Alexisonfire is living proof of why you should never say never. After 10 years and four albums, the Canadian quintet announced a seemingly abrupt breakup in 2011. They did a farewell tour and, to the devastation of many fans, said their goodbyes. With the five members off pursuing individual side projects, including Dallas Green’s City and Colour and Wade MacNeil’s hardcore punk outfit Gallows, it seemed that Alexis had really been put to rest.
But by 2015, the band reared its head again and announced a reunion with a run of shows. Before fans got their hopes up, though, the post-hardcore heavy weights were quick to stamp out any rumours of a follow-up to 2009’s Old Crows/Young Cardinals. So while the band were happy to be back on the road and playing old music for fans, there were and still are no immediate plans to create new music as Alexisonfire.
Since then, Alexisonfire has continued touring and are returning to Australia for their first headline shows down under since 2010. Not only have they secured a headlining spot on the massive UNIFY Gathering lineup, but the boys also have a run of Oz shows with Dirty Nil, The Getaway Plan and Behind Crimson Eyes in January 2017. With only a few weeks until their anticipated return, we had a chat with lead guitarist Wade MacNeil about the band’s upcoming Australian tour, his new appreciation for the fans and whether or not there is a future for Alexisonfire.
Music Feeds: So, you guys are heading to Australia for five shows as well as headlining the UNIFY Festival in January which is super exciting!
Wade MacNeil: Yeah, we’re very excited! Alexisonfire has a lot of love for Australia.
MF: I think it’s mutual! This will be Alexisonfire’s first big headline tour in Australia since around 2010. What are you guys looking forward to the most about coming back?
WM: First and foremost, escaping the harsh Canadian winter and trading it in for hanging out on the beach in Australia (laughs). So that’s number one. Then, I don’t know, as soon as we announced the shows last summer we were hoping to get to Australia dates in but it just wouldn’t work. So, when we first started talking about doing shows again, Australia was on our mind and I’m happy we can get back.
MF: Yeah, we’re definitely keen to have you guys back. You’re also offering some meet and greet packages for your headline tour. You obviously interact with fans when you’re on stage, but what is that up close and personal experience like for you guys?
WM: It’s really cool. I think our band changed from a machine that came from a world where we were just sitting at our merch table and chilling out and meeting people. But, as the band got older, that became increasingly difficult to just chill out during the show. So, I think this is a cool way to connect with people. It’s something I’ve done for bands I’ve been going to see and was stoked about it.
MF: That’s really cool! You sometimes forget bands are also fans themselves of other bands and musicians. Who have you done that for?
WM: The last meet and greet I went to was Nick Cave. He was very nice and I was very excited to meet him. I think, I just … (laughs). I don’t know?! Like, what do you say to someone whose music you really, really care about? So, I don’t know, I just kind of kept it simple. I had him sign my Birthday Party record (laughs).
MF: That’s so cool. It must be pretty crazy to think that people would be having similar experiences and feelings about your band.
WM: Yeah, I think that just goes down the line. I’m sure there is an artist where it would be the same for Nick Cave that he looks up to and is generations older than him. We’ve been really lucky with touring and playing with bands that we grew up listening to. By in large, I think 99% of people that are musicians that I’ve looked up to and met are just incredibly humble and do it because they care about music and not the other bullshit.
MF: A lot of bands from the same era that Alexis started making music are doing tours where they just play their earlier albums. For example, both The Used and Underoath are touring Australia in the next few months and just playing some of their earliest albums in full. I think a lot of people feel nostalgic about Alexis’ earlier albums, so is this something you guys would consider doing for this tour?
WM: Well, we got asked to play Crisis front to back on this tour and we said no (laughs). My thing here is that we play most of Crisis anyway. I don’t know, I don’t want it to be a complete nostalgia trip. I understand that it is for some people and I think we always just try to play a good range of everything when we put our set lists together. So, I think we definitely keep that in mind when we’re putting it together. But it’s not just going to be a 2002-fest.
MF: Alexis has recorded over 50 songs and I can imagine it might get repetitive playing them over and over for so many years. So how do you decide which songs make the cut for a tour?
WM: You know what? It never really feels repetitive playing stuff that’s really old because it’s all about the way people react to it when we play it. I think the hope of writing any song is that you write it and imagine the way it will be received live and the way the song transforms when you play it for people. That experience of people reacting to those first songs we wrote 15 years ago or whatever, that still feels fresh and that’s exciting in itself. So, playing really old stuff has never felt strange to me. I don’t get why musicians feel that way.
MF: Damn self-entitled musicians!
WM: Yeah! (laughs) Maybe I understand it, but it’s not me! I think there are some songs, though, where they just don’t feel right. There are some songs off the first record that when we were first starting the band was still pulling in all of these different directions and thinking “what are we going to do? What are we going to sound like?” and some of it just feels too strange. Some of it is kind of proggy and some of it is almost a little bit metal and that’s just not, as the band continued to write and grow, it didn’t really go in that direction. So there’s some stuff like that that just doesn’t get played. But by and large, we try to bang out the ones that everyone wants to hear because they’re also the ones we like to play.
