Alexisonfire

author TL date 06/12/06

Despite everything pretty much turning into a complete mess on the day of my interview with Alexisonfire, things turned out awesome in the end. I arrived more than an hour and a half too late due to circumstances outside of my influence, and I had not been able to get a hold of the band's' tourmanager Stu in order to find out the exact time of my interview, as his US phone was not working in Europe for the moment. All ideas of planning had gone down the drain, and I decided to just stumble in and grasp at any chance, however small it might be, of an interview. After running around the venue a bit, I finally caught up with Stu, who could then reveal, that his phone number only worked in the states, and that actually, noone had been able to get a hold of him. And of course, the best part is, that he called George over, and not too much later, I was chatting away with him in the dressing room. Here's what he had to say;

RF.net: Before we get down to business, would you mind just doing a short introduction of your band and music, for all the people out there who slept in class?
George: Mkay, I'm George, I play in Alexisonfire, we're from Toronto, Canada, pretty much. We're all based around southern Ontario, and we play in this kind of screamo band, that tours almost constantly, and well that's pretty much it. We started doing this about 5 years ago, then a lot of stuff happened, and now I'm doing an interview and I'm in Denmark.

RF.net: Okay, about your most recent album, it is quite distinctively different from the previous album "Watch Out", just as that one was quite different from your debut. What would you say were the sources for the changes you’ve made over the years? How would you describe your evolution as a band?
George: I think that on our first record, we were teenagers.. Like, five years ago our drummer was still in high school and I was just coming out of school myself, and we were just kids making the music we felt like. Those were about the first eleven songs we ever wrote as musicians. And then, well I don't know, we were very virgin to the studio, and we didn't really know what we were doing. We were just like a local band. And then on "Watch Out" we kinda knew the mistakes that we'd made on the first album and we had an idea about how we could fix those mistakes. So we found a really good producer and had some fun with it, and we put out an alright record, but then, I think with "Crisis".. Well after "Watch Out", we'd just about been touring constantly and really become more worldly of a band. By the time we got to sit down and actually write stuff for "Crisis" we'd really been all over the place. We'd done Europe and Japan and Australia and we'd done the States and Canada countless of times, and I think you can tell the difference between bands that really like to travel and make a point to live life on the road and the bands that tend more towards staying stationary. There's a lot of American bands right now that just stay at home because they don't really need to come out here, and I think thats kind of a shame because we really like touring. I think the more you travel, the more you learn about the way other people live and that's definetely had a big effect on the way we play, and the way we write. One of the major things for us is also to try and not repeat ourselves. Nobody wants to make the same record twice. Repeating yourself is really just fuckin' boring and you know the bands that I love that have huge back catalogues, are the kinds of bands where you can tell that they've evolved with their own taste in music. And that's really awesome, I love listening to a bands' catalogue and noticing how they've changed from record to record, as opposed to the bands that repeat themselves in which I'm likely to lose interest after a few albums. I think that's one of the biggest reasons for our changes, and otherwise it was just what we were listening to, and like we've toured with so many bands; Hot Water Music, Rise Against, Planes Mistaken For Stars and those were bands that really had big influence on us. They were really seasoned, you know, they'd been around and they were totally doing what they wanted to do, and not really compromising anything, just.. yeah, those were really great times. Ehh.. Hehe..Fuckin' long winded blah blah blah blah hahahaha!

RF.net: Around the release of "Crisis", you changed your Myspace "sounds like" part. It used to say Alexisonfire sounded like "the sound of two Catholic high-school girls in mid-knife-fight" - has your opinion changed with the release of "Crisis"?
George: Yeah, that was just kind of a goof. When we were a young band, we used to play these small shows, and all the flyers for shows would have the bands name and a little write-up of what they sounded like, you know like "crushing metalcore" or "melodic emo rock" or something, and we would always go like; Just put "two catholic school girls in a knife fight", and that was just the description of our band, and that kind of translated over to the cover of the first album. We're the kind of band that likes making jokes about shit, and well I don't think we're so much those schoolgirls fighting anymore, but then we're still not that far off from that at the same time either.

