Alexisonfire are nothing like their rock image would have you believe. I arrive with them half-way through a fast food binge and surrounded by fizzy drinks, chatting quietly amongst themselves. Theres not a sniff of alcohol which I take to be a good sign, perhaps an indicator of their dedication towards their up-coming show at Newcastle University. Indeed, they pride themselves on their commitment to the cause of making great music: I feel like weve really worked to get to where were at now says their frontman Dallas Green through a mouthful of McDonalds, I think its got something to do with us constantly touring. Weve been over here about 10 times now.
In fact, the band are just about to embark on a mammoth tour around the U.S.A and then Australia. So what venues are they most looking forward to visiting? There are a bunch of good ones in the States actually. Norva in Norfolk Virginia is really awesome. Backstage has like a huge games room with a pool table and a foosball and a bunch of video games and theres another room with a sauna and a huge hot tub in it. This is a somewhat ironic comment considering the meagre facilities they find at the University complex as they sit in a worn-out sofas, bathed in the lovely glow of the peeling, cream walls. Nevertheless, tonights gig is one they are very much looking forward to: I like playing here because its a smaller stage. Its still a pretty big room though so you can get lots of kids in here but you dont feel like youre too far away from everyone. Its been pretty good every time weve come here and I imagine tonight will be no exception. says new drummer Jordan Hastings, affectionately nicknamed Rat Beard.
Clearly then they arent letting their new-found popularity get to their heads. In fact they are some of the nicest, laid back guys youre ever likely to meet. Theyre still riding around in a van in order to save money and are happy to chat about the recent Yeti and Nomad tattoos they have had. As a result, they appreciate everything that they have achieved so far: We just wanted to play in a band when we started and play shows. I hoped people would get it but I never expected to do a sold out UK tour. Its great. Im pretty excited about it. First time we came over we were playing to a one hundred capacity crowd, on a little tiny stage. It was really fun but we were here for the first time and you just feel great because you travel across an ocean and there are people there who want to see you. It doesnt really matter if one hundred people or a couple of thousand people come. It still feels good.
Nevertheless, those days of playing to one man and his dog seem to be well and truly over with the release of their new album Crisis in August last year which led them to reach the top of the Canadian album charts and play much higher up on the bill at the 2006 Carling weekend. As one of their yearly highlights, Leeds and Reading festivals represented a major achievement in their development as well as offering another great experience of such events: Its great. Its a good thing about coming over here because the festivals are really diverse. We played and then went and watched Morrissey. We also saw the New York Dolls, the 5678s and The Roots that day. It was an unbelievably cool line-up of bands to go see. So any chance of a repeat this year? Were doing Give It A Name which is in Birmingham, London and Glasgow but I dont think were going to do any Download or Reading . We did them all last year. They usually dont have repeaters. We did Reading and Leeds 3 years ago, then did it last year, so well probably do it next year.
Besides being the platform for greater notoriety, Crisis also represented a development in the maturity of their sound towards what Green believes is more soft and melodic but also a lot more rocking, sighting their tours with bands such as Planes Mistaken For Stars and Cancer Bats as major influences. So why have they matured so much? I think that when you start to become a touring band and you do 200-250 shows per year, you just kind of get better at playing your instruments. I mean, you know youre playing every day and so you just get better at it and then when you go to write songs its like youve been playing music the whole year or for 2 years. And with the same members too so you start to write away and adapt and get better and better every day as you discover how each individual plays. George Pettit believe it is far from the emo tag that they have recently acquired in saying: I dont even know what emo is. It gets thrown around so much, its such a fucking buzz-word joke of a fucking genre. Emo as far as Im concerned is what hardcore kids, punk rockers and metal heads call anything thats not hardcore, punk or metal but I guess weve got the sing scream dynamic so thats always going to lump us in with it.
So if they arent emo, what has been influential behind their rise to fame? I think there have always been good Canadian bands. Now a lot of them are starting to tour more and make waves across the world now and its kind of making waves in Canada. Theres more tours in Southern Ontario so bands that were medium sized or smaller indie bands starting to tour the world to start opening up the highways for the rest of the bands to come and so its great that there are a lot of amazing bands that are actively touring in Southern Ontario right now.
So, with so much achieved so far, what is these five young men? Were touring until Christmas pretty much. We have the summer off but were going to be doing festivals here and there across Canada. From June were on the road and then hopefully come back here and do North America and Europe and do one last run before December, and then start writing again. So there are plans for a new album then? At some point yeah. Itll be out on May 22nd 2008 jokes Hastings, No, thats exactly when its coming out!
You never know...