MF: That’s a good point. And I think the Australian fans are just so happy to have you back that they’ll be stoked with whatever you guys choose to play because we haven’t had the chance to see you guys live in so long.
WM: Absolutely and on the same token, there are songs that we haven’t played live for a while. Not even just in Australia, but the last shows we played were in last August or maybe before then. So, it’s still exciting for us.
MF: When you haven’t played for a while, do you guys find it easy to get back into the swing of things? I know you’re all constantly touring with your side projects but I can imagine it might be different from band to band.
WM: Yeah, I think that’s the thing. Dallas is on tour constantly, Jordan has been touring more than ever playing with Billy Talent lately, I’m in the studio everyday working on music for films and that can be said of all of us. We’re all still playing music constantly. And these are songs that we’ve toured and played every day for more than 10 years, so they come back quick (laughs).
MF: You’re playing UNIFY alongside a pretty impressive lineup, but are there any bands you’re really excited to catch up with or see live?
WM: Yeah, I’m really excited to play with Every Time I Die. They’re from Buffalo which is pretty close to us, so we’ve known them for a very long time and we’ve played a lot of shows with them. So, they’re like close friends. It’s always great when you run into homies half-way across the world. And that’s kind of the way you run into everybody, it’s pretty funny.
MF: On a festival like that, do you make time to watch some of the bands you’re friends with or even that you’ve never seen live before?
WM: Yeah, absolutely. I’m really excited to see Violent Soho, I really like their last record. There are a lot of great bands on the tour. A lot of my good friends speak incredibly highly of those Letlive guys, so I’m excited to see them. And yeah, we’ll just be hanging out and checking everything out as we can.
MF: That’s awesome. You also recently announced that The Getaway Plan and Behind Crimson Eyes will be joining Dirty Nil as your supports for your headline tour. How did you guys pick that hefty lineup?
WM: Well, we always want to bring a band that we really love and we want to expose people to. So, the Dirty Nil are from the same place as us. They’re dudes we see around at shows, so we really wanted them to come to Australia with us. So, that is cool that people will be seeing a Canadian punk band they may not be familiar with. But at the same time, you’ve gotta show some Australian love. So, both bands are playing the festival with us, so we thought it would be great to bring the boys on tour.
MF: I saw a few people on Facebook and what not who seemed pretty excited when the supports were announced, so I think it’ll be a good show.
WM: I’m super happy to hear that! That’s exactly what we were going for.
MF: So, it’s been around 18 months since Alexisonfire reunited and obviously a lot of fans were really excited to hear that. But earlier this year, you guys took to social media to explain that while you were together now, there weren’t any plans for it to be a permanent thing and there is no new music in works. Has this taken some of the pressure off now that it’s all out in the open?
WM: Well, we played those last shows thinking that would be it and that we would never do it again. I don’t think any of us expected to be playing again but it kind of reached a point where we had some time off but we kept getting show offers. It’s weird but we stopped playing just to stop playing, but it kind of ended up as simple as we don’t have a reason not to do this. Like, why are we not playing? Are we going to do this? Are we not going to play these shows just because we said the band was over? So, we couldn’t really think of a reason not to do them. But, I’m glad we played those shows last summer because they were some of the best shows we’ve ever played. I think as far as the fans go, all of the shows last year were some of the craziest ones we’ve played yet. I appreciate the fans 50 times more and yeah, I think it’s going to be great in Australia and hopefully there is more to come.
MF: Yeah, well, all of your Aussie fans are super excited to have you back. Do you think some of those shows have been crazier because the fans are so grateful to have almost a second chance to see Alexis live again?
WM: Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head there. And I think as much as we’d like to lay out the future for everybody, we’re just not 100% sure what it is at this point. So we’re kind of taking it as it comes. Everyone has all of these other things going on outside the band, but the one thing that is certain is that the shows last summer were so good that we’re like “We’ve got to do more of this.” I wish we had a better answer for people, but that’s what it is! But I do get that, I feel that way about bands too. Like, a band that you really care about, you just want them to release records and tour constantly. So, I don’t want to take our fans for granted because we’re lucky that, even in places like Australia, our shows have been so incredible for so long. It’s not like it was some master plan. We’re not fucking with people (laughs). It’s just… uh, life gets complicated.
Alexisonfire kick off their national tour in January next year, supported by The Getaway Plan, Behind Crimson Eyes and The Dirty Nil. Tickets are onsale now. Full details below.
Alexisonfire Australian Tour Dates 2017
Wednesday, 11th January
HBF Stadium, Perth
Friday, 13th January
Adelaide Entertainment Centre Theatre, Adelaide
Tuesday, 17th January
Festival Hall, Melbourne
Thursday, 19th January
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Saturday 21st January
Also performing at Unify Gathering 2017.