A Discarded Riff On An Old Phone Birthed Alexisonfire’s Latest Single

There’s no shadow of a doubt that Alexisonfire is back for real. After breaking up in 2011, reforming to play a range of shows from 2015, the influential Canadian post-hardcore five-piece kicked hard into 2019 with the release of ‘Familiar Drugs‘, their first single in nearly a decade. The boys are firmly back in town, folks.

PEDESTRIAN.TV got on the blower with frontman/vocalist George Pettit to chat about the mighty return of the band, how exactly ‘Familiar Drugs‘ came to be, and what’s in store for the band now that fans have had a taste of the new era of Alexisonfire.

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Familiar Drugs‘ began way back when the band were figuring out their huge 2006 record, Crisis. As George tells me, it was a guitar riff that guitarist and clean vocalist Dallas Green came up with that never found its way into the final product.

It was just one of those things that fell off the face of the earth for a bit, it was just a riff that Dallas was playing and I don’t think it ever really became a song on Crisis, like I don’t think we ever really tried to write it.

I remember him telling me that he had an old phone in one of his drawers. Plugged it in, and went through the voice notes, and he found the riff in the voice notes, and thought “oh yeah, I think we can do something with this.”

I mean if that’s not a huge reminder to BACK UP YOUR PHONE ALL THE TIME then I don’t know what is.

George went on to explain the collaborative process behind pulling together the new single and kicking off the new era of the band, which he says was exactly the same as he remembered it – right down to the way that Dallas and rhythm guitarist/third vocalist Wade MacNeil work their riff magic.

Wade had another riff, and of course like this has been the thing – since the beginning of Alexisonfire – Dallas will come with a guitar riff, Wade will come and be like “I have a guitar riff” and those riffs will fit together like puzzle pieces, perfectly.

It’s like almost supernatural at times? Like I really do believe that those two guys are some way cosmically linked to make Alexis songs, but that is very much the truth of the matter. It happens every time.

So that happened with Familiar Drugs and then the ball gets rolling from there. There’s two riffs linked together, and then we all sit around, we jam them out, we figure out bridges and lyrics together, it’s a very collaborative process. Yeah that one’s just been like sitting in the recesses for a long time.

The decision to start making new music together began while the band were fielding offers to play festivals and shows, where George felt like he needed to start creating new music under the Alexis umbrella, in a fear that they’d get stuck in a continuous cycle of playing the same songs over and over, and was the first one to bring up the idea of working on music again.

I remember the offers were coming through for festival shows, and we were entertaining them. And after two years of doing that, there was just that nagging feeling.

I remember sending the email out to the guys and being like “Hey I know we’ve been casually hooking up for the last few years here, but I’m developing some feelings, and I’d kinda like to keep doing it in the capacity that we’re doing it”

I don’t think any of us wanted to go back on the road for ten months but at the same time we wanna keep playing shows and enjoy doing this once in a while. And I felt like in order to do that tastefully, we need to do something more than nothing. We need to have something to show people.

So what does this mean for the future of The Only Band Ever? Well, we can expect new music “sooner than later“, but George doesn’t even know what that will look like.

Aside from these shows, there’s no real set plans. I can’t give you any hard dates on anything, I don’t have any of that information yet. I’ll tell you this though, we are working on new music.

There is going to be new music beyond ‘Familiar Drugs’. What it looks like, if it’s a single or an EP or an album, I don’t know. But something else is on the table, it’s gonna come probably sooner than later.

Alexisonfire is very free right now. It’s very exciting, we’re all really happy.

For George, it’s simply a matter of working away on getting those puzzle pieces in the right spot, but whatever that looks like, he hopes that fans will ultimately eat it up.

It feels really really good to have the band active again, and in whatever regard that is, it’s just cool to see the guys and we’re spending a lot of time around each other. Things are good.

We’re still a band, you know? At times I think we kind of tried to deny it, but the reality is that we’re still a band and we still feel like we’re capable of contributing and making music, so why the hell not.