George Pettit, Wade MacNeil, Jordan "The Rat" HastingsUniversal Music
By Bobby Gorman on Thursday, December 6th, 2007 at Shaw Conference Centre - Edmonton, Alberta
A few hours before they took the stage for their sold out headlining show in Edmonton, Wade, George and Jordan from Alexisonfire sat down with me to answer some questions. On top of covering the normal subjects like the current tour, road conditions and plans for a new record we also deviated to subjects such as Dallas’ gun collection, being mistaken for homosexuals, and the most important question of all: which is better, Leon’s or Ikea? It all added up for one of the more memorable interviews I’ve done in a while. You’ll also find a few comments from Dallas who was hanging out in the background for most of the interview. Thanks to the guys doing it and to Cristina for setting it all up.
Bobby: Okay, so you guys have been on this tour with Anti-Flag, Saosin and The Bled for around a week now; how’s that going?
Wade: It’s been great. We’ve toured with all these bands before and we’re good friends with all of them so we’re glad we’re able to put these bands together and go across Canada with them. It’s been so long since we’ve toured across Canada too. It feels nice, aside from getting absolutely decimated with snow and being trapped in Golden, BC for two days.
Bobby: Yeah, you guys had to postpone your show in Calgary on Monday. That was because of snow obviously?
Jordan: Avalanche warnings.
Wade: Yeah, the highways were shut down. It snowed for an entire day and then the next day it rained and froze everything. There was no getting out.
Bobby: So what did you guys do in Golden, BC for those two days?
Jordan: *laughs* We sat at the husky truck stop.
George: With a bunch of truckers.
Jordan: With a bunch of truckers – actually, I met one. I don’t remember his name right now but he was a very nice guy. I talked to him for about an hour, that was the big highlight of the day time; and then the night time we found the only bar in Golden. It was actually a strip club for some reason.
Wade: Kind of.
Jordan: It was fun. We actually had some fun. It was cool.
Bobby: So would you say that’s probably the most memorable moment from the tour so far?
Jordan: Yeah, probably.
Wade: I would have to say so, yeah.
Bobby: I’ve read that that you guys have had many close calls on tour. Sliding on icy bridges, a car coming on the right side of the wrong on the highway, and you guys once actually hit a bear. Can you tell us that story?
Wade: It was the car that was driving next to us that hit the bear.
Jordan: Yeah, it was the car driving next to us. We were all in bed and there was a car right next to us. It hit a bear and then swerved into a guardrail and then swerved into us; then hit the guardrail again and went in front of the bus. Then we pushed it down the highway until we all stopped. I thought we were gonna die.
Wade: Yeah, we all thought we were flying off a mountain. I don’t know why. If the bus does anything weird you just assume you’re flying off a mountain.
George: Well, you’ve got to imagine you’re in your bunk and there’s no window, no nothing, it’s just pitch black. You can just feel stuff going on outside, so whatever’s going on in your imagination is probably ten times more horrifying than the reality of what is going on. It was still pretty scary.
Wade: I just imagine the Grand Canyon but more Canadian with a lot of trees.
George: I imagine us driving down the throat of a dragon.
Jordan: It actually turned out that the car was totalled, definitely a write-off, but the bus just had a small little chip in it.
Bobby: So you guys were fine then?
Jordan: Oh yeah, totally fine.
Bobby: With all these things happening, why do you guys still continue to tour Canada in the middle of winter? Ice, bears…
Jordan: Actually, a lot of the close calls have been in the States in the winter. Yeah, most of them actually.
Bobby: So it’s not Canada’s winter’s fault then.
Wade: It’s pretty hard to not tour Canada when it’s not winter, you’ve got about a month or two in there somewhere. I think June maybe, even then it might snow.
Bobby: I remember one time we were camping in the middle of August and it started pouring down snow.
