Tonight, St. Catharines, Ontario natives Alexisonfire are in town in support of last month’s Crisis, the band’s third full-length album.
Montreal is the second stop on what drummer Jordan Hastings said is probably the biggest headlining tour the post-hardcore/punk quintet has ever done across Canada. Playing the Metropolis with Every Time I Die, Cancer Bats and Attack in Black, Hastings’ enthusiasm is contagious.
“So far, it looks like it’s going to be really amazing,” Hastings said. Describing an Alexisonfire show as “toe-tapping fun,” Hastings and his band mates, lead vocalist George Pettit, guitarist and vocalist Dallas Green, guitarist and vocalist Wade MacNeil and bassist Chris Steele, have a lot to be excited about. Despite the fact that Crisis was leaked a month in advance over the Internet, the album still garnered the number one spot its opening week on the Top 200 Canadian Charts
And this tour will not only allow the boys to spend time with their friends, but also give them a chance to raise awareness for those in need.
“This is going to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest tour, we’ve ever done ourselves,” Hastings said. “We’ve got the attention so we might as well do something about it, rather than not doing anything at all. We’re just regular people like everybody else so, when from time to time, someone needs a helping hand, if we can help out in any way possible we might as well do it.”
That’s why they’ve teamed up with the Canadian National Food Bank and asked fans to bring non-perishable food items to the shows. Those generous enough to bring two or more items will be rewarded with an Alexisonfire custom poster, buttons and stickers. But if doing a good deed and getting free band goodies aren’t enough to get you to donate, here’s some extra incentive, straight from the horse’s mouth: Hastings said that Alexisonfire will fly in and do a free show for “whichever city per capita raises the most amount of food by weight.”
Tackling such a ‘crisis’ of hunger is one of the many kinds of issues that the new record comments upon, which demonstrates how Crisis is more mature than the material they’ve previously released. “[It’s] more rhythmically liberal. The guys [have] been touring a lot. [We’ve all] known each other for quite awhile now.so once you get to a certain point and you’ve seen all that [we’ve] seen, it definitely comes out in the music that you portray,” Hastings said.
Some of Crisis’ themes dwell on pretty dark ideas, such as destruction, endings and final departures, which Hastings revealed is Alexisonfire’s lyrical way of expressing how they see the world: “There’s definitely not a political standpoint on this record, but at the same time, we’re not writing songs about go-karts like we did on the last record.”
Hastings was quick to point out though that the last two albums, Watch Out! and their self-titled debut, had their own share of serious tunes as well as not-so-serious ones – implying that, in essence, nothing’s really changed. “We’re still a bunch of goofy morons,” Hastings joked.
One definitive element of change this time around though is the fact that this is the first album where Hastings contributed and played as an official member of Alexisonfire. In 2005, former drummer Jesse Ingelevics left the band, making room for Hastings to add his own input into the band’s sound. And considering that the Alexisonfire songwriting process is a collaborative one, in order to make sure he didn’t once feel left out during recording, the group reminded Hasings that he was always “part of the band.”
This open atmosphere has permitted several members to pursue side projects outside of Alexisonfire. Both Dallas Green and Wade MacNeil have ventured out with acoustic songs of their own. Green released the folky acoustic Sometimes in 2005 under the moniker City and Colour. Wade MacNeil performed and recorded under the name The Black Lungs.
Hastings said that these freedoms have neither affected the music-making process itself or the relationships between the guys. “Their side projects are exactly that: their side projects. They do their side projects when we’re not doing anything so the band has always been number one,” Hastings declared.
And touring will continue to be Alexisonfire’s first priority, especially with their recent signing to the the U.S. label, Vagrant Records. While America is “pretty much the only country that [we] don’t do very well in,” signs, such as Crisis breaking into the Top 200 in album sales in the States two weeks ago, are beginning to show otherwise.
Only time will tell. But at this rate, it looks like things can only get better for Alexisonfire.
Alexisonfire, Every Time I Die, Cancer Bats and Attack in Black will play at the Metropolis tonight at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25.