Leeds Cockpit – 23 October 2005
The mighty Alexisonfire…my favourite band in the entire universe! I was pant-shittingly nervous and utterly delighted to be interviewing them before their gig at The Cockpit. Mark and I were invited into the tour bus for a talk with vocalist George and guitarist/vocalist Wade.
E. We all know what role each band member plays musically, however on a personal level what role would you say that each of you plays within the group?
G. Wade is definitely a serious guy!
W. None of us really try and take ourselves too seriously and you know touring is such a strange way of living that we just pretty much try and laugh everything off, like all the massive problems.
G. But yeah, I would say that personality-wise, Steele is probably the brains. I don’t know it’s a really tough question! Dallas is like the mum, like the sober one always making sure that we’re in line. But you know, we all have a lot of each other in us.
M. You have your new album coming out soon. The first album is more focused on your (George) vocals, and the second is more of a mix between you (George) and Dallas. What’s the focus of the new album?
W. Free-form Jazz
G. Yeah free-form jazz oddesy mostly.
W. I think that, you know we have a split coming out at the end of the month. There’s one new song on it that’s like a lot rockier, like a kind of rock ‘n’ roll sound. I think we haven’t really written too much like the songs we have now. One thing we’re not going to do with the new album is repeat ourselves. It’ll be an Alexisonfire record but it’ll be like new.
E. With the split album, what did you think of the cover versions that the other band has done of your songs?
G. I was really excited about that actually, yeah.
W. I think we were all really stoked with the way it turned out. I don’t know, like just to hear like really good friends of ours, and all of us have been into them for a while and we used to go their shows, you know. And so to hear them take a song that we’ve written and you know like put their own spin on it – it’s just really neat. And I think they are really pleased with the way we did it…we wouldn’t show them the songs until we were all sitting together and when they came over to our Toronto show before this we all got on the bus and like had a listening party to the CD and they seemed to be okay with it.
G. They were really fun yeah. Those guys are really close friends of ours and we’ve done the cross-Canada tour with them and they are just like some of the sweetest and most awesome people that we’ve ever met.
M. What is the plan for after this tour, are you touring in a different country?
W. Well we go to the states for three weeks on a headline tour and then after that we are going to try to write. We spent all summer trying to not play shows, which we’re not very good at doing, and then we played shows all summer long!
M. Do you enjoy touring still?
W. Yeah, it’s good, but I think by the time we get home from the American tour…
G. I think we’ll be well ready to just have some down time!
E. You played at the Give It A Name show in May in London, did you get chance to hang out with any of the other bands there?
W. We would pretty much hang with Rise Against.
G. We got to hang out a little bit with the Funeral For A Friend guys.
W. Actually, they weren’t playing or anything but Jay from Metal Soundclash was over and we were just hanging out with those guys also during the day and stuff.
G. Other than that it was just us, you know, all the rest of the bands on that show sucked anyway, so…I’m joking!
M. We read your website, and it shows quite a variance in your musical influences. Who would you say your main influence is, because Alexisonfire don’t sound like anybody else. What did you listen to when you were growing up?
W. Yeah everyone has their own thing. I guess that when I first started playing guitar and I was buying records I was buying a lot of Manson and I had this absolute skid-bag guitar teacher who wore massive docs and had really long red hair and he was just like feeding me all this metal, and then I kind of started getting more into punk rock and stuff like that and now I think everyone listens to absolutely everything.
G. It’s really difficult to pin point one musical influence – I think you would have to say that we’re influenced by music but we listen to a lot of different types of music and that influences us, not necessarily like this band was the reason why we did it. I think we all have a very collective music taste so the songs kind of happen that way.
E. Your videos portray a really good sense of humour, do you get up to many pranks and play tricks on each other when you’re on tour?
W. Um, we don’t do pranking so much, more just acting like complete assholes!
G. Yeah yeah we take the piss out of each other and just like joking and cracking wise all the time.
W. I have one (story) actually, last night we were walking home from the bar, our bass player Chris had borrowed my hat and was wearing this mesh-backed hat and I guess this group of girls walked by and they took it, took his hat and he didn’t notice – I guess he was kinda drunk. They knocked the hat off of his head, and so he was walking for a bit then realised he wasn’t wearing it, and he realised that it must have been them. Then he started running after them down an alley, he got the hat and then he went up to them and one girl was wearing a cowboy hat, and he took the cowboy hat off of her head and ran away with it!
G. It’s upstairs, we have the hat!
W. And they were chasing him and he just ran away with the cowboy hat!
G. That’s like a metaphor for our band I think! That entire scenario is a huge metaphor for our band!
M. If you were given a choice, to play small venues like this or festivals, which would you rather play?
W. I think the fact that we get to do all of that is really good, there’s something that’s really amazing about playing a fest. Arenas are weird, its such a different kind of thing from playing shows like the one we played when we were in Belgium, right before we came to the UK on this, we played right on the floor and there were people standing 360 degrees around us and that’s such an incredible feeling and to be absolutely exhausted and feel absolutely terrible and its so hot but it’s the most amazing thing.
G. And you have kids like pushing their way onto the stage and pulling cords out of everything, you know, but it’s good, it’s like this chaos that’s like really really fun you know? And you just feel terrible the whole set and it’s great. There’s something really great about that but there’s something also really great about playing a big show in front of like thousands of people.
W. You see that when we’re playing Arenas or something like that, like Toronto – there’s almost 8 thousand people there and when almost every single person in the club is clapping at the same time, seeing that or having everyone singing along to certain parts is just crazy.
