In 2011, our collective hearts broke at the news that Canadian Post-Hardcore legends Alexisonfire were breaking up. In an open letter to the fans, lead vocalist George Pettit laid things out for everyone to see, as there had been a lot going on behind the scenes, unbeknownst to the fans. Dallas Green had announced his departure to focus on City & Colour, (his once solo-acoustic-now-electric-folk-rock side project) and before the band could even begin to search for a replacement, Wade MacNeil was eyeing the door to become the new Gallows vocalist after Frank Carter had left. What would have been a huge undertaking, trying to replace one integral founding member, quickly became an impossible task when asked to do it twice, and so with it, all hopes of a future for the band soon vanished. In words that have stayed with me until this day, George admitted: "Was the breakup amicable? Not really. Was it necessary? Probably."
Rumours of a farewell tour were thankfully not just rumours, and a worldwide tour commemorating the band's 10 years together started and concluded in December 2012, stopping at carefully selected cities along the way. It began in London, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance on one of the two nights at Brixton Academy. I was only reminiscing recently with my friends who joined me on that fateful evening about just how good it was; how I cradled George Pettit in my arms when he leapt into the crowd and everyone backed off, and also how I almost got knocked unconscious by a crowdsurfer kicking me twice in the head in quick succession. It still stands as one of the greatest gigs I've ever attended, and can easily be defined by the words 'Blood, Sweat and Tears'.
So once the dust settled, what came next for St Catherine's finest? Well as mentioned, Dallas Green continued to tour with City and Colour, releasing The Hurry And The Harm in 2013, before going on to work with Pink (remember her?) under the moniker You+Me, with their album rose ave. reaching the number 4 slot on the US Billboard 200 last year. Wade MacNeil started his tenure with Gallows, and is shortly due to release his second album with the band, their fourth overall. Drummer Jordan 'Ratbeard' Hastings is currently hitting the cymbals in a band called Say Yes who are signed to Dine Alone Records, and also released a range of sauces (BBQ, Hot Sauce, & Sweet Chipotle for those wondering) with the founder of Dine Alone Joel Carriere. Bassist Chris Steele is a little harder to pinpoint, as he took off travelling, and at times even his bandmates find him difficult to track down - his last known location was India, according to this tweet from Wade.
As for George Pettit? Well he laid low for quite some time. In the letter he stated: "I would say this is my retirement from the business of playing music, but that feels too much like famous last words." Thankfully he was correct to not dismiss future projects, but it was only last year, that he surfaced, announcing that he had formed a punk band called Dead Tired, whose self titled debut album only came out earlier this month. We had to wait years for news on George, and he goes and delivers everything at once. The band also released a vinyl box set spanning their entire discography, which allowed fans such as myself to own their records as previous pressings are notoriously hard to find/even more expensive to pay for.
Through my sheer joy, I have to ask what has occurred over the years that has allowed them to see past their differences? Surely ever member has only gotten busier, so how can they juggle the new work load, as well as reviving the old one too? Dallas came out and said that his reason for leaving the band the first time around was because the effort he was exerting trying to maintain both his bands was killing him, and that he was waiting until he had a nervous breakdown before he would depart. He even went on to say:
"But I have already had those. I was in the hospital with pneumonia. I've lain in the bus crying uncontrollably at night. I was living this unbelievably blessed life, but I had no idea how to enjoy it because I was running myself ragged trying to appease my commitments to Alexisonfire, but also trying to appease all the people that were showing interest in City and Colour. It just got to a point when I had to make a decision. A very hard decision. But after ten years, my heart ... well part of my heart is there, but most of my heart is with this."
So, clearly, plenty of questions remain. After this run of summer dates, what comes next for the band? Well, nobody knows yet. New music and future tours are yet to be discussed, with the focus clearly on these forthcoming festivals. As much as I would love to know the answers right now, that probably removes some of the fun from the proceedings. All I know I can do for now is be thankful that they have returned, and try and catch them along the way, even if that does mean going to Reading Festival once again.
I'm not one for favourites. I enjoy and consume so much music and media that I struggle to narrow down my favourite anything, but Alexisonfire have always been damn near close to taking the crown.
Forever, the only band ever.