Wade: Somebody told me a story about The Bled actually. All of them sleeping in the van and then like spinning on a batch of ice and spinning a 360. Pedicone, their drummer, was driving and I guess he was the only one awake and he was just like “THIS IS IT!!!” *everyone laughs* They were going into the other lane and none of them woke up and then the thing stopped and they were like fine. He thought they were all gonna die and they all slept through it.
Bobby: Atleast they had a nice rest during the drive. You guys are playing Calgary for New Year’s Eve too, are you excited for that?
Jordan: Calgary’s always fun.
Bobby: What made you guys decide to do Calgary for New Year’s instead of some place closer to home since it is just a one off show?
Jordan: They asked us.
Wade: Yeah, we wouldn’t have planned to do a Toronto show or anything like that. I would have probably been at home watching the Cady Shack movies or something like that, something really anti-climatic. I try and do the opposite of something fun on New Year’s ever year. We just got an offer for the show and Calgary’s always a really good place for us to play. So we’ll do something really stupid, have like a huge champagne bottle.
Bobby: This is going to be your third show in Calgary this month. I know last December you guys had a six night stand in Toronto. Is it kind of surreal thinking that so many people from one town want to go see you guys so soon one after another?
Jordan: It’s pretty rad.
Wade: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. I think my favourite part about the Toronto ones last year was that we’d do interviews every day and people were like “I can’t believe you guys are doing this. The toll it must be taking on you playing night after night.” I’d be like “ah, it’s unbelievable.” But the fact of the matter is we were just going to after hour bars with our friends every night, sleeping till four in the afternoon and having a great time. It wasn’t like touring at all but I was pretending it was really hard on me.
Bobby: So, in other words, don’t believe everything you say in interviews?
George: Yeah, yeah. I think that people tend to think that we have it a lot harder then we actually do. I think its fun to play it up a little bit sometimes. But whatever, it fucking rules. I just have a great time all the time. I eat really well. I get like at least eight to ten hours of sleep a night.
Wade: George and I go on a lot of dates. Like he was wondering the other day “I wonder if people think we’re a gay couple?” George and I always go to nice restaurants. Probably like once a week we go to a real nice restaurant and sit down and try to pretend we’re not on tour for a few seconds. Order and split a bottle of wine.
George: Yeah, yeah. A table for two. What do you want, the Charez?
Wade: *indignant* You know I hate Charez.
George: Oh, okay. The Cabernet? The Cabernet sauvignon, 2004.
Jordan: Me and my drum tech over there went out for a nice dinner *someone knocks on the door*
George: We’re doing a frigging interview!
Jordan: We were in Glasgow, Scotland a couple weeks ago. We sit down at the bar, have a drink. We finally get our table, go to our table and the bar tender comes over to our table and gives us a Strawberry Daiquiri to split with two straws in it. I looked at him and was like “is that for real? You really think we’re a gay couple right now?” So yeah, people generally think you’re gay when you’re hanging out with a guy for dinner.
Dallas: *who was the one knocking on the tour and was finally let in. To George* Is that you who stinks? It’s really bad, you smell like a cab.
George: I don’t have deodorant on right now.
Bobby: You guys just did UK tour where you guys recorded three live shows and made them into CDs; what made you decide to do that?
Wade: We actually heard about it through Billy Talent. They had actually done it when they were over there. We got in touch with the people through them and thought it would be something neat to do because we were playing some relatively historic venues over there. We played Brixton Academy, so to have that on tape, all the mistakes and everything, we thought we should capture it.
Bobby: Did the recordings sound good?
Jordan: It sounded okay.
George: Well, the ones I heard sounded pretty good. *Sees Wade staring at him* What?
George: Excuse me?
Wade: That’s weird.
Bobby: When you guys were on tour with Saosin in September across the States you guys were doing MySpace video journals, whose idea was it to do that?
Jordan: Whose idea was that?
Wade: I don’t know.
Dallas: I think it was the label’s idea wasn’t it?
George: Maybe Vagrant.
Jordan: I think they wanted to have some online tour journals put up on MySpace.
Wade: I think it let a lot of people into the world of Steele, into the mind of Steele a little more. To see what’s going on up there.
