In the mid-2000s, Canadian post-hardcore quintet Alexisonfire were one of the most celebrated names in the scene. Having released four studio albums to great acclaim and penned modern classics such as 2006’s “This Could Be Anywhere In The World,” vocalist George Pettit, vocalist/guitarist Dallas Green, guitarist Wade MacNeil, bassist Chris Steele and drummer Jordan Hastings had the world at their feet.
But with Green and MacNeil both heavily involved with other projects (City And Colour and Gallows, respectively) and an atmosphere within the band that was slowly turning sour, the decision was made in 2011 to disband the group.
A live reunion in 2015 prompted hopes that new music was to follow, but all has been rather quiet in the world of Alexisonfire recently—until now. Returning with the towering “Familiar Drugs,” Alexisonfire are debuting their first new song in nearly 10 years. On top of that, the Ontario natives have announced a string of shows for June, with stops in London, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. It’s news that’s sure to bring a smile to the face of many a post-hardcore aficionado, and, as MacNeil reveals to AP, the band are eagerly anticipating a return that owes much to the friendship that exists within their ranks.
“The timing of this announcement hasn’t been chosen for any specific reason,” MacNeil begins. “Alexisonfire putting out this song isn’t a statement to the world or anything. It’s simply the case that we’ve been spending a lot more time together. It’s important to remember that this thing started as just us buddies playing music, and we remained friends when Alexisonfire weren’t active.”
Despite officially being a “new” song, Alexisonfire’s return with “Familiar Drugs” has its roots deep in the band’s past. Based on a riff of Green’s that he’d been trying to work into a song for some time (“Musicians always have a few tracks they’ve been attempting to write forever,” MacNeil says), there are parts of the new song that Alexisonfire have been playing in soundchecks for years.
“We tried writing this song on the Crisis cycle, so it’s been a long time coming,” he explains. “It definitely sounds like us, but we wanted to push Alexisonfire in a different direction. It’s a lot doomier and more stoner-esque than our previous material—the band are heavier than it’s ever been. Everything you do as a musician affects the way you play, so Dallas playing softly with City And Colour, me doing shows with Gallows, focusing more on vocals and stripped-back songwriting, plus Jordan [Hastings, drummer] time with Billy Talent, [bassist Chris] Steele being away from music and George doing punk stuff has all contributed to where we are now. We had no specific plan; it just fell into place.”
While the appeal for most fans attending the band’s upcoming shows will be a chance to hear both “Familiar Drugs” and Alexisonfire’s back catalog in a live setting, the five-piece are determined for these gigs to be about more than just the music. Partnering with Canadian nonprofit Indspire, $1 from all tickets the band sell will be donated to helping a cause that’s close to MacNeil’s heart.
“I’ve been wanting to work with them for a while,” he outlines. “They raise money for indigenous education and support students, which is something I feel is really important. Spreading awareness and letting people know that there are still a lot of problems facing indigenous peoples means a lot to me, and if we can use our music to help in any capacity, I think that’s a great thing.”
MacNeil’s desire to make this key event in Alexisonfire’s history about more than just the band itself is admirable, and despite the guitarist admitting he has “no fucking idea” why so many people connect with the music of Alexisonfire, he concludes by contemplating the role that the honesty of the band has played in their journey so far.
“We’ve always tried to be honest, and hopefully that’s resonated with people,” he says. “Like with the way we originally called it a day: Dallas said he wanted to focus on other stuff, I was touring with Gallows…George was trying to be very straight with everyone when he wrote that letter to the fans. We’ve now found our way back in a really natural way, and it feels awesome that all these years later there are people that still want to listen to us. I’ve been feeling that happiness from the fans as we’ve been doing shows recently, and I just hope everyone is as stoked on ‘Familiar Drugs’ as we are. To be back with Alexisonfire in 2019 is a truly beautiful thing.”
Check out “Familiar Drugs” here or below.
A “Familiar Drugs” 7-inch vinyl is available for preorder now. There will be a limited edition glow-in-the-dark variant randomly inserted into the black pressing stock. The band are also selling song-inspired merchandise, with everything available here.
The band will be live-streaming their performance at House Of Strombo in Toronto this evening. They will be playing the new single for the first time, and you can tune in here beginning at 8 p.m. EST.
Alexisonfire are hitting the road for a string of headlining shows this summer. Presale sign-up is available here, with those tickets going live Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. local time. General tickets go on sale Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. local time here.
06/01 – London, UK @ Alexandra Palace
06/08 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
06/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
06/15 – Toronto, ON @ The Budweiser Stage