Getty | Daniel Boud Two years after they announced their break up, Canadian…
- Posted on Jan 25th 2013 4:00PM by Melody Lau
During their last tours, the band kept this a secret and avoided discussions with the media and with each other, which inevitably made their last days on the road not the happiest.
"We don't look back on that time very fondly," frontman George Pettit tells Spinner. "It was a weird time and we were all in a weird headspace."
In Pettit's break-up letter to his fans, he threw out the idea of a potential farewell tour, but it was just that, an idea. A year and a half later, Pettit, Green, McNeil, drummer Jordan "Ratbeard" Hastings and bassist Chris Steele revisited the idea and hashed out one last Toronto show that spiraled into a month-long world tour.
Having Green not only on board, but as one of the first to approach the topic of that final tour was an important step, in Pettit's opinion.
"I think it needed to come from Dallas," Pettit explains. "In a lot of ways, it felt food that it was coming from him because I didn't want to do it if I felt like anyone was going to be dragged into doing it. I didn't want anyone to do any favors, you know?
"This was more like, 'we're going to come together and we're going to do this correctly or we're not going to do it at all' and, luckily, it just kind of fell together that way."
The tour, which the band to Australia, the U.K., Brazil and back to across Canada one last time, has now closed the door on Alexisonfire in many ways. As opposed to the sour and abrupt ending that unraveled almost two years ago, the band saw this last slew of tour dates as one of their best yet. Pettit adds that they can know safely "look back at this time of our lives as being very special and positive; we can walk away from this with good feelings instead of the feelings that we walked away with the last time."
They've even gone so far as to endorse another band -- Fucked Up -- as the future for the hardcore/screamo/punk scene they helped build.
The shows celebrated the band's decade-long career in a two-hour marathon of greatest hits, their longest sets to date, but also some of their finest. After all that time apart from each other, it took them only one pre-tour practice to fall back into old habits.
"It was the same old," Pettit says, of the band's first rehearsal together. "You fall back into your old tricks -- talking trash, making jokes -- that's kind of how we existed when we were on the road and it's just fun and nostalgic.
"We practiced at Dallas' house and we were going to try and fit in two practices before we left for tour, which we thought was an ample amount of practices, but we got through the first one and we were like, 'We think we know the songs, we've played these songs for 10 years straight' and we canceled our second practice. I think that's a testament to how easy it was for us to just fall right back into it and the songs came rushing back like muscle memory."
For Pettit himself, who hadn't performed live since Alexisonfire's last show, he was just amazed that his voice was still intact.
"Before that first show, I was definitely getting butterflies but I was very happy that I could still scream for extended periods of time!"
Even though the band admittedly didn't put much money or effort into promoting these last shows, fans came rushing out, selling out many of the dates. Pettit, who admits that he noticed the decline in interest and ticket sales in those last Old Crows/Young Cardinals days, was pleasantly surprised. Frankly, he was unsure if anyone was going to care.
"It's been amazing, one of the craziest tours we've ever done," he says. "We had kind of seen the peak of Alexisonfire with [2006's Crisis] and I think Young Cardinals was a challenging record and we were shedding those fans from Crisis, so when we were putting together this tour, I wasn't sure what it was going to look like, if people were going to care, and it turns out they did, they care very much and it feels good."
Far from feeling sad or funereal, each night Pettit would tell their fans every night that "it's not a fucking funeral, it's a celebration!" That's how he wants the last days of Alexisonfire to be remembered.
"You get a little emotional sometimes," he admits. "But at the same time, we've all had two years to kind of process this, we've all moved on to new chapters in our lives and this is just kind of a throwback for us."
As Green and McNeil continue with their respective projects, Pettit is still weighing his options for the future. Family undoubtedly comes first and music, as he says, will always be in his life, but don't count on him to "round up six guys and start a band" anytime soon.
"This is exactly how I wanted it to end," Pettit says. "I hope fans get closure and get what they were looking for.
"And if they take something away from what we did, it was a love of discovering independent bands, trying to find something that was unseen by other people -- kids can benefit from a little independent culture."