Interview: Alexisonfire

interview by james wright

“People used to ask us all the time to describe our sound and we used to say we’re like two catholic schoolgirls in mid knife-fight,” explains Alexisonfire guitarist Wade Preston. “When it was time to come up with the cover for our album we got some friends together and George took the pictures in some schoolyard. It was funny because all the neighbors just looked at us really strangely while we did this, but nobody got fined or arrested and it all worked out great.”

Wade laughs and smiles with good reason, his band has taken the Canadian music scene by storm. With videos on Much Music and tours alongside Billy Talent and Jersey, Alexisonfire has successfully pushed their music into the mainstream of the Canadian music scene. It seems like everywhere you turn, Alexisonfire is there whether it be someone on the subway wearing one of their shirts or seeing one of their videos on TV.

“It’s just incredible how well everything has gone so far. It’s definitely blown our minds because we were excited when we sold 500 copies of the record and now we’ve sold about 18,000,” explains the excited axeman. “We just want to be able to play every day and we’re just thankful that everyone has been so supportive.”

The humble beginnings of the group can be traced back to the finer Niagara Falls area where the group formed from the ashes of other local acts. From there the band started to play shows anywhere that they could. Without much of a scene to support them, the band still attracted some attention from labels despite their unconventional approach.

“Our old demo was just a burnt CD wrapped in our old math notes.” laughs Preston.

The barbaric demo worked and attracted producer Greg Below (Step Kings, Sum 41) to work with the band and sign them to his new label Distort. After recording their debut with Below the band quickly took to the road and played shows everywhere. Constantly playing helped the band develop a small but dedicated following. This lead to mainstream video outlet Much Music playing the video for “Pulmonary Archery”.
The bands jovial spirit may not be apparent in the music but it does come across in their second video, “Counter Parts and Number Them” where the band hangs out with a bunch of little kids playing in the park. Once again, the unconventional approach worked and Much Music played the video even more than the first single, helping the band garner an even larger following.

“There’s not really too many videos or even music like ours being played on any mainstream outlets. People are digging it,” says Wade. “Well it seems like hardcore bands take themselves way too seriously. It seems like everyone is trying to be all dark and serious. We like to have fun and we just tried to make the most un-intimidating video possible. I think us making such a different video helped because our music isn’t very mainstream. I also think people appreciated our approach and that’s why they’re feeling it.”

It wasn’t long before the band’s popularity reached the US and Blink 182’s Atticus clothing company offered Alexisonfire an endorsement deal.

“I remember going to see Blink 182 and the Vandals when I was younger and my friends and I gave Blink the finger the whole time. Now Blink gives us clothes” laughs the axeman.

The partnership between the two sparked a war of words between Alexisonfire fan’s as some thought the deal meant the band had “sold out”.

“Well I don’t really understand that because in order to sell out we actually have to have some money and we don’t have any of that.” laughs Preston. “I think people have really weird perceptions of things. They think that because we made a couple music videos that we’re in Jamaica sipping rum and flying our own private jet. The truth is we all still live at home with our parents!”

Laughter aside, Preston and the rest of the band realize that despite their success in Canada, it’s small potatoes to the American market where they have only begun to develop a following.

“Ultimately, we’d love to see things in the US build up like we’ve seen them build up here in Canada but we really just want to be able to play to lots of kids every night and get our CD out to as many people as we can. We’ve done two full U.S tours and we can see that it’s starting to pick up now. Kids are starting to dance and have a good time.”

With their debut receiving a US release on Equal Vision and great reviews in such fine periodicals as the one in your hands right now, Alexisonfire will most definitely keep those kids dancing well in 2004 and beyond.