12 Best Alexisonfire Songs as picked by Wade MacNeil
Alexisonfire's Wade MacNeil on the band's best songs, writing an anthem in your mom's basement and the power of the Blues
This Summer, Canadian giants Alexisonfire step out of retirement for a set of reunion shows. The first of which was Heavy Montreal where they played their first gig in three years. But after all that time apart were the guys apprehensive about the appearance? According to guitar player Wade MacNeil, maybe a little bit.
“It’s something we’ve spent so much of our lives doing so I wasn’t that nervous about it going badly. I knew the show was going to be great but because of how much the band has achieved there’s a level of expectation. I just wanted it to be amazing, for us and our fans. Going into the show I was a bit stressed out but within thirty seconds all of that went away.”
When it came to picking a setlist Wade admits it was tough, “We rehearsed last month and going through five records is no easy feat but we managed to pick all bangers”.
Here are the 12 best Alexisonfire songs according to Wade.
**Happiness By The Kilowatt
**This has become my favourite song to play live. Over the years we’ve kept building on the original and it’s grown into this ten minute long juggernaut that we always end the set with. In heavy music there’s not a lot of room for experimentation but breaking the track down and jamming together means it changes every night. As a guitar player it’s important to maintain a level of excitement and bringing something different to the shows does just that.
When you write a song you always imagine how an audience will receive it. Accidents has these big gang vocals and even though we were writing it in my mom’s basement we were feeling the energy of sold out arenas. The first time we played it live we got the reaction we had hoped for. It’s interesting that a song written in a small, confined space could work so well on festival stages.
This is the last song we wrote for our first album. The final thing you record in the studio tends to offer musical hints as to where the band will go in the future. Pulmonary Archery is a lot more melodic than the other tracks on the record and features the type of atmospheric sound we world further develop on our next album, Watch Out.
There’s a lot you could say about the song but there’s only one thing I ever think about - that a dead body washed up when we were filming a music video. We were filming on a boat that goes under Niagara Falls and in-between takes a body floated up right next to us. The director yelled “OK guys, that’s lunch!”. Then the police came, pulled the body onto their boat and informed us that Niagara Falls was a very popular suicide destination.
Rough Hands is one of our softer songs. It’s got that Joy Division meets Interpol sounding riff at the beginning and when you’re a band that’s heavy you have certain internal struggles. You ask yourself, “can we get away with writing music like this?” because you’re deviating from what people like about your band. This is one of the lucky cases where going in a completely different direction really worked for us. We managed to reference some of that 80s stuff that we like but it does still sound like an Alexisonfire song and it ended up being a single. I’m glad we persevered with it.
Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints
This happens to every band on their third record, they start writing songs that are just about being in a band. They’re not writing songs about relationships or where they grew up anymore, because their entire world has just shifted to being in a band. It’s really strange, but I think that if you look at a lot of back catalogues you get to record three and everyone just has a collection of songs about being on the road because that becomes your life. Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints is the Alexisonfire nomad anthem.
Dogs Blood is the EP that almost never happened. It was written around the time Dallas was leaving the band and as a result none of us, him included, over thought any of the songs. We just indulged in anything we wanted to do musically and as a result Dogs Blood came out really cool, not just that song but the whole EP. For the first time in a long time we weren’t self-editing.
I feel like Boiled Frogs is a great example of everything that Alexisonfire is about. With our music there’s always a lot going on, there’s three vocals, a lot of interplay between the guitars and the bass and sometimes, not all the time, it really works. In Boiled Frogs all of us have our moment.
Around this era of Alexisonfire, Dallas and George were listening to tonnes and tonnes of Blues music. George came across a lot of articles that said if you dig deep enough the hymn Roll Jordan Roll is at the root of the Blues. The Blues is what leads to rock and roll, that’s what leads to punk and eventually you get to the music scene we’re involved in. We thought it would be an interesting idea to take these words from a spiritual song and build some new music behind it. It’s a nod to the beginning of where our music came from.
Accept Crime is a riff based, punk’n’roll song which is much more my thing. George had this idea of causing a revolution through sexual freedom and the song is basically about living your life unapologetically. Originally we were going to call our last record Accept Crime, the full quote being ‘Deny God/Accept Crime’. I think it’s a really powerful statement and a very cool concept.
This Could Be Anywhere In The World
A lot of the times the song titles that you have come from these really ridiculous scenarios and this song is no exception. We were on tour in Australia hanging out at an after-party in Sydney and one of our Australian “road dogs” Jeff went up to Dallas, took a look around and said “This could be anywhere in the world man”. Immediately Dallas walked over to us, “Jeff just said this to me, he’s blowing my mind”. We just kept that joke going for the rest of the tour. We ended up writing this song for the Crisis record about how we didn’t recognise the city we were from anymore because we spent so much time away and that joke title seemed to make a lot of sense.
44 Caliber Love Letter
This is one of the first songs we wrote and it really became the blueprint for how the band would end up sounding. Myself, Dallas and George were lead singers in our previous acts so when it came to writing we’d always end up just screaming over each other. The track came together fairly quickly and though it shouldn’t work it we somehow managed to gel it all together. It came to represent our sound, especially in those early days.