8/9/2010 8:20:00 AM
I would like to preface this bio by saying I hate band bio sheets. They are boring, self-congratulatory, tripe, filled with all sorts of overdramatic adjectives and if I never have to read another band bio sheet again, I will die a relatively happy man.
With that said, my name is George Pettit and this is a brief biography of Alexisonfire.
Alexisonfire is the product of five kids from the liberal, suburban paradise of Southern Ontario. The band started as an escape from the banalities of adolescence; basically, it was something to do on the weekend. All five of us were active in our local music scene, which consisted mostly of kid promoted shows at local union halls.
I think it is important to note, that we were hardly ambitious. Most of our success was a product of our own dumb luck. When the band started in 2001 there was no future in playing “screamo” music. No chance of getting our song on the radio. No chance of making a video or getting it played. But who cares about that stuff anyway. We were drunk on youth and invincible in our own minds. Times eventually would change in our favour.
Our first demo was the culmination of our very different influences at the time. Dallas (guitar vocals) had just left a kind of grungy alternative band. Wade (guitar vocals) and Chris (bass) had been playing together in a punk band since they were 14 and were looking for something new. I was playing bass in a metal band that I had very little interest in. Alexisonfire was a welcome change for all of us.
I like to think of our first demo as a mash up of Level-Plane Records’ era screamo and At the Drive In / Refused era post-hardcore. It’s hard for any of us to listen to our first demo and full length, without a certain degree of humility. Imagine the art you created as a teenager, put on display for all to see when you are in your late 20’s.
It is a disturbing thought for most, but in all honesty, those recordings served their purpose. They allowed us to tour the United States and Canada. They afforded us the luxury and comradery of impoverished van touring, sleeping on people’s floors in strange and terrifying new cities and playing in dingy basements with piss soaked washrooms and hot sweaty clubs filled with alienated youth. We would eat two meals of breakfast a day, to stay within a $10 budget. Those early recordings gave us a real taste for the nomadic lifestyle. I look back on those days with extreme fondness.
When we returned from the road, we began work on our second record entitled Watch Out! It was a musically ambitious record, but when I listen to it now I still feel like we were struggling to find our niche. At this point, things were getting much bigger for us in Canada. Our music videos were getting played and we were given something called a JUNO Award (kind of like a Grammy but more Canadian). We were awarded for our efforts as Best New Band.
More touring ensued. We branched out across the ocean to the United Kingdom. The shows got bigger, but there were always new places to go. We got to enjoy the sheer volume of playing in front of thousands and at the same time, playing in halls and bars with no crowd barriers. I will never forget playing to a packed house of 2000 in Vancouver, BC then driving to Olympia, WA to play in front of nine kids in a pub.
Fast forward to the summer of 2006 and a record called CRISIS. It was an arrival of sorts. Years of hard touring had carved our abilities and tastes as musicians. At this point, we had been all over the US dozens of times, not to mention Japan, Europe and Australia. We wanted to return home to our jam space in the back of an insulation factory in St Catharines, ON.
CRISIS was the beginning of our disconnect from the tired screamo bands of today. We weren’t interested in falling in line and damning our records to a legacy of largely forgettable hair rock. We took the best of what we liked about punk and rock and roll and applied it to the genre that gave us our start. Crisis also marked the addition of Jordan Hastings on drums. Our original drummer was killed in an avalanche while snowmobiling. (That’s a lie. the true story of why our first drummer left is long and uninteresting)
Even more touring ensued - about nine months straight. It was a rigorous stint that stressed our home relationships to near breaking point. It was a long and beautiful adventure filled with exquisite highs and dreary lows. Touring took us to new places and we got to see our crowds grow in the old places.
The tour was followed by a long and introspective hiatus from the road. Readjusting to home life took some time and this was when the majority of our fourth record, Old Crows/Young Cardinals, was written.
We recorded the instruments at Armory studios in beautiful Vancouver, BC. The vocals were recorded at our producer, Julius Butty’s (Watch Out!, Crisis) home studio in Stony Creek, ON.
Old Crows/Young Cardinals was built on the foundation of CRISIS. Musically it moves at a feverish pace. The lyrics span a wide range of topics, from metaphysical rebellion, to living as a nomad. It is the culmination of the history of our band. Personally, I feel it is our best record yet, but you get to be the judge of that.
That’s the short and skinny of it. All the names and dates may not be there but that’s about the best I can do to squeeze the last 7&1/2 years of my life onto two sheets of paper. The long and fat of it involves a sorted tale of conflicting personalities, brotherhood, tossed tie rods, barbarism, hospitalizations, dry Canadian wit, and a cast of sultry women.