E. Is it true that you offer free entry to gigs for any fans that have an Alexisonfire tattoo?
W. Yeah, there’s someone here tonight actually!
E. Do you have them yourselves?
W. Yeah I got one
G. I’m still paying to get into Alexisonfire shows!
W. I had heard that Rocket From The Crypt used to do that and I was like, if someone is going to take such a step and support us like that, especially with us having a lot of tattoos, and if they are interested in doing that then it’s the least we can do. It’s amazing.
E. That’s a really cool thing to do for your fans.
M. You’re album artwork – do any of you have a say in that or is it someone else that decides and tells you.
G. It’s all us!
W. We have pretty much a say in everything that we do. There was some sort of massive communication breakdown with our artwork getting re-done for our CD on Sorepoint, our first CD
G. The one with just the black cover with the heart skull
W. And we showed up and were like ‘what the fuck is this?’ ‘cos actually our artwork was like catholic school girl night flight that me and George did all the photography for, and we didn’t think our CD was out and we came over here for the first time and those were in there are we were like ‘this is atrocious looking’. With Watch Out we wanted to put out a CD cover that doesn’t really have anything to do with the subject matter of the CD at all. We just wanted to do something that didn’t look very computerized. The trouble is a lot of bands, like hardcore and screamo whatever, a lot of the packaging looks so similar, it looks splattery like a dolby photo shot so we just kinda wanted to do something that looks like somebody drew it all up.
E. Pretend like we have never heard your music before – how would you describe it to me?
G. The worst shit you have ever heard ever! So bad…….. so bad!
W. We sound kinda like drinking nine ciders, then going to a kebab shop, getting the meat on the chips right, and then just covering it with really hot curry at four in the morning, going to bed, waking up the next morning feeling like …
G….like someone puked in your stomach!
M. What have been the highlights so far of touring the UK?
W. It was pretty good when Steele stole that woman’s cowboy hat!
G. Yeah that was pretty good when that happened!
W. The UK is a hell of a lot different from the states
G. Every city seems to have a lot of history and spirit and architecture, every city has it’s own kind of flavour which is something you don’t get in the United States, you know. Every city is just like Wallmart, Taco Bell and MacDonalds all over the place. Then there’s the ghetto where we’re playing where people are smoking crack outside of our van or bus.
W. Yeah that’s the main difference, the cities have a lot of character. Canada is a relatively new country, the oldest building in our city is like the Ministry of Transportation which was made in 1975 or something!
M. Do you see any big differences between the fans in different countries?
W. I think that last time we played here was absolutely mental
G. Yeah that was probably the best.
W. I think that here people are trying to emulate something that they think is happening in America, like at shows, but they are doing a better job of it! But as a result of trying to emulate it, it’s like way crazier!
G. Way better shows!
W. I think also that people get really excited over here when bands come over from other countries, it’s like when we played in New York last time, we knew two other bands that were playing right down the road, and there’s probably six other shows in a three block radius and people on any given night have a chance to go see whoever they want so I don’t think people necessarily get as excited about us there.
E. What would you hope the future to bring for Alexisonfire?
G. Riches, jewels!
W. Just to try and keep making music that we think is worthwhile
G. If Alexisonfire never progressed past the point that we have right now, I would be very happy. But I’m not saying that I don’t want us to get better, or get bigger, I’m just saying that I think we have achieved a lot in this band and I feel very comfortable with that but at the same time if more stuff happens that’s great. I’m not going to start wishing for anything because I feel very lucky and very privileged that I can travel the world, and I don’t have to work a shitty job and I can pay my rent.
W. When we got to the point where the band was like ‘this is what we do now’, that was such an achievement in itself. The fact that we get to play music every day, we would be doing this if we were doing in the basement in my mom’s house and just playing on the weekend or something like that, so to be able to travel and play is great.
M. When you are writing new material, is there anyone in particular who writes the lyrics, or do you write your own parts?
G. Well myself and Dallas and Wade usually all have input like we all just kind of like sit down and try to work out a song together. How it happened with Watch Out is that we would pick a topic and we would all try and work out lyrics that would fit.
W. George probably writes more lyrics than anyone else and usually has such a mass of them that we end up editing it down to the song.
M. When you’re all on stage you seem like a really close-knit band, and seem like you are all friends. Were you all friends before you started the band, is that how it came around?
W. Yeah, I played baseball with our bass player when I was eight or nine, and George’s dad coached our baseball team, and we won!
G. Every baseball team I was ever on – we were like the last placed team. It was like the bad news bears without having any sort of victory. We never came around, we were always just a fucking awkward geeks, you know!
W. We know everyone and all met through music and stuff like that. I met George because he had a really nice punk coat. A studded leather jacket, and I started saying hello to him and I’d see him at shows and record stores.
G. Yeah me and Wade met through punk!
E. So will be hearing new material from you tonight?
W. You will, you will be hearing two new jams!
M. Are you guys okay with Dallas doing his own thing, with his side project?
G. It fucking cheeses me off man!
W. Constant arguments!
G. No, actually I’m very proud of him and it makes me very happy when I hear he’s doing well with everything. Wade and myself have a side project as well called The Black One, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll band kind of thing. It’s just something we do and I think it’s like we all like a lot of different music and Alexisonfire satisfies one creative urge but sometimes you just want to make other types of music.
W. Yeah and Dallas’ acoustic stuff really has nothing to do with the band, it’s just a way for him to write that kind of music. He sings like an angel!
On that note we thanked George and Wade and got a couple of cheeky photos, said our goodbyes and headed off to watch the show. Alexisonfire put on another amazing performance and I couldn’t have been more pleased! They still hold strong for me as the best live performance I have ever witnessed, following my earlier review this year, and the crowd couldn’t get enough of them! The two new tracks performed proved to be excellent, pushing forward the high standard set by their previous work. Alexisonfire are a force to be reckoned with and are so deserving of all they have achieved.