Bobby: Are you guys still mad at him for disappearing after Vegas?
Wade: You can’t be mad at him.
Jordan: No you can’t.
Wade: He like shows up and says something funny and it’s really aggravating. You can’t stay mad at him.
Jordan: You get mad for not being able to get mad at him.
Bobby: Are you guys still recording anything for this tour, the Canadian tour? Or was it more just a US thing?
Wade: Yeah, it was just the US tour. I mean, I’m sure we’ll do it in the future. I really liked it. It’s cool, even in the monotonous days there’s still a whole bunch of stupid stuff happening. It’s kind of fun to show people that.
Bobby: I’ve read that after this tour you guys are taking a break and working on a new CD. Have you started writing any songs for it?
George: We have bits and pieces of a few songs. I’ve got a whole bunch of lyrics written.
Wade: I’ve got a bunch of drawings… I don’t know how that helps, but I’ve got lots of them.
George: We’ve got a lot of ideas that will probably come out. We haven’t had a lot of time to really practice and try to write new songs as a band. Once we stop touring that will really give us a chance to start writing.
Bobby: I’ve read in one interview where you said the lyrics will be a lot more philosophical and political, what made you decide to go in that direction?
George: I don’t know if it’s going to be a lot more political, but I’ve just been spending a lot of time thinking about stuff like that lately and that’s what has been inspiring me to write. Just like the state of the world and, I don’t know, it’s hard to explain and put into words right now.
Wade: Hopefully he’ll have it down by the time the record is done and it’ll make more sense.
George: I don’t know where to start; it’s kind of a big topic. The human condition and what have you.
Bobby: You’ve also been quoted as saying this next record is pretty much you guys wanting “put the knife in screamo” and you don’t want to be “the band that saves screamo but the band that kills it” and that screamo is pretty much a dead scene. Can you explain that a bit more?
Wade: That’s all you.
George: That’s pretty much it. We were all quite disenchanted with the whole genre and that’s probably where all those quotes are coming from. I don’t think that necessarily means we’re gonna sound completely different.
George: No, no, nothing like that’s going to happen. But you know, I mean, there’ just so many kind of nonsense bands that I don’t think are worthwhile or are gonna stand the test of time. I want to distance myself from that.
Wade: Like hair metal.
George: Exactly, like hair metal.
Wade: We don’t want to be Ratt. We want to be…
Jordan: The Crüe?
Wade: Mötley Crüe. Cider? Who was the Christian…?
Wade: Stryper. We don’t want to be Stryper.
Jordan: I don’t want to be any of that.
George: You know those embarrassing photographs you show your kids? Screamo is exactly what that’s going to be like. “Hey, look how stupid mom and dad looked when they were… Oh look, I had pink hair in the front and shot gun blast in the back and I was wearing eye makeup.” No, I don’t want to be remembered as band like that is pretty much what I was getting at.
Wade: Well, then quit wearing so much makeup. You idiot.
George: I know!
Wade: You look like a lady. *everyone laughs*
Bobby: Now I want to go back in time a bit to April 14th, 2005. You guys were playing at Red’s and there was a big altercation after the show. I was outside and I saw like twelve cop cars pull up, Dallas being escorted out of the venue and forcibly pushed into the parking lot. Do you remember that night?
Wade: Yeah. Well, pretty much what happened was we got off stage and Dallas was like “I hate every cop in this town!” and then just stated firing off one of his many guns. At that stage he was carrying around probably about six guns on a regular day-to-day basis. One on his leg, one on his other leg, two here (under the armpits) and probably one in his pants. So five.
George: One in his mouth.
Wade: Sawed off shotgun on his back; so five guns and one shotgun on his back. “Fuck pigs!” and he just starts firing off his shotgun, electricals falling down and the security guards were just like “what should we do?” Coming to us and asking us questions. We’re like “he’s high on PCP.” That’s when the cop cars showed up and luckily got Dallas out of there. He had time to sober up…
Dallas: In jail.
