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Interview with George Pettit from Alexisonfire
Who are you?
I’m George Petit of Alexisonfire, the lead vocalist.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe our sound as screamy rock music, scream-punk, screamo, scream-glam,
An embarrassing album that you cannot throw away?
Justin Timberlake, fucking Justified! We listen to it in the van all of the time. Tears for Fears. A lot of cheesy 80’s stuff like Men Without Hats, Men at Work, more bands with the name Men in the title. Rick James! I listen to a lot of Rick James. I like Rick James. There’s lots of embarrassing stuff that I probably shouldn’t listen to. But like I said before, I’m not embarrassed by any of it.
Have you ever really shocked anyone?
I think everybody in my family was fairly shocked, especially when the videos started getting played because it was very in their face and they could see what I was doing with my life and it made them very uncomfortable I’m sure. They still love me though. I don’t think anyone was expecting it to do this.
I have to compliment you on your dancing.
Aw, thanks, thanks. I can’t dance when it’s too hot. I thought I was going to turn into liquid at a recent show; it was so hot in there. It was so hot. When you’re right there with all of these people breathing at you. There’s no relief at all.
I know you guys are skateboarders so any recent injuries or stunts gone wrong?
Dallas Green broke his angle in St. Louis. It was the first day of the season. The first four shows were all rainy, and crappy, so when we got to St. Louis it was gorgeous out and there was this nice curve behind the club (the Creepy Crawl). He got out his skateboard and went at and fucking demolished his leg. He like tore all of this cartilage, or tendons. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor so it doesn’t really work that way. When they had you to sign up to be in either a rock band or doctor, I signed up for the rock band. His leg went pretty much black from the middle of his shin to his toes, it was really bad.
Guys are gross. They smell like bologna, never apologize.
You guys do enough shows to know what they smell like.
Did you ever think your band would be played on mainstream radio and on TV?
[Laughs] No! If anyone had told me that when we started the band that Much Music would have shown us any sort of love I would have probably slapped that person right in their stupid face. Just because that was a real big shock; we are really impressed with the industry support. They have shown a little bit of support, they’ve shown a lot of support. We’re not a band with a lot of money backing us, like buying advertising, or anything like that. They’ve just been really supportive and they don’t need to be at all. They just do it because they like us, kind of thing. Which is great and weird.
Always wanted to ask. “Watch Out!” and why is it titled that?
It’s titled that because WATCH OUT! It’s called Watch Out because we wanted something that was in your face. I don’t know, just something quick. We threw around a lot of titles and at the end of the day we were just like “let’s doing something simple and easy. The songs will speak for themselves.” And I think the songs do speak for themselves. I think we did I really great job of…well, I hate to toot my own horn but [toots his horn] we cut a great album. I am really proud and happy about it. It wasn’t all us; we did it with this producer, Julius Buttee, out of Hamilton, Ontario, a good friend of ours, and a relatively unknown producer. We decided to go with him because we really liked a lot of the stuff he’d done.
Any revelations about Canada while on tour?
While on tour I had a revelation about Canada. I decided that it is my favourite place to play on earth. I like the United States but I think we’ve got a really spoiled aspect of Canada when we come here. People know who we are and it’s great. We get recognised and people come to the shows and have a great time. Whereas, in the United States, for the most part, we are just a developing band.
Well I saw you guys actually have a blurb about this in Punk Planet saying that you had won a Canadian Indie Award.
[Shocked] Really!? I’m gonna buy that! I’ve had Punk Planet before. My aunt got me an issue for Christmas one year and it had all these interviews and this enormous article on punk pornography and Suicide Girls, Burning Angel, and punk pussy. I read a bunch of stuff on that… that was weird. Anyways, I don’t know how we got onto that topic.
No, no, no! Books are very important.
They are very important.
Actually, Siouxie and the Banshees, I know you like them, they have an authorized biography… have you read it yet?
No!!! I almost bought it before. I saw it. We were going away on tour and I went to Chapters and was going to go get a book, like to bring, and luckily someone got me book later that day. I always go to Chapters and never know what I am looking for. I was looking through the music section and I saw Siouxie and the Banshees book, and I’m like “Oh my God, do I like Siouxie and the Banshees that much to have a book?”
