Alexisonfire – Taste of Chaos

by Emma

Manchester Apollo – 12 November 2006

From one dressing room to another… immediately after a great interview with Senses Fail, I caught up with Dallas Green, of the amazing Alexisonfire for a chat prior to their slot at the Manchester Taste Of Chaos date.

As always Dallas was warm, friendly and excited to be playing here in the UK once again. Dallas told us about how he was feeling pretty tired as he’s having trouble getting used to the time difference, and keeps falling to sleep at 10am!

E. I last spoke to you about six months ago, when you were here for the City and Colour tour. What has been going on since then, what have you all been up to?
D. Lots of stuff, after that I went to Europe with Alexis and then we got home and we did the Warped Tour in North America. Then our new record came out and we have just been touring since then. We came over to do Reading and Leeds and then we did a Canadian tour and an American tour and now we’re here.
E. So you have just been on the road all the time!
D. Yeah, that’s right!

E. How are you enjoying the Taste Of Chaos tour so far?
D. It’s good, but we have only been on it for two days ‘cos we haven’t been on the whole thing so, for us it’s great but all the other bands are really tired and stuff. They have been on the road and they are ready to go home. So we’ve kinda come on and we’re new faces so everyone’s like, ‘oh, hey guys’!
E. So you’re the most popular people in town! Do you think that being part of a tour like this puts more pressure on you as a band?
D. Definitely, ‘cos when you do your own tour mostly you have the kids that like your band come to watch you play, and that’s usually the way it is, you know. Kids that are interested in getting to know your band come to watch you play but on a big tour like this there’s you know, probably a handful of kids that maybe don’t like you or a handful of kids that have never even heard of you, so you have to play to not only the kids that are here to see you but tons more people. We’re on right in the middle so you have to keep it going and we’ve got a tough act to follow, we play after Underoath who are always amazing live – so yeah, there’s a lot of pressure doing big, big tours like this.
E. Of course there are also benefits – it’s a great opportunity to get more people in there listening to you.
D. Oh shoot yeah, exactly, you get to try and win more people over.
E. I am sure that you will do just that!

E. My next question was going to be – have you had any more group tattooings whilst you have been on this tour, but since you only joined two days ago there will have been no time for that kind of thing yet!
D. No, a bunch of us have just got tattooed in California by our friend who tattoos us there, but we haven’t gotten all the same thing yet.
E. Well that was quite a fun story from our last interview anyway!
D. Yeah!
E. How did the whole thing come about with you having Olly (Mitchell, Johnny Truant frontman) as your tour manager?
D. Well we just became friends with them when we did the Johnny Truant/Alexisonfire tour, and …well he’s actually here with us now too…Paul who was in here earlier, he’s the drummer for Johnny Truant! It’s just nice to have people who know the area with you, so when I was doing that I was gonna do it in a car, the City and Colour thing, so we figured we would just ask Olly ‘cos he’s my friend, you know, instead of getting in some professional tour manager.
E. So is he responsible for all the late nights and lack of sleep..!!
D. Nooo that’s just me, I can’t adjust, can’t switch gears, it’s not working out!

E. Moving on to Crisis…the album did really well didn’t it, debuting at number 1 in Canada and in the top 100 over here in the UK?
D. Yeah, it’s crazy, yeah
E. You have certainly had a fantastic reception over here and you’re getting more play on the music channels than ever before…
D. On the shows that we have played so far it seems like kids know the words to the newer songs more than then knew the older songs, so that’s cool because we like the newer songs better!
E. And new fans are always a good thing!
D. Yeah!
E. Did you ever imagine that it would be so well accepted and so quickly?
D. No, I mean, we have grown to be quite a popular band in Canada, so we figured it was gonna do well there. We never imagined it would go to number 1 but that’s something that we don’t really imagine because, we never really ever think that we’re capable of that, you know. We’re such an independent smaller band that with records by Christina Aguilera and stuff like that coming out at the same time we just don’t expect ours to go in at number 1… But to have it do so well over here already, the last records have taken us touring and touring and touring for people to get used to it, but this one – people got into it right away, it’s very surprising but it’s great.
E. When you got together to write the songs for this album, did you plan to write songs that are fairly softer than your older material? If you go right back to your debut Alexisonfire, these new songs are more easy listening.
D. I don’t know if they’re softer, but I think they are maybe just a little less metally, and stuff like that. I think we have more of a rock influence now as opposed to the first record, which was kinda all over the place and stuff and I think that had a lot to do with that it was the first bunch of songs we had ever written. We didn’t know what we wanted then but I think with this record we really figured out that we just wanted to write good catchy rock songs that are fun to play live. On the first two records there’s a bunch of songs that we don’t like playing now because they just don’t feel the same playing them live as when we wrote them. But now, every song on the new album we really just love to play.
E. Are you planning to play a mix of songs this evening?
D. Yeah, well we only have a half hour so we’ll try and do a couple from each record and we’ll play more off the new one, but yeah we will play a few from the others.