Wade: We have a really good PR and she spun it like Dallas was trying to protect some kid or something like that instead of him being full of drugs and discharging weapons. That’s the real story.
Dallas: That was the old me.
Bobby: I’m glad to finally hear the truth; I’ve been reading all these fake stories for so long.
Wade: The whole thing about us looking out for a kid who’s being roughed up by security guards and then putting Dallas and Tim from Rise Against in arm bars and everyone getting in a huge fight inside; that is completely fictitious. There was a lot more firearms and PCP.
Bobby: But now you know you can always sell the story for a major motion picture.
Wade: Maybe a made for TV movie. We’re big in Canada; we wouldn’t be able to get a huge North American deal together.
Bobby: Lately a lot of bands from the suburbs of Toronto have been really blowing up. We’ve got you guys from St. Catherines, Billy Talent and IllScarlett from Mississauga, Bedouin Soundclash from Kingston, Attack In Black from Welland. Why do you think so many of these suburb bands are starting to blow up and be known all across Canada?
George: I think that Southern Ontario is a really exciting place to grow up as a young band. There are a lot of opportunities. At the same time, there still are a lot of great bands that set the bar exceptionally high so in order to play in a band and really do well you really have to know what you’re doing and really be a good player.
Wade: There’s a million places to play. You know what I meant, small cities, halls, dive bars and places. Yeah, I don’t know exactly what it is but there’s tons of music coming out of our area. It’s great.
Bobby: I was reading an old interview you guys were doing with a site called Xroxx.com; I think it was right after Watch Out came out. One thing that I really remember from that interview was something you (George) said when you went on an anti-CD rant saying how you love cassettes more than CDs. Do you still feel that way?
George: Yeah, sure. If I had to pick between one format or the other I’d pick cassettes any day. Cassettes or vinyl as opposed to CDs and iPods and shit like that.
Bobby: One thing you quoted was the song by Screeching Weasel called “Compact Disc.”
George: Yeah, yeah, sure.
Bobby: What do you think of the fact that Ben Weasel recently released his new CD MP3 format only?
George: Well, yeah, I think that’s kind of a romanticised version… I think every punker in heart would love to have people buy a bunch of vinyl discs at their shows and put out only seven inches and stuff like that. But the reality of the matter is just that it’s becoming really expensive to do and when you’ve got everything at your finger tips… You can record your shit on the computer; put it on the internet right there, I don’t know, it’s hard not to fall into that trap. I don’t know, I’d love to stop using CDs all together. I think it just cheapens… I don’t know, it just seems cheap to me. CDs are so disposable, they just scratch easily. Same with making a mix CD on your computer, you make it, it’s there and it’s done. I don’t know, you put a lot of time and heart and effort into making a mix tape and when you’ve got it, you cherish it.
Bobby: That’s what my sister was recently saying. Mix tapes used to mean so much; you’d have to go spend time….
George: Yeah, get all your CDs out, organize them.
Bobby: Now it’s just click, click, click.
George: There’s no soul in that, you know?
Wade: That was awkward, yes.Bobby: One popular interview you guys did a while back was with Much Music where Matte Babel did an entire interview based on your new single Boiled Eggs as opposed to Boiled Frogs.
Bobby: Does it become annoying when interviewers going in with massive mistakes like that or do you just roll with it?
Wade: I thought it was a joke.
Jordan: I thought he was just kidding around.
Wade: It was like “what?” And then you could tell, people in the audience were calling out the actual song title, stuff like that. We’re just like “it’s not the name of the song!” But that was just like a small slip. I mean, it’s kind of ridiculous but at the same time, some times people are just like “so, you know, your new album?” we’re like “Yeah, we don’t have a new album.” “So, where’d you get the band name from?” “ahhhhhhh”
Bobby: I guess a couple questions for you (Wade). You have your Black Lungs CD, Send Flowers, coming out in February?
Wade: I think it’s going to be coming out in March now, but it will be coming out next year.
Bobby: Do you have an official release date yet?
