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> Monday, December 6th, 2010 > Lifestyles > Bobbyisms: Alexisonfire rides into London on hot streak
Bobbyisms: Alexisonfire rides into London on hot streak
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Bobby Foley
Published: Monday, December 6th, 2010
I write about random things a lot. I write a lot about random things. These days, it's not all that common to encounter a band like Alexisonfire, a home-grown success story born, raised, and embraced by southern Ontario like favourite sons and sent off lovingly into the world.
In fact, in the current musical climate, that has developed since the Internet and downloading created a stark new music industry beginning some 10 years ago, the very concept of a small-town band going on to the levels of artistry and success the likes of which have been achieved by Alexisonfire is simply unheard of.
You might remember that it wasn't very long ago that the group — vocalist George Pettit, guitarists Dallas Green and Wade MacNeil, bassist Chris Steele, and drummer Jordan Hastings — were still just hardcore heroes tearing up the scene in St. Catharines, their music ever-so-famously described as sounding like "the sound of two Catholic high school girls in midknife fight."
Hard work and spirit mixed with the band's growing reputation helped to launch the band in 2001, helping them sell to gold-level numbers their self-titled debut album. Fast-forward to 2010, and it becomes apparent that despite all the downtime, despite all the work on side projects (from City And Colour to Black Lung and everything in between), the gentlemen in Alexisonfire are the epitome of the concept of hard working, consummate professional musicians.
Luckily for us in London, the gentlemen are coming to the London Music Hall for performances on December 14 and 15 with Four Year Strong, Norma Jean, and La Dispute — demand for tickets was so high that a second show was introduced.
There's a chance that 2010 has been one of the biggest years for the band, who have seen all the highs and lows that one can experience while touring. Barely taking the time to rest, the band prepared and released their iTunes Originals album on September 28, tearing down yet another wall and bringing their fans all the closer in the process.
The album paired brilliant live versions of selections from their catalogue — mostly songs collected from their latest two releases, 2006's Crisis and 2009's Old Crows/Young Cardinals — and compellingly intimate, insightful interview footage recorded for the release, in which they discuss everything from the evolution of the hardcore scene to the renewed interest and energy they felt in their band and music when Hastings took over the role as drummer in 2005.
"I think there was a lot of murky water as far as Alexisonfire goes," said Pettit in an interview on the opening track of the iTunes Originals release. "The future was very, very unwritten after Crisis, and after we'd been on the road for so long playing Crisis. In my mind ... I had no idea what the next record was going to sound like, or what was going to happen."
"As much as we may have been very interested in the screamo scene, and being part of the hardcore scene when we got started, it's changed so much," agreed MacNeil. "As we've grown and started listening to more music, I feel like we've drifted away from it, and maybe it's drifted away from what it was like when we started as well."
Hot on the heels of iTunes Originals came Dog's Blood, an EP long anticipated by fans of the band (which Interrobang readers will know was originally reported to be due in January). Dog's Blood is unique and nearly out of character for the band, due to its willful dive into experimental musical landscapes.
The title track is pulsing and upbeat, an energetic track in keeping with their work these past few years. But then the record takes a bit of a different direction, sonically — the second track, called Grey, is large, lumbering, and textured in ways that recall Watch Out!, the band's gloomy second album from 2004.
Gears shift again on Black As Jet, the third track; Alexisonfire channel the type of canonic punk energy more reminiscent of American punk acts like Minor Threat than of the Canadian underground. Then they drive into Vex, a down-tempo instrumental piece that conjures up the ghosts of Turn The Page and the hardened life of performers on the road.
"I think for us, every time we do a record, we just want to do something ... better," said Green in an interview on iTunes Originals. "It doesn't have to be different, but it ends up being different because I think that's just the way we write songs."
And as if that weren't enough, the band recorded two cover songs as a special limited 7" vinyl release for their diehard fans in Australia — a gesture meant to thank Australians for their loyalty and passion over the years, Alexisonfire recorded versions of songs by two famous Australian groups: The Dead Heart by Midnight Oil, and I'm Stranded by The Saints.
Much to the band's surprise, The Dead Heart found a home in rotation on Australian radio and climbed to number six on the Hot 100 charts. In gratitude, the band decided to release the songs digitally, hitting iTunes on November 22 in Canada and November 26 in Australia.
If any of the music and momentum proves anything, it is that Alexisonfire are riding into London in a few weeks on a hot streak of massive proportions. Tickets for their December 14 performance at the London Music Hall have sold out; however, if you act quickly you can still get tickets to their show on December 15 through Ticketmaster.ca.
Follow the band on Twitter at (@AOF_official) and on their website at TheOnlyBandEver.com. All of their recent releases are available on iTunes, while their Dog's Blood EP was also released on vinyl to select retailers across the country.
As always, you can get more music news, views, and downloads by following (@FSU_Bobbyisms) on Twitter or by reading the Music Recommendation discussion thread on our FSU social network. Stay safe during the holidays, and look for this column to continue in 2011. Be well, I'm out of words.