RF.net: Wade sings a lot more on the new album than before. Was this always the plan or did it just come naturally?
George: Well, Wade's a great singer and we just hadn't really utilized that much on the two first albums, and I think it just made sense at the time we were writing "Crisis". Some of the guys were playing in this punkband called The Black Lungs, and Wade was singing in that and it was great, I think it got him excited to sing again. And that's just kind of what happened while we were writing. Wade was getting a bit more involved with the singing and I think it turned out really well. He's got a really cool and distinct voice. The Blacks Lungs kind of faded out, and now they're more like his solo project but yeah, I don't know, he's just good, a really talented musician.

RF.net: What happened to the "Charlie Sheen vs Henry Rollins" song that was on the Moneen split EP? Do you ever play that anymore on shows?
George: Yeah, actually we're playing it tonight and we've been playing it a lot actually. It's one of my favourite songs to play because there's this slow part with clean singing and then we just come in and go crazy in the middle of everything and it's amazing. It's just kind of a bet for us, because a lot of times we want to play it, but it gets really mixed reactions from the crowd because some of them don't know. Even though we really love the Moneen split, it is probably the least purchased record by Alexisonfire so some kids get really into it, and some don't.

RF.net: Do you have plans for more splits in the future?

George: Not really. We don't have any plans for it, but I wouldn't be opposed to it. I'd like to put out a split seven inch, and just find a band I really like and go do something with them, also to have something that's kind of a collectors item to the more devoted fans.

RF.net: Yeah, and you can also allow yourself to be more intuitive on a split right?

George: Yeah, you can kinda do what you want. You go into something like that with a lot more of an air of fun around you, as opposed to when making a record, when it obviously has to be a lot more serious and you spend a lot more time on it

RF.net: As we already established, "Crisis" sounds quite different from your previous work. How did the recording/writing process differ from self-titled & "Watch Out"?
George: Well, self-titled we did pretty much for free at this writing room in Toronto. We did drums in a different place and it wasn't really a great recording. Then on "Watch Out" we went to Asylum Studios in Hamilton where this great producer Julius Butty helped us out alot, and it turned out pretty well and we liked it a lot, and it was great to have his help because he's done so many other albums that've done really great. On "Crisis" we took Julius again, and we went to this studio called The Metalworks in Ontario. A lot of people record there, since it's a really cool place, and it was a really fun time. We had this great guy in engineering who'd worked on just about everything in the history of rock, and everytime he'd open his mouth, he'd tell us these crazies stories about doing cocaine with John Belushi or something like that. He was full of amazing stories and it was a really fun experience, being at a studio where you can really try everything, because you're not limited by the stuff you'd normally have at your disposal. We also spent a lot of time playing pool and ordering Chinese food, but haha, no seriously, we left this album a bit more raw and well, it's really hard to explain really, but it was just a very different experience, if for nothing else, then at least because of the surroundings.

RF.net: What do you think is the most important aspect about the music you create?
George: Ehmm.. The live aspect? I love recording and writing and stuff like that, it's amazing and really fun to do, but still, liveshows are my life. It's just that I love playing music, and the best part of my day is usually whenever we actually get to the point where we get to play our songs to a bunch of crazy kids, you know, pleasing people.