Wade: No, not really. I keep telling people “oh, it will be coming out six months down the road” but it will actually be coming out in the New Year. Seriously.
Bobby: Are you excited to finally have it out?
Wade: Yeah. I’m going to tour across Canada once it’s finally out.
Bobby: And you’ll actually being able to tour Canada in the summer.
Wade: Or late winter, April. *laughs*
Bobby: I guess getting to the end of the year; we’re getting close to Christmas. What’s on your Christmas wish list for this year?
Jordan: I want a Seinfield box set; it’s seasons one through nine. It’s huge. It’s like this massive box set. It’s like this big.
Bobby: The coffee table one?
Jordan: Yeah, it’s huge. So I want that. The problem is I already own all them separately, the little box sets. So I’m kind of like…
Brad: Give them to me that will be Christmas present.
Jordan: I’ll give all of those, the single ones to Brad; and then I’ll have the use one.
Brad: Don’t use my name.
Jordan: Excuse me, Chesty Larue. *laughs*
George: What do you want for Christmas there Wade?
Wade: I’d like…
Dallas: His two front teeth.
Wade: *stares him down* I kind of need some DVD racks to be honest.
Jordan: I’ll get you some of those.
Wade: It’s practical.
Jordan: Ikea has some of those.
Wade: I need some shit from Ikea; I need an Ikea gift certificate.
Jordan: I’ll get you one.
Jordan: How much? A hundred bucks?
Wade: That would be nice, that would be very generous.
Wade: Do they sell anything but furniture?
Dallas: What do you need? Don’t you need furniture?
Wade: Not really.
Dallas: You don’t need furniture?
Wade: I need to get a smaller couch cause that couch in my basement won’t fit in my basement. Do they deliver?
George: This is a captivating interview we’re having here guys. It’s captivating.
Dallas: You don’t pay for a year.
Jordan: Don’t pay for a year? Put that in your interview right there.
Bobby: Free advertising for Leon’s.
Wade: That’s unbelievable.
George: I keep dropping hints to my girlfriend about this Lead Belly record set that I’m sure she won’t get me; but that’s okay. *everyone laughs*
Bobby: Okay, I guess one more question. We’re getting to the end of the year so everyone’s working on their year end lists. What have been your favourite CDs of 2007 so far?
Wade: Jay Reatard – Blood Visions. That’s one of the best ones I think.
George: New Bruce Springsteen is really good.
Wade: I like that Against Me! Record.
Bobby: New Wave.
Wade: New Wave, that’s a good one.
Bobby: It’s going to be interesting seeing them tour in coliseums now.
Wade: Who are they touring with?
Bobby: Foo Fighters.
Wade: Really? I don’t think they’re going to be able to pull it off to be honest.
Bobby: Yeah, it’s going to be interesting to see. I like seeing them in the small venues.
George: Yeah, some bands really struggle once they get out of that small club. It’s a difficult transition. What else is really good?
Wade: The movie “This Is England” is good.
Bobby: Oh, I want to see that so much.
George: Oh yeah, that’s really good.
George: Except it gets really dark towards the very end. But the beginning is totally like “Dazed and Confused” except it’s about skinheads. I’m trying to think what else was good. Oh, Criminal Damage. No Solution, is that what’s the record’s called?
Wade: That’s a good record. The drummer of Tragedy sings for this band, it’s really good.
Bobby: I guess that’s about it. Thanks a lot. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to add?
Wade: Ain’t nothing but a G thing.
George: There you go.
Wade: No, strike that.
Jordan: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems? I don’t know. Cash rules everything around me?
George: Yeah, there we go.
Wade: Dollar, dollar bill, y’all.
George: Dollar, dollar bill, y’all?
Jordan: Three dollar bill y’all.
George: No, no.
Bobby: That’s just crazy.
Wade: That is crazy. Take it back.
Jordan: Isn’t that a title of a Limp Bizkit record?
Dallas: Yeah, that’s a Limp Bizkit record.
Jordan: That’s what I thought.
George: Okay, I’m gonna take a shower.