Interview – Dallas Green (City & Colour) – York Fibbers – 24 May 2006
Wednesday, 24th May 2006 in York, and I was lucky enough to bag my dream interview with the truly wonderful Dallas Green. Most of you will know Dallas from Alexisonfire, the hardcore screamo band from Canada who are doing extremely well and are currently embarking upon a mammoth European tour. On this day however, Dallas was here to play one of few solo shows as City & Colour, his awesome acoustic side project which is far from the aggressive tones of Alexisonfire.
Emma: Hi Dallas, I won’t keep you long because I know you need to save your voice, so first of all I just want to ask how are you finding the tour?
Dallas: Oh it’s good, yeah, it’s been surprising to be the first time over here by myself
Emma: Is it really strange to be here playing on your own without the rest of the guys?
Dallas: Not really, ‘cos I’ve been doing it for a while and I have always played shows by myself, so it’s not really that big a deal.
Emma: How does it feel being the main focus of attention, I guess if you have been doing it a lot you will be used to that?
Dallas: Um, I don’t know…I have never really been into the whole attention thing you know, I just really like playing, and that’s what I do of course, so its always weird just to have people kinda focus in on you, you know what I mean?
Emma: Yeah, how do you deal with that?
Dallas: I just try and be as honest as possible and let people know that I’m just there…you know I’m just a dork who loves to play guitar and to sing and that’s it!
Emma: Do you think that you are playing to the same audience with City & Colour as when you play with Alexisonfire?
Dallas: Yeah I think that most of the kids are kids that know the band you know and have been nice enough to check out the solo stuff, but there are some people, especially in Canada and stuff, there’s been a lot of people because my songs are on the radio now and stuff like that and there’s people that weren’t really into Alexis that are coming out to the shows basically because they’re not really into aggressive music or whatever. I think here it’s mostly people who are into Alexis.
Emma: Have you released any songs from the album at home?
Dallas: Yeah, Save Your Scissors was the radio single, the first one and the new one’s gonna be Coming Home
Emma: Sometimes was released over her last year…
Dallas: Yeah in November
Emma: …what has the feedback been like so far?
Dallas: Yeah it’s been really good, most of the feedback has been really good, and I haven’t heard a lot of negative stuff…I mean, I’m sure there’s lots of people that would throw it aside because of the band I’m in, you know, a lot of people don’t like that kind of music and they just figure that what I’m doing is probably not that good. So but everybody’s been really nice about it so…
Emma: Good, do you intend to continue with City & Colour, or is it a temporary side project?
Dallas: Yeah I mean its just like whenever we have time I just do it like you know what I mean like I’m only over here because we’re doing a European tour with Alexis. After tomorrow I fly to Germany, the guys – I just talked to them they are flying to Germany today so when I tour – it’s only when we have time, you know. But I’ll do another record because I always write songs, you know what I mean
Emma: Do you have your own favorite song from the album that is special or personal to you?
Dallas: I think that day old hate is my favorite song, and I don’t know why…that song just moves me in a way… I always save it to the end because I don’t feel right singing songs after it – it feels like it’s an end.
Emma: Moving on to the Switcheroo album that you recorded with Moneen…
Emma: How did you perceive their versions of your songs?
Dallas: I thought they were great, it’s funny, I can’t really sing Accidents the way I used to sing it anymore. Everytime I have to sing it like Kenny sang it, just from hearing that version of the song. It’s pretty funny I think.
Emma: And how did they react to your versions of their songs?
Dallas: They really liked them, ‘cos they really wanted to hear what George was gonna do with their words and stuff so that was fun.
Emma: Do you have a particularly fond or funny memory of being on tour either by yourself or with the guys?
Dallas: I don’t know…most of the moments I have on tour are pretty funny, especially when we are on tour with bands that we get along with like Johnny Truant. When we toured with that band, we all got the word Yeti tattooed on us – just a funny word that we were saying a lot, so we thought why not! We’ll tattoo it on us!
Emma: Well your not afraid of tattoos anyway…
Dallas: No, I’m not! There were some people where actually that was their first tattoo that they ever got so it kind of hurt!
Emma: Okay, so when you are on tour, what is the thing that you miss most about home?
Dallas: Um…I think just my family. I’m really, really close with my family and, you know, we always have these moments where we all sort of meet in the kitchen and then we just end up having a big talk for a really long time and stuff so I miss my family most of the time.
Emma: I bet you’re on the phone to them all the time when you’re away!
Dallas: Yeah, always
Emma: So this year you are all set to play at the Download festival
Emma: Are there any other bands there that you would want to check out if you have the time?
Dallas: Yeah I’m gonna go and see Johnny Truant play ‘cos they are playing the day before and a band called Khoma who playing right before Johnny Truant who I’m really excited to see. I’m gonna watch Alice In Chains, and I’ll probably go and watch Guns N’ Roses just to see how awful its gonna be!