RF.net: I saw you guys at Taste Of Chaos in London, and it was an awesome show, and from what I’ve heard general opinion is, that an Alexisonfire show is always guaranteed to be a great experience. How come you guys just deliver every single time...
(George cuts in): I don't think we deliver every single time. We've had some bum shows. There's definetely nights where you just don't feel it as much as you usually do, and depending on crowd reactions and what kind of problems you might have had during the day, you can't be on one hundred percent of the time. I think we pride ourselves alot of our live performances. I think what makes us special is that there's an air of sincerity about what we do. There's not really a lot of like "rock posturing" and stuff like that, like we don't get all dressed up and go; "YEAH WHAT'S UP!? WE'RE ALEXISONFIRE RARHGRARHGRARGH!", we just go out there and act like we are. We tell jokes that some people laugh at some times, and there isn't really a script to what's going on out there, and I think that might be one of the fun aspects of coming and seeing one of our shows. We got three frontmen and they're all frekkin' mouthpieces, and we're all talking shit and acting like jerks. And I really feed off the crowd as well, like when kids start moving around, singing along to our songs, it really kinda amps me up.

RF.net: One of our writers has seen you five times in the UK now. According to him, you always wears the same mini-shorts at shows. We'd like to know the story behind that?
George: Yeah, well, the minishorts started in Wilmington, Delaware where we were on tour with The Used, and at the club there was a dresscode that said no short shorts and no camouflage. So everybody on the tour wore stuff like that, and we cut ourselves like daisy-duke shorts, and then we got up on stage, and the crowd was so bunk that day, and where all like "whatever.." and noone was dancing or anything. So we just got up there and acted like complete assholes. And it was like, before that day I'd been feeling kinda bummed on the tour, and then I made those shorts, and I got up on stage, and I was just like; fuck everything! Let's just get up there and be assholes! And then we got up there and were like "Don't make a big fuss for us Canadians, you know fuckin', I'm wearing daisy-duke shorts!" and it just kinda disarmed the crowd and ever since that I've just felt that; Whenever you see someone walking on stage in little shorts, like, you KNOW it's on! I try to wear them as much as possible, but they do get retired sometimes where I have to put the pants back on, but the shorts are always a good time though.

RF.net: About tonight’s show, two weeks ago you played to a couple of thousand people at Carling Academy in London, and tonight you’re playing to something like one hundred people in a small club in a country where most people have not heard of you, and the few that have regard you as 'that cool scene band from Canada'. How do you feel that difference as a band, and does it make it harder to you to get motivated to go out there and do a great show?
George: No! In fact I'm probably more excited about shows like this than I am about those, like big crowd barrier shows. I mean of course I love playing in from of something like 4000 people and when they're digging your songs and stuff like that, but in a room like this where there's no stagebarrier and it's packed full with two hundred and something kids and they're falling onto the stage, you feel like you can reach out and touch it. You really get a feel of the energy of it. It's like, you can't beat that or explain that. We're at a show, people would walk into a room this size, and think of it as a failure, to me it's just what we grew up with, and what we grew up doing. We would play in these tiny halls, and sometimes there wasn't even a stage and you had the people right in front of you, where you really like, push them and work with them, and there's just something special about that, that you just can't emulate on a big stage. I love playing shows like these. This is my bread and butter. We played in Hamburg the other night, in a club that should have probably held something around a hundred kinds, and in there were three hundred kids, going on a fuckin' rampage, and there was no barrier, and the second the first song hits, EVERYONE just pile onto the stage and you're just fuckin' pushing people and getting all sweaty, and.. fuck it, I love it, I love playing shows.

RF.net: Speaking of your ToC show, can you tell us how it was to be part of the tour?
George: Okay, the most discouraging thing about the scene today is that it's become a lot easier to be a band. There's a lot of young and upcoming bands who might be a bit naive, and then they become tricked into doing stuff by the record labels, and it kind of makes it a pain in the ass for the good bands that are up and coming who are probably not gonna get fucked by the labels, because why would the labels sign someone who knows when they're doing, when they can just sign someone they can take advantage off. It's discouraging watching manufactured bands like, I think Canada has got one of the most talented punk scenes right now, and there's all this pressure coming from all the focus on rockbands that are more pop, and they get all the airplay and all the videoplay, and that kinda sucks. All the major media is so conservative that they're not willing to play much new stuff. I was really bummed when Paris Hilton put out a record, because, she's fuckin' rich, and to her it's just a fuckin' hobby, and I've got a lot of friends who are living in poverty, and have made huge decisions in their lives, in order to play music, and they won't get heard because of her album. The most encouraging thing would be like.. Shows like this one, travelling abroad and just being very far away from your own home and playing to a room full of kids who are going totally crazy.

