Well, touring, touring and more touring. DG : We’re pretty much going to be touring-we’re taking some of June and July -but pretty much till the end of the year. GP : Following the popularity of Dallas’ solo release with the City and Colour, are there anymore plans for solo work? DG : Wade’s record should be coming out in about a month or so. GP : I have just finished off recording a three song 7 inch record with this band I’m playing in called the Birkenfield Four. It is okay (Laughs), but I don't know if I like it as much as the first one I did with them. PB : Is it in a similar style to Alexisonfire ? GP : No, it’s very punky, a bit more old school. PB : You guys are doing pretty well now. Was there an particular moment where you thought “Oh wow, we’ve made it”? CS : I’d say maybe the first time we went out West touring with Billy Talent and people started recognising us after a video or two was played on Much Music (Canadian music channel-Ed). People were asking for autographs which was weird, and right then we thought "Oh, it’s getting a little more serious." DG : I think also when we were able to stop working our jobs to do this full time. PB : Do you have any further ambitions as far as the band goes? DG : Just to keep putting out records and to keep touring. GP : I would want to travel to a lot of the places I’ve been to before and play as many places as we can. As long we get to keep putting out records that would be achieving our goals DG : I’d like to play a show by myself with a string section. PB : With the City and Colour ? DG : Yeah, maybe at Massey Hall (large concert hall in Toronto-Ed). But it’s very expensive, so we’ll see how it goes. PB: Well here’s hoping that happens. A few hours later after two excellent performances by British punk/ska band Beat Union and a intense show from rising hardcore band and Alexisonfire's fellow country men, Comeback Kid, there is a mass of anticipation as the crowd in the main hall at Newcastle University saunters around eagerly awaiting for the headliners to take to the stage and blow the roof off. After what seems an eternity the lights finally go down and some atmospheric classical music begins to play. The un-assuming world dominating Alexisonfire take the stage to a deafening roar from the crowd. This is one of those gigs where you almost smell the excitement as the band take the stage, the type of gig that blows everything else in your life into a corner and in which the only thing that matters for the next hour and half is the five guys on stage playing. Alexisonfire open with the fantastic and totally appropriate ‘Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints’, which is the first track from the latest release ‘Crisis’. The song is the perfect opening song for an album and definitely the gig with its opening line of “Alright, this is from our hearts.” Without their feet barely touching the ground the boys fly straight into their latest single ‘Boiled Frogs', which while having a far more melodic and familiar Alexisonefire style chorus, has a similar intensity and energy. Three different style vocals emerge from the stage in the form of the non-punk sounding Wade Macneil, the soaring melodic vocals of Dallas Green which help give the band their unique sound and George Pettit tying it all together with his mind blowingly intense guttural screams. Pettit is by far a contender for the best hardcore vocalist around at the moment. He not only manages to scream the house down with as much intensity and heart as he does on record, but this is a man with a ridiculous amount of energy and stage presence. He literally bounces around the stage in-between his vocals parts and I am genuinely baffled as to how he manages to keep his breath. The band follow the opening few songs from ‘Crisis’ with ‘Control’ from ‘Watch Out!’ and they also play several songs from their self-titled debut album including ‘44.Caliber Love Letter’, ‘Water Wings’ and ‘Pulmonary Archery'. The songs from ‘Crisis’ make up a large proportion of the set including its first single ‘This Could Be Anywhere in the World' alongside the excellent ‘Mailbox Arson’ and ‘Crisis’, both of which create a frenzy in the mosh pit and sing-alongs in the crowd. While they take the brave step of missing out two of their biggest songs from ‘Watchout!’; ‘No Transitory’ and ‘Hey Mama, It’s Your Funeral' (which has the best video of the past few years), they finish the set off with ‘Accidents’ which leaves the chorus ringing in the audience's ears. While playing punk and hardcore is a genre which is synonymous with extremely passionate and full out performances, one thing that Alexisonfire have live is the feeling and stage presence of a band that are every bit as heavy as so many other bands, but which is also determined to have fun. They are not a band that take themselves too seriously. They craft magnificent songs which have deservedly gained them a following all over the world, but all the while they do it with a huge smile on their faces. When you go to watch Alexisonfire you will witness five guys who know they are lucky enough to be playing the music which they clearly love to people all over the world but who, unlike some other bands, feel as pleased to be there as you are.

Picture Gallery:-
Alexisonfire - Interview

Alexisonfire - Interview

Alexisonfire - Interview

Alexisonfire - Interview

Visitor Comments:-
208 Posted By: Brianna, Ontario, canada on 07 Aug 2009
great article, truely captures their stage performance and the interview was entertaining. and i myself still wonder where george pettit gets his never-ending supply of energy

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