Matt Lambert and Rob Orr caught up with Alexisonfire frontman George Pettit ahead of the band’s sell-out gig at Nottingham’s Rock City. Check out his thoughts on music in 2010 and what he predicts for Alexisonfire in the future.
Nottingham is the last date of the tour. Is it going to be the best? Any plans to go out with a bang?
We’ve played here many times before and we’ve sold more tickets tonight than ever, so I would assume that it will probably be the best time we play in Nottingham – in fact, it definitely will be. But I don’t like to play the “favourite” game when it comes to live shows.
How would you say the atmosphere in the UK compares to that in America and Canada, if at all?
A concert is a concert. Usually when you’ve got a room full of people, they react in a similar way. But I think that people kind of ‘live’ music here a lot more than they do in North America. A prime example is festival season. Reading and Leeds will sell out before they’ve even announced the line-up; people just go because it’s part of their culture. I think it’s not necessarily lost in Canada; we still have our festivals, but it’s just to a smaller degree. V-Fest happens in Toronto, although you’re hard-pressed to get 6,000 people to go to it.
Nottingham has a big punk and rock scene. What experience have you had with that, whether here now or in the past?
Unfortunately I don’t know about that many bands from Nottingham, but we’ve played here many times before. It seems like a very vibrant scene, and the kids here really care about it, so it makes sense to me that the punk scene would be a ‘thing’.
You’ve just released your new EP Dog’s Blood. What were your influences during the writing process for it?
Two of the main songs from that were written on the road. ‘Dog’s Blood’ and ‘Black as Jet’ were both ideas way before. Dallas had the main riff written for ‘Dog’s Blood’ and Wade had the main riff written for ‘Black as Jet’, and we just kind of messed around with them at sound check until they became those songs. As far as influences go, you’d have to talk to Dallas and Wade about that. I’m sure it was probably a lot of D-Beat, and a lot of stuff like Young Widows or even stuff like Dirty Three. Stuff like that kind of infiltrates into the band a bit.
Other than singing, what do you see as your main responsibilities as a lead singer when performing?
Well obviously with the type of music we play it helps to be a little charismatic, to rev the crowd up, to basically be the hype-man. Sometimes it’s the little things that really help. Making a statement early on in the show, jumping into the crowd, getting hurt or just coming out shirtless. All these little things make me more of a frontman than a singer; by the end of the show I’ll be drenched in sweat, spit and snot…
Alexisonfire have been described as ‘screamo’, ‘punk’, ‘post-hardcore’…I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. But how conscious, as an artist, are you of these genre distinctions and what problems do you associate with them?
I don’t necessarily have a problem with people labelling us or wanting to attach genres to us, because it helps you to describe us to someone else. But there are some things, certain words like ‘screamo’ that make me feel uncomfortable…I don’t think people are going to look back on the term ‘screamo’ with any sort of affection; they’ll probably look back on it with contempt. At the end of the day though, it’s the records that count, and as much as it does hurt being lumped in with a bunch of sub-par bands, the records speak for themselves. It is important, and it’s irksome sometimes, but that’s just how it is.
We just wanted to know your thoughts on music in 2010. We’re going to do a bit of quick fire thing…
Grinderman 2 [by Grinderman].
Kings of Leon… [Come Around Sundown].
Erm… I don’t know… I can’t do these quick fire things. Something I really dislike… I don’t know.
Best breakthrough artist?
Well, I don’t know if they’ve really broken through, but there’s this band called Strange Attractor from Sudbury, Ontario. Nobody knows who they are, but they’re unbelievable, a really good band.
What did I see this year? We’ve been on the road so much. I’ve seen mostly local punk bands and stuff. I saw Nine Inch Nails and they were pretty good, so I’ll say Nine Inch Nails.
Biggest douche of the year in music?
Ah there’s so many… Simon Cowell. That’s a pretty stock answer but that guy pisses me off.
Any guilty pleasure songs at the moment?
Maybe like Buju Banton. Local reggae, dancehall reggae, that kind of thing. That’s kind of guilty to me.
Looking ahead, 2011 sees the 10th anniversary of Alexisonfire. Have you got any big plans for it? Maybe a UK festival or an album re-release?
There’s talk of doing a book of photography or something like that. We haven’t talked too much about it though. We’ve got some ideas of doing local shows, but we haven’t given it much thought yet.
Where does Alexisonfire go from here?
Well we go home, gig across Canada, and stay at home for a long time. We’re probably going to write another record and get back to reality for a bit.
Matt Lambert and Rob Orr