RF.net: A slightly embarassing question. In Denmark, you are considered 'scene' without a doubt. Do you consider yourselves scene? how about Musically? What is your opinion on this whole 'scene' topic?
George: I don't know what scene means? If you mean scene by like we're in American alternative press

RF.net: No more like being a part of this whole community on myspace, and being part of the emo-movement and things like that

George: Oh.. Well.. Whatever. It's not really that relevant to us. I hope that people wouldn't judge us, if someone said we were a scene band, then I'd rather have them listen to us and then judge us, and call us a shit band. Like as opposed to taking one look at us and judging us from really superficial things.

RF.net: It's a bit early to ask this yet, but have you given any thought to the next album yet? Will we wait two years again like last time?
George: It's almost done. Haha. No, we've written three or four songs by now, while on tour, and we're usually not good at writing on the road, but we're kinda getting better at it. I think we write a lot of stuff in Europe. Between soundcheck and doors, we've been spending a lot of time on stage just jamming and making up new stuff, so we've got about three songs that are getting ready right now and everything else will just come around later on.

RF.net: Anything else interesting going on for the next year or so, other than the UK headlining tour in March?

Jordan: I heard we got the key to the city of Copenhagen.

George: What?!

Jordan Yeah!

George: Yeah, Ratbeard (Hastings) is gonna run for mayor of Copenhagen. No really, we're gonna...

Jordan: I'm gonna go swim in that river with the swans (What river Jordan, there are NO rivers in Denmark?)

George: Haha, yeah, I'm gonna eat one of those swans!

Jordan: P.S. this is a vegetarian dinner I'm sitting here eating, and it's really good. It could do with a bit of swan though.

George: Yeah, there's definetely not enough swan in it! Ehh.. No.. Ehh.. What were we talking about again? Ehh, we're gonna keep touring and that's about it for now.

RF.net:What are you guys listening to right now?
Jordan: I'm just listening to different things every night like, Van Morrison and this really cool band from my hometown called Dark Parole.

George: I listen to everything, lately I've been listening to some reggae music, and a lot of old punk music, and a lot of old stuff really. I'm trying to get into newer bands but I've just been on this really old music kick for a long time now.

RF.net:We’ve asked every other band we’ve spoken to, and now we’re asking you; what is your opinion on people downloading music illegally off the internet, and especially your opinion on albums leaking? "Crisis" leaked a couple of weeks in advance if I remember correctly.
George: We're not making any money off record sales anyway, who gives a shit? Download it all you want.

Jordan: Yeah, the internet just means that the record labels have to spend less money on parties and more money on their bands. It really only hurts the major record labels.

George: The internet is only a benefit to young and upcoming bands, because giving away your music for free is the most fuckin' beneficial thing you can possibly do. Bands that are medium sized like us, and other bands, aren't making that much money off record sales anyway. You pay your bills by selling tshirts and getting on the road, so yeah I have no problem with it. If you don't have enough money to buy our record, then yeah, fuckin' download it. If you download it and wanna come to one of our shows, then save up, and do that instead. I'm more interested in selling tickets to concerts than I am in selling records.

Well, that's about it, so thank you guys alot. We hope to see you around here again, hopefully sooner than later of course, and if you have any last words you wanna shout out to the fans and readers, now is the time
Jordan: I always have trouble with these ones.

George: When I answer emails and I get questions like this one, I always just say no.

Jordan: I'd like to say that I really like the fact, that Carlsberg makes water here.

George: Yeah, beer-water!

Jordan: Yeah, it's like Nestle making something like chocolate-water.

George: Chocolate flavoured water!

Some guy who just popped in: Are you guys getting wasted of that water or what?

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