Emma: not Metallica?
Dallas: No, I don’t have any intent on going to see Metallica! Billy Talent! I’ll probably go see them, and Opeth.
Emma: Will you be playing any of your own solo songs?
Dallas: No, whenever it’s us, it’s us and that’s it.
Emma: I saw you play once where you did an acoustic version of Side Walk When She Walks, and that was pretty special…
Dallas: Yeah, that’s cool
Emma: So for someone at our age you have really achieved a lot, do you feel that there is still a whole lot more to achieve?
Dallas: Oh I always like to play for more people and have our music get out to more people but, I think what we’ve done and what I’ve done is unbelievable like for me Because I never really figured…I never really had a lot of faith in myself, you know, I always knew I really enjoyed singing and playing and stuff, but I never thought it would get to where other people would enjoy it especially across the world and stuff like that. So I don’t know, I’m pretty happy. If it all got taken away from me tomorrow I would be angry probably, but I wouldn’t be totally devastated because I’ve done more that I ever thought I could, so…
Emma: I’m gonna move onto a subject that’s close to both of our hearts now…I read that Jeff Buckley really changed your life and was a massive influence. How did his music affect you?
Dallas: He made me want to sing! Before…I didn’t really sing too much before I listened to him. I was kind of afraid you know. It’s a hard thing to do especially when you’re not that confident, to sing in front of people and see what their reaction is gonna be. Before that I was really into instrumental stuff, like Mogwai was really big in my life before him, but then I found Jeff Buckley and he just made me wanna sing, just listening to him, so he’s responsible for me coming out of my shell.
Emma: And he was the same way too – like he didn’t want to sing until he realised how much people wanted to hear him sing
Emma: Do you have a favorite track of his?
Dallas: Dream Brother has always been one of my favorites to listen to and there’s a song that he does…they re-released Live At Sine – the double CD – it was originally a four track EP but they put out a double one and the first song on the first disk he did this thing where he just kinda stopped and clapped and sang. I love listening to that.
Emma: I also heard that you are really keen on skateboarding?
Dallas: Yeah, I’ve been skateboarding my whole life
Emma: Do you have much chance to take time out while you are touring to do stuff like that?
Dallas: No I hurt myself like a year or two ago skateboarding and I had to wear a cast and so I try not to skateboard on tour, because that was the eyeopener. As much as I love skateboarding – if I fall and break my hand on tour – there goes the tour, so when we’re off I’ll skateboard but when we’re on I don’t – so its not much!
Emma: So you will have to wait a while now before you can!
Dallas: Yeah, and then I forget all the stuff that I could do before!
Emma: A few months ago I got to interview George and Wade when you played a gig in Leeds…
Dallas: Oh, cool!
Emma: And I was asking them about the roles that you all have on a personal level within the group, and they both said that you were the sober one who made sure everybody else stayed in line, like almost the mum of the group! What do you think about that?
Dallas: Yeah, I’m definitely the mom! Well I’m the oldest so I immediately took that role, like those kids, they grew up in this band you know what I mean so when we started they were 17 pretty much so they have had to experience their late teens and early twenties on the road. So I immediately took the role, like I would sorta stay focused and let them grow up and party and do their thing, you know what I mean? And it worked well because that’s the way I am by nature I’m just kind very focused and driven you know?
Emma: What would you like people to take away from listening to your music, what would you like them to get out of it?
Dallas: I just hope that people get that its just honest, I really just want it to be about the song. I mean, I’ve never really wanted it to be about the way I dress or the way we dress or you know, what kinda fight we got into with another band you know ‘cos I think that a lot of the music today is popular because there’s a story behind it. I really don’t care about that you know, and like at shows in Canada especially, girls will yell out ‘you’re sexy’ or something like that and I just kinda say, you know I appreciate that but I really hope that you like the songs and that you’re not here because you like the way that I look. You know, that’s not what its about, it’s about the how the song makes you feel and that’s all I’m really trying to do.
I thanked Dallas for his time and stayed around for the show, which was nothing less than amazing. After generously staying around before the gig to chat to fans and sign many t-shirts and CDs, Dallas performed most of the tracks from album Sometimes along with a couple of other songs (including, to my delight, Side Walk When She Walks) with no more than an acoustic guitar and his achingly beautiful voice. The room was packed and an awed audience sang along to Casey’s Song and Save Your Scissors. Dallas bubbled with cheeky humour as he shared a few little stories from his tour with the crowd and involved interaction from tour manager Ollie. Dallas certainly won over the room with ease and the quiet simplicity of his songs shone through and made it one of the most gracious, relaxed and entertaining gigs I have ever attended. Heaven!