Joey Shithead, too, has the I, Shithead book out.
Yeah, that’s right!
Have you read it?
He had it at the Indies and I totally should have bought a copy. I don’t know what the Hell I was thinking.
Anyways, since you are said to be jokers, i.e. Wade’s interpretive dancing, I was wondering about any pranks pulled on the road.
Oh man. I don’t know.
Anything you can share at least.
We have this ongoing joke that’s not all that glamorous, but we think it’s fucking hilarious! We have this prank where everybody is in the van, and there’s one person who has gone to use the bathroom by the van or at a truck stop and they come back to the van when they go to open the door we lock the door and everyone in the van goes [yells very loudly] OH———! And they go nuts and it’s really really funny. We do that and that’s not all that fun but I don’t know
Hey, it brings joy into your life.
Exactly. We have an enjoyable time.
When did you first realize the power of your music?
That’s a weird question.
Do you think it’s powerful?
That’s a hard question. I guess enough people are coming to the shows that make it powerful but I don’t know how to answer that at all. I think it’s safe to say that when you have any sort of small celebrity kind of thing going on people are going to pay attention to you more, and it’s not so much power as you have responsibility to get up there and play for a certain amount of time and make sure the kids are walking away with a positive idea of what you’re about.
Could you describe the feeling while you are onstage performing?
There’s a couple different feelings when you’re onstage. It’s hard to go into this ‘cause I feel like an asshole; it’s so like cliché. Sometimes you’re at a show and you’re playing the show because you’re playing the show, and sometimes you’re playing and you’re really feeling it, like the crowd is looking at you and when you’re doing that and have that sort of energy coming back at you it’s a very indescribable kind of feeling. It’s kind of like being really, really, sick, but on lots and lots of crazy, crazy drugs. I don’t know how I can say crazy drugs because I’ve never really done any crazy drugs.
[Chris Steele, bass, interrupts:] Except for those Quaaludes in New York City.
[Both laugh] No, I don’t do any crazy drugs. It’s just very hazy and weird. You’re so tired that you’re sick but you can’t stop moving. That’s kind of the feeling of being on stage.
[Chris] At least at the Babylon.
At the Babylon you feel like molten liquid in a plastic bag and you can just fly apart at any second and splatter all over the crowd and burn everyone’s faces. That’s exactly what it feels like at the Babylon.
I have to give you props for saying, “Stop pushing.”
Kids get hurt at shows, and I would know because I have gotten hurt at shows before. It sucks. I hate coming to shows and hearing that someone’s gotten hurt.
Positive sides of touring?
I love touring [laughs].
How long have you been on tour now, like since you began this band?
I have no concept of time, anymore. That’s another thing, a side effect of being on tour. You have no concept of time; you know when you have to play and you know when you have to get to the club the next day. Other than that, I don’t know what time it is, what day it is at any given moment. We’ve been on tour for a couple of months now. We went down to Texas with Bane. We did the rest of the States with Avenged Sevenfold. That was probably a few years ago actually [laughs] We’re starting Canada again when we’re done that we’re going to do the States with Silverstein maybe I dunno. Come back up to Canada play a bunch more shows; we’re going to go to Europe again probably, and a bunch of other bullshit. We’re doing Warped Tour next year
Do you like Warped? What’s the best thing about it?
Man i like the stalls. There is so much good stuff. Shirts, homemade stuff. Accessories and jewellery for the loved one. I was surprised that Soundwave didn’t have many of those.
What accessorising stalls?
Yeah. You told me about Dropdead Gorgeous and that sort of stuff would suit a festival like that. Or like Warped. There is probably a lot of competition in the USA and Canada but Australia should embrace alternative style. I dunno I’m a dude what the hell am I talking about ? [laughs] Maybe I should start a Australian Alt-Style Association [laughs]
Lastly, anything you want to tell the world about Alexisonfire or yourself?
I’m actually a woman living in a man’s body.