Fanbolt interviewed drummer Wade MacNeil of Alexisonfire at The 15th annual Vans Warped Tour in Ventura, Calif.
Let’s talk about the recording process for Old Crows/Young Cardinals?
Wade: The main difference this time around is we recorded everything live off the floor, so we didn’t layer anything, which we’ve generally done on our last record. I really like the results of the four of us playing in a big room together. It’s not like we got them all off the first take, but it is the four of us playing start to finish. There’s certain urgency in the recording that comes across that way. You can feel a little more tension in us, and there’s something more natural about it.
Lyrically, what kind of subjects did you touch upon?
Wade: George (Petit, vocals) read this book called The Rebel by [Albert] Camus. It’s about rebellion – ideas about it. Not anarchy stuff or something like that, but more on a metaphysical level. That definitely played into our lyrics. There are some songs talking about the economic climate, with everything that’s going on right now, like “Midnight Regulations.”
“Young Cardinals” is a song about good and bad, horror and beauty. With everything that’s wrong with the world, there’s still this really beautiful natural side of things that people don’t worry about that carries on without us.
Why did you decide to name the album Old Crows/Young Cardinals?
Wade: There’s no short answer to it. We were originally gonna call the album Young Cardinals after the song because we really like what it dealt with and the imagery it makes you think of.
Then as we were tossing around ideas and we wrote the song “Old Crows.” That wrapped everything up. It was the final thought.
This is album number four for Alexisonfire. How do you guys remain relevant?
Wade: If you concern yourself with remaining relevant, you’ll probably disappear into oblivion. We’ve always tried to challenge ourselves and not be repetitive with what we do. I think that’s why we’re still here. We never put out the same record twice. Although that might irritate a few people…
How do you deal with that type of backlash – when fans say your sound has changed?
Wade: Yeah, but if you put out the same record, people will say you’ve put out the same record. At the end of the day, you release music because you believe in the songs and believe that they’re honest. That’s all you can really hope for.
Were there any particular memories that stood out while recording?
Wade: There was actually a pretty brutal recording memory where we realized that one of the songs was completely out of tune. We were all panicking all day, trying to get the song in tune, which was impossible. That was the train wreck of it.
The coolest thing was when Dallas (Green, guitar/vocals) played these really old church organs, and there was a massive baroque horn for the vibrato.
There was this huge old church organ, and it was the most powerful sounding thing ever. Just to be in the room while recording that made the hairs on my arms stand up.
You have a massive fan base back home in Canada, resulting in multiple platinum albums. Describe what that’s like?
Wade: We’re kinda like unlikely pop stars? It’s weird. We just played this video award show and The Jonas Brothers played before us and The Black Eyed Peas played after us.
Was this The MuchMusic Awards? The show where Perez Hilton got into a scuffle with Will.I.Am. [of The Black Eyed Peas]?
Wade: Yeah, that’s it! [Laughs.]
What’s your take on that?
Wade: I think if you’re gonna run your mouth at somebody and they call you out on it – that’s it!
It was funny.
Wade: Yeah, apparently he called Will.I.Am. a faggot. I don’t know. It seems pretty cut and dry.
In the end, I think it’s only gonna hurt The Black Eyed Peas, which sucks.
Perez Hilton did receive flack from the gay community for using that term and he issued an apology.
Wade: Oh, really?
Yeah, they were appalled someone from their own community would use such a derogatory term.
Wade: I see, I see. It was in pretty poor taste, but everything he does is in pretty poor taste.
How would you react if Alexisonfire were featured on PerezHilton.com tomorrow?
Wade: Dallas has been on Perez Hilton when he got married! My reaction was, “Hmm, okay. That’s weird!” [Laughs.]
Oh yeah, that’s right. Because of his high-profile relationship.
Do you have any guest vocalists on this record?
Wade: We don’t. We had some great ideas for that. We were gonna try to get Damian from Fucked Up to sing on it and talk to Liam from The Cancer Bats. In the end, they were both on other sides of the world.
There are always future albums…
Wade: There certainly will be!
You’ve done a lot of work with Skate4Cancer. Let’s talk about that.
Wade: Skate4Cancer is a great organization that’s run by Rob Dyer. After losing some people who were very close to him, he started this organization to raise awareness about cancer prevention.
The thing we grew up doing was skateboarding and we’ve known Rob for a while now, so we brought him out on tour with us. A lot of bands get really behind the cause because he’s a great guy and his heart is in the right place. He’s doing a good thing and the amount of skateboarding he’s done on his Australian and North American trip is pretty unreal. He’s got a lot of people pulling for him. He’s the best.
After The Warped Tour wraps up in August, what is next for Alexisonfire?
Wade: Touring, touring, touring! Tons of touring! [Laughs.]
The record’s coming out in some places we’ve never been before, so we are touring in places we’ve never gone. I think we’re going to South Africa, South America and China. Hopefully, we’ll get to Russia.
What country are you looking forward to playing the most?
Wade: I’m looking forward to playing Spain. We’re playing Spain in October, and I’ve only heard amazing things from our friends’ bands. It’s gonna be nuts. It’s gonna be bananas!
Interview By: Jeanette Nguyen