Alter The Press!


Interview: Alexisonfire - 10/06/09

With only days away from the release of their new record, 'Old Crows/Young Cardinals', Wade MacNeill and Chris Steele of the Canadian post-hardcore band Alexisonfire, sat down with Alter The Press! to talk about the writing process behind the new record, playing three sold out intimate shows in London, their UK fan base, signing to Roadrunner Records in the Europe, plans for the rest of the year and more.

Alter The Press: You're back in the UK playing a three night residency at the tiny Borderline club in London. It's a great way to get the ball rolling with the new record, was this your idea?
Wade: Yeah, we love playing small shows which are sweaty and a complete mess.

Chris: When playing shows like Brixton Academy and festivals, it kind of loses the intimacy and energy but here you get to reach into the crowd and they can jump on stage with you. Last night after the set, we couldn't even get off stage. It was hot and sweaty, the way it should be.

ATP: It was speculated you were going to play your entire back catalogue, was this ever considered?
Wade: No. We do not like enough songs of each record for us to do that.

ATP: You really treat your fans well, especially in the UK. Is this your biggest fan base would you say?
Wade: It's probably in Canada but the UK is our second home. We love it here.

Chris: We've been here so many times in the last five/six years, but the first time when we came, we didn't know what to expect. Each time it gets bigger and bigger.

Wade: It just gets better. Playing festivals, seeing amazing bands, getting hungover!

Chris: We met some of our best friends now from here like Johnny Traunt from Brighton, who we toured with in North America.

ATP: 'Old Crows/Young Cardinals', where did the name originate from?
Wade: We felt really strongly about things that are really wrong with the world and which are beautiful. George (Pettit - lead vocalist) would be watching TV and would see horrific newscasts, just depressing shit, but at the same time watching baby birds on his deck at the side of his house and trying to come to terms with that as much shit as there is in the world, there is this beautiful part of it. When we wrote the song that would come to be 'Old Crows', we were naming every song after birds so we decided to call the record, 'Old Crows/Young Cardinals'. We knew when we named the album exactly what the artwork would look like and everything all fell into place like the track listing.

ATP: When going in to write the record, was a lot pre-written?
Chris: Over the last few years on the road, Wade and Dallas (Green - guitar/vocals) would be working on different tracks on acoustic guitars, they would come to us with their ideas and we would give constructive criticism.

Wade: Sometimes it gets on your nerves a little bit if you're married to a part. If you've been working on a part for a long time, someone would turn around saying it sounded bad like it wasn't good punk, it was pop punk like it would sound like Sum 41 but at the same time I might say, 'I don't know if I could do that Dallas!' We are equally cruel to each other.

Chris: The beginning of the year we were jamming, writing the new record and none of us are musically trained at all. Let's say George would have an idea for a drum part, so Ratbeard (Jordan Hastings - drums) would pick up on it and chemistry would happen there. Like, lets do that Nirvana punk part now and the weird second verse; some how it all comes together. Three months ago, we all went out to Vancouver to record the album, and it came together quite quickly. We were more prepared this time as 10-11 months out of the year we are on the road, and then come home around Christmas time where we would write in January, then February record. This time we got to break, have a lot more pre-production and sit on the songs but still it came together quite quickly. 'Old Crows' was actually written a day before we flew to Vancouver, and it was the perfect song to start the record with.

ATP: Favorites from the record?
Chris: 'Heading For The Sun', 'Midnight Regulations', 'The Northern' and I love 'Old Crows'. Pretty much the whole record but playing live, I love playing 'Young Cardinals' mostly because it's the new single and I'm starting to get new moves from it too! 'Old Crows' is fun to play live too.

Wade: I really love 'Sons of Privilege', it's real different for us.

ATP: Just after when you did the London Barfly show here in August 2008, Wade went and played with Black Lungs and Dallas went on to play with City and Colour (band side-projects), does it conflict with your schedules at all?
Wade: It didn't have too. We just took a lot of time off really but now we are focussed on this 100%.

ATP: Would we ever see Black Lungs open for Alexisonfire?
Wade: I hope not, I never want to do that.

ATP: How did you end up signing to Roadrunner Records in the UK?
Wade: They expressed an interest and it just came together in the end. Hassle Records put out our first three records over here but we thought it was time to try something different. They were definitely there for us but there weren't any hurt feelings.

ATP: Is the new record being released on vinyl?
Wade: The Canadian version, we are going completely off the fucking deep end with. It's going to be a double 10" with an extra song on it, so it'll be three songs to a side. It'll be red with a black swirl and etching in the matrix with a nice gatefold. In the US we are a doing a regular LP as well as Europe. We'll be selling them hopefully on tour too.

ATP: Plans for 2009?
Chris: We're on the road constantly. We are playing the Warped Tour throughout the summer.

ATP: This is your first time back for the release of the new record, but you already have announced you are coming back twice already. Once for the Reading/Leeds Festival and a headlining tour in October!
Wade: We are pretty much booked up until December. Reading and Leeds then the tour with Anti-Flag but I'm stoked for the tour. It should be great. We've been talking to Anti-Flag for ages about doing a tour together so we put this together with them.

Old Crows/Young Cardinals is out June 23rd on Vagrant Records.

- Jon Ableson

Alter The Press!