E. On Crisis…there are a lot more vocals from Wade on this record…where has he been hiding his voice all this time?!
D. I think that Wade just came to the table with more vocal ideas, you know, and that’s the way we write. We don’t say ‘okay here’s what you’re gonna do, here’s what I’m gonna do’. It’s just like whoever comes up with an idea…we will all work with it. Wade just brought more songs that he had singing ideas for.
E. And he sounds really good too!
D. Yeah he does.

E. Are you able to tell me what will be the next single released from the album – do you know yet?
D. Yeah, it will be Boiled Frogs. We shot the video a month ago so it’ll be out I think at the end of November or in early December.
E. What is the theme for this video?
D. The song is kind of a dedication to some of our parents whose generation got stuck working shitty jobs, and they give you just enough to keep you going but don’t really ever give you enough so you can escape from it one day, and that’s what Boiled Frogs is about. So we did a video kinda like that, we each have a different role and it’s all just about monotony and being fed up with your situation and stuff like that.

E. Back to your success in Canada… you have been nominated for some awards that are coming up shortly – the Casbys – and you are up for best newcomer, but also your solo album and the Alexisonfire album are up against each other for best indie album!
D. I heard that’s gonna happen a couple of times this year and next year – there’s a thing called the Juno’s which is like the Canadian Grammy Awards and we heard that we are gonna be nominated for the same award so…
E. It’s kinda strange because Sometimes came out over a year ago!
D. Yeah, but it just got really popular all of a sudden, over the last few months, so I think that people are now starting to like treat it like it came out this year, but it did, it came out last November!
E. So have you been winding each other up about it?
D. Yeah, yeah we have. They always give me crap about it, you know!

E. I have also read that you have all been doing your part for charity too – recently George has done a painting for the Brush For Hope Kidney Foundation, and you have all been organising food drives…
D. Yeah George did a painting and it’s up for auction, and it was up for over a thousand dollars I think which is crazy! It’s freaking George out cos he never thought that that would happen. But yeah, we like to do things, like on our Canadian headline tour we did a food drive and things like that. There’s also an organisation called Skate For Cancer which we try to be really involved in, it’s our friend Robbie who raises money for cancer research and awareness and stuff like that. I figured that when you get to a certain point in popularity where you can attach your name to something and it helps people who maybe wouldn’t look at it otherwise, look at a cause, then I think it’s your right to do it. I don’t know, it just seems like you should do it and it’s very easy to do so…
E. Do you have any plans for other events like that in the future?
D. I think we’ll stay supporting Skate For Cancer continuously, and we’ll just kinda wait and see what comes our way that we really wanna get behind. I’m sure that for all of our Canadian tours from now on we will pick something like the food drive to do.

E. Onto your website, there is a news section up there and is it right that you are also going to be writing a journal on there?
D. Yeah, we’ve already started it, yeah. That’s just something that is fun and we can post youtube clips on there – like on our American tour we had a really great show in Austin Texas, and the next night it was on youtube, so we did a journal about it and put up a link to that. So if something funny happens we can just write about it.
E. Will you be writing a journal whilst you’re on this tour?
D. Yeah, although we’ve only been on it for two days and the internet has been really sparse, so we haven’t really had a chance. But I’m sure we will soon enough.
E. Who has been writing most of the stuff on there so far, because there are some really funny posts on there at the moment!
D. It’s mostly Wade and George that get around to doing it so far.
E. I thought it was! You can tell by some of the comments that they have come from those two!

E. Also on the news section of your site – there is mention of an untitled new band which features members of Alexisonfire and Attack In Black…can you tell me who is involved in this project?
D. Oh, Wade is involved in a thing called Black Lungs – I don’t know if you have ever heard about it…Wade is putting out a solo record, similar to mine, and I think he is gonna do some shows in January. This band called Attack In Black are gonna play as his backing band, sort of.
E. So is that already written and ready for release?
D. Yeah the record is already done, he recorded it in summer, but he’s not had a chance to put it out yet.

E. So what will happen next for Alexisonfire? What are your plans for next year?
D. Oh, just touring! We’re coming back here in February to do our thing with Comeback Kid. We get home from this, and then we have Christmas off, and then we’re doing a Senses Fail tour in the States. Then we come back here, and then we go back to America.
E. So you won’t get much time off!
D. Yeah, we’re just touring… and you know we’re over here all the time!

I thanked Dallas for a great interview and wished him the best of luck for the show. We bumped into Johnny Truant’s Olly on the way out as he was laughing about the size of the dressing rooms! He kindly saw us back to tour manager Stu and then gave us a big wave during their set. The great thing about this band is that they never lose their humility, they are sincere, and keep their feet planted firmly on the ground.


Alexisonfire Interview

by Emma

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. Helicopters
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.